(Image: Peter; 40th anniversary tail fin of Tornado ZD788)
During the summer we featured the redundant carcass of Panavia Tornado GR4 ZA600 following RTP at RAF Leeming, in Yorkshire. The popular 41 (Test and Evaluation) Squadron stalwart had been withdrawn from service in April 2015. Its empty hulk was photographed in June this year awaiting scrapping after being “reduced to produce”.
However, ZA600 wasn’t the only withdrawn Tornado GR4 dumped outside at Leeming that day. Lying on wooden pallets nearby was the commemorative tail fin of ZD788 (098), along with stacks of wings and various other parts. It’s uncertain whether ZD788’s fuselage had already been reclycled, or remained indoors when these photographs were taken.
First flown on October 3, 1984, Tornado ZD788 was built as a GR1 model before later undergoing the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) programme to GR4 standard. The 31-year-old aircraft made its final flight to Leeming in North Yorkshire on September 9, 2015.
(Image: Simon Mortimer; ZD788 (as “Marham 07”) landing in 2015)
Hopefully 788’s tail fin – commemorating 40 years of the Tornado (1974 – 2014), from the earliest Panavia prototypes and pre-production airframes to the most up-to-date Tornado GR4 model – will be saved for posterity.
The above image shows Tornado ZD788, complete with 40th anniversary tail, during more active times. With more and more GR4s reaching the end of their flying lives, it’s likely the only ones (other than a couple saved to date) with a chance of preservation will be those still in service when the last Tornados are withdrawn at the end of the decade.
Keep Reading: Browse more in our Panavia Tornado archives