1:72 Panavia Tornado IDS, '3305 Yellow/NA-2B '29'' (former 43+59 of the German Luftwaffe) of the 20th fighter-bomber regiment, České Letectvo (Czech Air Force, CzAF), Náměšť nad Oslavou AB, summer 2005 (Whif/modified Italeri kit)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Czech Air Force (České Letectvo), officially the Army of the Czech Republic Air Force (Vzdušné síly Armády České republiky), is the air force branch of the Army of the Czech Republic. The Czech Air Force succeeded the Czechoslovak Air Force together with the Slovak Air Force in 1993.
The CzAF is responsible for securing the integrity of the Czech Republic's airspace through the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS), close air support to the Land Forces and for transportation tasks including government and state priority flights. In peacetime the Air Force is contributing to tasks originating in the Czech laws and inter-ministerial agreements, for example to the air ambulance service or the SAR role.
Czech JAS-39C/D Gripen multirole fighters fulfill primarily the tasks related to the air defense of the Czech Republic and the NATO within the system of NATINADS. In the so-called national reinforcement system the subsonic L-159 ALCA jets could be deployed to fulfil this task too, similar to the BAe Hawk trainers for the RAF.
Until 2002 the CzAF relied upon roundabout thirty Su-22 fighter bombers in the interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance role (using external sensor and camera pods), but when the type was retired the Czech Air Force was left without a dedicated strike and low-level recce aircraft.
In order to fill this gap and relieve the Gripen fleet (14 were operated, leased from Sweden for initially 10 years) from the strike/recce role, the CzAF leased several surplus Tornados from Germany.
Germany operated a huge fleet of Tornado IDS and several special versions (for dedicated recce and radar suppression duties), but reduced this fleet considerably in the course of a thorough reconstruction and reduction of the Bundeswehr and its services.
The oldest Tornado airframes dated back to the late Seventies and most were to be scrapped, since they had reached the end of their lifetimes. But newer aircraft and those with few flying hours were to be mothballed or used for spares.
From this batch, a total of eight Tornado IDS were diverted for the CzAF. The selected machines had formerly served with JBG 34 "Allgäu" in Memmingen which had been operating the Tornado IDS since 1987 and which was disbanded in 2002.
These machines were completely overhauled and additional systems integrated on behalf of the CzAF. These included a laser spot tracker on a port side pylon under the front fuselage and a combined FLIR/laser designator eyeball (similar to the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack) in a semi-recessed fairing under the starboard side.
Furthermore, the Tornados were modified to remain interoperable with some CzAF equipment, most notably the proven KKR-1 reconnaissance pod which was formerly carried by the CzAF's Su-22M4.
The KKR-1 was equipped with an A-39 camera (positioned vertically or at an angle up to 55° before the flight), a PA-1 panoramic camera, a UA-47 camera for night photography, four KDF-38 cassettes containing FP-100 illumination flares and a SRS-13 Tangazh ELINT system. The SRS-13 suite was intended for the radar localization, their classification and identification of their operating frequencies, so that the Czech Tornados could also be used as guides in AA radar suppression/SEAD duties, even though in a fashion not as sophisticated as the German Tornado ECR.
Another system that the CzAF Tornados were to carry was the SPS-141 ECM pod instead of the German Cerberus ECM pod. But the BOZ-101 chaff/flare dispenser, as well as the AIM-9 Sidewinder for self-protection (being already procured with the Saab Gripen), were taken over, though.
The Czech Tornados were ready for service when the independence of the Czech Air Force was terminated on 1 December 2003. The force became a part of newly established Joint Forces of the Czech Army with the command post located at Olomouc. Within the new structure, the Air Force Commander in Chief was in a position of one of Joint Forces Chief Commander Deputy, and the Tornado fleet closely related to the Czech Army, and they were allocated to the re-established 20th fighter-bomber regiment at Náměšť nad Oslavou.
The leasing agreement was initially settled for 10 years, running until 2013, but the high service standard and rather timid use of the machines (~130 flying hours p.a.) resulted in a prolongation of the contract until at least 2023 - also made possible through the participation of the Czech machines in constant modernization programs of the German Luftwaffe which keeps it remaining Tornado force (85 machines are still active in 2016) up to date and probably in service until 2035.
Length: 16.72 m (54 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 13.91 m at 25° wing sweep, 8.60 m at 67° wing sweep (45.6 ft / 28.2 ft)
Height: 5.95 m (19.5 ft)
Wing area: 26.6 m2 (286 ft2)
Empty weight: 13,890 kg (30,620 lb)
Loaded weight: 20,240 kg (44,620 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 28,000 kg (61,700 lb)
2 × Turbo-Union RB199-34R Mk 103 afterburning turbofans
with 43.8 kN (9,850 lbf) dry thrust each and 76.8 kN (17,270 lbf) with afterburner
Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,400 km/h, 1,490 mph) at 9,000 m (30,000 ft) altitude;
800 knots, 1,482 km/h, 921 mph indicated airspeed near sea level
Range: 1,390 km (870 mi) for typical combat mission
Ferry range: 3,890 km (2,417 mi) with four external drop tanks
Service ceiling: 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 76.7 m/s (15,100 ft/min)
2× 27 mm (1.06 in) Mauser BK-27 revolver cannon, 180 RPG
4× light duty + 3× heavy duty hardpoints under-fuselage and 4× swiveling under-wing
pylon stations with a capacity of 9,000 kg (19,800 lb) of payload;
the two inner wing pylons have shoulder launch rails for 2× Short-Range AAM (SRAAM)
The kit and its assembly:
This whif is actually a CG tribute, the build of a profile posted at whatifmodelers.com by fellow Czech member Wenzel a.k.a. PantherG in May 2015: a Czech Air Force Tornado. I found the idea and the look of the different paint scheme on the fighter-bomber interesting, and earmarked it for a build. But it took a year to dig out a surplus Italeri Tornado kit from the pile (bought in a lot without box and definitive building plan) and turn the virtual idea into model kit hardware.
The respective profile shows an RAF Tornado GR.1 in CzAF colors, but I considered a former Luftwaffe aircraft to be more appropriate. Historically, this slightly different story fits well, since the Czech Air Force phased out its Su-22 fighter bombers until 2002 and the German Luftwaffe also reduced its Tornado fleet considerably at that time (e. g. all of the Marineflieger Tornados were retired or re-distributed to Luftwaffe units until 2005, squadrons disbanded or unified, and the total German Tornado fleet declined from more than 300 to only 85 aircraft).
As already mentioned, the kit is the Italeri offering, a mediocre rendition of the Tornado IDS. I have built several of these in the past and was wary about the kit's flaws - including the poor fit of the fuselage halves, lack of exhaust or air intake interior and the funny construction of the swiveling pylons.
I basically built the kit OOB but made detail changes/improvements, like deeper air intakes with simulated ducts, some added ramps inside of the intakes. The jet nozzles and the fuselage end were drilled open, so that these would gain some more depth. Some styrene blade antennae and thin wire pitots were added all around the hull.
Personal additions are the pylon-mounted laser receiver (inspired by the Pave Penny pod on A-10s) and the eyeball (inspired by the A-6E TRAM) under the front fuselage, both scratched. Other details that set this Tornado apart are the KKR-1 and SPS-141 pods, both from a Mastercraft Su-22. The OOB AIM-9E Sidewinders were replaced by more modern AIM-9M from the scrap box, which the contemporary Czech Saab Gripen carry, too.
Painting and markings:
I tried to stay as close as possible to the original profile drawing, but added some personal twists and made corrections I felt suitable, e. g. an additional field of dark green in front of the cockpit nose or different colors for the tactical code.
The colors refer to the profile and I used the respective tones from Humbrol's and Modelmaster's enamel range for basic painting (upper sides: FS 34079 = H 116, FS 30018 = MM 1702, FS 36152 = H 27 and FS 34227 = H 120, with FS 35526 undersides, but I used a deeper blue on the undersides, RLM 80 from Modelmaster, instead of an RLM 65 equivalent).
After a black ink wash, panels and details were shaded and lightened because the original colors are pretty murky in real life and with little contrast.
With its five-color scheme, the CzAF Tornado already looked different and flashy - but I added even some more variation through various color details. Since the fictional ex Luftwaffe machines would bring typical equipment with them, I painted several 'optional parts' in different schemes: The swiveling pylons kept a light grey basis (RAL 7035) with a leading edge in Basaltgrau (RAL 7012). The BOZ-101 dispenser carries its former Luftwaffe livery in all-over RAL 6003 (Olivgrün). The drop tanks were painted in late Luftwaffe blue-grey (RAL 7001). This appears odd, but you frequently see Luftwaffe Tornados carrying external ordnance in very different, even vintage styles, which were simply not updated to newer camouflage schemes.
Furthermore, the SPS-141 carries light brown upper (Humbrol 62) and a light blue (Humbrol 65) lower surface (with bright green dielectric covers, of course, seen on a late CzAF Su-22), while the large KKR-1 pod became all-blue, even though in a slightly different shade from the Tornado. Overall, it's an intentional wild mix of styles and colors.
This went further with the hi-viz national roundels and yellow tactical codes. The original profile drawing featured black digits with white outlines, but this style was AFAIK dropped when the Czechoslovak Air Force became the Czech Air Force in 1993, and the codes on the Su-22 fighter-bombers became yellow. Later, additional NATO codes were added on the fin for war game identification. Therefore I incorporated this more recent style into my build.
Other markings and stencils come from various sources, including the OOB sheets or leftover material from 1:72 Su-22s made by Bilek and Mastercraft.
A kind of tribute build, and it’s exciting to see someone else’ virtual design taking literal shape as a three-dimensional model kit. And the idea of a Czech Tornado is IMHO not as fantastic as it might sound in the first place – the diversified paint scheme looks interesting on the Cold War warrior that swapped sides after the Iron Curtain went down.