Airfix 1/48 Tornado GR.1/1A

KIT #: 09176
PRICE: ~$35.00 when new
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  Xtradecal 48144


The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing multirole combat aircraft, jointly developed and manufactured by Italy, the United Kingdom and West Germany. There are three primary Tornado variants: the Tornado IDS (interdictor/strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (air defence variant) interceptor aircraft.

The Tornado was developed and built by Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (previously British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of West Germany, and Aeritalia of Italy. It first flew on 14 August 1974 and was introduced into service in 19791980. Due to its multirole design, it was able to replace several different fleets of aircraft in the adopting air forces. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) became the only export operator of the Tornado in addition to the three original partner nations. A tri-nation training and evaluation unit operating from RAF Cottesmore, the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, maintained a level of international co-operation beyond the production stage.

The Tornado was operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), Italian Air Force, and RSAF during the Gulf War of 1991, in which the Tornado conducted many low-altitude penetrating strike missions. The Tornados of various services were also used in the Bosnian War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, in Libya during the 2011 Libyan civil war, as well as smaller roles in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria. Including all variants, 990 aircraft were built. RAF aircraft have been retired with the type soldiering on with Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, at least for the near future. 


This particular kit is marked 1992 and was released during the time that Airfix and Heller were the same company. It is based on the F.3 kit that was originally released in 1987, and as such is a raised panel line tooling. The kit has since seen several re-issues, some as a GR.4/4A with the most recent being in 2005. The kit was preceded by the ESCI version and subsequently superceded by a very nice one by Revell, which probably explains why it has not since been re-issued.

The overall impression is of a nicely molded, though somewhat 'soft' appearance to the parts. The kit provides an adequate cockpit along with a pair of crew figures to fit into the seats. Decals are used for instruments. Early in the build one assembles the wings and tailplanes as they need to be attached together in order to function once the trapped in the fuselage, which happens pretty early in the build.

The only difference between the GR.1 and GR.1A is that the latter has a camera pod on the lower fuselage under the cockpit and has no internal gun. With the cockpit, nose gear well and flying surfaces trapped in the fuselage halves (don't forget to add 15 grams of weight), one then moves on to the intakes and the fin. These are then installed along with the windscreen and canopy.

One can pose the speed brakes extended if one wishes, though they were more often closed when parked on the ramp. Landing gear and exhaust are next followed by the gear doors, various scoops and antennas along with the air refuelling probe, which can also be posed extended or retracted.

Then we have the myriad of things under wings. Airfix provides two different size drop tanks, chaff and ECM pods, Sidewinder missiles, LGBs and iron bombs, a JP233 runway denial pod, and Alarm missile. While the inboard wing pylon hole is already open, you'll have to remember to open the outer one as the instructions neglet to mention that one. I'm not sure how many of these droppable ordnance bits would normally be carried by the GR.1A, so perhaps some sleuthing will help in this regard.

Instructions are nicely done providing only Humbrol number references. Both options are in a wraparound green/grey scheme typical of the early GR.1s. Two squadron options are included. The box art plane is a GR.1 and in the markings of 16 Squadron. The other is the GR.1A and with 13 Squadron. You get a ton of stencils both for the airframe and weapons/tanks. The huge sheet is nicely printed and I'd hope that the decals would still be viable.


Unless you are on a budget or already have this kit, you'll be seeking the Revell version. I'd recommend staying away from the ESCI version (reboxed by Italeri), as it is just not a good fitting kit. This one might not be so bad and there are aftermarket parts out there to improve the detail.  


October 2022

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