Debut: May 2016

 




   

.: Andrew Liu's Royal Navy Sea Harrier - 25th Anniversary

Brand:

Special Hobby
#

Scale:

1/72

Modelling Time:

30+ hrs

PE/Resin Detail:

PE included in kit

Comments:

"For an advertised 'Hightech' kit, this is one of the worst Sea Harrier ever produced. While the Resin & PE we exemplary, the injection moulded plastics were very poor. Inconsistent panel lines and soft moulding.

1983 Hasegawa & Esci kits are better,
2010 Airfix kit blows it away! "

British Aerospace Sea Harrier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sea Harrier
Grey jet aircraft with black radome hovering, undercarriage extended
A Sea Harrier FA2 of 801 NAS in flight at the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Role V/STOL strike fighter
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Hawker Siddeley
British Aerospace
Introduction 20 August 1978 (FRS1)
2 April 1993 (FA2)
Retired March 2006 (Royal Navy);
6 March 2016 (Indian Naval Air Arm)
Status Retired from service
Primary users Royal Navy (historical)
Indian Naval Air Arm (historical)
Number built 111
Unit cost
US$18 million in 1991
Developed from Hawker Siddeley Harrier

The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval short take-off and vertical landing/vertical take-off and landing jet fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft; the second member of the Harrier Jump Jet family developed. It first entered service with the Royal Navy in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS1 and became informally known as the "Shar".[1] Unusual in an era in which most naval and land-based air superiority fighters were large and supersonic, the principal role of the subsonic Sea Harrier was to provide air defence of Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

The Sea Harrier served in the Falklands War, both of the Gulf Wars, and the Balkans conflicts; on all occasions it mainly operated from aircraft carriers positioned within the conflict zone. Its usage in the Falklands War was its most high profile and important success, where it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force. The Sea Harriers shot down 20 enemy aircraft during the conflict with one lost to enemy ground fire. They were also used to launch ground attacks in the same manner as the Harriers operated by the Royal Air Force.

The Sea Harrier was marketed for sales abroad, but by 1983 India was the only operator other than Britain after sales to Argentina and Australia were unsuccessful.[2][3] A second, updated version for the Royal Navy was made in 1993 as the Sea Harrier FA2, improving its air-to-air abilities and weapons compatibilities, along with a more powerful engine; this version continued manufacture until 1998. The aircraft was withdrawn from service early by the Royal Navy in 2006. The Sea Harrier remained in service for another decade with the Indian Navy until its retirement in 2016 thus ending the career of the historic British jet.

Development

In the post-war era, the Royal Navy began contracting in parallel with the break-up of the British Empire overseas and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations, reducing the need for a larger navy. By 1960, the last battleship, HMS Vanguard, was retired from the Navy, having been in service for less than fifteen years.[4] Perhaps the biggest sign of the new trend towards naval austerity came in 1966, when the planned CVA-01 class of large aircraft carriers destined for the Royal Navy was cancelled.[5] During this time, requirements within the Royal Navy began to form for a vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) carrier-based interceptor to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen. Afterward, the first V/STOL tests on a ship began with a Hawker Siddeley P.1127 landing on HMS Ark Royal in 1963.[6][7]

A second concept for the future of naval aviation emerged in the early 1970s as the first of a new class of "through deck cruisers" was planned. These were very carefully and politically designated as cruisers to deliberately avoid the term "aircraft carrier",[8] in order to increase the chances of funding from a hostile political climate against expensive capital ships,[9] they were considerably smaller than the previously sought CVA-01.[10] These ships were ordered as the Invincible class in 1973,[11] and are now popularly recognised as aircraft carriers. Almost immediately upon their construction, a ski-jump was added to the end of the 170-metre deck, enabling the carriers to effectively operate a small number of V/STOL jets.[9][12] The Royal Air Force's Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR1s had entered service in April 1969. A navalised variant of the Harrier was developed by Hawker Siddeley to serve on the upcoming ships, this became the Sea Harrier. In 1975, the Royal Navy ordered 24 Sea Harrier FRS.1 (standing for 'Fighter, Reconnaissance, Strike'[12]) aircraft,[8] the first of which entered service in 1978.[9] During this time Hawker Siddeley became part of British Aerospace through nationalisation in 1977.[13] By the time the prototype Sea Harrier was flown at Dunsfold on 20 August 1978 the order had been increased to 34.[14] The Sea Harrier was declared operational in 1981 on board the first Invincible class ship HMS Invincible, and further aircraft joined the ageing HMS Hermes aircraft carrier later that year.[15]

Following their key role in the 1982 Falklands War,[16] several lessons were learned from the aircraft's performance, which led to approval for an upgrade of the fleet to FRS.2 (later known as FA2) standard to be given in 1984. The first flight of the prototype took place in September 1988 and a contract was signed for 29 upgraded aircraft in December that year.[17] In 1990, the Navy ordered 18 new-build FA2s,[18] at a unit cost of around £12 million, four further upgraded aircraft were ordered in 1994. The first aircraft was delivered on 2 April 1993.[19]

Design

Sea Harrier FA2 ZA195 (upgrade) vector thrust nozzle – distinguishing feature of the jump jet
Nozzle locations
Locations of the four nozzles at the sides of the Pegasus engine.
Further information: Hawker Siddeley Harrier § design

The Sea Harrier is a subsonic aircraft designed to fill strike, reconnaissance and fighter roles.[20] It features a single Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine with two intakes and four vectorable nozzles.[8] It has two landing gear on the fuselage and two outrigger landing gear on the wings. The Sea Harrier is equipped with four wing and three fuselage pylons for carrying weapons and external fuel tanks.[21] Use of the ski jump allowed the aircraft to take off from a short flight deck with a heavier loadout than otherwise possible, although it can also take off like a conventional loaded fighter without thrust vectoring from a normal airport runway.[22]

The Sea Harrier was largely based on the Harrier GR3, but was modified to have a raised cockpit with a "bubble" canopy for greater visibility,[12] and an extended forward fuselage to accommodate the Ferranti Blue Fox radar.[8]Parts were changed to use corrosion resistant alloys or coatings were added to protect against the marine environment.[23] After the Falklands War, the Sea Harrier was fitted with the new anti-ship Sea Eagle missile.[24]

The Sea Harrier FA2 featured the Blue Vixen radar, which was described as one of the most advanced pulse doppler radar systems in the world;[25] the Blue Fox radar was seen by some critics as having comparatively low performance for what was available at the time of procurement.[24] The Blue Vixen formed the basis for development of the Eurofighter Typhoon's CAPTOR radar.[26] The Sea Harrier FA2 also carried the AIM-120 AMRAAMmissile, the first UK aircraft to be provided with this capability.[27] An upgraded model of the Pegasus engine, the Pegasus Mk 106, was used in the Sea Harrier FA2; in response to the threat of radar-based anti aircraft weapons electronic countermeasures were added.[24] Other improvements included an increase to the air-to-air weapons load, look-down radar, increased range, and improved cockpit displays.[17]

The cockpit in the Sea Harrier includes a conventional centre stick arrangement and left-hand throttle. In addition to normal flight controls, the Harrier has a lever for controlling the direction of the four vectorable nozzles. The nozzles point rearward with the lever in the forward position for horizontal flight. With the lever back, the nozzles point downward for vertical takeoff or landing.[28][29] The usefulness of the vertical landing capability of the Sea Harrier was demonstrated in an incident on 6 June 1983, when Sub Lieutenant Ian Watson lost contact with the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and had to land Sea Harrier ZA176[30] on the foredeck of the Spanish cargo shipAlraigo.[31]

In 2005, although already timetabled to be retired, a Sea Harrier was modified with an 'Autoland' system to allow the fighter to perform a safe vertical landing without any pilot interaction. Despite the pitching of a ship posing a natural problem, the system was designed to be aware of such data, and successfully performed a landing at sea in May 2005.[32]

Operational history

Royal Navy

Entry into service

The first three Sea Harriers were a development batch and were used for clearance trials.[14] The first production aircraft was delivered to RNAS Yeovilton in 1979 to form an Intensive Flying Trials Unit (also known as 700A Naval Air Squadron).[14] In March 1980 the Intensive Flying Trials Unit became 899 Naval Air Squadron and would act as the landborne headquarters unit for the type.[14] The first operational squadron 800 Naval Air Squadron was also formed in March 1980 initially to operate from HMS Invincible before it transferred to HMS Hermes.[14] In January 1981, a second operation squadron 801 Naval Air Squadron was formed to operate from HMS Invincible.[14]

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Click on each image for a closer look

Box art:

Falklands War

Line-up of Sea Harrier jet aircraft, facing left of photograph. In the distance is a tall, dull-coloured warehouse.
Sea Harrier at RNAS Yeovilton. The pre-Falklands War paint scheme seen here was altered by painting over the white undersides and markings en route to the islands.

Sea Harriers took part in the Falklands War of 1982, flying from the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes.[33] The Sea Harriers performed the primary air defence role with a secondary role of ground attack; the RAF Harrier GR3 provided the main ground attack force. A total of 28 Sea Harriers and 14 Harrier GR3s were deployed in the theatre.[34] The Sea Harrier squadrons shot down 20 Argentine aircraft in air-to-air combat with no air-to-air losses, although two Sea Harriers were lost to ground fire and four to accidents.[35] Out of the total Argentine air losses, 28% were shot down by Harriers.[33]

A number of factors contributed to the failure of the Argentinian fighters to shoot down a Sea Harrier. Although the Mirage III and Dagger jets were faster, the Sea Harrier was considerably more manoeuvrable.[36][37] Moreover, the Harrier employed the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles and the Blue Fox radar.[36][38] Contrary to contemporary reports that "viffing" proved decisive in dogfights,[36] the maneuver was not used by RN pilots in the Falklands[39] as it was only used in emergencies against enemies unfamiliar with the aircraft.[40] The British pilots had superior air-combat training, one manifestation of which was that they thought they noticed Argentinian pilots occasionally releasing weapons outside of their operating parameters. This is now thought to have been Mirages releasing external fuel tanks rather than weapons, and turning away from conflict with the Sea Harrier. This later reduced their capability to fight an effective campaign against the Sea Harrier due to reduced range and lack of external fuel tanks.[41][42]

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