ESCI 1/72 Tornado IDS




$7.50, in the mid-1980s


Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Includes ground crew.


Back in, I guess, the late 1960s, the RAF, Luftwaffe and AMI were looking for ground attack aircraft to replace the various Hunters, Phantoms, and F-104s then in service in this role. As is the case even more so today, the need for a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) was what was needed. An aircraft that could do ground attack, air interception and reconnaissance  was sought. Even by then, the ability of a single country to cover the cost of such an aircraft was prohibitive so a consortium was developed with each of the countries involved shouldering a portion of the development cost and so reaping the benefit of construction according to the percentage put in.

Variable-geometry or 'swing-wings' were in vogue so this aircraft had them. Eventually several hundred were built, each with differences required by the country operating them. Only the British eventually developed a dedicated interceptor with Germany and Italy only building ground attack/recce birds. The planes are still in service and doing a superb job. They are safe, fast and quite capable. There is no immediate replacement in sight, though the upcoming Joint Strike Fighter may be what the RAF will use as a follow-on.



Probably the first kit on the market was a tie between Airfix and Monogram, though ESCI did follow closely. Naturally these were basically prototypes, but fortunately for all three manufacturers, the prototypes were almost identical to the production aircraft. Now the date on the decal sheet for this kit is 1991, but I'm positive the kit is older than that by as much as a decade at least.

It is a most typical early 80's kit with engraved panel lines, decals for instrument panels and consoles, single piece bang seats and movable wings. The canopy is two piece though without any internal detail. There are weapons for the inner wing pylons (Cormorant anti-ship missiles) and the fuselage pylons as well (poorly done Mk 80 series slicks). Two very weakly done ALQ-101 ECM pods are also provided. You'll need quite a bit of nose weight or it will tail sit. The tail planes are allegedly supposed to fit so that you can move them. Well, I can tell you that a) the fit is so sloppy that it can't be done, b) you'll break them off when you go to fill and sand the fuselage seam!

I've mentioned how good ESCI instruction sheets are and this one is no exception. There are markings for three aircraft. One 6 Stormo Tornado with the unit's nice red tail chevron, a 31 SQ RAF bird with its yellow and green chevron, and a JBG 38 Tornado in the initial German paint scheme. Full wing walk decals are also included. An added bit for this particular kit is a sprue of soft plastic ground crewmen for the diorama folks.


I've built a couple of these ESCI kits and can tell you that you'll need filler for the fuselage seam and intakes, but other than that, the kit builds easily enough and looks nice when you get it done. The biggest drawback is that this is an older kit and most Tornado fans will jump for the much nicer, much more fiddly, and much more expensive Hasegawa kit. If you are cash strapped or basically looking for a relatively pleasant build, then the ESCI can can easily be found at swap meets or on eBay.

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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