|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/72 Tornado GR.1|
|PRICE:||$25.00 MSRP when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||'Desert Scheme' 1991 boxing|
The Panavia Tornado is a jet engine fighter-bomber jointly developed as the Multi-role combat aircraft - or MRCA - by Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. It first flew on August 14th, 1974. International co-operation continued after its entry into service within the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, a tri-nation training and evaluation unit operating from RAF Cottesmore in Rutland in the English Midlands. 992 aircraft (all variants) were built for the three partner nations and Saudi Arabia.
The Tornado IDS is operated by Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. It is one of the world's most sophisticated and capable interdiction and attack aircraft, with large payload, long range and high survivability.
The Tornado was cleared to carry almost all the air-launched weapons in the NATO inventory, including cluster bombs, anti-runway munitions, and nuclear weapons. Known as the Tornado GR4 in the RAF, which is an upgrade of the original Tornado GR1 featuring GPS navigation and the ability to deploy more advanced munitions.
A major feature of the GR1 was its terrain-following radar, which allowed all-weather hands-off low-level flight, but current doctrine eschews extreme low-level flight and relies on inertial navigation with GPS updates rather than TFS. The GR1A was a reconnaissance variant equipped with the internally mounted TIRRS (Tornado Infra-Red Reconnaissance System) replacing the 27 mm cannon. GR1B was a maritime strike aircraft brought into service to replace the Blackburn Buccaneer and deliver the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile. The aircraft could only track targets via the missile's radar seeker. The reconnaissance variant of the GR4 is the GR4A.
The GR1 was delivered in a grey/green camouflage, but this was changed to dark grey during the late 1990s. In operations over Iraq some GR1s received a sandy "pink" scheme. GR4s participating in the 2003 Iraq War were painted in a light grey scheme. German Navy examples normally sport a distinctive black/blue/grey camouflage pattern.
The UK is researching possible replacements under the Future Offensive Air System study, which could be a piloted aircraft, a UAV or a cruise missile-based system. Currently no other aircraft (in service or planned) matches the Tornado's strike capabilities.
Developed in the late 1980s, the Hasegawa Tornado was met with little enthusiasm in the US. Kits still languish on store shelves, despite being reboxed a number of times with interesting markings. Your editor is somewhat puzzled by this ambivalence as the kit looks to be very well molded and has more than passable detailing. In fact, it is really quite good. Ostensibly to assist in painting, this one is molded in tan plastic. The interior has raised detailing on the instrument panels and side consoles as well as offering decals for these parts. Seats are probably a bit on the simplistic side and those wanting greater detail will supplant them with aftermarket bits. For the rest of us, they are not at all bad and will look the part.
Wheel bays are separate and somewhat devoid of any detailing aside from some bracing. I know that there are hydraulic lines and electrical conduits that snake their way through. The wings are designed to be able to be swung forward or aft, and the builder will need to drill out mounting holes for the pylons on the lower wings as well as on the lower fuselage section. Unlike the F-111 kits, there are no droppable flaps or slats on this one. This type of aircraft invariably means an aft fuselage split horizontally to trap the wings and the forward fuselage split vertically. No requirement for nose weight is offered, but you may wish to add some just in case.
Speed brakes are separate and can be displayed open or closed. Most of the time, these were closed. A separate, and very clear windscreen and canopy are provided, but no canopy actuating mechanism for showing it in the open position. For things under wings/fuselage, there are outboard jamming pods, then fuel tanks with Sidewinder mounts. These fuel tanks are not the 'Hindenburg' types that were, from what I can gather, most often used during the Gulf War, but the smaller ones with the three stabilizing fins. For under the fuselage, no bombs, but two very large pods which I have to suspect are some sort of cluster bomb rack or one of those runway denial pods. Late Note: My suppositions have been confirmed by readers that these are JP 223 runway denial pods, since taken out of service. I've also been informed that the smaller tanks were also used during Desert Storm, so that is fine as well. Thanks to all of you who wrote.
Instructions are quite good as one would expect and provide both Gunze and generic color information. There are three options, all in desert pink, and all with nose art and shark mouths. First is the box art aircraft 'MiG Eater' from 15 Sq; then 'Gulf Killer' from 20 Sq; followed by 'Foxy Killer' from 16 Sq, this aircraft using the pale shark mouth markings. You may notice that the names are all taken from the tail code letters. The decals are well printed, though the white looks a bit on the transparent side. Fortunately, both Modeldecal and Xtradecal did aftermarket sheets that over most if not all of these aircraft if you wish replacements.
If you ask me, this is a very nice looking kit. Those who want some greater accuracy will go for some larger fuel tanks, resin seats and perhaps some bombs to replace the lower fuselage pods. One thing for sure, you can find them all the time for under $10 from vendors at swap meets, making this a real bargain for the modern jet fan.
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