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Monogram's 1/48 scale AV-8B
Killer Bee Harrier

by David W. Aungst


AV-8B Harrier II


Revell-Monogram's 1/48 scale AV-8B including reference book and resin nose

is available online from Squadron




As one of the oldest built models on my display shelves, this Harrier has endured a lot of abuse including several moves to new homes and the indignity of being dropped on the floor once (by me). If you look closely at the photos, you may detect some of the damage. Nonetheless, it has come through looking rather nice.

I built this model just after Monogram released it in 1987. At that time, it was one of the only full-production AV-8B Harrier models on the market. Also at that time, the wrap-around green/gray camouflage was a new thing. One of the reasons I built this model was to do the wrap-around green/gray camouflage.


Completed Model

Of late, the Monogram Harrier has been upstaged by the vastly more expensive Hasegawa Harrier kits. The differences between the kits make it a draw in my mind on deciding which is better, though. Monogram is a inexpensive, simple kit, but is very well detailed. Hasegawa is a much more expensive and complex kit with many more details, but it suffers in some respects due to its complexities. While I have picked up some Hasegawa Harrier kits, I have yet to unload the Monogram kits that I am sitting on in my stash.





The Monogram kit is the basic run-of-the-mill offering from Monogram. The detail is nice, the scribing is raised, and the cockpit is fairly complete. There are weapons provided in the kit as well as two 400-gallon drop tanks and a choice of LIDs or 25mm gun pack for the belly. The image below shows the unassembled kit.


Unassembled Kit

I started as usual in the cockpit. Nicely painted, the cockpit is more than adequate at providing a representation of the early AV-8B cockpit.


Painted Cockpit                Painted Cockpit


The lower part of the ejection seat is molded as part of the cockpit tub. Only the upper seat is a separate piece. The upper seat is molded in left and right pieces the have a significant seam running down the middle of the rear cushion. Filling this seam is the only real issue in the cockpit. I chose to fill the seam by laminating a piece of 0.010" styrene sheeting over the cushion. Using a small file, I engraved the cushion lines into this sheet. While not as nice as I would have liked, this did cover the seam.

Originally, I also added the full harnesses to the ejection seat. Over the years on my display shelves and suffering from "battle damage" when I dropped the kit, the upper harnesses have been broken off and gotten lost. The lap belts on the ejection seat have faired better and are still in the cockpit.

The kit provides tiny clear parts for the three rearview mirrors inside the canopy. I was not happy with these as they looked too bulky. I replaced these with etched metal mirrors from Model Technologies. I drilled and installed pins with 0.010" brass wire to hold the etched metal mirrors.

For the nose, the kit provides a clear piece to cover the ARBS system. The trouble is that the nose tip is just an un-detailed wall behind the clear tip. After some consideration, I decided having nothing behind the nose glass was better than this wall, so I drilled out the nose and painted the inner areas in flat black. A small dot of medium blue paint on the inside of the clear piece represents the ARBS camera lens.


Completed Model


The kit provides external fuel tanks, molded in place on the inboard weapons pylons. At the time I built the kit, it was not common for Harriers to carry external fuel tanks, so I cut away the kit-provided tanks and threw them in my spare parts bin. In their place, I added sway bracing taken from the Hasegawa weapons sets. I also added the sway braces to the other weapons pylons. This greatly improved the look of the pylons.

I replaced the kit weapons with better-looking items from the Hasegawa weapons sets.

    • AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles
    • Mk-82 500lb Snakeye bombs on triple ejector racks (TERs)


Hasegawa Weapons   Hasegawa Weapons

One big "gotcha" on the kit is the main landing gear. The instructions are not very clear on how to attach the gear leg into the fuselage. So, I did what seemed logical and found out way too late that I had mounted the gear too high in the fuselage. The model rested on the nose gear and wing outriggers without the main gear touching the ground -- OUCH!

I solved this main gear problem by cutting off the main gear flush with the fuselage and adding a spacer to make the gear leg longer. If I ever build another Monogram Harrier, I will not attach the main gear, leaving it loose in place until the wings are attached. Then I can pull down on the gear to get it to the correct position before I add glue.

The main gear issue was really more of an annoyance than anything else. The minor updates I made to the kit made quite a difference in the look of the completed model.

I like the heavy look of the Harrier when it is carrying the 25mm belly gun pack. The LIDs always had an anemic look to me. Thus, I constructed and attached the gun pack to the belly. The fit of this was quite good considering the complexity at capturing the shapes and contours.



Painting and Markings


I used all Testors Model Master enamel paints.

The aircraft is finished in the wrap-around scheme of Dark Green (F.S.34096) and Dark Gray (F.S.36099). As these colors were not available at the time I built the model, I substituted Dark Green (F.S.34079) and Gunship Gray (F.S.36118).

They looked just as good to me.


Completed Model


I used the kit decals, which represent an aircraft from VMA-311 "Killer Bees" based at MCAS Cherry Point, circa 1986. Please do not refer to this unit as the "Bumble Bees". I found this out the hard way one day when talking to someone who was an ex-unit member. He corrected me in no uncertain terms.

At the time I built this model, I was big on personalizing my models. Thus, I could not help myself from adding my own name and call sign below the canopy. I did this using N-scale railroad lettering -- one letter at a time. I also added a few A-4 "kill marks" on the left side of the nose. The "kill marks" are from a SuperScale AV-8A Harrier decal sheet.

I like having lots of aircraft data and scoured my spare decals stash to come up with anything that could improve the looks of the model. I used some 1/72nd scale weapons data markings to add data markings to the weapons pylons. I liked the effect with all the extra markings detail on the pylons.

I used a combination of thinned down enamel paint washes and airbrush shading to weather the airframe. A final dry brushing of silver to pop out the surface details completed this. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".





This is a nice little kit that, in my mind, provides real competition to the Hasegawa kit in spite of being over 15 years older. You can own three Monogram kits for the cost of a single Hasegawa kit. The Monogram details are not as fine as Hasegawa, and the scribing is raised compared to Hasegawa's fine engraving, but I have read some reviews that claim the overall shape of the completed Monogram kit is better.

As I wrote at the top of this posting, I have picked up some Hasegawa Harrier kits. But, considering the kit building complexities, I have yet to unload any of the Monogram kits that I am sitting on in my stash.

For me, the jury is still out on which kit I like better.



Additional Images and Project Summary


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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

August, 1987

Total Building Time:






Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):


Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):


Extra Detailing / Conversion:

Modelling the Harrier I and II
Osprey Modelling 1
Author: Glenn Ashley

US Price: $17.95
UK Price: 12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: September 25, 2003
Details: 80 pages; ISBN: 184176647X
Shop cart
Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2004 by David Aungst

Page Created 25 November, 2004
Last Updated 24 November, 2004

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