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1:32 Trumpeter AV-8B Night Attack Harrier II Model Kit Review

Article by Paul Nortness

The AV-8B Harrier is a marvel of modern technology. Not only does it have amazing capabilities, but it is just a cool looking little aircraft. So when I heard Trumpeter was making a big 1:32nd version of this plane, I was very excited.

This model kit is the Night Attack version of the Harrier II used by the United States Marine Corps. Trumpeter currently has released four different versions of the Harrier II, one used by the RAF and the other three versions being USMC variants. All second generation Harriers share common airframe components, the biggest visible differences being in the nose section. Trumpeter wisely separated the nose section to allow for easy alteration for different versions.

The kit features 428 plastic parts on 20 sprues, 1 small fret of photo etch seat belts and HUD frame and rubber tires. Trumpeter has come a long way since their early kits. The surface is smooth with no visible blemishes.

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The surface detail is finely engraved and light on the rivets. For a long time, Trumpeter was best known for it's over-abundance of rivets. While the surface detail is nicely done, it does seem a tad sparse. After careful review of my resource material (found on the-blueprints.com) it appears to be the case. Those modelers who count every rivet will want to view a good blueprint and scribe in new panel lines, however the surface detail as is will suffice for most.

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I have an old Revell AV-8A first generation Harrier that I am going to build side by side. Here is a comparison of the two:

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The first generation Harrier is smaller so the size is not a concern. With a little love, these two will look really nice sitting next to each other.

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The cockpit is one of the nicer ones I have seen. The instrument panel has lots of nice detail with big screens and buttons. Trumpeter has really done a nice job with their cockpits of late and are one of the few manufacturers that include side walls as well. Aires makes an aftermarket resin cockpit, but in my opinion it is not needed. The kit cockpit will work just fine. With the provided photo etch seatbelts and a little scratch building, the kit cockpit will look top notch.

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Trumpeter loves their engines, and this kit is no exception. A full plastic rendition of the Rolls Royce Pegasus engine is included with the kit, despite the fact that it will never be seen once the kit is built. Still, it is pretty cool and the intrepid modeler will enjoy the challenge of opening an access hatch or two to expose their handy work.

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Because the Harrier II has such a shallow intake, the entire intake trunk is provided. However, there are four dimples that need filling to make the intake smooth. This should be easily remedied with a little putty and a sanding stick. Do this prior to installation and you should be fine.

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The kit features a nice assortment of air to ground ordnance. You get 2 external tanks, 4 Mk. 82 Snake eyes, 4 standard Mk. 82s, 2 AGM-65 laser Mavericks, 2 Mk 117s, 6 GBU-12s and 2 AIM-9L Sidewinders. While everything here is pretty standard affair for Trumpeter kits, the GBU-12s are a nice addition. There are some downsides to the ordnance selection however. The FLIR pod that is used on the Night Attack variant is missing. This is an integral piece of equipment on the Night Attack Harrier that should be included. Furthermore, Trumpeter failed to include rails for the AIM-9L Sidewinders. That means you will have to rob rails from another kit if you wish to mount Sidewinders. In my opinion, that is just poor planning.

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The clear parts are typical Trumpeter quality. They are very thin and crystal clear. There is a small seam line in the middle of the canopy that can be easily removed with an emery board and Future floor wax. The canopy also has the detonation cord molded in as well. The "det-cord" is used to blow out a section of the canopy to allow the pilot to eject safely. While this feature has been added it is too thin and hard to see. A couple of options exist for adding the det-cord. Zotz Decals include the cord on their aftermarket decal sheet. However, they do not make decals for the night attack version so you would be buying a $26.00 decal sheet just for that one decal. Flying Leathernecks Models makes a vinyl self sticking det-cord that is easy to install and looks great. It can be had from their website for $6.00. trumpeter-av-8b 10

The decals are feature markings for two aircraft, one from VMA-542 with a nice black and yellow pattern on the rudder. The other is a nifty black tailed bird from VMA-311. The decals look great and have plenty of data stencils, but the Tomcat for the VMA-311 is pixilated and looks cheap. Unfortunately, this kit seems to be ignored from the aftermarket decal makers out there. So you are stuck with the two squadrons included or you can choose to make your own.

All in all, this is a great kit. While there are some definite warts, it makes for a nice big second generation Harrier. The kit sells for $154.99, but can be found for much less. I was lucky at picked mine up at the local hobby shop for $85.00.

Have fun and Happy Building!

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