40 years ago to this day, the Panavia Tornado took to the skies for the very first time.

A multinational project between Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, it remains the backbone of all three nations strike capabilities, having served with distinction over Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Libya.

When it comes to ultra low-level flight in any weather, nothing else in service comes close.

I have some archive footage of that very first flight uploaded to my youtube, which can be viewed here.


RAF Panavia Tornado GR1 ZA466’s Final Flight

ZA466 struck a non-retracted emergency barrier at Tabuk airbase, Saudi Arabia on October 18, 1990, during the build-up for Desert Storm. The nose gear collapsed, and seeing smoke and flames in the cockpit, the crew ejected (See Photo #3). Both men survived, although with significant injuries.

ZA466 was stripped of all usable parts, spent 11 years in storage, and dumped at RAF St Athan in Wales, UK.

Article on this aircraft at Urban Ghosts.


Desert Pink or “Mountbatten Pink”

Reducing reflected light and making aircraft less visible from a distance, a number of RAF aircraft were painted Desert Pink (or similar tones) during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. The paint used was washable, so it could be easily removed.

The aircraft in the photos are:

  1. Blackburn Buccaneer
  2. Lockheed C-130 Hercules
  3. SEPECAT Jaguar
  4. Handley Page Victor
  5. Lockheed TriStar
  6. Panavia Tornado