The Tornado was entering service in big numbers with the RAF at the same time that I was getting seriously into aviation. I always felt it was the plane I knew the best. When I ended up working on them, it felt like a continuation of my youthful enthusiasm. The Tornado GR1 was my jet. After I moved on to other projects, MLU came along and that became the GR4. Somehow, the GR4 never felt like it was mine. I was a GR1 kid.
When I went to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection at Old Sarum, there was a Tornado at one end of the hangar. It was a GR1 that had never been updated. Better than that, is was one of the earliest production jets that the RAF received. Some of the test jets at Warton were from this batch so this one really felt like one of the originals for me. The Tornado is long gone from RAF service but, for me, to see one of these earlier jets was really a treat. Camo with black radomes is how the Tornado should look!
There will be much online about the retirement of the Tornado from RAF service.Global Aviation Resource has been putting together some great information on the history of the jet in service and I would recommend you take a look there if you are interested.I am not going to repeat the information about the history of its service.However, I do have a history with the jet.It was entering service just as I was getting very in to aviation.Then I ended up working on the program undertaking handling clearances for different configurations and clearing urgent changes that were implemented for the first Gulf War.
I figured I would share a few pictures of Tornados.These are all the IDS version of the jet be they GR1 or GR4.I haven’t included the ADV jets since they went away a while back.Some of these shots are scans of old negatives and aren’t the greatest quality but they are part of the early life of the jet.Some others are more recent.
I will always have a soft spot for the Tornado.It remains in service in Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia but for the RAF, the service that drove the aircraft to be a more complex jet than the other partners initially wanted, it is now history.