Matchbox 1/72 Tornado F.3

KIT: Matchbox 1/72 Tornado F.3
KIT #: PK-130 (1987)
PRICE: Out of production
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Victor Scheuerman


Whilst a major user of the Tornado in the interdictor/strike version (G R Mk 1) the RAF required a long range interceptor to replace the ‘Lightning’ and ‘Phantom’ nearing the end of their operational lives. After examining several alternatives, including the purchase of the F-14 or F-15 fighters from the USA, a modification of the Tornado was proposed. This version, the ADV, is specifically designed to fulfill the requirement for an air defence fighter, with an all weather performance and long range. The Tornado F Mk 2 was shown in August 1979, with the first flight soon after. The aircraft has a longer nose, extra internal fuel and specially designed interceptor radar, but it was 80% common with the IDS machine. After the first 12 machines, more powerful engines were fitted and slight differences to the radar introduced with the designation changed to F Mk 3. The aircraft carried 4 Sky Flash missiles under the fuselage and 4 Sidewinders on the wing pylons together with a 27 mm cannon in the fuselage. F Mk 3 machines have recently have been purchased by Saudi Arabia. (Thanks to the kit instruction sheet).


The kits 67 parts (including the clear two-piece canopy) are cleanly molded in three colours. This kit does feature Matchbox’s infamous trenches for panel lines, so some medium grit sandpaper and a can of spray primer should be part of the building adventure. Matchbox did a much better job then normal when detailing the large two-seat cockpit. Besides a separate tub with raised instrument details on the side consoles, there are; two ejection seats, two control columns, two separate instrument faces with raised details, and a separate console for the aft crew member. This is perhaps the nicest Matchbox cockpit that I have reviewed to date. 

 Other high points for this kit are the fully framed in wheel wells that has the nose bay separate and deeper then normal. While the main doors are thin enough to use, replacing the nose doors with thinner card or sanding the kit pieces thinner would certainly improve their appearance. Matchbox supplies the air brakes as separate assemblies including the activating arms and I like that the four pylons that are attach to main wing pylons (the large ‘Hindenburger’ tanks that are included) that carry the Sidewinders are included. For once, the kit Sidewinders actually look like Sidewinders even with control surfaces too thick and the kit Sky Flash missiles will look fine painted and mounted as offered.

 The assembly notes are well done and because it is a Revell boxing, these include detailed painting instructions along the way. Another plus because of this, is that the stencil locations are clearly shown on a four view drawing.

Two decal options are offered in this boxing and both feature low-viz national markings on Hemp and grey painted airframes from the same 229 Operational Conversion Unit located at RAF Coningsby. The only difference is the unit crest on the nose. Again, thanks to being a Revell boxing, the great looking kit decals offers the instrument panel as options; nice touch.  Both of the schemes are illustrated in full colour on the back of the box.


While not the most detailed 1/72 Tornado on the market, it does offer more positive points then negative and should not be dismissed out of hand simply because of the manufacturers name on the box.

Victor Scheuerman

January 2008

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