Italeri 1:48 Tornado IDS MM7038 Italy Air Force

The Story

Following Iraq's invasion Kuwait and as part of the Coalition build up of forces in the region, Italy would deploy a composite squadron of Panavia IDS Tornado aircraft. This deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, was known as Operazione Locusta The second night of the war would be the first time since World War II that the Aeronautica Militare Italiano went to war. The first combat mission for the AMI in the 91 Gulf War would involve eight Tornados. However, due to refueling problems only one Tornado proceeded to the target. This lone aircraft proceeded to the target, dropped their bombs, but in the process of disengagement they were hit by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire and the crew ejected. Gianmarco Bellini and Maurizio Cocciolone would be captured and held prisoner until the end of the war. This loss would be the only one for the Italians for the duration of the war. During the course of the war, the Locusta Tornado detachment would fly 226 sorties including approximately 589 hours of flight.

The Kit

Out of the box, the Italeri Tornado does not look very appealing. However, with all the resin aftermarket material available, a very nice Tornado can be built with the kit. My build utilizes: Neomega IDS cockpit set, Eduard photoetch, Paragon bulged wheels, pylons, exhausts, standard fuel tanks, and fin correction set. The Paragon fuselage pylons had to be modified to represent those carried by Italian aircraft. Italian Tornados also had two antennas mounted on the fuselage not present in the Italeri kit. I fashioned these from plastic rod and glued one on the topside behind the cockpit and the other on the bottom below the cockpit. I also cut into the rear of the fin and inserted some plastic rod to represent a fairing below the rear radar warning receiver. The standard load for Italian Tornados during the war was two AIM-9 Sidewinders, five Mk83 bombs, two fuel tanks, and two BOZ-107 chaff/flare dispenser pods. I used the Hasegawa Weapons Sets for the missiles and bombs, Paragon fuel tanks, and kit BOZ-107 pods. Painting was done with airbrushing Lifecolor UA107 "Italian Sand Light Stone" on the topside, and Tamiya Aluminum mixed with some Tamiya Gray for the underside. After spraying with Future, weathering was done by brush with oils. The decals are a combination of the kit decals and Model Alliance MA-48174 "Tornado At War, Desert Storm 1990-91". Each sheet has some inaccuracies. The kit decals have the numerals on the front gear door and fin over-sized. The Model Alliance sheet has the green of the roundels too dark in my opinion. Once the decals were in placed, the topside decals were lightly over sprayed with Italian Sand.