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TOPIC: Panavia Tornado

Panavia Tornado 15 Dec 2017 05:40 #11

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In the early '70s I worked with a BAC Warton contractor working party who were doing a Lighting modification. Many of them were caught up in the prototype stages of MRCA and referred to it as Mother Riley's Cardboard Aircraft perhaps in anticipation that it would never reach fruition due to political meddling.

Readers would have to be long in the tooth to recall that Old Mother Riley was a popular character in a Music Hall act of the l40s and 50s.

I'm sure that the abbreviation MRCA was translated into a number of unintended phrases by both factory workers and RAF personnel.

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Panavia Tornado 15 Dec 2017 10:48 #12

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And I meant to say that the Tornado DIDNT replace the Canberra in the high altitude PR role.

As for the F2/3, they were designed for a long range interception role in the cold war. It was designed to sit on CAP for up to 4 hours at 100 nm from base without AAR. In fact a prototype flew from Gander to Warton without AAR, and F3s flew to Gioa del Colle witjout any tanker support, and still had the best part of an hours fuel in the tanks on landing.

As for the first gulf war, well what exactly was the threat from Iraqi fighters? I believe it was a very political thing to have the F15s doing most of the intercepts, despite the F3 having a radar with a longer range.

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Panavia Tornado 15 Dec 2017 12:49 #13

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canberra wrote:
As for the first gulf war, well what exactly was the threat from Iraqi fighters? I believe it was a very political thing to have the F15s doing most of the intercepts, despite the F3 having a radar with a longer range.


The threat was quite high. Iraq at the time had the 4th largest Air force in the world. Obviously, the first strike by the coalition aircraft (including Tornado GR1's with JP233) neutralised the bulk of that threat but there were still around 30 air to air engagements. The F3 would have been quite disadvantaged in this theatre as most of the engagements were turning dogfights. The F3 was a bit of a one trick pony. As you admit, it was designed for intercepts and CAP's over the north sea. I think the fact that the GR1/4 will have an in service life of 40 years compared to 24 years for the F2/3 is rather telling.

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Panavia Tornado 15 Dec 2017 15:59 #14

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Certainly one of the most impressive displays by the Tornado (actually it's been pretty much the ONLY display) in recent years at UK airshows has been this Italian Air Force example from 311 Gruppo this season -

Here at RIAT -
..& Cosford -


Steve
:)

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Panavia Tornado 16 Dec 2017 10:25 #15

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Paul, you mentioned turning dogfights. Well my impression of the F15 is that it like the F3 isnt built for that, not many jets are.

And on the subject of the F15, the USAF did look quite closely at the Tornado as the F111 replacement.

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Panavia Tornado 16 Dec 2017 13:42 #16

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canberra wrote: Paul, you mentioned turning dogfights. Well my impression of the F15 is that it like the F3 isnt built for that, not many jets are.

And on the subject of the F15, the USAF did look quite closely at the Tornado as the F111 replacement.


The F15C is much more of a "fighter" than the F3 was. The F15 has a massive power to weight ratio giving it loads of energy in the turn and the ability to out-climb its opponents. The F15C has about 48,000 lbs of thrust from its engines compared to 33,000 lbs on the F3. I do remember in the late 80's that the RAF doctrine was using the F3 in conjunction with the Hawk. The idea was that the F3 would try and swat down any incoming attackers at long range while the Hawk would get in and dogfight with anything that got past the F3's.

If the US was looking at the Tornado as a replacement for the F111 then it would have been the GR1 they were looking at because the F111 was a bomber. In the end, the US produced the F15E Strike Eagle which confirms the old adage that you can turn a fighter into a bomber but you can't turn a bomber into a fighter..... which is what they tried with the Tornado.

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Panavia Tornado 17 Dec 2017 11:09 #17

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The Hawk and F2/3 combo was known as MFF (mixed fighter force) and of course the Hawk didnt have a radar, so the Tornado acted as the Hawks radar. The Hawk also had a very short range compared to the F2/3. As for the F111 repalacement of course it was the GR1.

One problem the RAF had with the Tornado was "fleets within fleets". The GR1 had two squadrons of GR1a, theses were the recce versions which equipped 2 and 13 Squadrons, no other Tornados could do the job. And at Lossiemouth 12 and 617 were equipped with the GR1b, these carried Sea Eagle anti ship missiles, and again only they could do the role.

As for bombers in to fighters, well what about the Mosquito?

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Panavia Tornado 17 Dec 2017 12:25 #18

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I take your point about the Mosquito although when it was used as a fighter, it was used primarily against enemy bombers. A ME109 or FW190 could out manoeuvre the Mossie. The Mossie could probably outrun the opposition though.

You are right about the mixed fleets but that was nothing new. I did a couple of tours on II sqn, the first on Jags and the second on Tornado. The recce Jaguars were also different from the rest of the fleet, albeit to a much lesser extent than the Tornado GR1a was and obviously not enough to warrant a unique model designation like the Tornado.

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Panavia Tornado 18 Dec 2017 18:17 #19

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And I forgot about 11 Sqn having a version called the EF3, which was an F3 given the ability to carry ALARM. Maybe that should have actually been the EF5?

Anyone know why they were given that capability?

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Panavia Tornado 10 Jan 2018 18:03 #20

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According to wiki, the F3 didnt have have a secure radio or the correct IFF thats why they were kept to the rear during the first Gulf War.

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