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Revell Germany 1/48 scale Panavia Tornado IDS

Kit:03987 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$43.95
Revell Germany
Detailed moldings; good cockpit; options
Parts need cleanup; difficult construction hampered by some poor fits
Injection-molded, 273 parts, decals
Revell Germany’s all-new Tornado generated a lot of interest — finally, the swing-wing strike jet gets its due!

The parts have fine, well-molded detail, and there are a lot of options: posable flap, slats, air brakes, thrust reversers, and canopy. Those options proved to be a blessing and a curse, with complex engineering and multiple parts.

Molding problems — many parts are marred by flash or imperfections — make things more difficult. For instance, there are the trailing-edge Fowler flaps, which took much more time than they should due to excess plastic that required trimming every face of all the parts. Additionally, on many parts it’s hard to see where the sprue ends and the part begins.

Take care when placing the subassemblies — the intake trunk section, cockpit module, and wing carry-through box —inside the fuselage. Ill-defined locators are hampered by small, crowded illustrations in the instructions.

The kit instructions are confusing in many areas, and I found myself having to double-check several times. There are several mistakes with part identification, too. The complex assembly required putty, and sometimes sheet styrene, to fill gaps. The jet intake parts were probably the worst in this regard, with vague, imprecise positioning. It is nice to have full-length intakes with engine faces, but the join lines along the entire length of the ducts are hard to reach and smooth.

I used the kit-supplied instrument-panel decals, but cut them into smaller pieces for better placement. With careful painting, the panels are a highlight of the kit. The side panels responded well to paint, washes, and dry-brushing. The nose undercarriage has clean detailing, but the main bays are uninspiring.

The Tornado is a “swing wing” aircraft, and Revell Germany has devised a neat mechanism that allows the wing weapons pylons to remain parallel to the fuselage as the wings move. Unfortunately, the pylon’s tiny attachment points make gluing them to the mechanism while leaving them movable difficult.
I glued the wings in the forward-swept position, as I was showing the flaps deployed. Unfortunately, the forward sweep angle is not enough for the wings to be “straight” without modifying the wing box.

Along with dropping the flaps, I mounted the leading-edge slats in an extended position. This is the most challenging aspect of the build; I came very close to cutting my losses and gluing them in, retracted. There is no positive location for the many small parts depicting the flap tracks and worm screws that move the slats. I found that attaching the slat to the wing with the outermost slat-tracks first, then installing but not gluing the rest of the tracks/screws until they were all in place sort of worked.  

The canopy alignment is also vague.

The option to have the thrust-reverser buckets open is a nice feature, but this would usually only be seen immediately after landing or during maintenance.

Color callouts are for Revell paints. Revell’s website provides a color cross-reference, so I used Testors Model Master enamels. I found the color mix for the light gray on the forward fuselage was too dark, so I remixed according to photos.

The decals are the high point of this kit: Designed by Syhart Decal, they are well printed and perform flawlessly. The sheet provides a colorful Luftwaffe squadron anniversary scheme.

Parts to build other nations’ aircraft, such as the BOZ chaff/flare pods, ECM pods, inflight refueling probe, and chin sensor pods, are in the box.

The finished model scales out pretty well, with only small discrepancies that are easily corrected if you’re so inclined.

The complex engineering, fiddly construction, and need for cleanup make Revell Germany’s new Tornado a challenge, even for an experienced modeler. Careful work and patience are the watchwords. Take your time in preparation and you’ll be rewarded with a good-looking replica of this important warplane.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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