Harrier T.4 Conversion – Part 4

Though we all want to produce a perfect replica, there is always a certain amount of compromise, especially with a kit that’s this old.

Cockpit details, odd mistakes and the need to measure twice and cut once…

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The following is to be read in conjunction with my new video update – here’s the link:

Harrier Made For Two – Part 2 Video

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Over the last week or so I’ve spent some time adding detail to the basic structure that I outlined in the last instalment of this build. This time around we’ll take a look at some of the details within the cockpit and the work needed to begin the long journey of fitting out the two openings, to create a realistic T.4 cockpit.

With the floor and bulkheads in place, attention turned to the creation of the instrument panels, walls and consoles. Before beginning work, the interior of the nose extension had been painted with filler primer and then sanded smooth. I was fairly certain that the surface of the interior was smooth enough to work on and given that much of it would the covered in detail, that it was okay to start adding the interior structure and then larger components.

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There is no getting away from the fact that the construction of a cockpit — any cockpit — is a demanding undertaking. In this case that was made more so thanks to an almost complete lack of aftermarket products. Although I had some of David Parkin’s Flightpath details, they are only for the single seater and so although small items were useful, much of the interior set was a redundant purchase. There are also a set of resin seats available, but these were deemed to be too poor for this build and thus dismissed, the kit seats being detailed once the time comes to do so. And so the only course of action was to sit down, examine the multitude of images that I taken and those that had been supplied by Andy King and David Haggas and get to work.

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The front cockpit was first to be dealt with and inside out approach being taken whereby the structure was first glued in place and then the details that in realty are bolted on to that structure, added, piece by piece. Careful planning was needed here because many of the parts are connected by cabling and pipes and so these needed to be located before further items are fixed in place. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll find that just as you think you’ve located a part correctly, you’ll not be able to plumb another and the first part needs to be removed. Ask me how I know…

In order to make the parts, only basic tools and techniques were employed along with plasticard, rod and strip and them lead wire, brass wire and tubing and small pieces of plumber’s tape and lead foil. It really was then a case of look and do and measure everything…Twice. One of the frustrating aspects of any detailing/conversion project is the need to make sure everything fits the kits that you are using; there is no point building perfect details if those details look out of place on or in, the model. Though we all want to produce a perfect replica, there is always a certain amount of compromise, especially with a kit that’s this old. That meant in practice the need to measure the parts, but do so in conjunction with the kit items so that they not only fit, but look correct in terms of location and spacing. Add to that the need to bulk-out detail in order for some of the feature to be visible within the confines of the cockpit and you are in for a time during which you scratch you head, as much as you scratch build the parts…

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Another feature of building items from the ground up, is the idea that if you don’t get it right first time, you are somehow failing as a model builder. Rubbish. Experience has taught me that you have to trash parts in order to get them as correct as possible. In my latest video I talk about the rear side console and how it was initially made with a right-angled shape, whereas it should have been angled up towards the nose wall and instrument panel. In a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees, I didn’t notice this and so had to rip out the console and start again. I was not pleased, but the resulting structure in now more accurate and given that I only want to build this model once, I need to ensure that as much of it as possible, stays as accurate as possible, for as long as possible.

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In the images that you see accompanying this update, you’ll be able to examine the detail that has been added to the cockpit interior and in conjunction with the video linked above, start to see how the model is coming together. I’ve now decided to take a short break from it to gather my thoughts a little and decide on the best course of action for the opposite wall, but so far, so good. It’s been a lot of work, but I’m really loving this build and seeing how far I can take both the conversion and the detail. Let’s just hope I can keep the momentum going. If I am to get it ready for this year’s UK IPMS Nationals, I’m going to need all the stamina I can get…

See you next time.

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One thought on “Harrier T.4 Conversion – Part 4

  1. Gerry Doyle July 13, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Well Impressed that Spence, in answer to your problem I would more likely build the port side on the sidewall for ease of painting. Means a savage amount of measuring and test fitting.

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