page 3 (Sea Harrier)
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For my "World Air Forces in Plastic" series this 1/32 AV-8A would be finished in a scheme of the Thailand naval flying service. Interesting is that all these were ex-Spanish AV-8A jets.
Spain acquired mid 1970s AV-8A and TAV-8A from the USA. Due to the "Gibraltar dispute" with the U.K. the Harriers were manufactured in the U.K as mk.53 and mk.54, sub-assemblies shipped to McDonnell Douglas in the USA, assembled and these had US BuNo 159159557 to 159564 and 161174 to 161178. They were fitted with some typical American systems and sold to Spain designated AV-8A(S) and TAV-8A(S) with the "S" for Spain.
In 1996 Spain sold their remaining Matadors to Thailand comprising 7 AV-8A(S) with codes 3103-3109 and 2 TAV-8A(S) two seaters coded 3101 and 3102. These would be flown by the Thai Navy to operate from the also purchased ex-Spanish carrier now called the Thailand carrier "HTMS Chakri Naruebet". However, due to poor serviceability the Thai AV-8 jets operated mainly from shore and for just a few years. More info can be found in "SIG Asian Air Arms newsletter #33" about Thai Harriers.
Two basic schemes were seen on these Thai AV-8A(S) aircraft:
-1- USMC like scheme with FS16440 gull grey with white undersides;
-2- darker grey scheme with probably FS36118 gray and FS16440 gull grey lower surfaces. (some sources suggest not FS16440 but FS16270 lower grey, but I think 16440 is more probable).
This second scheme was picked airbrushing Gunze Sangyo Mr Hobby acrylic paints H305 for FS36118 and H315 for FS36440. The Aden gun pods, when installed are usually (still) white (but I had set the strakes).
Masking was done and also a black nose cone airbrushed.
Note that some antennas are moulded in the Revell kit but were gone after several sanding passes.
NOTE: I found out a bit late that I had forgotten that Spanish and thus Thai AV-8A had on the vertical tail a leading edge fairing with an antenna and a small bump on the spine next to the anti-collision light. Were added from card later on.....
The model now got also several layers of gloss Johnson Future/ Pledge varnish (can also be done later). The real Thai AV-8A jets are quite glossy and it will help for adhering the decals preventing "silvering".
The model now can be further detailed.
Cockpit detailing is a lot of work and takes a lot of research as the old kit parts are very basic. (see references..).
NOTE: I assumed that the Thai AV-8A(S) had a similar US systems fitted cockpit as the USMC AV-8A jets (as they were ex-Spanish delivered through the USA).
The kit coaming part #25 is inaccurate, a new one was made from bended card using the walk around photos and information in the Detail and Scale book.
I found "the later style" cockpit drawings in a 1975 AV-8A flight manual. Note that these are the later panels (and not those of very early USMC AV-8A's):
I also used the AV-8A cockpit photos that my modelling friend Cees Hendriks made in 2013 in the USA (see references).
New instrument panels were made from card. Drill out the holes and...
I had in the past made a large printed sheet with instruments and side consoles for general use and these came in handy now.
Based on photos portions were cut out and instruments glued at the rear of the panel. Micro Kristal Klear was used for the instrument faces. On the side consoles with raised details bits were drybrushed and also also some printed consoles added.
A new double nozzle vector control and power handle was added on the left side panel. A HUD was also made from scrap and a glass panel will be installed later onto the coaming. The kit control stick #15 looks good enough.
The kit seat is in fact an integrally moulded shape with the rear cockpit bulkhead and tub. So needs improvement. First, I separated the shape with a razor saw.
About the seat: on the USMC AV-8A aircraft buno. 159366 and up and after mod. AFC 16 the jet got the Stencel SEU-3/A (SIIIS-3) ejection seat. Note that it is quite different than Martin Baker mk.9a seats used in the British Harriers.
I found the needed Stencel drawings in the later 1975 flight manual (see ref.):
... and rear view....
I looked again at photos and concluded to my surprise that the razor saw separated seat shapes could be used to make a new better looking seat. (The widest seat width at the seat pan is about 15 mm and that looked OK).
Card and stretched sprue were added on the seat bits and the harness and straps made from brown painted metal foil. The main seat frame was painted dark grey, with olive green "cushions" and a lower strip of yellow for the water vest. The various activation chords like the ejection handle were made from coloured stretched sprue and the black ringed details marked with into black paint dipped paint tooth pick. The strap buckles were found in some spare etched metal sets.
The seat will be installed later on in the model cockpit.
The clear kit wind shield has a moulded wiper, but sanding it off will not help. I will add a wiper from sprue later on. As the clear plastic of both parts is not consistent, it looks much better when these are dipped in Johnson Future/ Pledge varnish and let to dry. The rear canopy is a bit thick as well but when set open this will be less obvious.
Below the wind shield a new instrument coaming was made as noted earlier with the HUD glass display from scrap. The wind shield was fixed in place with white glue. The rear edge was marked black with a permanent marker. A fairing was made with card for the wiper motor.
The smaller gaps were closed with white glue and when dried and after masking airbrushed in the surrounding colour H305 for FS36118.
For the Thailand AV-8A there are I think no 1/32 decals after searching on internet. (NOTE: later I was informed there are quite expensive SIAM decals).
So I looked at many photos of real Thai jump jets and designed my own decals in 1/32 with a graphics program with a few different codes etc.
Roundels and flags can be found on internet and were quickly scaled to size. For the selected "second paint scheme" I estimated the 1/32 Thai roundels to be about 12 mm in diameter.
The home designed decals were custom OKI laser printed by a third party in full colour including the white bits. The markings like intake warnings and Thai flags are seen here on the sheet...
The decals are printed on a large clear base, so each decal should be cut out with fine scissors.
Looking at a few photos showed where the markings should be set. Many have black rather than red outlines. For example, the outline of the spine engine maintenance hatch and intake black outlined warning triangles. Some lines were made with Xtradecal lines. (the no walk "crosses" are still red).
At the wing tips a few black NO STEP markings were seen with yellow warnings. These came from the spares box.
I opted the Thai AV-8A(S) coded "3107" with c/n 161174; I forgot to print the smaller serial numbers on the tail bump; these were composed with Xtradecal set X72157.
After decalling was done, the final bits can be installed.
Some hydraulic lines were set in the air brake bay and the actuator. I was not sure about the insides colour of the air brake and used gull grey. The air brake is always open for a parked Harrier.
The nozzles, that were prepared earlier seen on page 1, were set in place after their rear holes were enlarged a bit. Note that rotating angles may vary but all nozzles should have a same angle.
The landing gear was to be set "down" and needs refining. The tyres were airbrushed a mix of black and dark grey. The rather thick small gear doors were replaced with thin card. The small aft nose gear has a different shape as the thick kit door with 2 side bars. The strange open half circular gaps in the nose gear leg #53+54 were closed up. Otherwise, the gear legs and wheels are OK.
The colour of wheel hubs and gear legs was not that clear on the Thai AV-8A(S): I painted these gull grey FS36440 with Gunze Sangyo Mr Hobby H325 acrylic just like the insides of the open air brake and small gear doors.
Small sections of the oleos got a piece of self adhesive aluminium foil.
Installing the landing gear looks easy but to get all wheels touching the ground needs alignment which took some time. The outrigger wheel struts are at 90 degrees vertical but where shortened 1,5 mm at the attachments to get a forward tilted "sit".
The horizontal stabilizers had been improved much earlier on the build as seen on page 1.... The stabilizers are seen tilted on parked Harriers. A metal rod was used running through the fuselage with drilled holes and holes in each stabilizer for additional strength.
A pair of white painted fuel tanks as per kit were set on the inboard pylons. I needed a bit sanding on the pylon mating edges to get a near vertical installment.
The kit has transparant anti-collision wing tip lights #95 and 96 which are fine but I drilled out a hole in these to suggest a light "bulb". The left wing tip light got a backround of red painted and on the right blue. Fitting these need some trimming and Micro Kristal Kleer to close gaps.
For the spine light and in front of the lower air brake light, the kit has rather strange parts #76 and 94. These were replaced with clear plastic bits. The new red anti-collision light on the spine is set slightly off-centered to the left.
(NOTE: the USMC AV-8A had an air-to-air refuelling light in the left wing leading edge next to the cooling hole; it was not made as it appears that the AV-8A(S) not had it).
For the second scheme on the Thai AV-8A(S) there are two UHF antennas aft of the canopy and a larger blade antenna slightly offset on the spine. These were made from card. (note that on USMC AV-8A a large spine antenna should be added). On the lower tail bump, the various antenna panels like the altimeter antenna were painted brown/ buff.
- a fuel dump pipe #88 part is in the kit but it was replaced with a thinner pipe.
- yaw vane #92 was refined, I only used the vane. The vertical bit was painted in the airframe colour (FS36118) and the vane silver with a tiny red tip.
- small IFF/SSR antenna was set in front of the wind shield.
- added a wind shield wiper made from black sprue.
- in front of the nose gear there is a tiny TACAN antenna.
The prepared Stencel ejection seat was installed in the cockpit. On the lower canopy edge, rescue arrows were set. I could not clearly see the inside AV-8A canopy edges but it appears a small rear view mirror is present; this was made from scrap.
The last thing to do was airbrushing a gloss varnish coat with IPA thinned Johnson Future/ Pledge and a drop of glycerine as flow improver. Shield off the wind shield while airbrushing. The loose canopy was set in place and the model was ready!
A very special Thai AV-8A(S) in 1/32 in the "world air forces in plastic" series is complete.
[ 513,000 sq.km | capital: Bangkok | 69 million inhabitants | GDP per capita $7,600 ]
In 1996 Thailand acquired from Spain 7 AV-8A(S) with codes 3103-3109 and 2 TAV-8A(S) two seaters coded 3101 and 3102. These would be flown by the Thai Navy to operate from the also purchased ex-Spanish carrier now called the Thailand carrier "HTMS Chakri Naruebet". However, due to poor serviceability the Thai AV-8 jets operated mainly from shore and for just a few years.
Check out more about Thailand Air Forces on my Fantrainer page here...
Thai AV-8A(S) coded "3107" with c/n 161174
.... at Thailand Korat air base....
A nice model in the collection. Another Revell Harrier kit will be made but converted to a 1/32 Sea Harrier model with vacu nose in a FALKLANDS scheme..... so
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August 4, 2022