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TwoBobs AV-8B Hard Corps Harriers
by Steve Belanger

 

These decals have been well worth the wait for those wanting current grey Harriers (the old SuperScale Desert Storm Harrier sheet had some grey versions on there but not exactly the best). Like the usual work from TwoBobs, this sheet is excellent.  The set is rather complete with a total of two full size decal sheets, two smaller sheets (including slime lights), and two (double-sided) full-color instructions. The instructions show four views of each aircraft along with another four view for the stencil data.  Also included in the instructions are small photos of the actual aircraft or other specific detail shots. The decals cover six Harriers but stencil data is provided for "only" four. The decals are printed in perfect register in my sample, but TwoBobs provides the option for layering the complex decals in some cases if needed (like the yellow/black rudder stripes, nose art, etc.)

Technically the aircraft marked as "Super Harriers" in the instructions are actually AV-8B+ (as in "plus") Harriers desginating those aircraft equipped with radar in the extended nose. The AV-8A was the just the "Harrier", since there is such a drastic difference from that model, the AV-8B was dubbed the "Super Harrier."  Since only the day attack version of the AV-8B is available currently in kit form, you'll need to either scratch build or buy a conversion set for the Revell/Monogram kit if you want to model the night attack or plus aircraft. The sheet only provides decals for one day attack and one night attack, the rest are plusses.

The six Harriers depicted are:
VMA-231 Ace of Spades - AV-8B+, special tail markings
VMA-231 Ace of Spades - AV-8B NA, standard squadron scheme
VMA-231 (detached to HMM-264) - AV-8B, with IFOR markings from 1996
VMA-223 Bulldogs - two AV-8B+, standard squadron schemes on both
VMA-542 Flying Tigers - AV-8B+, standard scheme, squadron logo on tail 

The sheet is excellent and highly recommended, if you want a modern USMC Harrier get this sheet. OK with that said, now for the nitpicks. I'm sure someone with the usual photo references may catch these anyway but I'll point out some items/errors with the instructions/decals. 

The instruction sheet calls out for two square decals on the rear of each of the nose landing gear doors (the two grey rectangular decals that have two small Harrier images on them). They show and provide two decals but this should actually is only on the RIGHT nose gear door. The instruction also shows the wrong orientation for this marking, it should be rotated 90 (apply as it is on the actual decal sheet). There should be a nitrogen marking at that spot on the left door (which is not provided).
Refer to:

There should be three grey lines painted on the right forward fuselage leading from the integrated boarding steps up to the cockpit. Look at the kit decals for this (but they're black there.)

The VMA-223 nose numbers (at least on aircraft 02) should have a light grey shadow effect on it.

For the VMA-231, the camoflauge patterns are slightly different from those illustrated in the instructions. The FS36118 grey on the upper fuselage/wing dips down onto the fuselage sides under the leading edge root extensions to reach the top of the nozzle fairings. The photo reproductions on the sheet actually show this (could easily be mistaken for a shadow there though in the images.)

I took the photos of the VMA-231 aircraft that were used for this sheet and provided the Bobs with the manuals for the data/stencils. (They compensated me with numerous free decal sheets which was very nice!)  Anyway, it's not called out in the instructions but the VMA-231 aircraft are depicted as they were seen in March 2001. As a sideline, they no longer look like this anymore. The tail of aircraft 01 has since been toned down and the nose emblem for all the squadron aircraft have returned to just grey. The same goes for the VMA-223 nose art, it too is back to all grey.

I have a website (that is endlessly under construction I think) that has all the photos I took of the VMA-231 aircraft. I took loads of external close-ups of different aircraft so if you're building a Harrier (especially from 231) you want want to check out the page:

USMC AV-8B Harrier - Cherry Point

(you may notice a "slight" similarity in website appearance, how did that happen.....)