1/48 Italeri Tornado GR4A

by Graham T



This is the current boxing of the Italeri kit, converted into a GR4A of the type operated by 13 & II(AC) squadrons of the RAF.  Although a reconnaissance machine, the GR4A retains the same attack capability sensors & weapons as the standard GR4.  The only missing elements being the two nose mounted cannon which are displaced by the recce sensors.  The basic kit sure looks like a “Tonka”, appearing fine in outline, comes with slightly heavy recessed panel lines, a good selection of stores, a reasonable cockpit with multi-part seats & nice clear transparencies.  Not having used the decals, I cannot comment. 


Before I describe the process, here’s a list of the added enhancements & conversions:


1.      Paragon dropped slats & flaps.  This set also provides detailed wing sweep seals & tail pivot “fishplates” – both of these are totally missing from the kit.

2.      Paragon afterburner cans – better detailed & including the thrust reverser actuator mechanism, again missing from the kit.

3.      Paragon ejector seats.

4.      Paragon wing & fuselage pylons

5.      Paragon front fin replacement section.

6.      Hindenburger tanks & FLIR pod from the Airfix GR4 kit.

7.      Storm Shadow CASOMs from the Revell Typhoon kit.

8.      White metal linescan pod & sensor window overlays from the Flightpath set.

9.      Model Alliance 90th Anniversary Tornadoes decals with elements from the Airfix decal sheet.

Click on images below to see larger images





Building began for me with the wings.  The Paragon instructions illustrate where to remove the plastic from the kit parts & although I thought I followed these correctly, I discovered when coming to attach the new leading edge parts, that I had removed too much plastic.  Fortunately the model room waste bin hadn’t been emptied in the intervening period & I was able to fish out the plastic I had removed & reattach the necessary with the use of filler & superglue!  Brass rod was used to represent the flap operating screw jacks but I lost patience when trying to do the same for the slats.


I taped the upper & lower rear fuselage parts together & offered up the Paragon wing sweep seals & marked their outline.  It was then a simple job to remove the plastic & fit the enhancements.  Cutting off the front of the kit fin & replacing it with the more accurate Paragon section was similarly easy.


I had to remove a little plastic from the kit parts to fit the Paragon burner cans but no problem there.


I left the cockpit basically as it was even through it isn’t a true representation of the GR4/4A.  The only mod was to remove some plastic from the navigators instrument panel shroud & add a pair of Paragon seats.  I added some lead weights in the nose cone to prevent a possible tail sitter.


With the wings installed the rear fuselage can be assembled.  The tailplanes are provided with an internal linkage for those who like such “working features” but as it would make masking & painting easier I omitted this, attaching the tail planes themselves later with the Paragon “fishplates”.  I did however use the mainplane linkage armature as it holds the wings level.


The front to rear fuselage joining went well with just a little filler being required.  The fin was added & blended in with PVA glue.  As others have noted, the intakes are not a stellar fit.  I removed quite a bit of material from the face that mates with the fuselage but still had to perform a bit of sanding & rescribing once in place.  More problems with the separate, two part glove vanes, which were a total nightmare to assemble & install. On the GR4 but not the F3, these accommodate Kruger flaps; the Italeri F3 kit uses an otherwise identical main fuselage, hence, these parts are provided separately in each kit.


The Paragon replacement fuselage pylons (three) were added along with the Flightpath white metal Linescan pod & etched metal overlay panels for the GR4A version.  The Flightpath instructions were followed without a hitch (the Airfix kit provides a reasonable linescan pod & decals for the sensor windows without the added expense if preferred!).


Now to the painting.  Xtracolour Dark Sea Grey topsides with Dark Camouflage Grey for the remainder & all stores.  White for the undercarriage bays & legs - all – reasonably simple.  Hindenberger tanks were sprayed Barley Grey although it’s quite common to see machines with these in darker grey, or one of each for that matter!


My model depicts 13 squadron’s 90th Anniversary ship.  Main markings are from the MA sheet.  I sprayed the fin in lime green (Humbrol) & roundel blue & added the yellow flash when dry.  Disaster!  What had been a bright yellow on the sheet became an awful slushy grey/yellow over the paint – a bit too thin I think.  Jon Freeman at MA however came up trumps with a replacement set.  This time, I sprayed the whole fin white, then photocopied the decal sheet & carefully cut out the port & starboard flashes, tacking them onto the fin in the correct positions before respraying the blue & green areas.  This left a white area approximately corresponding to the yellow flashes.  On application of the yellow flashes, the results still weren’t as good as I had hoped.  With hindsight (& for the benefit of anyone else tackling this scheme), I would have sprayed the fin white, applied the flashes & the sealed them with varnish prior to masking them & spraying the coloured areas.  Most of the other decals (roundels, stencils etc.) came from the Airfix GR4.


With all the decals applied, the model was washed & left to dry before an over all coat of matt varnish.   


Finally, the stores & all the smaller details that are best left until last could be added. The BOZ & Sky Shadow pods are from the Italeri kit, tanks from the Airfix kit & the Storm Shadow CASOMs were already assembled from the Revell Typhoon so it would have been rude not to use them here!  I had to trim the horizontal stabiliser fins on the Storm Shadows to get them to fit adjacent to one another.  The result is still not perfect but further trimming would have been unthinkable.


In conclusion, the Italeri kit builds into an impressive model.  The MA decals provide a colourful alternative to the otherwise over all grey option.  Apart from the wing surgery & those tail flash decals, the whole build was quite simple & relaxing.  My next “Tonka” will be an Operation Telic GR4.  A bit easier on the painting!


One idea though that I hope Paragon might consider:  how about offering the wing seals & tail plane fishplates as a totally separate set, or incorporating them either with the tail fin correction or the afterburner can sets.  They really do improve the kit but if they are only available in the slat & flap set, the cost may be beyond the pockets of many & others who lack the skills to perform the “wing surgery” may feel it a waste to buy that set just to obtain these parts.


Click on images below to see larger images


Photos and text © by Graham T