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Panavia tornado gr4

9 Jul

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Trevor Glover builds the RAF’s high-technology tactical-reconnaissance Tornado, using the Revell kit and brass and resin detail parts from Airwaves and Aires, decals from Xtradecai and a few pieces from Hasegawa.

In 1975 Airfix released the MRCA in kit form, the box art being most memorable, since it showed the brightly coloured (red, white and black) jet taking to the air, afterburners glowing. Almost three decades have passed since that first kit appeared and there have been many Tornado kits in all scales, some good and some not so good. The best so far in 1:72 scale is Revell’s recent release. This kit is beautifully moulded with very finely engraved panel lines and surface detail. It also boasts lots of detail and a whole host of weapons, fuel tanks and pylon-mounted self-defence equipment.
By the mid-1990s, the Tornado was in need of a midlife update. Various proposals were put forward, some of them going ahead and some being dropped, usually on cost considerations. The most obvious change to the upgraded Tornado GR. Mk 4/4A is the addition of a FLIR unit in a fairing mounted to port on the underside of the forward fuselage. This system allows the aircraft to make low-level approaches to targets, and to attack them without using radar. Since the FLIR is passive, there are no tell-tale emissions to give away the Tornado’s position to the enemy.

Below: This IMo. 13 Sqn Tornado GR. Mk 4A, ZA369/U, upon which Trevor based his model, has a BOZ pod on its starboard outer wing pylon, as well as a pair of ‘Hindenberger’ drop tanks on its inner wing pylons and two practice-bomb carriers under the fuselage. Note the SLIR window in the fuselage side beneath the cockpit and the IRLS sensor beneath the lower fuselage.

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I had decided that I wanted to build a Tornado that was slightly different, and chose the updated GR. Mk 4A reconnaissance machine. Since there has always been a wide range of aftermarket accessories available for the Tornado, I also decided to take advantage of some of these.
Assembly started with the cockpit. I had decided to use the Airwaves GR. Mk 4 brass conversion set, which also includes a resin FLIR fairing. All the kit parts were painted a light grey, in this case Humbrol No. 127 US Ghost Grey. The raised detail depicting the various consoles in the kit cockpit tub had to be removed, as did the similar detail on the front and rear instrument panels. The appropriate brass parts were also painted with Humbrol No. 127, and when they were dry I coated them with an

Right: Revell provide a comprehensive set of grey and clear plastic parts for the Tornado GR. Mk 1, along with a large decal sheet. Trevor chose to use the accessories illustrated both to add detail to the already fine kit, and to facilitate the conversion to upgraded Tornado GR. Mk 4A standard.
Below: A brass cockpit detail set from Airwaves added greatly to the kit parts. The Aires’ resin nosewheel bay is just visible below the cockpit tub.

acrylic varnish. Next I painted them with black oil paint, leaving the paint only in the recessed lines. I always use water-based varnish, since oil paint will not react with it.
Appropriate colours were then used to paint the various switches and displays. The brass fret includes a new throttle assembly which is made up of eight very small parts. This was too much for me, so I made a simple one out of some plastic rod. The brass HUD was not 
three pieces and glued them separately.

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I had decided to use the Aires resin wheel wells. The front wheel well fitted exactly as if the Revell part had been used and all three wells are superb. In order to fit the main wheel wells, the guides for the Revell wells have to be removed, the Aires parts then fit very nicely – you do not even have to remove their moulding blocks. They result in the undercarriage bays looking very busy.
Items 4 and 5 on the brass fret were left until later and were fitted to the front cockpit coaming once the fuselage sides had been glued together. Also at this stage, I added a very thin piece of clear plastic to the HUD, finishing off this assembly by adding kit part number 15, which is the centresection containing the boxes for the three very prominent rear cockpit displays.
When the Hasegawa Tornado was first released some years ago, there was some disappointment that the wing slats and flaps could not be assembled in the lowered position, as was the fashion with a number of new kits at that time.

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Airwaves wings with a number of different Tornado kits and have never had any problems with fit.

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With the Revell kit, however, fitting the new wings proved a little different. I first fitted the kit parts 37 and 38 to the fuselage. These are the seals which cover the opening where the sweeping wings slide into the fuselage. Parts 29 and 30 were also fitted at this stage. Part 29 fitted in position for the resin wings perfectly, and Part 30 helped to support them when the whole wing structure was assembled. A pair of resin prongs, which on some other kits would fill the fuselage opening aft of the wing in its forward position, had to be removed. On the Revell kit the prongs stuck out at the trailing edge, inboard of the flaps. I cut it off as close as I could to the wing. The wings were then put in place and secured with superglue. The tailplanes are designed to move, but I decided to stick them, although I still used the internal bar, part 73, since this made sure I got the tailplane alignment right. After leaving the tailplane assembly overnight to cure, the top and bottom fuselage halves were glued together. The fit was very good and after a slight rub down with a fine grade wet & dry, no filler was needed. To finish off, I cut two pieces of thin plastic card 11 mm x 5 mm to fit over the rubber seals in the fuselage behind the wings. On the kit the wings are designed to swing, but with the resin wings fixed in the forward position, there is a gap right through to the other side. The plastic card was scribed horizontally down the middle, to give the impression of where the seals meet, and then glued in place.
The afterburner can assembly was next. It is just as nicely detailed as the rest of the kit – even the geared mechanisms which rotate the thrust deflection buckets are included. Although they are quite small, they are a nice touch and not one that I have seen before on a Tornado kit in this scale.

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The Tornado’s distinctive tail fin was assembled next. Unfortunately, by comparison with the scale plans published in the Linewrights Tornado book, I found that it was slightly on the small side, being about 1.5 mm too short and having 2 mm too little sweep at its trailing edge.

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Above: Revell’s lower fuselage and tailplanes are shown here combined with Aires’ resin main wheel wells and Airwaves’ resin wings.

The plans I used had been enlarged from the original 1:96 scale, so there was room for error, but the rest of the kit checked out very well. I knew I could not enlarge the tail without destroying the very nice surface detail and so I decided that I could live with the discrepancy.

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The nose radome, afterburners and fin were then attached to the fuselage. They proved to be a superb fit, only requiring a little filler around where the fin meets the fuselage spine.
However, the air intakes did cause a small problem.

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Left: Laying the fin on to a set of suitably enlarged Aeroguide Tornado book scale plans showed the slight deficiency in its size.

The plastic on the upper part of the intake is very thin. In one way this is very good because it certainly makes the intakes look the part when fitted to the fuselage, but it was very easy – as I found out that when I removed some flash and scrap plastic – to damage. I cracked the plastic slightly, and also discovered that the intake/ fuselage fit was not perfect, so I left the intakes to dry overnight and applied a little putty before attaching them to the fuselage. Once the putty had been sanded, I had to remove the two locating pins provided, since I could not get a good fit with them – even then, a little filler was required.
To finish off the main fuselage, the windscreen was fitted, along with the airbrakes. The latter were fixed in the closed position and a gentle sanding was needed to leave them flush with the surrounding fuselage.
The undercarriage also caused a few problems. The Aires resin set includes four parts for the main undercarriage and two retraction jacks, however, I still needed to use the front and main undercarriage from the kit. This was very good, but a bit on the fiddly side. Leaving the wheels aside, the main kit undercarriage assembly still consists of four parts for each leg and even the instructions recommend that the parts be left for five hours to dry. This is where I had some hassle, since I just could not get the leg assemblies to fit into the new wheel bays. I had to remove the locating tabs from parts 65 and 73 of the kit legs and then cut a tab of resin from each wheel bay. I call these resin pieces tabs because I have no idea what they were, but that is not to say that the resin bays were inaccurate. Once these items had been removed there was no problem.
The nose undercarriage fitted as if the kit wheel well had been used. Once everything was secure, I left it overnight to dry and only then fitted the undercarriage doors. I finished off with the resin retraction jacks. The Aires instructions have these placed too far to the rear, they should be in front of the wheel unit. The Revell kit instructions show the correct position. The resin wheel bays may have caused me some grief, (other modellers may find a better way of using them), but they do add to the kit and look superb when finished.

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To convert the Tornado from a standard GR. Mk 1 to a Mk 4A, there are several things to be done. First of all, the GR. Mk 4A, like its predecessor, the GR. Mk 1A, does not have 27-mm Mauser cannon, since these were removed to make room for reconnaissance equipment. Representing this on the model is simply a matter of filling in the
Left: These two views show the fairing associated with the FLIR system added as a result of the GR. Mk 4/4A upgrade.
cannon ports with putty and sanding smooth. Next I fitted the forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) sensor faring included in the Airwaves GR. Mk 4 cockpit conversion set. This was not a great fit and needed a little putty to blend it into the fuselage. Then I used the infra-red linescan sensor (IRLS) from the GR. Mk lA/GR. Mk 4A reconnaissance set and placed it directly behind the front undercarriage. With the standard laser rangefinder and marked target seeker (LRMTS) also in place, the undersurface of the Tornado nose is now a very crowded place.
The final parts to fit are two brass camera windows on the forward fuselage. On the real machine side-looking infra-red sensors (SLIRs) are mounted behind these. Lastly, a brass part representing an electrical ground supply socket is fitted. This part takes the form of two connected square pieces, one being glued to the lower edge of the fuselage directly alongside the FLIR sensor. The second piece then hangs down as if it was an open flap. This part had to be gently bent to fit the curve of the fuselage and so it was best to separate the parts and fit them individually.

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Left, above and below left: Here a good impression of the shape of the Tornado GR. Mk 4A’s underfuselage IRLS installation is given. Note that the sensor’s panoramic window is covered in the photograph above.

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Inset: The forward fuselage illustrated during construction. The faring for the inflight-refuelling probe, as well as the colourful No. 13 Sqn markings, are worthy of note.

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The inflight-refuelling probe was fitted next. It was not a great fit and needed filler to cover some quite large gaps. The hinged arm which pushes the probe into the open position has a couple of holes that needed to be carefully drilled, since the kit part represents these holes as raised dots.

Below: An underside shot of the forward fuselage shows just how complicated this area is on the Tornado GR. Mk 4A.

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With drilling complete, the arm and the probe itself were put away to be fitted at a later stage. The Revell kit includes a very wide range of stores, including two types of fuel tank, BOZ 101/107 and Sky Shadow countermeasures pods, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs, 1000-lb bombs and ALARM anti-radar missiles. I had no reference showing what a standard GR. Mk 4A load would be. During the Gulf War of 1991, GR. Mk lAs regularly flew with four 330-lmp gal tanks or even two 495-lmp gal ‘Hindenburger’ tanks borrowed from the Tornado F. Mk 3, but the photograph I had showed a GR. Mk 4A flying with two of the smaller tanks, two Sidewinders, a Sky Shadow pod and a BOZ 107, so this is the configuration I chose.
I used the 495-lmp gal tanks from the kit along with the Sidewinders, but for the BOZ 107 and Sky Shadow pods I used the Airwaves resin items, since the kit parts looked a little on the long and narrow side. Both the resin items needed careful cleaning to remove flash and a seam line, but once this was done, they looked superior to the kit parts.

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Top: Another view of the real ZA369/U, this time carrying inert 1,0001b bombs under the fuselage. The FUR fairing, (common to the Tornado GR. Mk 4 and the Mk 4A), is visible beneath the forward fuselage.

Above: Close-up of the cockpit area comprising parts from the Airwaves GR. Mk 4 brass conversion set.

Over the last few years, RAF Tornado bombers have changed from their original grey/green camouflage scheme to a two-tone grey (although an overall solid grey scheme was applied for Iraqi Freedom). However, the nose cone, which apparently cannot be painted, has remained black. I used Humbrol paint throughout, No. 156 Dark Grey and No. 164 Dark Sea Grey being the quoted numbers in one of my reference books.
I have never been a great fan of Revell instructions, or decals for that matter, and Revell painting instructions are usually far from simple. Shades frequently need to be mixed, usually with figures like 57 per cent of this, 32 per cent of that and 11 per cent of the other. I know every model company wants the modeller to use its products, but it would be useful to have other paint references as an alternative.
After applying a light coat of No. 65 Aircraft Blue as an undercoat and to prime the resin parts, I then sprayed the complete model with No. 156 Dark Grey and left it to dry completely. The Tornado two-tone scheme is not difficult, but care is needed when masking the rear fuselage. Once this was done, the top surfaces were sprayed with No. 164 Dark Sea Grey. I then coated the entire model with three coats of Johnsons Klear. The Klear enables the model to be handled without risk of damage to the paint and it is also a very good gloss varnish over which to apply the decals. All detail painting was also done at this stage.
One of the great reasons for going to model shows is to talk with other modellers and learn new techniques, such as painting navigation lights silver and then painting over them with Humbrol acrylic Clear Red or Clear Green. This simple technique really makes them look like lights with covers.
Before the decals were applied, I ran some thinned-down black oil paint into some of the panel lines on the fuselage and wings. Unfortunately, this was not a great success, since the panel lines are just too fine.
The decals I chose were from Xtradecal X051-72, which includes Tornado GR. Mk 4, GR. Mk 4A, F. Mk 3 and Harrier GR. Mk 7 markings. I decided to make GR. Mk 4A ZA369/U of No. 13 Squadron, which was based at RAF Marham during July 1998. The decal’s instruction sheet can be confusing, since its drawings show the GR. Mk 4A with cannon fitted and no FLIR fairing.
The sheet only includes a small amount of stencil markings, so the rest will have to come from the kit decal sheet. This latter is very good and very comprehensive, with masses of stencil markings. It is well printed with no white edge, like that found on some other decal sheets, surrounding the roundels.

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Now to put the small and fiddly parts in place. First I replaced the kit ejection seats with a pair of resin items from Airwaves. The kit seats were not bad, but the resin seats offered more detail, including seat belts, and certainly looked better. I have a feeling that I may have painted the belts the wrong colour, showing just how important good reference material is.
I put the refuelling probe in the extended position, to show off the very nice detail in that area. The aircraft’s various antenna blades were a mix of kit and brass parts. It was at this stage that I realised I had a problem. The very small clear sprue which contains the clear lense of the LRMTS was missing. This may not have been Revell’s fault, since before I started the kit, the box had been opened on several occasions. As I did not have time to wait for a replacement, I used the equivalent part from the Hasegawa kit, which meant taking the body of the LRMTS off the fuselage and cleaning up the entire area before I could use the new part.
One last departure from the standard kit parts was the landing lights. The lights on the main undercarriage doors are especially prominent and for these I used MV lenses which are far superior to the clear parts in the kit. When all these small pieces had been painted, all that was left to do was to finish off with a couple of light coats of Xtracolor matt varnish to dull everything down.
Over the last 30 years or so, I have only made a few Revell kits. However, over the last few years Revell have been making kits on a par with ‘the best’ and some of their recent 1:48 scale products have been superb. This Tornado kit is easily the best in 1:72 scale – the cottage industry parts are a plus, but the Revell items are not that far behind. The only real frustrations I had with this model were because of a lack of reference material on the real aircraft.

This kit is highly recommended and thanks go to ED Models for providing all the additional accessories.

This page: Three views of Trevor’s Tornado GR. Mk 4A showing what can be achieved with the careful application of aftermarket accessories and decals to an already well-produced kit.

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1 Response to Panavia tornado gr4


phil beeke

December 21st, 2015 at 8:45 pm

hi,i’m doing the same model also from revell,what colour did you use for the u/carriage and bays please.
also the weapons what colour did you use for them.
many thanks phil

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