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Italian Navy
AV-8B Harrier II


Model Friends Decals



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Unknown
Scale: 1/48 and 1/72
Contents and Media: See text below
Price: Around £9.00for 1/48 scale; around £5.00 for 1/72 scale
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Inspiring markings for a sometimes otherwise drab subject; high quality decals - perfectly printed; comprehensive instructions.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Scott Brown


F i r s t   L o o k


Harriers don't really do much for me, owing mostly to my lack of knowlwge of them, and the drab markings. I do however like markings that are fairly obscure, drab or not.

Despite my initial blasť attitude about AV-8s, I purchased one of the new Hasegawa 1/48 offerings shortly after it was released, but cooled on it after being uninspired by the USMC markings and grumblings of some accuracy problems with the kit, most notably the shape of the wing. I was flipping through a copy of an armed forces magazine recently when I saw a picture of an Italian navy AV-8B+. I was immediately captivated by the unique markings, and wondered if anybody produced decals for it. A cursory search proved fruitless, none of the sources I usually count on were of any help, so I abandoned the idea. About a month later, I stumbled upon a post on an Italian model site about an outfit called Model Friends that made the markings I was looking for. I was instantly back on track. I sent an e-mail to the addy I found, and got a reply back from a super guy named Roberto Munari confirming that indeed, they produced the sheet I needed. Roberto is a member of IPMS Italy from Turin, and he and 3 of his friends have started to produce a line of decals. This is kind of a mom n' pop endeavor, but I enjoyed dealing with Roberto. I sent them 15 euros and was rewarded with an extremely nice decal sheet. They produce 2 Harrier sheets, 4801 and 7201, in 1/48 and 1/72. The markings are the same for both sheets.

The Italian navy (Marina Militare Italiana) operates 16 AV-8B+ aircraft, built under license in Italy, plus 2 TAV-8Bs for training, and 3 Boeing built AV-8s in the US for the initial pilot course under the USMC. They are based at Taranto, and are embarked on Italy's aircraft carrier, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and will also operate from the planned new carrier Luigi Einaudi.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

If you are familiar with Sky Models decals, you'll instantly recognize the quality of the Model Friends sheet. The markings cover any of the single seat AV-8s of the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati, with the wolf's head insignia and the cool wolf's paw prints on the rudder.

The markings are printed perfectly, and include a very comprehensive set on instructions. The colors are standard Dark Dull Gray over Dark Ghost Gray. The color of the markings look a bit dark, and I think they should be lighter and more blue. I used one of the lighter colored numbers over a coat of DDG. The Italian navy insignia and light colored numbers appear almost off white in some pictures, but the decals lighten up quite a bit when applied, and look realistic over the dark gray. The roundels are 2 piece affairs, so there is no chance of misalignment during printing. The decals behaved great with Solva-set, and are very thin.

Now, to the Hasegawa kit. I have looked very closely at the kit, and various pictues of AV-8s. The general feeling seems to be that the leading edge of the wing looks "gull winged" when viewed from the front, and resolves to straight as it moves back towards the trailing edge. The shape of the wing is very complex, but looking straight ahead at the real thing, there is a pronounced gull winged appearance at the leading edge that disappears as the angle of view changes. The Hasegawa kit faithfully replicates this, although it look a bit more pronounced than the real thing. Looking at the pictures from directly ahead, this feature is undeniably there on the real thing. The kit wing loses the gull wing shape about mid chord, when it resolves to perfectly flat, at least on my kit. I am not prepared to state that the kit is accurate or inaccurate except to say that the gull wing feature is present on both the real thing and the kit. Make your own assessment.

I am very impressed with this first effort from Model Friends. It provides a nice alternative to the existing USMC schemes, and it's wonderful to see real modelers taking the plunge into decal sheets, especially something that's a little of the beaten path.

Highly Recommended.

Model Friends decals may be purchased from:

Italian Kits

Hannants http://www.hannants.co.uk/search/?FULL=MFDC4801

or ordered from Model Friends directly


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
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Review Copyright © 2004 by Scott Brown
This Page Created on 17 April, 2004
Last updated 16 April, 2004

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