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Revell Panavia Tornado IDS 1:48

Revell Panavia Tornado IDS 1:48


Originally conceived as the MRA (Multi Role Aircraft), later changed to the MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft), the Tornado was to become an aircraft capable of replacing several different aircraft in service with several NATO countries. Germany, Italy, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands formed the initial working group in 1968 with the United Kingdom joining soon after. Canada and Belgium were the first countries to leave the consortium due to political wrangling and conflicting specifications and requirements, followed by the Netherlands in 1970.

The requirements that emerged from the three remaining partners were for an aircraft to be designed that would excel in the low-level strike role. Two design concepts were presented, the single seat Panavia 100 (favoured by Germany) and the two seat Panavia 200 (favoured by the RAF). Briefly known as the Panther, the three nation consortium selected the Panavia 200 for their new low-level strike aircraft. As the design evolved, the Tornado’s multirole capabilities led to it being produced in three main variants: Tornado IDS (Interdictor/Strike), Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance) and Tornado ADV (Air Defence Variant), the most extensively modified from the base Tornado airframe.

The first prototype aircraft took flight in 1974, with the first production aircraft being delivered to the RAF and Luftwaffe in 1979. Production ended in 1998 with the last of 992 airframes being delivered to Saudi Arabia. The Tornado was considered by several countries during this time, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, with no other successful foreign sales.

As with most aircraft operated by the world’s air forces today, the Tornado has under gone several life extension and upgrade programs to maintain its viability as a frontline aircraft. It is projected that the Tornado will remain in service until 2025, 50 years after the prototype’s first flight.


After opening the box (yes it is the wobbly end opening style, love it or hate it) we are greeted with twelve light grey sprues, one clear sprue, a colourful decal sheet for a single aircraft from JaBog 33 in its 50th anniversary livery and an instruction manual. Overall the kit contains approximately 280 parts.








Surface detail is nicely rendered with restrained panel lines and riveting. Moulding is sharp with no flash evident. The one exception to the rule is the external tanks which have the correct raised weld lines that some modellers may wish to make less prominent. The modeller is given lots of options for moveable wings with linked hard points (another love or hate item), opened or closed canopy, flaps, slats, spoilers, airbrakes and thrust reversers and landing gear up or down. The only things missing are weapons for the fuselage pylons that will have to be sourced separately.

As is traditional with Revell instructions, you must wade through the pages of multi-lingual warnings, paint tables (Revell paint numbers only), symbols and sprue layout before reaching the first construction steps on the bottom of page 5. The remaining 11 pages are quite cluttered looking, packing in the 94 steps required to build your Tornado.

Construction begins with the nicely moulded seats that are made up of multiple parts. There are basic seats belts moulded onto the cushions, which, due to the modular nature of the seat, will be easy to sand/scrape off if you plan on replacing them. The cockpit tub is well moulded with raised details for the side consoles, separate rear bulkhead and the nose wheel well roof detail on the underside. The instrument panel is just as well moulded, with decals provided for the instrument faces. Full painting instructions are given for the cockpit. Most of the WSO’s instruments are added later in the construction. Out of the box, the cockpit has plenty of detail and will please many modellers.

The sharp-eyed Tornado aficionado will notice that the cockpit looks more like an ECR cockpit than an IDS cockpit. If this bothers you, Eduard has released a photo-etch set to correct the instrument panel and console layouts. Also included in the series are sets for adding seat belts, detailing the landing gear, adding exterior detail, a boarding ladder, resin wheels and canopy masks. There are no dedicated resin sets available as of yet, but there are rumors of some coming.

You will also notice by this point that the fuselage is not the usual vertical or horizontal split. The cockpit tub, intakes and landing gear bays all fit onto a lower fuselage tray, after drilling out the appropriate holes for the fuselage pylons. To this is added the forward fuselage sides, the aft fuselage sides, the wings and finally the upper fuselage surface. It is a clever design allowing a good amount of detail to be captured on all sides, just be aware of the joins and test fit the parts throughout the build-up.

The intake duct is full length and ends with a dog bone shaped part that has the engine faces. They are split horizontally and will have seams on each side running their entire length. How much of the seams will be seen once assembled will determine how much effort needs to be expended to smooth them out.

The forward fuselage is split vertically, mating with the lower tray and enclosing the cockpit tub.Remember to drill the mounting holes for the AAR probe if choosing to install it. There is no cockpit sidewall detail; however some research and bits of styrene should remedy that problem. A couple of ejector marks will likely have to be dealt with as well.

As is often seen with variable geometry aircraft, the wings can be built to allow them to be functional. A connecting rod ties the pylons to the sweep mechanism allowing the pylons to remain in proper alignment as the wings sweep. This internal mechanism will go together without any glue unless you choose to build your Tornado with a fixed amount of wing sweep. There are three things to consider when determining how to position the wings on your Tornado. First, the wing seals. The kit parts are provided with a notch for the 25° forward position and guide lines on the interior to cut along for the 67° aft position. Once this is cut there will be a large gap that will be left in the fuselage side when the wings are moved forward. For the scratch builder, the seals could be remade to get the more “relaxed” look seen on the real aircraft. Secondly, with the flaps and slats deployed, the wings can’t be swept back. Lastly, is operator preference. The German and Italian Tornados are most often parked with their wings swept at 45°. The RAF aircraft are mostly seen with wings swept full forward due to a maintenance problem with the flaps and slats early in the Tornados career and an additional fuel tank in the fin that made the aircraft tail heavy with the wings swept.

There are some delicate fingers on the aft edge of the wing that will require care when cutting them free from the sprue if you wish to display the flaps in the open position. These fingers can be removed if you decide to have the flaps in the raised position.

There is an option to position the intake ramps for the Air Intake Control System (AICS) by trimming a fin moulded onto the back of the ramp to the desired angle. The instructions show cutting it at 0°, 7° or 16° positions. Removing the fin flush with the surface will put the ramp in the full open position as usually seen on the ground and through most of its flight regime. At speeds above Mach 1.3, the AICS would step the ramps down to the 0° position and then progressively step them to the closed 16° position dependent upon Mach number and AOA. As the aircraft decelerates, the ramps are stepped back moving to the fully open position at approximately Mach 1.1. The system has been disabled on the RAF GR.1/4’s due to the LRMTS and FLIR under the nose and the general difficulty in maintaining them for the benefit they gave but is still functional on the F.3’s.

Construction now moves to the aft fuselage with the addition of the tailerons, engine exhaust, and “the fin”. The mounts for the tailerons are trapped between the forward fuselage and the two part exhaust shroud. The two flying surfaces are not linked on the kit so if left moveable they could end up in different positions. The exhaust trunking and afterburner assembly is nicely detailed out of the box and slides into the aft fuselage so it may be possible to leave it off until after painting.

Next is the build-up of the most recognizable feature of the Tornado, the vertical stabilizer. It has separately moulded sensors and antennas and a poseable rudder.

Before attaching the radome, Revell recommends adding 40 g of weight to prevent your Tornado becoming a tailsitter. There has been considerable discussion on the web regarding the radome panel lines and shape. These concerns have been disproven The size is correct with just a bit of filling and sanding along the seam that attaches the radome to the fuselage.

Your earlier decision on the flap position will determine the slat position as they deploy or retract together on the full size aircraft. With the slats up, they only need to be glued in place. If deployed, there are very thin and fragile screw jacks and guide arms for that will require some care when removing them from the sprues and gluing them in place.

The spoilers can also be shown stowed or deployed but require no extra parts, simply glue them at the angle you wish. They are only functional between 25° and 45° angles of sweep and usually stowed when parked. The air brakes are simply laid on the bays and glued in place for the closed position or have an actuator arm and its support structure added to mount them at the correct deployed angle.

Deployed or stowed thrust reversers are the next decision for you. There are two sets of actuators, deployed or stowed, that fit onto the aft fuselage with the clam shells fitting into the fuselage recess if closed or onto the ends of the actuator arms if deployed. The characteristic soot stain on the vertical tail is a result of this thrust reverser system. The thruster reversers may be best left off until after painting and decaling, especially if being modelled deployed.

The wing and fuselage pylons all consist of two halves. The inboard side of the inner pylons require two holes to be drilled to mount the missile rails. These have a slight downward angle when installed. A detail drawing showing the correct angle would be helpful here, so check your references to align them correctly.

If you’re modelling your Tornado in-flight, all that is needed is to trim the hinge tabs from the doors and glue them in place over the bays. Modelling the gear down only requires that the three piece nose gear doors be cut apart along engraved cut lines.

The landing gear struts are moulded in two halves. This will mean some careful assembly and sanding to remove any seam lines. Detail parts are added that include scissor links, retraction arms and clear landing lights leaving you to add brake lines if you wish. The wheels are moulded in two halves with good detail on the hubs. There is no weighted “flat spot” on the tires so you will have to sand your own should you wish. There are a couple of sink marks on the rear brace of the main struts. It is a narrow spot to get into to fill and sand so take care.

The windscreen fits into a recess around the pilot’s instrument panel and will require some careful filling to fair it in with the fuselage more closely. The large canopy is a single moulding with frame and a raised detonation cord moulded on the inside. The main canopy has canopy lifter mechanisms to be added to the inside of the canopy with the option of removing the support legs for the closed option. Also include are the 6 rear view mirrors that are attached to recesses in the canopy. The recesses appear to be a bit too far aft so the mounting pins may be visible once the canopy external frames are painted. The addition of the navigation lights, various probes, intakes and antennas finishes off the main build. The optional In-Flight Refuelling probe is only offered in the stowed position.

The external stores are a major feature for many builders of modern jets and the Tornado can carry quite a variety. There are some, albeit a limited number included in the kit. The external fuel tanks are the 1,500 litre as found on Luftwaffe and Italian IDS’s (not the RAF 2,250 litre). Also included are the BOZ-101 Flare/Chaff Dispenser (which requires the aft section to be corrected), a German Cerberus ECM pod, the German Telelens reconnaissance pod and a Skyshadow pod (only used by the RAF) and a pair of oddly shaped AIM-9 Sidewinders.

For those building the kit with the supplied markings this will not be a concern as it was never seen with any external stores beyond the EFT’s while it carried the anniversary scheme. For those wishing to build a line jet with a full weapons load, they will have to be sourced from the spares box or aftermarket suppliers.

The decals provided are for a colourful 50 Jahre anniversary scheme for Tornado 45+44 of JaBog 33 from Buchel in 2008. They are “Printed in Italy for Revell”, draw your own conclusion for the source. The aircraft sports a three tone graded scheme changing from light grey through dark grey to black from nose to tail. All paints are given in Revell numbers and mixes with no cross reference to actual names, FS numbers or other suppliers. Density, registration and sharpness are all good with thin carrier film closely cropped around the markings.


All in all, this is a very solid kit with fine recessed panel lines, lots of detail straight out of the box and well-priced, in the $30 range on-line. Some will be disappointed by the lack of weapons and the inclusion of only one finish scheme. There are several aftermarket decal sheets available for Luftwaffe, Marineflieger and Aeronautica Militaire Tornados. Many of the weapons that can be carried by the Tornado are available from aftermarket suppliers such as Flightpath or CMK.

For the crest fallen RAF modeller, an early Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment (TTTE) or Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) airframe can be built from this kit but will require the earlier style ejection seats. For those that can’t wait for a dedicated GR.1/4 kit, most of the parts are there to build a RAF aircraft with the appropriate references and some scratch building. For the more patient, there are hints in the method of moulding, combined with the parts “marked not for use” that are seen on the sprues pointing to other variants coming. The RAF GR.4 is scheduled for release later this year.

Revell rates the kit as Skill Level 5 and I believe them. The high part count, complex assembly and fine parts will not make this a “1-2-3” build nor is it a likely candidate for new modellers’ first build. Any modeller with a few builds under their belt should enjoy the challenge of this kit as well as the experienced builder wishing to add more details.

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