Jump Jet

Peter Dornbach (dornbi) has built a very neat model of a Cold War classic: the British Sea Harrier. The Harrier has a somewhat odd-ball appearance, which is captured beautifully in the model. The odd shape is largely due to the aircraft’s unique Rolls Royce Pegasus engine, which allows the aircraft to take off and land vertically. This ability is why it is sometimes known as the Jump Jet.

Sea Harrier FRS.1 (3)

During the Cold War, many air forces worried about the vulnerability of their airfields to enemy strikes. Fighters that can operate from a much smaller strip, at a time of crisis, can be dispersed to smaller and better concealed locations away from their main base. Building a jet that can take off and land vertically is a big challenge, however. A whole range of different ideas were tried, including having additional lift engines mounted vertically inside the aircraft. This obviously was a very heavy solution. Using rocket boosters to launch a conventional jet from a short ramp worked, but left the jet in question with no place to land. The only successful design was the British Harrier, whose Pegasus engine has four jet nozzles that can be swiveled down to direct the jet’s entire thrust upward. Despite its diminutive scale of only 1/48, Peter’s model has these swiveling nozzles.

Its ability to operate without long runways made the Harrier an attractive choice for shipboard use. British Harriers gained most of their fame (or notoriety) in the 1982 Falklands War, where Royal Navy Sea Harriers, operating from small aircraft carriers, racked up about 20 air-to-air kills against the Argentinian Air Force and Navy, including against far faster Mirage fighters.

9 comments on “Jump Jet

  1. Carl

    Odd-Ball?!? Jog on. The Harrier is the most beautiful jet fighter ever built. Well done Great Britain. And well done dornbi. Beautiful model, mate.

  2. Ralph Post author

    ^I wouldn’t have blogged it if it weren’t a beautifully built model, but I do think that Harriers are odd-looking, with their big intakes, fat fuselages, weird tandem undercarriage and drooped wings. They were effective and innovative, but if you think its the most beautiful jet fighter ever built, I want some of what you’re smoking!

  3. MKyuun

    Although not as conventional as say a Tornado or an F-15, I’ve always found the Harrier particularly lovely , esp from the angle in the pic. Those big intakes and angled swept wings give it a look of ferocity, esp when said wings are loaded with ordinance. The tail section isn’t very pretty, though. As for most beautiful jet ever built, the Northrop YF-23 “Black Widow II” gets my vote.

  4. Ralph Post author

    ^Peter made some great photographs and I agree that this is probably the most attractive angle. I do actually like the Harrier (I built one myself several years ago) and wouldn’t call it ugly, exactly, but I do think it is somewhat odd. I agree that the YF-23 was a looker (certainly for a stealth aircraft), but my pick would have to be either the Grumman F-14 Tomcat or the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. If you’re willing to look beyond fighters, the RA-5C Vigilante and SR-71 are definitely on the list.

  5. Carl

    “Smoking”? Come on. That’s a bit of an out of term thing to say in regards to someone expressing a subjective opinion, isn’t it?

    The Harriers are gorgeous. The curved profile, the dome cockpit etc… they look like a dove on steroids. Stunning piece of aircraft design. They look tough and sturdy.

    The YF-23 looks like a poorly made paper plane and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat with it’s wings out looks like a bird that’s flown into a window.

    The SR-&1 is pretty. Odd but very pretty.

  6. Ralph Post author

    I’m sorry that it isn’t clear to you that my comment was in jest, but I don’t think you’ve got much to complain about after you wrote ‘jog on’ in reply to my opinion. I don’t expect you to thank me for blogging a fantastic model of your favourite fighter of all time, but that wasn’t exactly polite, was it?

  7. MKyuun

    The F-14 and the Su-27 are both beautiful planes, as well as the F-18, F-16, and MiG-29. Anyway, good job on this, dornbi. I saw your Harrier a few years back Ralph..simply beautiful, as always.

  8. Ralph Post author

    No hurt feelings.

    Thank you. I enjoyed building my Harrier, but I also remember it being quite difficult, because it does have a shape that is quite unlike any other fighter. It’s part of the reason why I like Dorbi’s so much, because he’s managed to capture that shape very well in a model that is about 2/3 of the size of mine.

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