In the year which followed commemorations to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force, one of the most important aircraft since the end of the Second World War was finally withdrawn from service, after providing the backbone of Britain's aerial strike capability for almost 40 years. Indeed, as if to underline the effectiveness of this magnificent aircraft, eight aircraft which had been on overseas deployment at RAF Akrotiri, only returned to Marham in the days leading up to the aircraft's retirement.
Thankfully, RAF personnel who were privileged to be the final custodians of the Tornado in the final days of its service career were in no mood to let the aircraft slip away quietly and ensured that the "Mighty Fin' enjoyed a send-off befitting an aircraft of this stature. Three aircraft were presented in special schemes to mark the end of RAF Tornado operations, including GR.4 ZG752, which was given a striking wrap around retro camouflage scheme, similar to the markings applied to the first RAF GR.1 Tornado aircraft which entered service back in 1982.
The tail of the aircraft carries the markings "Tornado GR 1982 - 2009' and its spine proudly displays all the badges of the RAF squadrons, reserve units and training establishments which operated the Tornado during a service career which lasted almost 40 years. As the RAF said farewell to their most effective strike jet, RAF Marham ensured that its impressive service legacy was commemorated in some style.
Designed in collaboration with Britain, West Germany and Italy, the Tornado was first flown on August 14th, 1974 and is thought by many to be the most important military aircraft in Western European history. Nicknamed "The Flying Fin" because of its large tail fin, the Tornado has a variable wing sweep design and is capable of taking off and landing on short airstrips. It is equipped with terrain-following radar, which allows for hands-off, low-level flight in any weather. There are three primary versions: an electronic combat/reconnaissance version, an interceptor and a highly versatile strike fighter-bomber capable of carrying almost all of NATO's air-launched weapons.