Dragon 1/144 Tornado F.3 - 111 Sq '90th Anniversary'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New mold kit|
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is one of the most famous air forces, and with good reason, as it is the world’s oldest independent air force. The RAF was formed on 1 April 1918 during WWI, when the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Navy Air Service amalgamated. Perhaps the most famous exploits of the RAF occurred during WWII, when fighters dueled with the Luftwaffe in the desperate Battle of Britain, and heavy bombers rained munitions down on Germany. Even today the RAF is the largest air force in the European Union. The year 2008 was an important one for the RAF, as the service celebrated its 90th anniversary. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, some Tornado F3 fighters were given new liveries.
The Tornado F3 is an improved version of the Tornado, distinguished by a pair of new Turbo-Union RB.199-34R Mk 104 engines that are optimized for high-altitude flight. The Tornado F3 also has upgraded avionics, automatic wing sweep control, and increased AIM-9 Sidewinder capacity (four can be carried under its wings). The Tornado F3 has participated in the 1991 Gulf War, as well as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is due to retire from RAF service in 2011 as it’s progressively replaced by the new Eurofighter Typhoon.
As time progresses, fewer and fewer military aircraft are produced, always resulting in the removal of famous units from an air arm's active forces. It will be interesting to see which ones will fall by the wayside once the Typhoon is fully in service.
This particular set has two full kits, both Tornado F.3 air defense versions (ADV). There is a considerable amount of commonality between this and the earlier Tornado GR.1/4; in particular the wing, tailplanes, and central fuselage sections. Landing gear is the same as well. Dragon has provided a new center fuselage section and fin along with the expected new nose section. Though the only real difference in fins are the lack of some RHAAW antennas, I applaud Dragon for providing this and new center fuselage sections. The fuselage is slightly longer and has recesses for the Sky Shadow missiles that the ground attack Tornados do not carry.
As is the norm nowadays, you get sprues from which you only need one item. In this case, you get a full sprue full of laser guided bombs, from which you'll only need the two Sidewinder missiles. This may be due to these missiles on the F.3 sprue both being broken in half. Anyway, you'll have a lot of spare missiles.
The kit itself is nicely molded and while the engraved detail is grossly too large for the scale, this is the same on every engraved 1/144 kit. Paint will tone all that down. You will need nose weight with this one.
Instructions are well drawn with Gunze and Model Master paint references. The two construction steps leave no doubt as to what goes where and show any modifications that might be needed. The wings on this kit are designed to be able to swing fore and aft, a nice addition. Markings are shown on the box art. Both are from 111 Sq in the standard two tone grey scheme. One has a black fin and spine for the 90th anniversary of 111 Sq. The other is more subdued and is for the 90th Anniversary of the RAF (which was on 1 April 2008).
In all, a very nice set for the 1/144 jet modeler. These build well and one really could wish for little more as they are quite detailed.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local retailer or on-line store.
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