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Appeal to build “spiritual home” in Norfolk for RAF Tornado

PUBLISHED: 12:44 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:32 03 April 2019

Steve Roberts in the Heritage Centre at RAF Marham, where a new atrium will commemorate the iconic Tornado jet  Picture: Chris Bishop

Steve Roberts in the Heritage Centre at RAF Marham, where a new atrium will commemorate the iconic Tornado jet Picture: Chris Bishop

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An appeal is being launched to build a “spiritual home” for the RAF’s iconic Tornado.

Tornados sign off with a diamond nine formation in a flypast at RAF Marham  Picture: Chris BishopTornados sign off with a diamond nine formation in a flypast at RAF Marham Picture: Chris Bishop

Volunteers who run the Aviation Heritage Centre at RAF Marham hope to raise £200,000 to build a new atrium.

The extension will house a Tornado cockpit simulator, along with models, weapons and other memorabilia.

Warrant officer (Rtd) Steve Roberts MBE, one of the team at the centre, said: “With the Tornado going out of service, Marham will be the spiritual home of the Tornado.

“What we want to do is remember that. This is an amazing aeroplane, we need to remember it.”

Steve Roberts with a special first day cover commemorating the final nine-ship Tornado flight Picture: Chris BishopSteve Roberts with a special first day cover commemorating the final nine-ship Tornado flight Picture: Chris Bishop

Aerospace firm Thales, which built the Tornado simulator which trained hundreds of aircrew, has donated it towards the atrium.

Former Tornado navigator Ken Delve, who also volunteers at the centre, said it was just like flying the real thing, with the ability to replicate mid-air emergencies as well as testing combat missions.

WO Roberts said the centre would need to raise £200,000 to build the extension to house it.

The Tornado made its final flights before retiring after 40 years’ service last month, including a final ‘diamond nine’ formation circling the base.

Ken Delve with a copy of his book on the history of RAF Marham  Picture: Chris BishopKen Delve with a copy of his book on the history of RAF Marham Picture: Chris Bishop

A special limited edition first day cover which was carried on board one of the aircraft is on sale at the centre for £5 in aid of the atrium appeal.

Each of the 100 copies is signed by the pilot and navigator of one of the nine jets which took part.

The centre, which opened in 2013, replaced a history room which was “behind the wire” on the base.

It includes models and displays covering the entire history of Marham, which opened in 2016 and is now home to the RAF’s F-35 Lightning force.

The Heritage Centre at RAF Marham  Picture: Chris BishopThe Heritage Centre at RAF Marham Picture: Chris Bishop

Over its long career it has housed the RAF’s wartime heavy bombers and Mosquitos, the Victor flying tankers, Canberra reconnaissance aircraft and the Tornado.

A history of the base, written by Mr Delve, has also been updated and expanded to include the Tornado era. Copies, priced £30, are now on sale, with all proceeds going towards the atrium appeal.

The centre is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays (9am - 4pm) and the last Saturday of each month except December (9.30am - 4pm).

For more information about the centre or to donate to the appeal e-mail marham.aviation.heritage@gmail.com.



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