AV-8B Harrier II carrier based V/STOL attack / close air support / fighter aircraft. This model represents the early production version of the AV-8B. It features, a detailed cockpit with room for a minifigure and a sliding canopy, fully functional landing gear with wing "pogo" gear, rotating exhaust nozzles, detailed armament, and positionable flight control surfaces including flaps, ailerons, airbrakes, and all moving horizontal stabilators.
About this creation
Front view of the model. This shows the large curved intakes (their size necessary to feed the high-bypass nature of the Pegasus turbine), the dihedral of the wings, and the bicycle arrangement of the main gear and "pogo" wing gear. The clear sensor in the tip of the nose is an IR seeker, as the original AV-8B lacked radar. The wings carry an array of weaponry, including 2 Mk84 2000lb LGBs, 2 LAU-19 FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rockets) pods, and 2 AIM-9 Sidewinder air to air missiles. On the aircraft's belly is mounted the 25mm rotary cannon, with the port pod containing the weapon and the starboard pod the ammo. For non-combat missions the pods can be removed and replaced with two aerodynamic strakes.
In 1982, after eleven years of AV-8A operational flying, including 55 peacetime aircraft losses, the Commandant of the time asked the Harrier community to address the serious problem of flight safety.
The reason for his concern was "a high mishap rate within the AV-8A community' anticipated continuing turbulence' and a pressing requirement to reduce the mishap rate in order to provide the assets needed for successful transition to the AV-8B."
Side view of the left side of the model, showing the general arrangement of the landing gear system and stance of the aircraft on the ground. The landing gear doors open only during extension or retraction of the gear. A small opening and door exist for the gear to protrude thru the fuselage while keeping the actual gear bay closed. This not only keeps foreign debris out of the gear bays, but prevents them from interfering with the ground effect from the downwash of the exhaust during the critical V/STOL portion of the flight (itself the largest source of Harrier accidental losses).
The AV-8B is a high performance, single-engine, single-seat, Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing (V/STOL) attack aircraft. It was introduced to the Fleet Marine Forces (FMF) in January 1985 after a successful prototype demonstration and Full Scale Development Program. Consistent with the long-standing Marine Corps vision of attaining an all V/STOL amphibious force, the AV-8B replaced both the A-4M and AV-8A/C -- the light attack portion of the Marine Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR) force.
Closeup of the model. The small antenna on the lower part of the sides of the nose are the pitot tubes used to supply air pressure data to the aircraft's instruments. The large fan blade of the Pegasus turbine engine can be seen in the port intake.
The AV-8B was designed primarily to improve upon the performance and handling qualities of the AV-8A/C. It was a new design, with composite structures, a bigger wing, higher engine thrust and reliability, and state-of-the-art avionics; however, it did retain the fundamental single-engine, vectored exhaust nozzle configuration of its predecessor. Where possible, and within tight budgetary and schedule constraints, the prime contractors were also challenged to improve reliability and maintainability (R&M). At the time R&M was a much stronger design driver in the ongoing F/A-18 development program.
Top view of the model. The color scheme's disruptive camoflauging ability is readily apparent, useful as the Harrier is intended to fight primarily in a low level environment in the close air support role. As the mission evolved to include air superiority as well, the color scheme was later revised to a two tone grey as carried on most modern tactical aircraft.
As hoped, the flying qualities, performance and warfighting capabilities of the AV-8B proved to be dramatic improvements over those of the AV-8A/C. Although hampered by some significant susceptibility and vulnerability deficiencies, the AV-8B, with its flexible basing, high sortie generation capability and accurate weapon system acquitted itself admirably under combat conditions in the Persian Gulf. However, by the end of 1991, the cumulative (non-combat) mishap rate was disappointingly high at more than 14 per 100,000 flight hours for its first seven operational years.
Bottom view of the model. The gear doors are shown open here, but in practice the Harrier's gear doors are closed when the gear are in the fully lowered position, opening only for their extension or retraction. Small secondary doors cover openings just large enough for the gear struts to protrude through the fuselage allow the gear to be lowered but keep the gear bays free of debris or creating control issues from the ground effect of the down wash from the exhaust in V/STOL operations.
By 1998, approximately 50% of the Marine Corp's single-seat AV-8Bs and six two-seat TAV-8B's were configured with the 408A engine. A Department of Defense (DoD) decision to retrofit all of the TAV-8Bs with the 408A not only provides increased thrust - thereby providing a larger margin for safety - but improves maintainability within the FRS. It also provides an opportunity to establish a common engine for the entire Harrier community. However, some of the important planned maintenance and logistics support features of the new engine had yet to be realized. The EMS was initially only partially fielded, with no usable ground stations for retrieval of data available at the squadron level, and neither the RCM nor the modular maintenance programs had been adequately funded.
Closeup of the fore and aft nozzles of the model. The forward nozzles direct relatively cool bypass air from the forward stage of the Pegasus turbine engine, while the rear nozzles use hot jet exhaust. The shiny portion behind the rear nozzle is a titanium heat shield. The nozzles rotate thru 90 degrees, from pure VTOL mode, V/STOL (shown), and forward flight with the nozzles directed full aft. The nozzles can be actuated in flight during ACM, and have been used to great effect to perform maneuvers impossible for other aircraft to mimic. In it's environment the Harrier is a very formidable opponent, as shown to great effect in the Falklands War and both Gulf wars.
The fighter version of the aircraft is manned by a single pilot; a two-seat trainer with the full military capability of the single seater is also available. As with so many modern jet fighters, the Harrier is equipped with zero-zero ejection seats; that is, crew escape is possible on the runway at zero altitude and zero speed.
The AV-8B's wing is made out of one piece, including ribs and skins. It's ailerons, flaps, outrigger pods and fairings, forward part of fuselage, tail, wings and rudder, are manufactured mainly from graphite epoxy (carbon fiber) and other composites. The center and rear fuselage, wing leading-edges (reinforced against bird strikes on RAF aircraft) , wingtips, tailplane leading-edges and tips, and fin, are of an aluminum alloy. Small sections of the bottom, heat shields, and the nose of the Harrier are constructed out of titanium.
Manufacturer(s) McDonnell Douglass/ Boeing
Country UK & USA
Role V/STOL Ground Attack Fighter
Powerplant Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408 (1x)
Thrust 23,800 lbs 106kN
Length 46.4 (ft)
Height 11.9 (ft)
Wingspan 30.4 (ft)
Weight (empty) 12,500 (lbs)
Max t/o weight n/a
Rate of climb
Speed 629 (mph)
Ceiling 50,000 (ft)
Quoting JT Robertson
I'm amazed at how well you shape your models. This thing looks like you could fuel it up and fly it onto the front lines! The camo looks really nice, and all the details are superb. Very awesome!
I've learned a lot of tricks on how to gradually transition width and slope. Even so, when I'm done with a model I always subject it to the LDD "tilt test", which is I pick a spot at the extreme front of the model and attach a vertical hinge piece of some sort, then use the rotate function to rotate the entire model 90 degrees. If I have any "floaters" (unattached pieces) left behind where the model was, I know I have issues and have to go back and figure out where I screwed up. It happens, these things take me days to complete, and sometimes you have to interrupt a train of thought and walk away overnight or when life gets in the way (or angry wives!). Sometimes a very carefully thought out and engineered plan gets a little wonky. :D
Quoting Matt Bace
Just like all of your other Harrier models, this one is superb. I love the look of the cockpit and the green/gray camo scheme.
Technically, this is only my second Harrier. I am planning on doing the other variants, most probably the British GR3 next. This one has the shorter recontoured non-radar nose of the standard AV-8B with the IR sensor in the tip. I also deleted the chaff/flare pods from the aircraft's spine.