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Italeri Tornado GR.4

Expanded build review of the 1/32 scale aircraft kit — more than 40 work-in-progress photos! 
Taking its curtain call with the Royal Air Force in 2019, the Panavia Tornado is an example of a successful multinational program to develop a multirole aircraft to serve with multiple air arms. Introduced as an interdictor/strike jet, the Tornado morphed into other roles including suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), reconnaissance, and one version was even fielded as an interceptor.

Italeri’s 1/32 scale Tornado GR4, the final service version of the husky striker, has been getting a lot of attention from modelers. Build options abound, including posable flaps and slats, airbrakes, and thrust reversers, and optional vinyl tires. Other nice additions are a boarding ladder and a trolley to display one of the Turbo-Union RB.199 engines out of the model.

The kit provides a selection of weapons, although some don’t apply to RAF Tornados. Among those that do are laser-targeted GBU-12s, 2,250-liter fuel tanks, AIM-9 missiles, and BOZ-107 countermeasures and Sky Shadow ECM pods. A nice inclusion would have been Brimstone air-to-ground missiles carried by the GR4 on numerous deployments late in its career.

The airframe parts feature pronounced panel lines — some might call them overdone — and other surface details. 

A separate, detailed painting and marking guide shows marking for four RAF Tornados, including extensive stenciling for the jet, weapons, and pylons. Unfortunately, a couple of errors detract from the beautifully printed decals. The fin-mounted Tornado profile for the black-tailed retirement livery is printed in gold but it should be a steel gray, and the tailfin code for No. 617 Squadron should have a thin red outline.

The cockpit is well detailed, and the front cockpit matches photos of the GR4 in Duke Hawkins Aircraft in Detail 005:Panavia Tornado (HMH, ISBN 978-2-9602488-4-5, available from the The upper portion of the rear-seat panel looks right, too, but the lower panel does not resemble the GR4 version’s digital displays and switches. Oddly, not all instruments are portrayed on the front panel decal and no decals are included at all for the instruments on the rear panel.

The ejection seats go together easily and look great, but I had a hard time following the diagrams to install the photo-etched metal (PE) seat belts.

This is a good time to say, follow the instructions closely throughout the build. This is a complicated kit with many options, and it is easy to glue parts incorrectly, forget to open holes, or flip parts from one side to the other.

The forward fuselage fit neatly along panel lines, and I needed to use just a swipe of filler along the curved join under the nose.

The variable-geometry wings feature posable flaps, slats, and spoilers. Italeri designed wings to move, including gearing and a clever mechanism to align the pylons as the wing angle change, but if you pose the flaps down, you won’t be able to take advantage of that. If you leave the wings movable or pose them fully swept, you will need to slice open the rubber wing root seals included in the kit. 

The instructions indicate building and install the engines before closing the rear fuselage, but they can be inserted along with the aft bulkhead at the end of the build, making cleanup and painting easier. The engines have molded details and include the Tornado’s trademark clamshell thrust reversers, but purists will want to enhance the engines with refined detail. 

The rear fuselage assembles easily with the full intake structures and bulkheads clicking firmly into place. I assembled the intakes off the model, but I recommend following the instructions and only installing the splitter plates against the fuselage. Assemble the intakes when you attach them to the fuselage for better alignment. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally put the forward and aft fuselage assemblies together and heard an audible “click” as they locked into place. Well done, Italeri!

The trademark Tornado fin fits like the proverbial glove and even the small vortex generators supplied as tiny PE parts did not annoy me too badly. 

I tacked the canopy in place to mask the cockpit, then painted the jet with Hataka medium sea grey (No. C141). Unfortunately, this is almost the same shade as the stencils, so they all but disappeared. After airbrushing weathering with Tamiya smoke (No. X-19), I sprayed a clear gloss.

The decals went down easily and, aside from the errors and color match with the stencils, they worked great. 

But I wasn’t done yet; a bunch of parts came at final assembly, including separate antennas, weapons, landing gear, detailed canopy rails, and more.

It spent 80 whirlwind hours on Italeri’s Tornado — hey it’s a big, complex kit — but it was worth it. I’ll be very happy to add this beast to my display cabinet, once I find a shelf big enough.

Check out the work-in-progress photos below
Italeri’s Tornado includes some nice ground equipment accessories, but be prepared to work for the detail. There are a number of ejector-pin marks to address on the engine trolley and the ladder has mold lines the require extensive scraping to eliminate.
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