Italeri's 1/48 scale
by Marcello Rosa
Here are some photos of my recently completed Tornado GR.1, representing one of the iconic planes deployed as part of the British participation in the first Gulf War. Among the many options provided for in the Italeri kit, I chose to build "Armoured Charmer” (ZA 739). In my view the striking combination of desert pink camouflage, severe weathering, and wild nose art makes these RAF Gulf War Tornados scale modelling gold.
The kit was built more or less out of the box, with the only add-ons being scratch built. These included some details inside the wheel bays (which are pretty basic otherwise), and the parachute risers (the only add-on to the cockpit; done with Evergreen strips). The most radical departure from the kit as provided was adding a representation of the wing root pneumatic seals, which required cutting an appropriately shaped slot in the rear fuselage and then adding the seals themselves (again, using Evergreen). Unfortunately this means that the wings are now permanently locked in the extended position. I also had to do some minor surgery to fix the angle of the fins in the drop tanks, and reinforce the wheel struts with heavy wire (to give some sturdiness given the amount of nose weight that needs to be added). Finally, the leading edge of the wings was reshaped with putty, to avoid a nasty gap between them and the wing roots.
The amount of weathering suffered by planes during the first Gulf War represents a double-edged sword for the modeller. In one hand, it is quite liberating. The paint tended to erode quickly, and the ground crews sometimes had to touch up with what they had, so most planes ended up with a mishmash of "desert pink" (ARTF - Alkali Removable Temporary Finish), sand, and light brownish colours (e.g. Leyland's "eggshell"). This means that small fixes with the paintbrush, and small variations in colour, look acceptable in the model. On the other hand, the amount of weathering was truly off the scale, creating the expectation that your plane will look very bleached in some parts, and very sooty in others. It is very easy to overdo this, and end up with something that looks nothing like a real Tornado. I chose to under-do the weathering, rather than risk overdoing it. I think it looks suitably grubby, but it could be argued that more soot and dirt would be justified. I tell myself that it was early in the deployment.
After experimenting with several paints, I used AK desert sand (RC032) as the main colour. To add some variation I used very diluted layers of AK British desert pink (RC043), Tamiya XF-59 (desert yellow) and Tamiya XF-57 (buff), in irregular patterns. I used any of the above colours for paintbrush touch-ups when necessary. I am happy that the colour of the model look at least plausible (i.e. within the variation you see in the contemporary photos). A final layer of Vallejo flat varnish completed the painting. I find interesting how my perception of the plane’s colour varies according to whether the photos were taken in the mid-day sun, late afternoon, or indoors (they were all taken with my phone camera).
I found this kit quite enjoyable. For a budget price, you get a no-frills, reasonably correctly shaped Tornado, with potential to add improvements if you wish to do so. Yes, it is a bit more work than many modern kits, but nothing that can’t be fixed with filling and sanding.
For a build report, and photos of the construction steps, feel free to visit my web site (https://www.marcellorosa.com/1-48italeritornadogr1), or send me a message if you would like any tips or clarification.
Model and Text Copyright ©
2022 by Marcello Rosa
Page Created 15 April, 2022
15 April, 2022
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