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  #1  
Old June 8th, 2009, 12:02 AM
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Default VMA-311 "Tomcats" OIF

For this build my plan is to depict an AV-8B Plus from VMA-311. My original intention was to depict a Harrier from the "Tomcats" Nov 2004 to Feb 2005 deployment to Al Asad. During which time they participated in "Operation al-Fajr", flying numerous sorties in support of the Marines and Soldiers engaged in the " Battle of Fallujah" during Nov, 2004. However I have very few references of these aircraft and I'm not sure if the decals I'm using are for a VMA-311 Harrier during their 2003 deployment in support of OIF with Amphibious Task Force West or their 2004 Al Asad deployment.



The decals are dated 2004 and I'm inclined to think they represent the 2003 ATF-W deployment. At this point, while I would like to know what time frame these marking represent, I like the way they look and I'm just going to build it any way, but If any of you can shed some light on this I would appreciate it.


This is a photo of two unidentified Harrier's during OIF dated Nov 2004. One of these two loadouts are what I'm considering, not sure which one yet.


A photo of a VMA-311 Harrier II at AL Asad in 2004 with it's PC.


Here's what I've got to work with. The 1/48 Hasegawa kit and a few extra goodies. I'm keeping this a simple build. Although I may have to do something about the nose gear wheel well and open the doors, but I don't want it to become to involved because I'm hoping to have enough time to finish a "Green Knight" F/A-18D for this GB as well.





Semper Fi,
Mark
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Old June 8th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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I've started by adding various bits of Eduard photo-etched stuff to the cockpit. I really dislike working with it though.

Here's the bang seat, I may replace this with an AM one eventually though.


Added a piece to the shroud/HUD


The kit IP is lacking the side panels, so a little photo-etch was in order here.


The IP is prepped and ready to have the Eduard MFD's added to it.


A little test fitting of the IP to cockpit and you can see the rudder petals that were added


Some side console instrument panels have been attached and you can see the rudder petals better here.


Thanks for looking,
Mark
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Old June 10th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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I decided to take a break from the cockpit photo-etch bits and get a start on the fuselage, tail and wing assembles.
I also decided to do something a little unorthodox... Follow the instructions. Well at least as far as the wing assembly goes anyway.

I attached the lower wing halves to the fuselage as per instructions and have worked out my assembly process of the LEX and intake parts. After a lot of test fitting I think I may be able to get it together without to much use of putty.



The bottom part is attached and fortunately most of the seam here will be hidden by the gun pod once attached.


I hope to have an update posted on the cockpit assembly by the end of the week.

Thanks for looking,
Mark
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Old June 10th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Nice Mark! Looking forward to this. You know the Harrier is my favorite AC. I found when building my two harriers and when it came to the LEX to wing join if I added a brace inside the LEX to pry that open just a touch i had very little step and needed minor filling. Good start so far bro!

Semper Fi
Dan
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Last edited by marine4 ever; June 10th, 2009 at 04:18 PM.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 09:22 PM
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Default Nice choice and nice start! I'll be following with a VMA 311 build from 2003!

My son was on the Tarawa when they deployed in 2003. I rode back from Hawaii with him and got some pictures but not enough that's for sure. I do know though the tail codes were; YR not WL.




Whenever the kit I ordered shows up I'll get started.

Will be keeping an eye on this build looking for problem areas to deal with!

Cheers

Larry McCarley
21045
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marine4 ever View Post
Nice Mark! Looking forward to this. You know the Harrier is my favorite AC. I found when building my two harriers and when it came to the LEX to wing join if I added a brace inside the LEX to pry that open just a touch i had very little step and needed minor filling. Good start so far bro!

Semper Fi
Dan
Thanks Bro,
Your last "Tomcat" Harrier build was certainly one of my inspirations for this build. I was hoping you would be along with a few pointers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Incaroad View Post
My son was on the Tarawa when they deployed in 2003. I rode back from Hawaii with him and got some pictures but not enough that's for sure. I do know though the tail codes were; YR not WL.

Cheers

Larry McCarley
21045
Thanks Larry,

I really appreciate the info and the photo. You must be real proud of your son...
I have not seen an image with the YR tail code. Did VMA-311 have the YR tail code for their entire deployment aboard the Tarawa in 2003? If so, then it seems that the SuperScale decals are for the 2004 Al Asad deplyoment.


Semper Fi,
Mark
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:39 AM
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Default I am very proud of my son for many reasons including his time with the Marines!

As far as the tail codes; when, where, why, and how long...I have no clue but I'm trying to find out. If I get any more info I'll certainly pass it along.

Good luck on your build!

Cheers,
Larry McCarley.
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Old June 12th, 2009, 06:32 PM
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Nice, how are you going to tackle the whole Lex/deck issue?

Andy
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On the Bench:
Eduard 1/144 Mig 21 MF
Revell 1/32 BF109-G10
Hasegawa 1/200 C-40A Clipper

At some point:
Monogram B-25 turned into a PBJ-1
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  #9  
Old June 13th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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Mark I PM'd you a site that has some great tips for building a harrier that addresses the pitfalls of this kit. hope it helps. go to the on the bench link and scroll about halfway down. this is my main source for navigating the fit issues.

http://www.scalespot.com/
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Old June 14th, 2009, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by titan8251 View Post
Nice, how are you going to tackle the whole Lex/deck issue?

Andy
Thanks Andy,

Veeewy cawefully. (in my best Elmer fudd voice)

After drawing inspiration from several excellent builds of this notoriously tricky model, I approached this project with a fairly good idea as to where the pitfalls lie. I think the first mistake some people make, and I almost did this as well because the instructions tell you to do it, is glue part A5 (Intake) to the fuselage assembly in step 2. This is one area where I don't think you want to follow the instructions.

The fuselage assembly at the top of the intake bends inward a little and if you test fit part B3(rear decking) which will need to go into that position later on in the build, it forces the fuselage apart just a little.


If you glue the intake on to soon it will prevent the fuselage from accepting B3 properly and creates a difficult step to contend with and throwing things out of alignment.


My plan is to test fit B3 with tape while I attach the LEX assembly to the fuselage. But before I can do that I need to attach D3 (top of the main wing). To this I added a shim to the front to help prevent a step at the LEX to wing joint. Another area where some people go wrong with this kit is by gluing the wing parts together before attaching them to the fuselage. This one area you definitely need to follow the instructions.


After D3 was attached I glued in place J2 ( bottom part of the LEX). I also grinded out a notch with my Dremel to allow A5 (the intake) to clear J2(the lower LEX part).


This allowed me to get the join on the underneath together as cleanly as possible and minimize the work necessary to clean up this hard to reach area.


Once J2 had dried I attached J1 (the top part of the LEX). The shim seemed to work out fine and there's a minimal seam to clean up.


I removed B3 after everything was dry. It will be attached to the forward fuselage assembly once that's ready to go.


Test fit, test fit and test fit again... Here I have test fit A5( the intake) B3(rear deck) and the taped together forward fuselage assembly to the rest of the fuselage to check fit. A little gap at the bottom but not bad.


More test fitting. The intake looks to be another interesting challenge to contend with.


Overall it went together fairly well and I'm pleased with the result. I have a few seams to deal with but nothing requiring large amounts of putty and sanding. The fit is actually not to bad, it's just the assembly sequence needs to be done in a specific order to ensure a decent fit, but if one bit goes astray during that process the whole thing gets out of kilter and is not simple to fix. It doesn't help the instructions are a bit vague in some places and in some areas, down right misleading.


Quote:
Originally Posted by marine4 ever View Post
Mark I PM'd you a site that has some great tips for building a harrier that addresses the pitfalls of this kit. hope it helps. go to the on the bench link and scroll about halfway down. this is my main source for navigating the fit issues.

http://www.scalespot.com/
Thanks Bro!...

Semper Fi,
Mark
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Old June 16th, 2009, 08:25 AM
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Nice save dude! You gonna address that nice little gap on the intakes at the fuselage or just cover them with a FOD cover like I did? killer work so far Mark!

Semper Fi
Dan
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Old June 16th, 2009, 07:55 PM
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Thanks dude.

Well, what would you consider to be easier to deal with, opening the nose gear doors and scratch building the wheel well or dealing with those nasty intakes?

The reason I ask is, I see that I have two options;

First, use a set of Steel Beach intake plugs to hide the intakes, but to do that I'll need to open the nose gear doors and scratch build the bay to accurately depict a Harrier at rest .
Second, deal with the intakes......Leave the nose gear door closed and put a pilot in the cockpit depicting the Harrier getting ready to taxi out. I've pinched a pilot from my Hasegawa Super Hornet and have begun fitting him to the Harrier seat. With a little tweaking and sanding I think he'll work out fine. I have to say I'm leaning in this direction because I'm not totally happy with how the Eduard Color-etch stuff looks in the cockpit and the kit bang seat is not quite up to standard, I figure by adding a pilot it will hide these issues a bit.

I sure wish Hasegawa had provided the option of opening the nose gear doors.
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Old June 16th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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to me it's a no brainer. Deal with the intakes will be a much easier task than scratching out wheel bays! use some plasticard to fill in those triangular gaps and then some filler for the seams. that should be easy for you.

Semper Fi
Dan
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Old June 21st, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Here's what progress I've made since my last update to this build;

A pilot figure I pinched from my Hasegawa Super Hornet kit, with a little tweaking, he's now a Marine Harrier pilot. Now I need to clean up the mold seams and fashion an OX hose.


Here is the IP test fit to the cockpit. The photo-etch looks a bit flat and 2D to me though. I still need to finish off the HUD before this sub-assembly is complete.


I'm hoping that by adding a pilot it will add some interest.


Everything is again test fit to make sure all the parts get along with each other.


I added some plastic card stock to fill in a trouble some gap in the intake.


I'm planning on attaching the intake to the cockpit assembly before attaching both to the main fuselage so I can deal with some of the gaps in the intake before all of these parts are glued together.


The wing tips have been added as well as the flare buckets on the empanage and I've started sanding down the various seems. No putty yet, but there are a few seams that will need filling on this sub-assemble before it's ready.


Lots of little bits to glue together on this build. The exhaust nozzles have some real interesting seams to contend with, but everything else is fairly straight forward.



It seems that every piece in this kit requires test fitting and massaging to get it all to fit well. I wouldn't say the fit is bad as much as it's fussy. I am enjoying the process but it certainly requires the modeler to not take anything for granted during the build.


Thanks for looking,
Mark
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Old June 21st, 2009, 05:42 PM
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Looks good - though I have to say that you are risking some fit issues fitting the intake piece to the forward fuselage. Make sure you remove the round tab on the back of the two nose pieces where it fits into the intake piece or it will pull the nose too high.

Watching with baited breath...
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Old June 21st, 2009, 05:54 PM
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Thanks Craig,

Fortunately nothing is glued together yet. Do you recommend attaching the intake to the main fuselage before attaching the forward fuselage section to it? I'll have to go back and do some more test fitting with this in mind.

Mark
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Old June 21st, 2009, 06:00 PM
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Yes I would. One of the issues with the Hasegawa kit is that the intake part tends to cause the nose to be pulled up at the front for a few reasons. By fitting the intake to the fuselage, you will be able to get a better alignment by making the bottom rear of the nose wheel well area and the top rear deck part fit as they should.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 08:39 AM
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I agree with craig. I tried to assemble my build as you plan to only to find the problem that craig mentioned and had to remove parts and start over. best to deal with fit issues after proper alignment.

Semper Fi
Dan
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 11:58 AM
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Very nice so far, Mark... Looking forward to seeing more!

Brian
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Old June 27th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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Very nice so far, Mark... Looking forward to seeing more!

Brian
Thanks Brian!


After Craig's and Dan's comments I went back and re-test fit the nose section to the main fuselage assembly to make sure the nose wasn't too high. First I attached the intake with Blue Tack to the nose section and then test fit the nose section without the intake piece attached. There seems to be no difference, at least that I could tell. The joins at the top and bottom are tight and I don't seem to be able to notice how the nose could be pulled up. I have a couple of pictures of the nose section attached with blue tack. I can't tell if the nose is too high, it looks fine to me but I'm not sure




I'm wondering if perhaps making a notch in J2 (the lower LEX part) which otherwise would contact the intake piece as it was attached to the main fuselage assembly thereby throwing this alignment out and pushing the nose up a little.

I would appreciate some feed back as to whether the nose looks as if it's too high or not. It looks fine to me but I've been staring at it for too long now to tell. If I can attach the intake to the nose section first it will make cleaning up some of the intake seams a bit easier. My concern with attaching the intake to the main fuselage first is it will sit too far back and create a tricky to deal with seam.

Thanks for you input,

Mark
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