Blips by cb

By cbimages

Reunion Manqué

This was my squadron in 1987, based at RAF Laarbruch on the German/Dutch border near Venlo and Aachen.  A few weeks ago there was a reunion of many of them but which I missed: I was not confident that being with up to 100 others in a closed space was wise; perhaps there'll be another before too long.

The aircraft is a Tornado GR1, now out of service; this particular airframe was called MacRobert's Reply after a Stirling during WWII which was donated by Lady MacRobert after she lost three sons in the war.  The airfield is now called Flughafen Weeze after the nearest town, but if  you look at the map you can see the old squadron dispersals around the runway.  This building was called a HAS (hardened aircraft shelter) and it could house two of these aircraft, one straight, the other at an angle and slightly in front.    The extension at the side was to house a fuel bowser and other ancillary equipment.

There are no weapons, in this photo, on any of the pylons, five more of which are under the very flat fuselage; the device on the left wing pylon is a jamming pod, used for disturbing the radar picture of any defensive weapons system.

I can't say that I held the aircraft in great affection, particularly since I flew F16s with the USAF after this tour, but it did a good job in several conflicts.  However, that's not why I was looking grumpy in this shot (fourth from the left at the front): the sun was quite bright and I think that I must have just looked away.

Although this scene is over thirty years old, I've only just received it . . .

p.s.  I should mention that this is probably less than a third of the squadron's manpower; only the officers are present here, whereas the technical manpower are of course the backbone of such a unit, but would make a much larger photo and quite challenging to set up, particularly with the shift system in place.

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