A pair of RAF Tornado jets over RAF Fairford (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Tornado Time

Fly low, hit hard. That sums it up for the Panavia Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Follow the leader! (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Just because we feel like it, and just because we can; it’s Tornado Time. Want loud? Want fast? Want beastly? Want a true Cold War working machine? The Panavia Tornado had and continues to have it all. Its numbers crowded European skies in the eighties and nineties, but those numbers now start to decrease slowly but steady. We take the time to look at its noisy and low-flying career.

The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren't all that succesfull. Here's an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was 'Desert Camo' during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in early 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren’t all that succesfull. Here’s an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was ‘Desert Camo’ during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado form Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado from Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the F3 fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely - if ever - seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in 'max noise' mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the ADF fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely – if ever – seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in ‘max noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase.(Image © Dennis Spronk)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
We actually prefer the older colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
We actually prefer the old colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado flown by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado was operated by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Same ocassion, different Tornado. This one is carrying a recce pod. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No stopping however for this Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud – as seen at Laage airbase in August 2006. It’s carrying a recce pod below the belly. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Tornado first flew on 14 August 1974 from Manching airfield in Germany. A total of 992 aircraft were eventually built and a good number of those will continue to fly for years to come. But the highlight of its career is behind it.

Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest