RAF 56 Squadron 90th Anniversary “Firebird” Celebratory Scheme
The full build article for this model is published in the March 2011, Issue# 185 of Tamiya Model Magazine International.
The Model Kit
This is the much talked about, and most certainly controversial, HobbyBoss 1:48 Tornado ADV kit that just came out around April, 2010. Its previously released brethren, the 1:48 scale Tornado IDS kit was totally lambasted, chewed up, and denounced as a POS by critical modelers on model web sites. This ADV version seems to have been improved somewhat but still have its faults according to British modelers who are really into this subject. Check out the discussion on Britmodeller.com at, http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=48891 I am only interested in building the model, hence let the experts critique on what is wrong with the shape of the overall model as compared to the real thing.
Not being a knowledgeable person on the Tornado ADV, I refer to the few reference books I have on this subject to check the kit against. It appears that the comments made by modellers on Britmodellers are correct. The significant fault to the shape is on the forward fuselage section where it transition into the nose cone. However, I do not think it is so grossly misshapen to write this kit off. The cockpit however do require some work to both upgrade it and correct the wrong instrument panel provided for the back-seater. I think the reason Hobby Boss has been receiving so much tongue lashing from modellers is entirely due to their sloppy research team. How else can you explain the mistake of providing us with the rear cockpit panel for a trainer aircraft instead of the panel for a production fighter? Even I caught that mistake when I checked against the AeroGuide book #21 shown below.
Upgrading the Cockpit
Although the kit cockpit was decent, there was much room for improvement especially with the rear cockpit’s upper instruments and combing. I opted to spend some effort to improve it by scratch building. Lots of time was spent in painting and scratch building details to replace the kit’s simple instrument panel.
I had my friend Ricky cast my scratch build parts in resin so I can complete the cockpit corrections. A latest image of the cast parts are shown below. Ricky is getting to be pretty good at resin casting. Referring to the above top-left photo, my original parts are shown on top left side and the duplicated parts are in the lower side of the photo.
I got busy after Ricky sent me my cast parts. It was rather difficult to find some decent close-up photos of the cockpit in a modern F3, but after a lot of searching on the web and books I did find a handful of reference photos to enable me to scratch build a lot details.
The cockpit of the HobbyBoss kit is a bit out of scale in that there is too much leg room. Another word, the cockpit tub is a bit long relative to the rest of the cockpit in term of scale. To bring it back to proper scale I extended the length of the mid-deck and thus pushed the front seat more forward closer to the control stick. I did the same for the back seat by adding pushing it forward closer to the rear instrument panel. The kit did not provide anything remotely close to a HUD and so I scratch build a HUD and frame from scratch. The rear bulk head of the back-seat cockpit is devoid of details and has a ugly seam. Hence, I scratch build a cover plate complete with details to cover over the rear bulk head.
I painted this model in the standard two tone grey scheme as depicted on the instruction sheet. I used Gunze H-334 Barley Gray BS4800 for the top surfaces (H-307 is also acceptable) and H-338 Light Grey FS16440 for the underside. The radome on this aircraft had a dark sea grey painted over the previously painted dark radome grey. I simulated this by first painting the radome with Gunze H-307 and then repaint over it using H-75.
To add interest to this all grey aircraft paint scheme, I painted the surfaces using a 3-shades monochromatic painting technique. This consisted of painting the top surfaces with the base colour of H-334 straight from the bottle. Then, I used the base paint and mixed two separate bottles of paint consisting of a lighter shade and a darker shade of the base. These two paints were thinned down using approximately with 50% thinner (methyl hydrate).
Using my Badger 100G airbrush, I spray splotches of the dark base onto areas of each panel on the wing and fuselage to simulate dirt. Then I spray splotches of the lighter shade overtop some areas of the darker shade and traced over some panel lines. By now, I have three noticeable shades of grey all over the model. To finish it off, I mix a much thinned out mixture of the base colour H-334 and selectively overcoat what I have just done to blend in the patch work and even out the stark splotches of paint. For the bottom surfaces, I masked off the H-334 and sprayed the H-338 light aircraft grey for the bottom surfaces. Some areas of the bottom fuselage were treated with the 3-shades monochromatic finish- although to a much lighter degree than the top surfaces. For the red canopy frame, I used Gunze H-86 Red Madder which matches the kit’s red decal reasonably well. The entire model is sprayed with a light coat of Future floor wax to protect the Gunze acrylic paint from an enamel wash.
I had concern about the quality of the kit decals since this is the first time I built a HobbyBoss kit. My concern was quickly relieved after I set the first piece in place. The decals are very thin and set down very well with Gunze Mr. Mark Setter. The only gripe I have is the colour of the phoenix is wrong – it should have been yellow orange instead of yellow. Also, the red decal for the spine is too wide. I found that too late as I tried to apply the piece over the spine and had the decal spilling over the spine. I solve that by slicing the decal in halve and adjusted the two pieces over the spine. After the decals were set in place, I weathered the model with a thinned wash of dark grey and brown colour wash.
We finally have a new-tool Tornado to update the old Italeri and Airfix kits. Both kits were simple kits of the Tornado and one had to invest in a fortune of aftermarket details and corrections to get some of the features that HobbyBoss is providing in this box. Although the HobbyBoss kit is an improvement over these older kits, it did not meet my expectation for a new generation model kit: It has poor fit, shape issues and not enough details on the parts. This model kit is not for the beginners or intermediate skill level due to the amount of poor fitting parts. But, with some effort, and help from aftermarket parts, we can produce a good looking model of a Tornado F.3. My final verdict is to get this kit when it is on sale.