The cockpit tub is quite nicely detailed and goes together with no fuss, only consisting of six pieces if you don't include the seats. I didn't include the seats since I had a couple of Pavla resin Martin Baker Mk 10 seats in my draw that would do nicely. The kit seats offer as reasonable a representation as you could expect from injection moulding, but the resins seats will, as ever, look so much better. I painted the cockpit light grey and blacked over the instrument panels and side consoles. I had resisted the temptation to spend a not inconsiderable sum on pre painted etch for the cockpit, and opted instead to crack out the fine brushes. I actually enjoy painting up cockpits and while it is unlikely to rival the pre painted etch for finesse and accuracy, I think I did a reasonable job - I hope you agree. I have to say that sometimes a hand painted cockpit actually looks better overall. It may not stand the scrutiny of the photographic close up, but in the flesh it looks as good, and arguably better in the sense the pre painted etch can look just TOO clean compared with the rest of one's handiwork.
Next is the lower part of the main body, which involves painting up the undercarriage bays and inserting them into place. The kit also thoughtfully provides a couple of strengthening and locating plates that get slapped into the side walls at this point. I did not realise what they were at first and was baffled by the lack of location marks or lugs, but once clear it merely requires them to be sufficiently proud of the side wall to help locate the top half when it is attached.
So the front and back sections of the plane were now glued together and thanks to the thoughtful kit engineering, this was remarkably easy. Very little filler was needed to make it seamless. The tailplane also went on easily at this stage, with a little filler along the root where it joins the fuselage being required. The option is also given to model the air brakes open. I was tempted, but the detail inside the brake housing is woeful, so I closed them up.
I masked off the cockpit canopy using my favourite "trapezoid" method (I'll do an article on this soon!) and stuffed wet tissue into the pre painted undercarriage bays and air intakes. A final once over with the sanding sponges and she was ready for painting.
Meanwhile, I made up the undercarriage parts (which are surprisingly simple but no less detailed for it) and the ordnance, including the external fuel tanks. The tanks also needed a camouflage pattern so I sprayed them dark sea grey, masked up with Blu Tack and then applied the green.
Back to good news, the decals are really excellent. They went on very well and settled beautifully with just a little assistance from Micro Sol. After another coat of Klear, I applied a black oil paint wash to bring out the panels and then covered with two coats of matt varnish. Finally, a little panel bleaching with light grey gave it an air of authenticity. The next stage was to attach the undercarriage and ordnance, none of which presented any major problems. My final task was to paint up and install the resin seats, which came up really nicely and added a really nice finishing tough to the model.
So in summary, this is still (in my opinion) the premier choice kit for a 1/48 Tornado. It has a few faults but they can be dealt with and builds into something that looks very much like a Tornado to me, and that is always something worth looking at!