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Kinetic Sea Harrier FA2


With improved weapons capabilities, the FA2 was a 1993 development of the Sea Harrier vertical-takeoff and -landing fighter that served the Royal Navy until 2006.

Kinetic's brand-new Sea Harrier comprises 271 parts, including two sprues dedicates to ordnance, photoetched-metal wing fences, and a crystal-clear canopy.

Markings for 28 aircraft from five squadrons are provided. They include several special-anniversary, decommissioning, and squadron-disbandment schemes. Full sets of stencils are provided for all of the choices.

I started construction by choosing the only non-gray decal option, the blue and white anniversary scheme celebrating the Sea Harrier's 25th anniversary. Construction options included in the decal section are not mentioned in the assembly instructions, so check both places before starting.

I had to do a lot of cleanup before gluing anything together. The engraving and molded details look fantastic, but there are mold seams and flash on nearly every part in the kit.

Careful painting brings out the detail in the cockpit, where there is a choice of early or late instrument panels.

The ejection seat doesn't look quite right, and a nasty seam bisects the headrest. I built up the front of the headrest with a bit of styrene to cover the seam and make it more accurate. An aftermarket resin seat would be even better.

Kinetic deals with the Harrier's unique shape by building the cockpit, front gear bay, and engine face as a subassembly. This creates fit problems and complicates masking and painting.

I sanded the cockpit's sides so it fit the fuselage, but I misaligned the cockpit, gear bay, and engine. This caused a gap in the belly.

I left the intakes off for easier painting and masking of the engine ducting, but had to fill seams and repaint the area after attaching them. Installing aftermarket FOD covers would be an easy solution.

The engine nozzles are connected so they move together, but it’s difficult to squeeze the mechanism into the fuselage. At final assembly, the nozzle wouldn't fit into the mounts. I ground away the mounts with a motor tool and the nozzles fit fine; save yourself trouble and omit the whole assembly.

To get a flush fit between the wings and the fuselage, I sanded the mounting ridges. Tight clearances hamper paint coverage under the wing roots. It would be wise to at least apply a base coat to the fuselage before installing the wings. Leave the horizontal stabilizers until final assembly, because a couple of decals fit around the pivot points.

In an attempt to avoid filling seams, I mounted the windscreen with liquid cement. Big mistake! The windshield fits so low to the instrument panel shroud that capillary action drew the glue up under the clear plastic and crazed it. It was masked at the time, so there was no way to fix it.

The instructions don't mention the decal for the canopy's explosive cord; it's located between the large orange decals and checkerboard rudder decals. But it doesn’t match the molded impression on the canopy; I traced it with a white Prismacolor pencil instead.

The photoetched-metal wing fences are nice, but I had to replace one with sheet styrene after it flew out of my tweezers. To improve the fit, I cut slots in the wings with a razor saw.

I painted the model with Tamiya royal blue and gloss white for the body, Testors Model Master gunship gray for the radome, and neutral gray for the drop tanks.

I spent about eight hours applying more than 150 decals; they went on OK over clear gloss. The three-piece roundels for the lower wing looked like trouble, but two applications of Microscale Micro Sol settled them. I couldn't conform decal Nos. 3, 4, and 5 to the lower fin, so I painted those areas instead.

Kinetic's Sea Harrier presents challenges. But, with patience, an experienced modeler can produce a fantastic representation of the FA2. It matches published dimensions exactly and looks good compared with photos. Two full trees of ordnance cover any weapons load imaginable, and the detailed, engraved panel lines rival the best I've seen.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2015 FineScale Modeler.

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