Flying Leatherneck Museum receives first generation Harrier

1 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Christopher O'Quin

The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum recently added a new jet to its list of historical Marine aircraft.

The AV-8C Harrier, Bureau Number 158387 is a Hawker Siddeley-built GR MK 1 and began its life as an AV-8A, before receiving modifications to its current class.

The museum was able to acquire the Harrier from the NASA Ames Research Facility at Moffett Federal Airfield, Calif.

“I discussed getting a Harrier for the museum with Ben Kristy, curator of Aeronautics for the National Museum of the Marine Corps, and Helen Watson of the National Museum of Naval Aviation,” said Steve Smith, the curator of the museum. 

The Harrier’s career started as part of course curriculum for the US Navy’s Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. in 1971, as the only allied Vertical Short Take Off and Landing aircraft at the time.

After helping the Navy train future aviators, the Harrier served as an aerodynamic test aircraft with NASA beginning January 21, 1986. The knowledge yielded from this aircraft’s flights laid the groundwork for wing modifications, giving birth to the next generation of Harrier, the current AV-8B. 

The Harrier will keep its NASA markings for a few months until renovation staff paints markings of Marine Attack Squadron 513, a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Squadron and the became first Harrier squadron in the Marine Corp in 1971.

“It feels great to have it here,” said Smith. “This was a big piece of Marine aviation history we were missing at the museum.”

Smith intends to add a T-34B Mentor, EA-6 Prowler and a T-34C Mentor to the display lineup. The Museum officials are also striving to add some U.S. artillery pieces and some captured-Iraqi military equipment.

People interested in seeing the newest historical airframe, can visit The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.  Admission is free.