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Revell Germany 1/144 scale Tornado ECR TigerMeet 2011

Kit:04846 // Scale:1/144 // Price:$10.75
Revell Germany, 49-05-223-965-0
Excellent fit; beautiful decals
Gear doors and Sidewinders are over scale (too thick, though that’s understandable); no alternate “line jet” markings; a few missing decal-number references
Injection molded, 63 parts, decals

Even as it approaches retirement, the Tornado is still one of the West’s premier all-weather attack aircraft and is available in multiple versions for various missions. One of the more recent is the suppression of enemy air defenses, a role assigned to the Tornado ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance).

There have been kits of the Tornado in all the popular scales, including previous releases by Revell Germany in 1/144 scale. Even though this kit is not new, the decals are — all 100-plus of them. The kit’s decals are for a flamboyant Tornado ECR from TigerMeet 2011, covered in tiger stripes.

The kit is well detailed, with a full armament of two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and two HARM anti-radar missiles, along with two drop tanks plus chaff and electronic jamming pods. It is missing the LRMTS laser-targeting sensor bump under the nose but includes the option of an open refueling probe. Like most Tornado kits, wings can be swept or not. There are no covers for the wing-sweep cutout in the fuselage, however, so I modeled mine swept.

The cockpit has seats, control sticks, and instrument panels. You’re on your own for detailing them, however, as there are no panel decals. Don’t fret — you can’t really see much through the thick canopy plastic.

The fuselage and wing-center sections assemble quickly with no gaps. I recommend permanently attaching the wings as you like them, as the gears on which they swing can disengage. I had to take a thin slice off the front of the spine fairing attached to the fin and rudder to square it and improve fit — once I did, you could not detect a joint. Likewise, the air intakes fit exceptionally well. They project slightly above the fuselage on the real aircraft, so don’t assume this is a fit problem in need of correction.

Revell Germany carefully points out the need to remove and fair over the gun ports on the lower fuselage — common to the standard ground-attack version but not present on the ECR — and the removal of some hard points on the fuselage racks to mount rails for the HARM missiles.

Thanks to very good fits and few parts, in little more than five hours everything was assembled, seams were cleaned, and the kit was ready for paint (including the weapons). I left the Sidewinders off since I couldn’t find any pictures of this jet with them. I also left off the rest of the underwing stores, the landing gear, gear doors, and nose probe to aid painting. Another four hours and painting was complete; I used Testors RAF medium gray as a close match for the blue-tinted gray apparent in online photos. Detail painting included a Testors RLM 80 olivgrün ECM pod and white for the missiles and chaff pod. The drop tanks required four colors in a tiny area: gray with a white bottom, a Testors true blue tail, and a Testors deep yellow nose. The box art appears to show the tail of the jet as blue, but in photos it’s clearly the same gray as the rest of the airframe. The dot patterns of the painting diagram are hard to interpret, but the instructions also correctly call for gray.

Now for the real fun: the decals!  Wow … so many decals … Revell Germany has included every stripe, warning, or tiger this jet carries. Again, the lack of contrast in the instructions’ drawing occasionally makes it difficult to interpret. But if you study pictures and look at the decals, all becomes apparent. There are a couple of decals not mentioned in the sheet — for instance, a couple of the stripes under the wing — but placement of the leftover decals becomes obvious if you’ve built a few kits. Luckily, I realized that the decals included the canopy frames before I attempted to paint them — they would have been far too delicate for me to mask.

These were some of the nicest decals I have used — they fit well and, with a bit of setting solution, they settled right down. The only troublesome area was around the refueling probe. I had to touch up with Testors deep yellow — a near-identical match. Even the canopy frames fit well.

After almost five hours of tiny strips and stencils, I attached all the leftover bits and pieces and my teeny Tornado was finished. I clocked 14 hours altogether, split evenly among building, painting, and decaling. I think this kit can be built and painted by nearly any modeler. But you’ll probably want a little practice before tackling the many decals of this kit.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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