1:72 EADS (Panavia) CA-182A "Tornado"; aircraft "(182)715” of the Canadian Air Force 433 (Porcupine) Fighter Bomber Squadron; 3 Wing, CFB Bagotville (Quebec/Canada), 2004 (Whif/Revell kit)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Panavia Tornado was a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing multirole combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by Italy, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. There were three primary Tornado variants: the Tornado IDS (interdictor/strike) fighter-bomber, the suppression of enemy air defences Tornado ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance) and the Tornado ADV (air defence variant) interceptor aircraft.
The Tornado underwent a long and protracted design phase with many international stakeholders and potential partners. Eventually, it was developed and built by Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a tri-national consortium consisting of British Aerospace (previously British Aircraft Corporation), MBB of West Germany, and Aeritalia of Italy. This dedicated joint venture was later integrated into the DASA consortium, which became in 2000 the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and since 2014 part of the Airbus SE.
The Tornado IDS fighter bomber first flew on 14 August 1974 and was introduced into service in 1979–1980. Due to its multirole design, it was able to replace several different fleets of aircraft in the adopting air forces, but because the Tornado was designed primarily for the European theatre of operations and a complex aircraft, export sales and foreign operators were few.
The first customer outside of the designers' countries became the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), with orders for 48 IDS and 24 ADV model Tornados in 1985. Another export customer became Canada a couple of years later – despite the fact that Canada had been part of the initial multi-national MRCA design team in the Sixties and retreated from the Tornado project due to escalating costs and contradictive. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the political situation in Western Europe had changed dramatically and Canada decided to retire its air force contingent (at that time primarily CF-188/F-18 Hornet fighters, which had been introduced in 1982) from Western-Germany, a move that resulted in the disbandment of several oversea units until 1993. In the course of the resulting re-organization of the homeland defense the CF-188s were to operate as interceptors, defending Canadian airspace, while maritime defense and reconnaissance was to be taken over by a new, dedicated strike aircraft type. Among the contenders were the Lockheed F-15E Strike Eagle, the Dassault Mirage 2000 as well as the Rafale (still at project stage at that time), and the Panavia Tornado IDS.
After a lengthy evaluation process, the Tornado IDS came out as the winner, even though rumors persist that the decision was not fully rational. Nevertheless, Canada signed in late 1994 a procurement paper for a total of 56 Tornado attack aircraft, including eight trainers with dual controls but full attack capability. Under the pressure of exploding costs and due to operational requirements from the Canadian Air Force, the Canadian government demanded several detail changes that turned the CAF aircraft into a breed of its own, even though these differences to the European Tornado IDS were not visible at first sight.
The most significant change was the replacement of the original Turbo-Union RB199-34R Mk 103 afterburning turbofans with General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans. With these more modern and more powerful engines (formerly dry thrust of 43.8 kN (9,850 lbf) and 76.8 kN (17,270 lbf) with afterburner each versus 62.3 kN (13,000 lbf) dry and 97.9 kN (22,000 lbf) with afterburner through the F414s) the aircraft’s performance was improved, especially its range and rate of climb, but the Tornado's original and very effective thrust reversers to decrease the distance required to safely land had to be deleted. Instead, a protruding brake parachute compartment was added under the fin's base and the aircraft's tail section was modified accordingly.
The aircraft's primary weapon against maritime targets was the AGM-84 "Harpoon" with an operational range of 67 nmi (124 km) and more, using active radar homing and a low-level, sea-skimming cruise trajectory to improve survivability and lethality. Up to four of these missiles could be carried and launched at different targets at the same time, even though normally only a pair of AGM-84s were carried under the fuselage, the inner wing pylons occupied with drop tanks in order to extend range and endurance. Additional precision weapons with shorter range were the AGM-65 "Maverick" and laser-guided bombs of various calibers, including the laser and GPS-guided GBU-54 LJDAM. Additionally, the AGM-88 "HARM" could be deployed against targets with radar emissions like ships or aerial defense positions. Furthermore, the CAF procured ten refueling pods for the Tornado fleet, so that single aircraft could act as buddy-buddy tankers and extend the potential strike range. For the secondary recce role the CA-182 could, beyond the internal IIS suite, be outfitted with various camera, SLAR and air sampling pods.
The internal armament was also changed – the original pair of Mauser 27mm revolver cannon was replaced by a single, lightweight 20 mm (0.787 in) General Dynamics A-50 3-barrel rotary cannon, which fired linkless 20 mm ammunition – another compromise in order to unify logistics with the similar M61 cannon on board of the CAF’s CF-188 Hornets. In order to fit the bigger weapon into the Tornado’s lower front fuselage, a characteristic bulging had to be added to the weapon bay’s cover.
Other, outwardly invisible changes included the cockpit instruments and avionics systems procured from the USA, in order to improve the technical commonality with the CF-188 fleet and the corresponding training procedures. Special Canadian features included a combined FLIR/laser designator sensor in a fairing under the starboard side, which replaced one of the original gun bays, and an infrared recording system (IIS) in an additional ventral fairing behind the front landing gear well. Further special Canadian features included a wide-angle HUD (Head-up display), improved cockpit displays, night vision devices (NVG) capabilities and a Global Positioning System receiver.
The Canadian Tornados underwent a quick but thorough 2-year development program and were introduced into CAF service in late 1996 with CAF 425 and 433 Squadrons, receiving the official designation "CA-182" with the suffix "A" for the standard fighter bombers and "B" for the dual control variant.
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× General Electric F414-GE-400 afterburning turbofans with
a dry thrust of 62.3 kN (13,000 lbf) and 97.9 kN (22,000 lbf) at full afterburner each
Maximum speed: Mach 2.3 (2,500 km/h, 1,550 mph) at 9,000 m (30,000 ft) altitude;
800 knots, 1,482 km/h, 921 mph indicated airspeed near sea level
Range: 1,550 km (962 mi) for typical combat mission
Ferry range: 4,200 km (2,600 mi) with four external drop tanks
Service ceiling: 15,240 m (50,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 90.5 m/s (17,785 ft/min)
1× 20 mm (0.787 in) A-50 3-barrel rotary cannon with 420 rounds
3× heavy duty under-fuselage hardpoints plus 4× swiveling under-wing
pylon stations with a total payload capacity of 9,000 kg (19,800 lb);
the two inner wing pylons have shoulder launch rails for 2× Short-Range AAM (SRAAM),
typically IR-guided AIM-9 Sidewinder
The kit and its assembly:
This whiffy Tornado is a submission to a spontaneous and rather informal "RAF Tornado Farewell" group build at whatifmodelers.com. I had a surplus Tornado kit in the stash from a lot purchase a while ago and used the opportunity to tackle it. The kit is Revell's own Tornado IDS mold from 1998 (the kit with the separate, vertically split cockpit section), in my case it’s a Tornado ECR which comes with some extra parts for the cockpit and HARM missiles.
Even though I considered the kit at first to be a good offering, with many detail improvements over the older Italeri kit (which has been reboxed many times, also under the labels of Tamiya, Revell, Bilek and Alanger), I have come to hate it because I found it – like other more recent Revell kits like the Me 262 – to be somewhat über-engineered, to a point that the potential progress or benefit becomes detrimental. Signs of decadence, I guess?
For instance, the construction for the stabilizers is very similar to the Italeri kit: the fins are connected with a bar, and moveable. And while Italeri’s construction was already not the most stable one (stabilizers would frequently break off), the Revell “solution” is even more flimsy! Why?
The same goes for the swiveling wing pylons: on the old Italeri kit you were ordered to heat a screwdriver and flatten the attachment pins from the wings’ inside – this sound a little outdated, but works better than expected. The new Revell kit offers small, round clips that hold the pylons in place. Well, while mounting them is a fiddly affair, the arrangement works quite well …until you work on. First of all, the pylons sit so tightly under the wing that I wonder how you are expected to paint them? And it gets worse: you better not touch a pylon, because the pins that hold them are so thin that they easily break. I lost two(!) pylons during the building and painting process, and did not find it amusing...
The clear parts are thin but brittle, and canopy and windscreen do not seem to belong to the same model. Their fit with the fuselage is rather corny, and the way they are attached to the sprues is dubious, too.
The four part ejection seats did not go together, either, as if none of the parts was intended for any other. The instructions are also flawed: in areas like the air intakes the graphics do not clearly show well how parts are supposed to be mounted to each other. I am really not pleased with the kit, despite the good looks of the parts.
But back to the group build; I initially considered something more fictional than a Simple Tornado IDS, e. g. a mod with twin fins and in Russian markings, but, eventually, I settled upon a rather simple, mostly cosmetic whif build. Ideas included an Omani aircraft or a Greek maritime strike Tonka in the pretty "Ghost" scheme, but a Canadian strike aircraft finally made it.
In fact, the kit was built almost OOB, I just changed the jet nozzles (donors from an F-18), modified the base of the fin with a scratched brake parachute fairing and added details like the FLIR pod under the nose. From the Tornado ECR extra parts I used the ventral IIS fairing and the HARM launch rails.
The AGM-84s as well as the AN/ALQ-184 jamming pod (I know that Canada does not use the latter, but I wanted something different from the German Kerberos pod) came from Hasegawa aircraft weapon sets. The OOB drop tanks (which have IMHO a doubtful shape and come with anachronistic raised panel details!?), the BOZ-101 and the AIM-9s were retained from the original kit.
Painting and markings:
Well, there are not many realistic schemes to choose from. The most obvious option would have been an all-grey aircraft, in the CF-188 style (FS 35237 upper and FS 26375 lower surfaces with low-viz markings in grey). But for a low level attack aircraft I rather considered more classic colors to be appropriate.
The next real life option was the late CF-104G scheme for Europe in NATO standard RAF Dark Green/Dark Sea Grey with low-viz markings (w/o white, to be exact), or an all-green livery. Not convincing, at least to me, and the Tonka would be operated much later. Then I came across a late CT-133 trainer, in the so-called “FIS” scheme: a wraparound pattern in RAF Dark Green/Dark Sea Grey with all-black national markings and stencils, but the paint was quite faded and esp. the grey looked rather light, almost like USAF Neutral Grey, and the black markings stood out well. I found this look quite convincing and unique, and so I adapted the early RAF Tornado GR.1s wraparound scheme for my CAF Tonka and just used different colors, in order to emphasize the different continent – even though the effect is rather subtle. Instead of RAF Dark Green I used the very similar FS 34079 (it is a tad less reddish and dull), and the Dark Sea Grey was replaced by FS 36176, “Dark Grey”, the tone that is used all-over on the USAF’s F-15Es. It is markedly more bluish than Dark Sea Grey – but when the whole kit was painted it still looked more like the standard NATO scheme than expected. Nevertheless, it looked good, and with some post-shading things gained the weathered/bleached look I had been hoping for – also as a lighter base for the almost all-black stencils and markings.
The rest became pretty standard, with a shiny black radome, a matt black anti-glare panel in front of the windscreen, a white landing gear interior and a dark gull grey (FS 36231) cockpit.
Stencils and national markings come from a Leading Edge CF-116/CF-5A decal sheet, which features an aircraft in the right FIS livery; where possible/available I exchanged the original, colored Tornado markings (e.g. the walking area borders) with black decals, either from the scrap box or from generic decal material sheets. The tactical codes were improvised with Leading Egde material, too, also taken from a CF-188/F-18 sheet.
Finally, after the ordnance had been painted, too (white AGM-84s, drop tanks in standard camouflage, the BOZ-101 dispenser in FS 34079 and the ALQ-184 in FS 36375, just like all missile launch rails), the kit received an overall matt acrylic varnish coat, just the black radome became shiny.
In the end the CAF Tonka looks better than expected, and quite plausible, but the kit was a fight to build. I am not convinced of the Revell kit. While its has nice details and is, from that perspective, a certain step up from the Italeri kit, I am amazed how many technical flaws and weaknesses it has – and some of these were even taken over from older molds or even made worse! WTF? I am really uncertain if I’d give this kit another chance, somehow I am rather inclined to choose the older Italeri mold.