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AV-8B+ Harrier II

by Piero De Santis


AV-8B+ Harrier II


Revell-Monogram's pre-painted 1/48 scale AV-8B Harrier is available online from Squadron.com




This is my AV-8B+ "Harrier II" or "Super Harrier" in 1/48th scale.

The McDonald Douglas/Boeing AV-8B "Harrier II" was a big-step forward compared to the first-generation Harriers, with improved/doubled performances in all aircraft areas. It can be considered as a brand-new type and not as a simple new variant/mark.

The "Plus" version should be the last upgrade of the Harrier II for the USMC/Spanish Navy/Italian Navy. I say "should" because it will be replaced by the F-35 in 2015!

Talking only about the "Plus" version, I try to highlight the upgrades compared to the "basic" AV-8B:

  • An APG-65 radar system

  • Rolls-Royce Pegasus F402-RR-408 engine

  • Big LERX (100%)

  • FLIR sensor

  • Improved/added chaff & flare capability

  • 2 Multi Functional Display

Many others modifications are involved as consequence of the others above, as the extended tail-fin air intake or the extra air scoops over the engine access doors.

The "Plus" aircraft may be either newly produced or converted AV-8B's.


The "Plus" version is currently used by USMC, Spanish Navy and Italian Navy.

The combat debut for the "Plus" with the US Marines took place during Operation "Enduring Freedom" operations over Afghanistan.

The Italian Navy also used the "Plus" in Somalia for air-patrol and during Operation "Allied Force" over Kosovo" for attack missions.



The Harrier II in Styrene


The "Harrier II" is one of the most well covered subject by books, magazines and websites if you're looking for information or pictures.

Unfortunately, epecially for the "Harrier II", it was not the same for the model market scenario. Recently Hasegawa made a big contribution for modellers who are interested in building a "Harrier II" in 1/72 scale with a new mould kit covering the AV-8B, AV-8B "Night Attack", AV-8B "Plus", Harrier GR.5 and Harrier GR.7 (packaged by Revell and as Hasegawa next end-of-year) versions. Aftermarket and decal producers supply a good amount of sets and sheets… unlike for Spanish and Italian Navies for the last.


Harrier II in 1/48 Scale

In 1/48 scale, there is only one kit: Monogram's AV-8B. This kit was re-issued by Revell and Hasegawa (limited edition for Japanese market), but the mould is same.

Please note that Revell has also produced a "snap" kit of the "Night Attack" version using the Monogram's mould… this is a horrible downgraded kit that has lost all the benefits of Monogram's original AV-8B! Recently it again made available as a "pre-finished" kit. My suggestion is to avoid it.

But now lets get back to the Monogram/Revell "basic" AV-8B. This kit is good for overall shape and size, with a nicely detailed cockpit and undercarriage. However, in line with Monogram’s tradition, the model has raised panel lines which are sometimes inaccurate in shape and/or position.

There were some basic resin conversion sets for the “Plus” version produced by "Bronto Models" and "P.D. Models". Those sets included a "radar/FLIR" nose and a seat (but why?) or chaff & flare boxes. Unfortunately the shapes were not very accurate and, most of all, they didn't included all the features.
Another resin conversion set came from "E.P. Original Models". It included all the parts required for a "Plus", but this time the shape and size were not correct.

All those sets are out-of-production now, but recently, "Italian Kits" has re-issued the "E.P. Original Models" conversion set.


Amraam Line Harrier II Conversion

A recent resin conversion set produced by "Amraam Line" has already been available for two years. This time the conversion set looks good for shape and size; and all the necessary parts are included.

The release of this set encouraged the well-know "Twobobs" decal company to issue a decal sheet for the USMC "Harrier II" versions, including "standard", "Night Attack" and "Plus" versions. This set has been released in 1/48 and 1/72 scale.


Another good set, this time for detailing, comes from "Black Box". This set supplies a complete cockpit to replace the one of the kit.

My AV-8B's etched details were produced by "Eduard”. Unfortunately, this is now out-of-production.





Before commencing any assembly I rescribed the all the kit parts. I used "Aeroguide" N°16 together with "World Air Power Journal" N°32 for references. Many "walk-around" photo sections on the web helps to complete the research stage.

A sharp needle, "Verlinden" templates and "Dymo" tapes are required for scribing. Oops… I forgot patience!

After that, I cut the plastic from the kit that needs to be replaced by the resin parts for the conversion. These include:

  • nose

  • front wing section

  • tail-fin air intake

The "Amraam Line" set included detail parts too, as the enlarged retractable LID and the outriggers wheels: those were cut off from the kit parts too.

I followed the instruction guide included in the set. These instructions are quite clear… but I found a "mistake" where is indicated the point to cut the tail-fin air intake. It is indicated too far back! I conveyed this to Amraam Line and they corrected the indication on the sheet. For me was too late, so I used slices of plastic sheet to fill up the gap.

I replaced the cockpit with the resin set from "Black Box" except for the instrument panel that came from the "Amraam Line" set because it is much more correct in size.


Some "precision" cutting is required to the front undercarriage bay to fit the cockpit tub.

The whole cockpit is coloured in medium grey 36231 (Humbrol 140), with black instrument dials/screen and white/light grey switches. The ejection seat is black with olive drab cushion and brownish headrest. Straps are grey and emergency handles are yellow-black stripped.

Drybrush here is a must.

The main problems building this kit are:

  • fitting the wing to the fuselage

  • fitting the speed airbrake vane

  • fitting the main engine air intakes

A lot of test-fitting and epoxy putty are required to obtain a good result.

I removed the RWR bulges on the wings and on the tail cone and replaced them with new items made from plastic rods.

The "slime light" frames were added from the Eduard photo-etched set.

I used the extended in-flight-refuelling-probe (IFRP) form the "Amraam Line" set.

The other parts that came from the "Amraam Line" set can be placed without any more cutting of the kit. These include the chaff & flare boxes over the rear fuselage and the rear under tail spine. Four extra air scoops have to be placed over the engine doors, between the large LERX.

I made the blow-in doors for the main air intakes using plasticard sheet. The inside of the main air intakes is white.

As for all the Harriers, when the canopy is open (as on my model) the inboard ladder is "down": I scratch built it and placed it under the right main air intake.


Ordnance and Final Details

I opted to load the "Plus" with a "heavy" CAS configuration. I have some pictures of a "Plus" carrying the new "Lightning" laser pod and a GBU-16 laser guided bomb. I modified a "Lantirn" pod by shortening it to depict this feature.

The GBU-16 with the "ablative" cote is from "Eagle Designs". Two GBU-12 laser bombs were from another "Amraam Line" armament set (48-001). The AIM-9Ls are from Hasegawa weapon set. The ECM pod under the aircraft belly is included into the "Amraam Line" conversion set.


The final "esoteric" addition is the open-radar nose: I had a "surplus" APG-65 radar from the "Verlinden" F/A-18's detail set so I "resized" the antenna, shorted the radar trail, and with the help of a friend of mine, made a new hollow nose cone.



Painting and Markings


When the main kit parts were assembled, I started the painting duty. First was an overall coat of Light Ghost Grey 36375 (Humbrol 127), then I oversprayed the panel lines with black (Humbrol 33). Ghost Grey 36320 (Humbrol 128) was sprayed on the under surfaces.

I masked off the ghost grey and sprayed the Medium Grey 36231 (Humbrol 140) for side and upper surfaces. Last, I masked off the medium grey and I sprayed the Dark Ghost Grey 36118 (Humbrol 125) over the top of the wings.

Black ink was used to pick up the panel lines and rivets.


Slightly different shades of grey were applied, using airbrush and hand brushes, on individual panels to simulate weathering.

The same process was applied to the pylons. The undercarriage legs are white (Humbrol 130).

A coat of "Future" was applied to prepare the model for decaling.

I chose the command aircraft of USMC "VMA-542" "TIGERS" squadron, based at Cherry Point, North Carolina. This aircraft has black numbers and star insignia (on the fuselage). "Microscale" Set/Sol were used to apply decals. Another coat of "Future" and then a matt cote "Humbrol" finished the paint job.




Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2002 by Piero De Santis
Page Created 14 October, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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