TORNADO IDS ITALIAN GULF TASK FORCE - Operazione Locusta -
Following the invasion and annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, on September 25, 1990 the Italian Government sent eight multirole fighter bombers Tornado IDS (plus two spare) in the Persian gulf, belonging to the 6º, 36º and 50º Stormo, which were deployed at the Al Dhafra Air Base, near Abu Dhabi, in United Arab Emirates. The use of Italian aircraft as part of the Desert Storm operation represented the first operational employment in combat missions of Italian Air Force aircraft after the end of World War II.
2. The Kit
When this kit was first released many years ago it had some nice detail and Italeri moulds are holding their age well - the detail remains crisply moulded. The surface detail is engraved and still quite good by today’s standard. On the down side there are a few accuracy problems and sparse detail but there are some nice resin detail sets to make this a great model when complete.
3. Cockpit and Seat
With the help of real photos I could significantly improve the cockpit. The front panel was for example self-made with the acetate sheet system placed behind an opaque panel; in plasticard are the frames of the instruments on board. From the rear instrument panel I removed the upper half, in which I added the on-board computer monitors and the navigator's radar screen. Behind the instruments appeared the relative cables of copper wire in various thickness. I used the same tank as the base of the kit, leaving the well-made side consoles unchanged and adding a few handles. I also had to remove the eyelid that supports the HUD reflector, which is too thick in the kit, and make a thin plastic one. The interiors should always be painted in medium gray FS 36440. The HUD was also built, the kit being too coarse. Still in the aerial cockpit I built the roof closing guides. The two inner sections of the roof frame were reproduced in plastirod, the mirrors in plasticard. Before applying the plasticard strips, modeled on the canopy and glued to the ends, possibly with cyanoacrylate glue and lots and lots of attention. For seats, I recommend using the kit as a base, after having removed and completely eliminated the printed belts. The new belts will be able to take shape again from the paper adhesive tape, you can also use a minitape from designers. For the buckles, the 1/43 scale photo etched for cars are fine.
The fuselage complete with negative panels is dimensionally scaled, but requires some minor adjustments. Before starting any work, it is good to sand the whole model with a sheet of sandpaper No. 500, slightly damp, for two reasons: 1° to eliminate the porous appearance of the surface, 2° to bring the paneling back to a thinner negative. The biggest mistakes are two: The first is visible on the dorsal tunnel containing the aircraft avionics, exactly behind the canopy. At this point, in fact, there is a concavity that I had to cover by gluing with cyanoacrylate small strips of plasticard, then sanded until the fairing is in line with the canopy (see drawing). Also in the dorsal fairing, this time in the area at the root of the vertical plane and precisely under the small air intake, the Kit has a beveled edge. With careful sanding work, I recreated the shape of the original that is edgy. The radome cone, although it was sanded in the lower area to resume the same line as the fuselage. In the cone radome several details have been added made of steel and copper wire, including the Pitot tube, made from a shaped needle. The most burdensome work was the construction of the hinged wing root. The characteristic pneumatic cushion can be constructed with two plasticard sections, glued to the two semi-fuselages and adapted to the wings, perhaps with some tests. To be honest, Eduard once again came to the aid of the modelers with a set of photo etched that also reproduced these gaskets. Moving towards the back of the fuselage, I left the brakes open (also improved). Caution !!! The air brakes should be tilted a couple of degrees towards the outside. In the front part of the fuselage, on the left side, I opened a bulkhead and reproduced the relative avionics, so as to give more movement to the Kit. Finally the exhausts: here too a work of improvements and additions of missing parts in the thrust reversal mechanism .
5. Wing and Tailplane
The wings look good. For them it was necessary to engrave just a few missing panels, open the flaps mechanism on the left wing, then create with dried epoxy glue and smooth directly on the grooves made ex novo. Navigation lights are missing in the kit. The only trick is to spread a bit of cyanoacrylate glue over the lights with a toothpick, so as to harden their surface and firmly weld the edges to the wings. After this operation it is possible to sand with wet abrasive paper and polish the point with car paste. In this phase the only major defect is the Krugher located in the front of the cell, which need several interventions to be able to conform to the wings. It is good that all the contact points of the kit can be mounted with cyanoacrylate glue. For the occasion I want to advise fans to rediscover the many advantages of using this glue.
After assembling the model I installed the canopy. This was masked with paper, then painted. This painting included the frame of the internal armoured windscreen. When the canopy is finished it can be positioned and secured with cement.
The IPMS-TALY team of researchers has made some interesting discoveries about the coloring of the 'Locust' aircraft. The Italian Tornados in the Gulf have been camouflaged with a two-component paint that does not conform to the AMI standard. Modelingly speaking, the first important operation is to prepare the surface of the kit, smoothing it progressively with moistened Brazilian papers of varying gradation, up to No. 800. We will then proceed with the drafting of a primer. To reproduce the yellow sand 29 with a certain approximation, it is necessary to resort to color mixtures. To obtain a satisfying yellow-ocher color, I processed the desired color as follows: 1st color: H3 Gunze Sangyo-Radome, 2nd color: H4 Gunze Sangyo-Yellow, 3rd color: X-2 White Tamiya. Proceed now as follows: first paint the lower aluminum surface with aluminum Testor metalizer colors. Once the lower surface has been completed and suitably masked with car paper tape, the upper fuselage is painted with its characteristic yellow-ocher color. After the decals can be applied, the reaparto number was taken from the TAURO MODEL sheet Art. 72-560 dedicated to the Tornado of the Gulf War. For Italian cockades, the kit ones are fine, while other decals can be retouched with Indian ink, after having polished all the surfaces to which they are destined.
8.Landing Gears and Wheels
The undercarriage looks good, which were in any case detailed with copper wires to simulate the connection of the various circuits, while the front and rear undercarriage are completely self-built, completely incorrect both in shape and thickness in the Kit. For this purpose it is advisable to use a series of small telescopic tubes in copper and aluminum, thus ensuring the necessary structural strength. Referring to good photographic documentation is not so difficult. Unfortunately, the design of the rims in the rear wheels is also incorrect, a drawback that forced me to resort to self-construction once again: I engraved the circles on a sheet of plasticard and shaped them overlapping each other. It took me about ten days to revive wheels and carts, but it was worth it. The compartment of the front carriage is in opaque white, those of the main carriage in very light and opaque aluminum, similar to the relative rims.
9. Refueling probe
Initially I had assembled the kit probe in the extracted position, only to discover that I had to keep an anonymous piece of plastic in front of my eyes. I therefore tried my hand at self-erecting the probe using small copper and aluminum tubes combined with thin plasticard strips (for the closing doors). Of the kit I used the housing of the probe, to be glued to the fuselage. In order for a natural adaptation to the fuselage to be present, I dug the inside probe plastic with the file, with imaginable difficulties. To position the probe on the fuselage, I first sketched its outline with a pencil, so as to check its position before gluing with cyanoacrylate. The probe must be added only after painting the model.
10. Underwing tanks
The Underwing tanks used by the Italian Tornado are not present in the kit, I have remedied by modifying four tanks taken from the box of an F-16 in scale 1/48 of the EXIT, cut and reassembled together over a scale drawing. Additional tanks could be painted in both green and sand-yellow.
The wear of the model can certainly not be carried out randomly, especially in the case of the Tornado, which must respond to a precise logic. Let's see how: first of all we need to highlight the paneling lines. There are different techniques for this purpose; personally I mix a little alcohol in a bottle cap and the very diluted brown, gray, yellow and black acrylic colors. With a No. 4 brush, I make the mixture flow, from the quick drying in the incision. The most delicate operation is to shade the aircraft using the airbrush loaded with the previous mixture of a little bit of black and with a pressure of 0.5 BAR, in the same points suggested by the photo of an authentic Tornado. I recommend doing tests on an old kit, before doing the operation in the real one. To complete the work it is necessary to pass a coat of opaque transparent on the whole model.
* Panavia Tornado IDS-Lock On n. 12 – Verlinden Publication
* Panavia Tornado Squadron Signal – No. 111
* News IPMS ITALY N.°2/1991
* News IPMS ITALY N.°2/1992