Italeri 1/32 Tornado GR4 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||November 2020||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||2513||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nice details and options||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$229.99|
After the cancellation of the TSR-2 and F-111K programs, the RAF was still looking for a replacement for the Vulcan bomber and Buccaneer strike aircraft. The solution began under the Anglo-French Variable Geometry (AFVG) program in the mid-1960s but after the French withdrawal from that program, a new consortium was developed under the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) program consisting of Britain, Germany, and Italy with the resulting production done under the Panavia consortium of BAC (later BAE), MBB, and Aeritalia. The aircraft developed under the MRCA would become the Tornado and as a multi-role aircraft, Panavia would produce strike variants as Tornado IDS or Tornado GR.1 (RAF), interceptor variant as Tornado ADV, and SEAD variant as Tornado ECR. Because of the huge vertical stabilizer, the Tornado is nicknamed 'the fin'.
The Tornado entered service in the late 1970s and remains in service though most will eventually be replaced by another product of an international consortium, the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Tornado serves in the Royal Air Force, Luftwaffe, Italian Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force (the only non-consortium customer for the type). In RAF service, some GR.1s were modified into reconnaissance-capable aircraft replacing the cannon with the Tornado Infra-Red Reconnaissance System and designated GR.1A. Other GR.1s were modified to carry the Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile and designated GR.1B. In the mid-1980s, the Tornado received a mid-life update (MLU) and these modified aircraft became GR.4 and GR.4A.
Until now, the only option for a 1/32 Tornado was the Revell kit first released in the mid-1980s and which has been reissued a few times with additional parts and changes in decals to render the GR1, ECR, IDS, and ADV. With this new kit from Italeri, we start with a clean slate with parts to render the RAF's GR4. Looking through the box, this is looking very promising as there are hints of other variants in our future. In my own kit stash, I have the Revell 1/32 GR1 with a wealth (literally) of Flightpath photo-etch and update parts to build an accurate fin with its flaps and slats extended and a variety of external stores not provided in the basic kit. Needless to say, the 1/32 Tornado has been on my bucket list along with other subjects and scales representing aircraft I'd flown, crewed, or worked with during my military and engineering careers. Out of curiosity, I searched through a few of the online forums and was surprised by the misinformation that has been put out there about this kit, so let's set the record straight.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus one tree of clear parts, one tree of rubber (vinyl) parts, and one fret of photo-etched details. Among the features and options:
- Detailed Martin Baker ejection seats w/photo-etched pilot restraints
- Nicely detailed front and rear cockpits
- Instrument panel layouts match photos of the GR4
- Upper center display in rear cockpit provides options for original display or updated version
- Positionable canopy
- Optional boarding ladder
- Nice radar antenna/gimbal
- Positionable radome
- Wings can be moved between 25 and 45 degrees (see my notes below)
- If wings locked forward (25 degrees), flaps and slats can be displayed extended
- Wing spoilers are positionable
- Underwing pylons will pivot when wings swept to keep externals properly aligned
- Full-length intake ducts to the engine compressor faces
- Positionable auxiliary intake doors
- Nicely detailed RB199 engines
- Positionable thrust reversers
- One engine can be displayed externally with provided engine stand
- Detailed landing gear
- Detailed wheel wells
- Option for raised or extended landing gear
- Positionable landing gear
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable speed brakes
- Positionable air refueling probe
The kit provides some nice external store options including:
- 2 x 'Hindenburg' external fuel tanks
- 1 x Skyshadow ECM pod
- 1 x BOZ-107 Chaff/Flare pod
- 4 x GBU-12 Paveway LGBs
- 2 x AIM-9L Sidewinder
Markings are provided for four subjects on one large decal sheet:
- GR4, ZA542, Operation Telic (Iraq) 2003, 'Danger Mouse'
- GR4, ZA367, 617 Sqn, Operation Herrick (Afghanistan) 2010
- GR4, ZA542, 31 Sqn, Operation Ellamy (Libya) 2011
- GR4, ZG775, IXth (B) Sqn, Tornado Farewell, 2019
These decals are very nicely done complete with an extensive set of airframe, pylon, and weapons stencils. You'll love these instructions - Italeri is using their CAD drawings to illustrate the assembly steps and while there are 55 pages and 61 assembly steps, each step contains a limited number of parts to make the process move along steadily. The instructions do note that 60 grams (2.12 ounces) of ballast is required in the nose to keep the model from becoming a tail sitter.
- This kit does not provide decal instrument faces for the round (non-MFD) instruments on the front and rear panels. While that might not be a big deal, you have aftermarket options from companies like Airscale and Anyz to add that extra visual detail to those panels.
- With the exception of the weapons trees, all of the parts in this kit are used for this GR4. If/when Italeri renders other variants, supplemental parts will be (hopefully) provided to render equally nice and accurate cockpits and external details.
- In addition to the external stores noted above, the weapons trees also include 2 x AIM-9X, 2 x JDAM, and 2 x AGM-88 HARM. The HARMs hint at a Luftwaffe Tornado ECR in our future, but I'm stumped with AIM-9X and JDAMs being in a 'fin' kit. The laser-guided bombs in the kit as listed as GBU-12 in the instructions, but I believe these are really Paveway 4 (British bombs with the laser-guidance kit and weapons adaptors).
- Please remember that if you wish to keep your wings movable, don't use the extended flap/slat options in your build. The extended flaps will break off before you reach 45 degrees of sweep. Also note that the wing spoilers are not effective past a certain wing sweep (check your references), so primary roll control reverts to the stabilators after that point. It is the same situation with the F-14, MiG-23, F-111, etc.
- Finally, for those who have limited space on their shelves, you might expect that the kit would provide a full-aft (67 degree) wing sweep option. That option is not available in the stock kit, but looking over the parts, it may be possible. The first thing limiting the rear sweep option is the wing gap skirts which are provided as rubber parts. They would need to be modified for full sweep, but then you'd have gaps should you opt to sweep your wings forward. The second consideration is the mechanism that pivot the pylons. They may not be capable of full aft, so like the gap skirts, you may have to modify or omit the pylon pivot option to move your wings full aft. Finally, you already need 60 grams of ballast for this beast. If you move your wings full aft, you'll need to plan for more ballast to compensate for the additional weight of the wings and stores moving rearward.
This kit looks very nice out of the box and the details match up nicely with photos. I'm using the Panavia Tornado - Duke Hawkins book which has some beautiful color cockpit and around the airframe shots of the GR4 as well as the F3. We will be starting a progressive build review soon of this kit as I want to render that Tornado Farewell scheme. Stay tuned!
Thanks to MRC for the review sample.