Italeri 1:48 Tornado Gr.1 ZD790 "Debbie", Royal Air Force

The Story

The first RAF Tornado GR1s to deploy for Operation Granby were sent to Muharraq International Airport in Bahrain. Each Tornado squadron in theatre had approximately fifteen aircraft and twenty-four crews drawn from several squadrons. Further squadrons would be deployed to Dhahran and Tabuk in Saudi Arabia. In Muharraq, the lead squadron was No XV Squadron with elements from Nos IX, 17, 27, 31, and 617 Squadrons. Tornados were optimized for low-level attacks as they were expected to perform in a European setting. As such, Tornado crews continued to plan and practice for low-level missions in the dessert. The first night of combat saw the Gr1s involved night-time low-level attacks on airfields.. This involved delivery of JP233 anti-runway munitions dispensers or loft-bombing 1,000lb dumb bombs. These missions had some success in denying the Iraqi Air Force the ability to operate from its main airbases. However, the hazardous flight regime, demanding weapon release profiles and strong air defence resulted in four losses in the first week of operations. Tornado losses accounted over 25% of total Coalition losses for about 2% of the sorties flown at that time. The RAF ceased low level attacks on airfields when it became apparent that the Iraqi Air Force was not flying to contest Coalition air forces. Tornados then began bombing from a safer medium level but at a cost accuracy with dropping dumb bombs from higher altitude. It became apparent that area targets, such as oil refineries or barracks complexes, were the only targets that could be attacked from medium level with unguided weapons with any real prospect of success. To provide greater accuracy, S2B Buccaneers deployed to Muharraq with their Vietnam War-era Pave Spike laser designation pods to mark targets for laser guided bombs. Paveway laser guided bomb kits were mounted to existing 1,000lb bombs and in turn loaded onto Tornado aircraft. Each Buccaneer would use its designation pod to mark targets for two Tornados each armed with three Paveway bombs. This provided Tornados percision bombing capability in fair weather and daylight only. The first successful Buccaneer/ Tornado co-operative strike was on 2 February 1991, against a highway bridge over the Euphrates. Thereafter the detachment operated with considerable success, dropping bridges, cratering runway intersections and picking off individual hardened aircraft shelters and their contents. Four Tornado Gr1s from Muharraq were lost in combat operations with three of the crew being killed in action and the other five captured.

The Kit

At the time of this build (2022), the easier to build 1:48 Revell kit was available but still having Paragon resin sets I decided to use the Italeri kit. Aftermarket sets include: Neomega cockpit, Paragon fin correction, Paragon exhausts, Paragon pylons, Eduard Sky Shadow pod, Eduard BOZ-107 ECM pod, Flightpath RAF Paveway bombs, and Eduard interior photo-etch set. The kit was built with a partial wing sweep and I used sheet styrene To represent the wing glove. Aside from aforementioned aftermarket sets, the load-out depicted includes: 2250 litre "Hindenburger" fuel tanks represented in the Airfix Tornado kit, and two AIM-9 missiles from the Hasegawa weapons set. Painting was done with Xtracrylix Desert Pink toned down with white. Some of the weathering was done by brush painting. Decals are a combination of kit decals and from the Xtradecal X01148. This Tornado was built to represent ZD790 "Debbie", based at Muharraq and flown by Squadron Leader Pablo Mason and Squadron Leader Gary Stapelton.