Panavia Tornado F3 – ZE764, 111 Sqn, RAF Leuchars 2008
Out of stock
Out of stock
Witty Sky Guardians 1/72 scale 72 001 003: Panavia Tornado F3, ZE764 HK of 111 Sqn, based at RAF Leuchars, Fife in 2008. The model has superb panel and cockpit detailing, swinging wings, moving elevators, opening canopy, optional undercarriage positions and pilot figures, Skyflash and Sidewinder armament, plus drop tanks and stand. Limited edition of only 1,500 pieces worldwide, complete with uniquely numbered card. An absolute “must have” for any collection!
Length 9.25 inches Wingspan 7.75 inches
The Panavia Tornado Air Defence Variant (ADV) was a long-range, twin-engine interceptor version of the swing-wing Panavia Tornado. The aircraft’s first flight was on 27 October 1979, and it entered service in 1986. It was retired on 22 March 2011 by the Royal Air Force. It was also previously operated by the Italian Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The aircraft was originally designed to intercept Soviet bombers if they came in from the East to strike the United Kingdom. The Tornado ADV for the Royal Saudi Air Force were produced to F3 standard. Both the RAF and RSAF have replaced the Tornado ADV with the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Tornado F2 was first delivered to the RAF on 5 November 1984, and its short career came to an end after the Tornado F3 entered service. These aircraft were used primarily for training by No. 229 Operational Conversion Unit RAF until they were placed in storage. The F2s were intended to be updated to Tornado F2A standard (similar to the F3 but without the engine upgrade) but only one F2A, the Tornado Integrated Avionics Research Aircraft (TIARA) was converted, having been customised by QinetiQ for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) trials at MoD Boscombe Down. Additionally, in 2007, QinetiQ rented four Tornado F3s from the MOD to support weapons testing activities.
Entering service in July 1986, 152 Tornado F3s were ordered. The Tornado F3 made its combat debut in the 1991 Gulf War with 18 aircraft deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The aircraft deployed to the region were later upgraded in a crash program with improved radar and engines, better defensive countermeasures and several adaptions to the weapons systems to improve combat performance in the Iraqi theatre; however, they still lacked modern IFF and secure communications equipment. They therefore flew patrols further back from Iraqi airspace where encounters with enemy aircraft were less likely, and did not get the opportunity to engage any enemy aircraft. From August 1990 to March 1991, the RAF’s F3 detachment flew more than 2000 combat air patrol sorties.
Following the Gulf War, the RAF maintained a small squadron of F3s in Saudi Arabia to continue routine patrols of Iraqi no-fly zones. The Tornado F3 saw further combat service, from 1993 to 1995 as escort fighters in Operation Deny Flight over Bosnia, and in 1999 flying combat air patrols during Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia; during these extended overseas deployments, the F3 proved troublesome to maintain at operational readiness when based outside the UK. Following lengthy delays in the Eurofighter programme to develop a successor to the F3 interceptor, in the late 1990s the RAF initiated a major upgrade program to enhance the aircraft’s capabilities, primarily by integrating several newer air-to-air missiles.
In 2003, the Tornado F3 was one of the assets used in Operation Telic, Britain’s contribution to the Iraq War. An expeditionary force composed of 43 and 111 Squadrons (known as Leuchars Fighter Wing) was deployed to the region to carry out offensive counter-air operations. The Tornado F3’s of Leuchars Fighter Wing operated all over Iraq, including missions over and around Baghdad, throughout Operation Telic. Due to a lack of airborne threats materialising in the theatre, the F3s were withdrawn and returned to European bases that same year.
As part of Delivering Security in a Changing World, the British Government’s 2003 Defence White Paper, on 21 July 2004, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon detailed plans to reduce the number of Tornado F3 squadrons by one to three squadrons. This represented 16 aircraft and was the first stage in the transition to the F3’s replacement, the Eurofighter Typhoon, which entered operational service with the RAF in 2005. In April 2009, it was announced that the Tornado F3 force would be reduced to one squadron of 12 aircraft in September 2009. The last operational Tornado F3s in RAF service were retired when No. 111 Squadron RAF, located at RAF Leuchars, was disbanded on 22 March 2011.
QinetiQ’s four F3s remained flying after the RAF’s retirement of the type, being used for testing of the MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile, and thus were the only flying examples in the UK. The final mission was flown on 20 June 2012, and the last three flown to RAF Leeming for scrapping on 9 July 2012.