ZA372: Gulf War Tornado GR4A Fuselage Dumped at Leeming

The remains of Tornado GR4A ZA372 "Sally T" after RTP at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.. (Image: Michael Britton. The remains of Tornado GR4A ZA372 at Leeming)

In a similar sad state to the remains of ZA600, which was scrapped the year before, the gutted fuselage of Panavia Tornado GR4A ZA372 was photographed in July dumped outside a hangar at RAF Leeming awaiting the scrap man. Heavily spares-recovered, the Tornado hulk had in the preceding months undergone the RTP (reduce to produce) programme, whereby all useful parts are removed for use on the active fleet before the hollow fuselage shells are carted off and shredded.

ZA372 flew combat missions during Operation Granby in the 1991 Gulf War. The Tornado GR4 was reduced to produce in 2017 and dumped for scrap. (Image: Michael Britton)

ZA372 will be known to many Tornado aficionados as Sally T, the name she carried during Operation Granby, the UK military’s contribution to the 1991 Gulf War. A recce airframe operating out of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia, wearing the tail code “E”, ZA372 flew highly dangerous missions deep into enemy territory to seek out Iraqi missile sites along with other famous Tornado GR1As like ZA400 “Scud Hunter”, which was scrapped without ceremony in 2016.

(Image: Michael Britton)

ZA372 first flew in August 1982 and was delivered to the RAF two months later. The jet was one of 30 Tornado GR1A airframes (14 converted from existing GR1s and 16 new-build aircraft), the dedicated reconnaissance version of the Tornado. Outwardly similar to conventional GR1/GR4 airframes, the most notable difference was the TIRRS (Tornado Infra-Red Reconnaissance System) which replaced the Mauser cannon.

(Image: Michael Britton)

Tornado ZA372 was one of around 142 GR1 and GR1A airframes selected for the Mid-Life Upgrade programme. She underwent the MLU at Warton in 2001, emerging as a GR4A with improved avionics and weapons systems. Returned to front line service in October 2001, 372 soldiered on until December 2012, when she was withdrawn from use and made her final flight to RAF Leeming to take her place in the dismantling queue.

Dumped: Tornado GR4 ZA602 (F for Freddie) special tail fin scrapped at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire. (Image: Michael Britton)

During the RTP process Tornados are reduced to empty, stripped out fuselage hulks that barely resemble the proud reconnaissance/strike jets they once were. These photos of the remains of ZA372, her windscreen still fitted, were taken in July 2017. Alongside the hulk lay the tail fin of another Tornado GR4, bearing the ominous scrawl: “ZA602 scrap”. ZA602/067 (F for Freddie) was one of two XV Squadron airframes to receive a special paint scheme. The other, ZA461, has also been scrapped.

ZA372/006 passes through the Mach Loop in February 2015.

Tornado GR4A ZA372 screams through the Mach Loop at low level in February 2015. (Images: Howard Sinclair)

Meanwhile, the photographs above by Howard Sinclair show ZA372 in better times two years before scrapping. She’s pictured passing through the Mach Loop in Wales one snowy day in February 2015, using the call-sign Marham 07.

Related: Tornado ZA412: Special ‘Dam Busters’ Tail Fin Preserved at RAF Scampton


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