Farewell to RAF Marham Tornados begins with paint job and fly past

Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from

Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service, during a flypast at RAF Marham in Norfolk. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Three specially-painted RAF Tornado jets flew together for the first time in what is the aircraft's retirement year.

The final Tornados will leave service before the end of March after almost 40 years with the RAF.

More than 100 plane enthusiasts gathered at the fence line of RAF Marham in Norfolk to see the three jets in flight on Wednesday.

Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from

Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service, taxi along the runway after landing at RAF Marham in Norfolk. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

One of the jets is painted in camouflage colours and the other two have artwork on the tail, one with the gold star of 31 Squadron, and the other with a bat with wings extended which is the badge of Nine Squadron.

31 Squadron operates the Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham and is known as the Goldstars, and Nine Squadron was the world's first operational Tornado squadron.

Plane enthusiasts line the perimeter fence at RAF Marham in Norfolk to catch sight of three RAF Torn

Plane enthusiasts line the perimeter fence at RAF Marham in Norfolk to catch sight of three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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The three aircraft flew in formation around the airbase, and enthusiasts also saw a pair of F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets and two Typhoons take off from the runway.

The Tornado has been in service since 1979 and was first used in combat during the first Gulf War. Its capabilities will be transferred to the Typhoon.

One of three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retiremen

One of three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service, comes in to land at RAF Marham in Norfolk. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA

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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has paid tribute to the Tornado as an 'amazing aircraft that has inspired so many'.

Both air and ground crews admit they have fond memories of the Tonka, as the jet is nicknamed.

Many of today's generation of air force personnel weren't even born when the Tornado first entered service more than 40 years ago.

The Tornado first arrived at Marham in 1983 with the re-formed 617 Squadron the 'Dambusters'. Marham Tornados have served in conflicts since the First Gulf War of 1990-91.

Despite the retirement of the Tornado the future of the West Norfolk base has been secured for another generation as it is home to the RAF's new F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. The world's most advanced warplane which can take off and land vertically, the so-called stealth fighters cost almost £100m each.

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