The second In Focus this month features the Tornado GR, a key part of the UK strike force in Desert Storm with aircraft being drawn from
Nos 2, 7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 27, 31 and 617 squadrons. Although able to self-designate only two of the required TIALD thermal imaging pods were available in theatre. Further, due to their size once the seeker-heads were fitted, the laser guided 1,000lb
Paveway II LGBs could only be carried under the Tonkas fuselage. Consequently, weapon loadouts became rather challenging.
To maximise their bomb
carrying capability and add an element of flexibility, additional laser designating was required to support the Tornado squadrons utilising these precision munitions and now operating at medium level. The solution was to call up 12 aircraft from the
venerable Buccaneer fleet. Using laser targeting pods (AVQ 23E Pave Spike) and acting as “buddy” designators, this move also necessitated the application of the iconic pink camouflage to the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers were extremely successful
and as the war developed and the experience of the detachment grew they turned into a stand-alone designator/bomber force.
The photos presented were taken by our David
Draycott during the summer of 1991 and are considered to be representative of the fleet upon their return to the UK following the cessation of hostilities. It is evident from the mission markings and the state of the paintwork, that some
aircraft were extremely busy during the war.
Other air forces adopted “desert” paint schemes too, including the Italians on their own Tornado fleet; 23 airframes
were sprayed in a transparent yellowish colour with only 16 of these participating in the hostilities. A system of rotation was employed, meaning only 10 aircraft were in theatre at any one time. The aircraft were drawn from 6 Stormo/154 Gruppo,
36 Stormo/156 Gruppo and 50 Stormo/155 Gruppo.
As a final comparison, a shot of the anniversary/retirement scheme featured on Tornado GR4 ZG750 is included which although
representative of the desert scheme doesn’t seem to be the right shade! This aircraft didn’t feature in Desert Storm; all Tornado’s in the Gulf conflict were either GR1s, GR1As or grey ADV F3s.
From a modeller’s perspective, plenty of manufacturers include shades of “Desert Pink” in their colour ranges and, as with the real aircraft, there seems to be a broad variation, allowing ‘modellers
license’ to prevail!
One of the best references on Gulf War operations and the participants is “Gulf Air War Debrief” published by Aerospace Publishing/World
Air Power in 1991 and edited by Stan Morse, ISBN 1 874023 14 X. The website dstorm.eu is also an excellent source of reference for modelling all aircraft which participated in Desert Storm.
Hopefully this second set of images will encourage you to have a go at reproducing an unusually weathered, fully loaded, modern fast yet. Good luck and happy modelling!