Tag Archive | raf

Tonkas over Scotland for the last time

With the final flights of the Tornado strike fighter by the RAF expected next month, the beautiful image below popped up on the MoD’s feed showing the final sortie of three days of flypasts over Scotland’s RAF Lossiemouth and Leuchars Station marking the jet’s imminent retirement.

Date: 20 February 2019. Crown Copyright

The formation was led by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC, a Tornado pilot and former Station Commander of RAF Lossiemouth, who was flying the type for the last time.

As a sidebar, actor Ewan McGregor’s brother, Colin, used to fly Tornado GR4’s out of Lossiemouth and Leuchars. His callsign was Obi Two.

Farewell, Tonka

On 31 January, the RAF conducted its last operational sortie with the Tornado GR4 (pictured: the last of the two aircraft to take off, bringing an end to four and a half years of the type’s involvement in Operation ‘Shader’). Source: Crown Copyright

The multi-role Panavia Tornado– of which some 992 aircraft were built in three variants (air defense, strike, and EW/recce) for the RAF, Luftwaffe/Marineflieger, Aeronautica Militare, and Royal Saudi Air Force– first flew in 1974 and was a Cold War icon.

A-200 Tornado, 155 Gr, 50 St, ITAF, unauthorized acro during a test flight at Cameri AFB

However, out of production since 1998, these sexy variable-sweep wing aircraft are now aging and, increasingly, being put to pasture.

The Germans have been whittling their fleet down since the Berlin Wall fell (and took the naval birds down almost immediately) while they currently plan to decommission the last strike units flying the bird in 2025. The Italians have 62 of 100 they received and are adding Typhoons and F35s to the force over the next decade to eliminate those.

Five Tornado GR4 aircraft displaying commemorative paint scheme tail-art of the 40th anniversary of the type in RAF service, and the branch’s 100th birthday, last year. The Tornado Squadrons were based at RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth.

The RAF, in whose service the bird was nicknamed the “Tonka” for its ability to carry truckloads of bombs during the Gulf War and strikes over Bosnia, has completed their last combat missions for the big strike fighter, as it is on its last days with the Brits.

From MOD:

On the 31st of January 2019, the RAF operated the final operational sortie of the Tornado GR4. The aircraft (ZA601/066 and ZA542/035) took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

After almost 40 years serving the UK on military operations across the world, iconic RAF Tornado jets has returned home for the last time.

First entering service in 1979, the fast jets has been used in operations across the world, most recently bombarding Daesh to push the terrorist group back through Syria and Iraq.

The weapons capabilities of the soon-to-retire Tornados are now being delivered by RAF Typhoon jets, which will continue to take a leading role in the Coalition’s mission against Daesh. Under ‘Project Centurion’, worth £425million over the past three years, the Typhoon can now also launch the world-leading Meteor air-to-air missile, the Stormshadow deep strike cruise missile and the precision attack missile Brimstone.

These improved RAF Typhoon jets will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet, alongside the recently introduced new fleet of F-35 Lighting jets over the coming years.

The last to fly the Tornado is likely to be the Royal Saudi Airforce, who still have 81 IDS variants in service, many of which are over Yemen at any given time. Although F-15S/SA Strike Eagles will likely replace them, don’t count on the Saudi’s to sideline these reliable sluggers until after the whole Yemen thing stops being a thing– which is no time soon.

 

The Brits really dug camo for their snipers

Common among snipers the world over today, the ghillie suit or bush suit, traces its origin to Scottish gamekeepers with a Scotland-raised yeoman regiment, the Lovat Scouts, using them for the first time in modern combat in the Boer War.

These Highlanders, drawn largely from outdoorsmen, were described as “half wolf and half jackrabbit” in their tactics when down in the veldt and the suit draws its name from the Gaelic faerie Gille Dubh, a forest character clad in moss and leaves that hides among the trees. The use of “scrim” often from repurposed potato sacks, helped break up their outline.

What is scrim?

Scrim is nothing but a basic fabric that has a light, almost gauzy weave to it. It’s used in bookbinding (that woven fabric in the back of hardcover books), theatre and photography (to reflect light), and in simple industrial applications like making burlap sacks.

(H 10707) A camouflage suit for a sniper. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205215212

The suits became widespread in sniper use in the Great War. Take this superb example in the IWM under review:

“First World War period British Army sniper’s camouflage robe. Many British Army snipers were trained by former Highland gamekeepers and deer stalkers of the Lovat Scouts, who gave extensive guidance regarding their skills of personal camouflage and concealment. As a result, many items of clothing were adopted on the Western Front, either improvised or officially produced, including mittens, gaiters, and robes” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30097861

Here is another.

“Robe loose-shaped single-breasted robe, made of linen, complete with a fitted hood that incorporates a face mask with apertures for the mouth and eyes. The smock is dabbed and smeared with various shades of paint to achieve a random (disruptive) camouflage finish.” Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30100483

And a third:

“Smock: loose-shaped single-breasted robe, made of canvas, complete with a fitted hood that incorporates a face mask with openings for the mouth and eyes. The smock is painted in colors of various shades to achieve a random camouflage finish and, additionally, has tufts of dried organic vegetation sewn to break up the outline.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30092440

When the Second World War came in 1939, the Brits fell back on what worked.

“Experiments in camouflage, 1940. One figure is trying on the upper portion of a prototype sniper suit. He is being watched by a man wearing Khaki and smoking a pipe, who is holding the suit trousers. On the floor behind them are some pots of paint and another suit hung on a mannequin. There are more sketches of the suit in the upper right corner of the page.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/38898

A Camouflaged Sniper watching his Target, Llanberis, North Wales (Art.IWM ART LD 3422)”A head and shoulders depiction of a British infantry sniper in training in Wales. The sniper is shown wearing camouflaged kit and black face paint, aiming his rifle at a distant target.” Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/21861

British Snipers on the Island of Ubbea near Khakio : 10th Infantry Brigade (Art.IWM ART LD 5040) image: In the foreground three carefully camouflaged British snipers wearing camouflaged smocks have positioned themselves
amongst the rocks and vegetation of a hill side. They appear to be overlooking a road that winds through a hilly coastal country. The sea and a neighboring island are visible in the top right of the composition. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/5318

Normandy Campaign (B 8177) A sniper demonstrates his camouflage at a sniper school in a French village, 27 July 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202430

The practice continues across MoD today, using low-IR fabric to keep down detection by modern optics, because if it ain’t broke…

Pictured are Snipers from 34 Squadron, The Royal Air Force Regiment based at RAF Leeming, undertaking Live Firing Tactical Training at the Otterburn Training Area. (MoD Crown Copyright)

The worst April Fools’ joke you can think of

Here we see, in this image from the Imperial War Museum, RFC armorers issuing Lewis guns with Lewis and Vickers ammunition to observers and pilots of No. 22 Squadron at the aerodrome at Vert Galand, 1 April 1918– some 99 years ago today. This was during the time of the German Spring Offensive that year.

Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205247539 Note the chap in the Glengarry hat puffing away on his pipe

I say April Fools because the Lewis very often froze on these brave young men as their flying machines reached altitude. The only ways to solve this problem were as follows: a) fire a few rounds every so often to keep your barrel warm and mechanism moving; b) carry a small hammer in your cockpit with which to pound on your gun if it iced up, or c) carry your magazine inside your flying clothes to keep it warm.

Formed in 1915 on the Western Front, No. 22 Squadron gratefully flew Bristol F.2 fighters at the time of the above photo, which was armed with a synchronised fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun which, though it had its own troubles, was more reliable than the Lewis, which was used by the rear seat observer on a Foster mount.

With the motto Preux et audicieux (French: “Valiant and Brave”), No. 22 Squadron stood down in 2015 after 100-years or service which includes a VC awarded to Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell for executing a torpedo attack on the German battlecruiser Gneisenau in Brest harbor during WWII. Campbell, notably, was killed in that attack on 6 April 1941 though he was nobody’s April Fool.

Stormshadow clocks back in

Armourers from 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) based out of Royal Air Force Akrotiri, Cyprus load a Tornado GR4 with Stormshadow cruise missiles. Crown Copyright.

Armourers from 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) based out of Royal Air Force Akrotiri, Cyprus load a Tornado GR4 with Stormshadow cruise missiles. Crown Copyright.

The MoD has released that the MBDA Stormshadow cruise missile has been used effectively in combat for the first time in combat against ISIS, dropped from Cyrpus-based Tonkas.

Debuted in 2002, the 2,800-lb long range (300nm) air to surface missile is based on the legacy Apache anti-runway missile and the UK purchased 900 of the weapons. Rather than the submunitions of the Apache, Stormshadow has a 990-lb. two-stage warhead is made up from an initial shaped charge, which cuts a passage through armor, concrete, earth, etc., allowing a larger following warhead to penetrate inside the target.

In short, it’s a good standoff bunker buster.

The only other combat use by RAF has been by Panavia GR4 Tornadoes of No. 617 Squadron in the 2003 invasion of Iraq where 27 of the cruise missiles were used against hardened command and control bunkers.

Since then the French have used them in Syria while the Italians broke theirs out in Libya. It is also believed that the Gulf States (who between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE bought over a 1,200 of the devices) have used them sparingly in Yemen.

Go Tonka go (Those Stormshadows look awfully close to the ground, yeah?)

Go Tonka go (Those Stormshadows look awfully close to the ground, yeah?)

From this week’s release :

Intelligence had determined that Daesh were using a large concrete bunker in western Iraq as a weapons facility. Due to the massive construction, built during the Saddam era, it was decided to use four Stormshadow missiles against it, as the weapon has particularly good capabilities against such a challenging target. The missiles were launched on Sunday 26 June by two Tornados, all four Stormshadows scored direct hits and penetrated deep within the bunker.

tacticalprofessor

More than weapons manipulation

Yokosuka Sasebo Japan

The U.S. Navy and the Western Pacific

The Writer in Black

News and views from The Writer in Black

Stephen Taylor WW2 Relic Hunter

World War 2 Historian, Relic Hunter and expert in identification of WW2 relics

USS Gerald R. Ford

Mission Ready, Qualified & Competent, On Time Execution!

The Unwritten Record

Exploring History with the National Archives Special Media Division

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Western Rifle Shooters Association

People in your own family will betray you, given the chance.

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

The Mechanix of Auto, Aviation, Military...pert near anything I feel relates to mechanical things, places, events or whatever I happen to like. Even non-mechanical artsy-fartsy stuff.

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

%d bloggers like this: