Please note that there has been some updating and correcting of the captons in this In Focus. An additional image has also been added,
courtesy of our own M. Hopper.
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.
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!