McDonald-Douglas AV-8B Harrier II

     The dream for a military aircraft able to take-off and land vertically like a helicopter and then transition to conventional flight was realized in the British made AV-8A Harrier. First flown and deployed by the RAF in 1969, it utilizes the concept of "Vectored Thrust" in which turbine by-pass air is routed to one of two pairs of nozzles at the wing roots, while jet exhaust is directed through the second pair.  The combined "thrusts" enable the Harrier to either hover or fly normally depending on the position of the nozzles which can be rotated in unison along the longitudinal axis anywhere from straight aft for forward flight to a little forward of straight down for hover. 
     Designed primarily for ground attack and support carrying all armament under the wings, it is also capable of near supersonic speeds (approximately 600 knots). Harriers were tested in combat during the Falkland Islands War during which 42 were deployed for ground support, air defense, ship strikes, and reconnaissance. They shot down at least 20 enemy planes most with Sidewinders and some with 30 mm, without a single air-to-air loss. Five were lost to ground fire and four to adverse weather. It is said that the British victory probably would not have happened without the Harriers.
     The U.S. Marine Corps formed its first squadron in April, 1971. These aircraft were basically the same as the RAF Harriers but with American avionics, flight control systems and weapons systems. The last of this batch was delivered in 1976, and the last AV-8A was retired in 1986.  Reluctant to have our military aircraft manufactured outside of the U.S., a licensing agreement was made between Hawker-Siddley and McDonnell-Douglas for the manufacture of the follow-on AV-8B (Harrier II) designed to give the Harrier the payload, range, and accuracy of the most modern conventional aircraft. Testing was so successful that the initial production order of 12 AV-8Bs was placed before the program was completed, and delivered to the Marines in January, 1984. While outwardly resembling the earlier Harriers, the AV-8B is a new and totally different aircraft that incorporates a higher thrust engine (21,500 lbs vs 20,000 lbs) giving about the same speed, but a much greater payload. It has a new supercritical wing holding more fuel and with six payload wing pylons instead of four, plus a fuselage station. The cockpit is entirely different, being similar to the F/A-18, with state of the-art electronics and a bubble canopy for better visibility.
    During Desert Storm operations, four USMC Harrier squadrons (86 aircraft), operating from land and shipboard bases, flew 3,380 sorties for 4,038 hours, and delivered over 5.95 millions lbs of ordnance (mainly Rockeye cluster bombs, 500 lb iron bombs and napalm). The Marine Corps is pleased with its Harriers, with seven Attack Squadrons and one Training Squadron flying them, and it is expected that they will be operational well into the next century. Harriers are also used by the British, Spanish, and Italian Navies.

AV-8B Harrier II - US Marines
Premier Series.  Loaded with weapons.  1/35th scale. 10" wingspan x 17.5" long.
  No. AGN2D-PR.  Only $219.95
AV-8B Harrier II - US Marines
Standard Series.  1/48th scale.
7.35" wingspan x 11.25" long.
  No. AGN2D-ST.  Only $129.95
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