Kit No: K31
Type: Injection Moulded Plastic
My interest in the swing-wing Tornadonaturally centres around the Aeronautica Militare (AM) in Italy. Last month I built an early period IDS bomber, so this time it’s the turn of the ADV fighter variant. The AM leased F.3s from the RAF between 1995 and 2004, as a stopgap between the Starfighter and the Eurofighter. Italy received twenty-four fighters (together with ninety-six Skyflash missiles), a few of which were two-stickers for continuation training. Interestingly, it is claimed that the Italians didn’t have a good time with th Tornado F.3, where the degree of commonality between the IDS and ADV was overestimated, and no spare engines were included in the lease In the text that follows, I shall generally speaking refer to the AM fighter as the ‘F.3’.
My original plan was in fact to build only the F.3. A motivation was that on browsing the Internet one day, I discovered a very nice decal sheet marketed by Italian Kits, covering the F.3 in AM service (ref. 72001). A mail-order to Italy soon produced the goods and, as I will explain later, the decals proved to be top-class, and I can’t wait to use the F-16, Atlantic and Hercules options also on the sheet.
Hasegawa and Some Accessories
Once again, I turned to my Hasegawa stash and this time pulled out their Tornado F Mk. 3 (ref. 04031). If the AM expected too much commonality with its IDS Tornado variant, the modeller can do the same if not too careful. Hasegawa's approach is, of course, to have a base of parts common with its IDS, but such are the differences between the two that several of even the largest parts are not fully common to both. Even the central/rear fuselage in the belly is different, especially so given the F.3’s air-to-air missile recesses. Both kits offer very fine recessed details, but there are some sink marks, especially on the flanks of the rear fuselage, and some partly concealed ejector pin marks.
There are several accessory sets available for the Tornado, but these days not many for Hasegawa. I decided to use the sets marketed by Flightpath UK, and hugely comprehensive they are too. There are separate sets for the GR.1/1A (primarily intended to help the modeller to produce a Gulf War RAF GR.1), and for the F.3, presented in photoetch, white metal, and resin. Both sets were originally designed in 1992 by Mr Tim Perry, ex-PP Models, and it was copies of Tim's own early sets that I intended to use however I believe they are the same as the current Flightpath sets.
The majority of the work required was described last month, so today I shall largely restrict myself to issues specific to the F.3. Hasegawa’s kit of course offers the longer nose section but ignores the fact that the F.3 was rather different in the rear cockpit. The main panel must be amended by lopping off the top half, together with the whole between cockpits area moulded into the fuselage shells. The required twin-MFD screens replacement comes instead from a very effective resin piece in Tim's F.3 set. Note that for two-stickers, the twin screens are moved slightly to starboard, to make room for a basic flying instruments panel and shroud to port. Hasegawa thoughtfully include a second control column.
The nosewheel box lies beneath the cockpit floor of course, but in the F.3 there's a belly panel with missile recesses which, as moulded, intrudes into the walls of the box, preventing a good fit. Hasegawa suggest a knifed amendment to the box, but I found this didn't work at all. Instead, I used a saw to get rid of the walls, and then used thin styrene card to make my own boxing. There are very large ejector pin discs in the ceiling of the box, so as well as the sidewalls, I added a new ceiling, plus fine strip to replace the structural detailing.
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