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HobbyBoss 1/48 scale Tornado IDS

Expected to remain in Royal Air Force service for many years, the swing-wing Tornado has flown missions in Desert Storm as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite long years on the front line, the Tornado has escaped the recent notice of kit makers – at least in 1/48 scale. But HobbyBoss is trying to fill that void with a series of Tornado boxings. The first kit released is the IDS, or Interdictor/Strike. The kit comes with most parts needed to make a German or RAF IDS Tornado. Underwing stores include HARM missiles, recon pod, MW-1 weapons dispenser, Sargent Fletcher refueling store (listed as a drop tank), Cerberus ECM pod, BOZ countermeasures dispenser, and bombs, all for the German version. Also included for the RAF are ALARM missiles, although HobbyBoss does not include the standard RAF Sky Shadow ECM pod. Despite the instructions, only two Sidewinders are included, although the range pod provided is a bonus.

There is also a handful of parts included for other versions. A large decal sheet includes colorful markings for a German anniversary scheme and an RAF weapons training squadron machine, as well as more stencils than a scrapbooking catalog.

There are many frustrating shape errors in the kit, such as the rounded tips of the stabilizers (5 minutes with a saw and sandpaper corrected that). HobbyBoss includes photoetched-metal parts to pose the thrust reversers open – a waste of kit engineering, as they are only deployed when landing. Some careful fitting and deletion of the photoetched metal had mine closed up easily, along with the speed brakes. Also missing from the kit – and highly visible – is a good view block for the intakes. A screen is included, but it doesn’t do the job, leaving the swing wing completely open to view. The canopy has some shape issues, although it is nice and thin. Remember to open up all the holes you need for the various sensors and weapons before you close up the fuselage – HobbyBoss molded the holes for the recon version GR.1A infrared line scanner open, but you have to drill out the laser rangefinder system that is on all but the very early IDS. (More frustration!)

The instructions would have you build the entire rear fuselage, including weapons, then join it to the fully assembled front fuselage. To me this seemed a recipe for disaster, so I built the kit in a more-conventional manner. I cut a piece of sprue to size for a brace in the rear fuselage joint under the speed brakes. Once you use your references to sort out the correct options and repair whatever shape errors you feel you must, the rest of the kit fits well. I did not need filler except for the intake interior. I left the stabilizers off until the end to aid in assembly and painting.

Even though I knew I couldn’t fully load out the RAF version, I just had to use those huge ALARM missiles. I forgot that adding the IR line scanner means you must delete a cannon, an option not offered in the kit. The wings assemble easily, but the flap configuration is simplified.

After final painting and assembly, I had clocked about 40 hours. This kit is a mixed bag – decent detail and good fit, but frustrating configuration and shape errors. HobbyBoss may be right about the market being ready for a new Tornado family – but this one is not quite the perfect storm.
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