Airfix 1/48 Sea Harrier FRS1

 At first glance, nothing special about Sea Harrier, or usually called as Shar. That small fighter could not break sound barrier and normally only carry a pair of sidewinder short range missile. A puny war load comparing 4 medium range plus 4 short range missile that can be carried effortlessly by huge fighter such as Phantom. When Falkland war broke, a lot of people predict that Shar will not survive. Yet the history says otherwise. Some Shar lost due to accidents or ground fire, but no Shar loss due to enemy fighter. And Shar managed to shoot down many Argentinean fighters. A stunning many to zero record that few other fighter types have.  

Slow speed of Sea Harrier does not prevent it to win against faster Argentinean fighter. Shar could maneuver well in sub-sonic regime, an area where dogfight happens. Shar also equipped by AIM-9L All aspect seeker. It can lock on to fuselage heat. Shar does not have to position itself in 6 o clock position to shoot. This opens more tactics and maneuvers options. Royal NAVY pilots were also well trained. They know how to use their aircraft and missiles properly. Perform agile but energy efficient maneuvers and release Sidewinders in correct envelope to ensure high hit probability.
The Oldie but Goldie kit.

I always want to build this excellent naval fighter. Kinetic 1/48 might be the best Sea Harrier in the market. But it’s out of my budget. And my model store eventually has some Airfix 1/48 Sea Harrier FRS1 with Falklands decal. Time to raid my own store ho ho ho.
Even though it has new box, inside is an old molding part. With raised panel line, simple detail, and (maybe) fitting issues. But it has a good outline shape and equipped with full air-to-air arsenal: ADEN pods, drop tank, and Sidewinders.  The other bonus is the decal turns out to be quite extensive and newly printed. Hopefully it will perform well. As a precaution, I ordered aftermarket decal to combine with kit decal.

Assembly starts in the cockpit. Detail in this area is sparse. But I don’t really care. I build aircraft with closed canopy. If it looks like a cockpit from outside, then it is a cockpit. Simply paint every part accordingly and place instrument panel decal. Canopy turns out to be very good. Thin and transparent enough. Dry fit also indicate that canopy fits perfectly. Just need to be installed at the end of build with white glue. No complicated canopy fitting. Not bad for an ancient kit.

I used to build small 1/72 and 1/144 fighters, stunned by huge size of 1/48. A lot of length needs to be glued. But thanks to Tamiya extra thin cement, fuselage can be joined with minimum seam to fill. The trick is to glue a short section at a time. Hold both fuselage side firmly at precise location, then drop cement in place. Capillary action will make extra thin cement flows into inner side of the join. This yields a strong join between part. Work slowly a short section of a time. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Smooth join reduced time and effort needed to fill and sand seam. But it still an ancient kit, still have seams in several place. But careful assembly prevent any step. Gap can be filled by superglue and sanded easily.

Luckily, I read someone experienced banana shaped Airfix Shar. Unfortunately, my copy is also banana shaped. Fuselage curved like banana when seen from above. Fortunately, mine is not full banana. Most bend occurs in join between fat fuselage section and thin front section. Correction in this section will straighten the fuselage, well mostly. Luckily, I also haven’t glued intake lip. The solution is by performing small cut in the area that bends most. This will allow fuselage to be straightened without inflicting to much stress to the part. Drop glue to lock part in place and then attach intake lips. The result is straight and strong fuselage.

Intake lips fitting is not so good. I had to obliterate aux intake detail represented by raised panel. Re-scribing this many intakes in curved section is beyond my current skill. So be it. I assumed that my Shar aux intake is neatly closed so that no door lines visible.
Other parts such as wings and horizontal tail fits perfectly. Just a little bit sanding on wing fuselage join. I made a few small improvements such as drilling intake at vertical tail base. I also replace plastic pitot tube with metal sewing needle. Just cut the plastic part, drill a small hole to receive metal needle, then attach using superglue. Simple, cheap, but improve model looks significantly considering Shar’s pitot tube is so prominent.

I love sleek shape of the Sea Harrier, so I opt to make a flying configuration. Close up all landing gear doors and airbrake. At the beginning, I installed a block of wood inside the fuselage. Then I drill 5mm hole at slant angle from airbrake door to receive 5 mm acrylic rod. New wood drill bit is used to ensure precision. Acrylic rod fits snuggly into drilled hole, make a solid flight display. I use a block of wood, hard type, as the base. Sanded smooth to display beautiful wood grain.
Falkland era Sea Harrier paint scheme is simple. Black nose and overall extra dark sea grey. Black nose is easy, Tamiya Acrylics XF-18 semi-gloss black did the job perfectly. Extra dark sea grey needs more contemplation. It turns out that early and late war scheme have different shade. I choose the simple way of using Tamiya Acrylic XF-24 dark grey. Not a precise match, but that’s looks close enough for me. Exhaust painted with my own mix of acrylic dark metallic paint.

For this build, I want to experiment with a new method to deal with raised panel line. My hand is not good enough to perform consistent scribing for all panel lines. I’m sticking masking tape to one side of most panel line. Then I spray darker paint mix to the panel lines. Wide spray is okay. The objective is to get a sharp shading in one side of panel line. Model may look awful now, but don’t worry.
Next step is clear coat and decal. Kit decal turns out to be good. I use aftermarket decal to get a better roundel color and correct some damaged kit decal. Surprisingly, Airfix provide a lot of decal for the Sidewinders. Wait for a couple of days to make sure decal softening solution cures completely before apply next clear coat. I have a bad experience from applying clear coat before softening solution cures, it somehow melts the decal.

Remember the awful wide dark panel lines? Now its time to deal with it. I mix dark grey, flat clear, and a lot of thinner. I use a special made in Indonesia thinner. It can dilute acrylics and lacquer paint so thin but still stable enough. Semi transparent color can be sprayed easily with low pressure. Each panel randomly sprayed with those semi-transparent paint. Some other color then mixed to give shade variation. Wide dark panel “line” became thinner in random manner. Looks like an actual panel with no need to re-scribe.

This is not an accurate replica of Sea Harrier. Nor the paint have precise color. A lot of details missing. But this ancient kit turns out to be a good looking Sea Harrier. I also satisfied on how masking tape weathering handles raised panel line without re-scribing. I will try and refine that method to build another oldie but goldie kits. 

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My Build: Hasegawa 1/72 Viggen natural metal

Like other aircraft manufacturers, SAAB does not build its fighter 100% from scratch. They made ingenious fighter design, integrating parts from their own production and other manufacturers. This way they can make highly effective fighter in efficient and timely manner. One of their fighter, Viggen, has performed an incredible feat: Lock on a Mach 3 SR-71.

Viggen is clearly not capable of reaching Mach 3, so tail pursuit is not an option. Instead Sweden successfully integrate Viggen into their air defense network. An effective air defense system that can detect, track, and predict Mach 3 SR-71 flight path. Viggen launched at a specific timing, perform precise climbing to intercept SR-71 head on. SR-71 travelling at Mach 3 and Viggen at about Mach 2, so their relative speed was about Mach 5. At this speed, there are very thin margin for error. Interception must be done in precise timing and positioning. And yet Viggen (integrated to advanced air defense network) succeeded.

This incredible background made me eager to build Viggen kit. The problem is Viggen kit quite rare. I have seen good Academy 1/144 Viggen, but that amazing little kit is not available here again. Other alternative was Tarangus 1/48 with superb detail, available, but unfortunately too expensive for me. And suddenly a friend sent me Hasegawa 1/72 Viggen, a rare kit, thank you very much. And the best way to thank him is by building this Hasegawa 1/72 Viggen as best as I could.

Review Aoshima 1/700 JMSDF Murasame

Aoshima 1/700 JMSDF Murasame

JMSDF Murasame adalah destroyer anti kapal permukaan dan selam. Lambung dan superstructure dipasang pada sudut miring untuk mereduksi RCS.  Murasame tidak dilengkapi radar P/AESA besar yang menempel di superstructure seperti Kongo class. Tapi kapal ini dilengkapi satu radar AESA di main mast.