Panavia Tornado

Yeah, that was definitely a thing at some point, and I've seen articles claim the Sea Harrier FRS.2 designation was changed to FA.2 when it lost the nuclear strike and recce capabilities. That being said, it still remains an open question, as it seems to be used intermittently. The Tornado was nuclear capable but wasn't given an "S." designation.
 
Yeah, that was definitely a thing at some point, and I've seen articles claim the Sea Harrier FRS.2 designation was changed to FA.2 when it lost the nuclear strike and recce capabilities. That being said, it still remains an open question, as it seems to be used intermittently. The Tornado was nuclear capable but wasn't given an "S." designation.

And the non-standard 'FA' was probably strongly influenced by the F/A-18, which itself was of course non-standard.

The Wyvern was S-for-non-nuclear strike, so FS.2 should have been perfectly fine.
 
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Yes, FRS.2 seems to have become FA.2 when the WE.177 capability was removed. It seems the conversions from FRS.1 airframes may have been originally FRS.2 but that all new-build airframes were FA.2s from the start.
S does seem to indicate nuclear strike - but then it wasn't applied to Jaguar or Tornado.
I've seen B(I) explained as both Intruder or Interdictor, I guess both are interchangeable terms.

As I say, the system is a mess without too much logical application (given the F-35 Lightning hasn't been given a role prefix maybe the idea is dying off now anyway).
 
S does seem to indicate nuclear strike - but then it wasn't applied to Jaguar or Tornado.

S was applied in a naval context ( Firebrand, Sturgeon, Wyvern, Bucc, Shar ) for maritime strike regardless of armament. It predates nuclear capability.

Flight, 6 February 1953:

"A new Admiralty designation is that of 'strike' to describe aircraft previously known as 'torpedo-fighter' aircraft. To this end, the current Firebrand and Wyvern become Firebrand S.6 and Wyvern S.4"

The Bucc's S designation in RAF service was inherited rather than assigned.

Later the RAF did come to associate the term 'strike' with nuclear attack but that was orthogonal to aircraft designations, and actually at odds with the scope of Strike Command...
 
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S was only applied in a naval context ( Wyvern, Bucc, Shar ) so I'd contend it was actually for maritime strike regardless of armament.

The Bucc's S designation in RAF service was inherited rather than assigned.
That makes sense.

Meeckoms and Morgan say 'S' and 'AS' are 'For naval Types Only' in the post-1960 context.

Chris
 
I assume that they put the "I" in there to differentiate the intruder variants from the standard bomber variants. This made sense for the B.(I).6, as it was a derivative of the B.6, but made much less sense for the B.(I).8, as it was designed as an intruder from the ground up.

It doesn't seem that the usage of "GR" was common until the late 1960's, with the introduction of the Jaguar, Harrier and Phantom, as prior to that the Hunter and Kestrel were both designated as FGA.9 and GA.1 respectively. Prior to that, the designation "FB." was used on the Vampires, Venoms, Sea Hawks and a number of other aircraft.

I think that a simple "S." or potential "B." designation for the Tornado would have made more sense, although both seemed to fall out of favour in the 60's and 70's, with "S." seemingly retained for aircraft with a more maritime role (Sea Harrier and Buccaneer) and "B." being phased out with the last Vulcans, though this last sentence is complete speculation on my part.
Any chance that B was not used to be able to say "Of course there are no bombers in Thailand" or wherever?
 
The distinction between Light (Canberra) and Medium (Valiant and co) bombers in the RAF gets blurred with TSR2.
As TSR2 never entered service we do not know what its designation would have been. The same applies to the F111K.
The Phantom is given the FGR designation and so is Jaguar.
Tornado replaces both these aircraft in the FGR role. The Vulcan B2 is not replaced even though Tornado is quoted as replacing it.
 
Any chance that B was not used to be able to say "Of course there are no bombers in Thailand" or wherever?
It's possible that the RAF was playing the same political game the RN is often accused of playing with the INVINCIBLE class. That is, 'We got rid of bombers when we retired the Vulcan. That aircraft that drops bombs? It's just for ground attack.'
As TSR2 never entered service we do not know what its designation would have been. The same applies to the F111K.
FWIW, my (totally unsupported) theory is that TSR.2 would have been designated RB.1, based on the fact that it was built to specification RB.192. As far as I can tell, every RAF operational type built to an Air Ministry specification used the same role prefix for the specification and the operational aircraft.
 
FWIW, my (totally unsupported) theory is that TSR.2 would have been designated RB.1, based on the fact that it was built to specification RB.192. As far as I can tell, every RAF operational type built to an Air Ministry specification used the same role prefix for the specification and the operational aircraft.
That is pretty much borne out by what's in Meeckoms and Morgan's Post-1950 specs book.

How ever, one jumps out - Rotodyne - Its original spec was RH.142, issued in 1953.

RH.210, issued in 1960 was for 'price negotiation purposes only'.

I can only assume that pre-1960 'R' stood for research. But why not 'EH' like the other research aircraft?

All very confusing.

Chris
 
That is pretty much borne out by what's in Meeckoms and Morgan's Post-1950 specs book.

How ever, one jumps out - Rotodyne - Its original spec was RH.142, issued in 1953.

RH.210, issued in 1960 was for 'price negotiation purposes only'.

I can only assume that pre-1960 'R' stood for research. But why not 'EH' like the other research aircraft?

All very confusing.

Chris

I don't know how closely RH.142 and RH.210 were tailored to that specific aircraft. Could it have been R for Roodyne?
 
But "interdict" and "interdiction" are not hyphenated words so that is very odd.
They would have been unfamiliar words for most people pre Tornado, in fact still are, so the tendency may have been to assume it was two words and hyphenate, and there's a well known process where hyphenated words gradually lose the hyphen as they become better known. TLDR: it may be linguistics at play, rather than odd procurement/designations processes.
 
S was applied in a naval context ( Firebrand, Sturgeon, Wyvern, Bucc, Shar ) for maritime strike regardless of armament. It predates nuclear capability.

Flight, 6 February 1953:

"A new Admiralty designation is that of 'strike' to describe aircraft previously known as 'torpedo-fighter' aircraft. To this end, the current Firebrand and Wyvern become Firebrand S.6 and Wyvern S.4"

'Find, Fix, Strike'

The FAA's been in the strike business since well before they were expected to cart buckets of instant sunshine around.
 
The only justification for TSR2 would have been if the RAF had come clean and admitted that 50 TSR2s would replace the Valiant Wing at Marham to give SACEUR a UK nuclear theatre delivery force. I would have called it the Vindicator B1.
 
The distinction between Light (Canberra) and Medium (Valiant and co) bombers in the RAF gets blurred with TSR2.
As TSR2 never entered service we do not know what its designation would have been. The same applies to the F111K.
I'd expect the F-111K to get either an S or a B designation. Possibly RB, as that was the prefix for the TSR2 spec, RB.192, and it seems that all aircraft got the same prefix as the spec they were bid on.
 
I'd expect the F-111K to get either an S or a B designation. Possibly RB, as that was the prefix for the TSR2 spec, RB.192, and it seems that all aircraft got the same prefix as the spec they were bid on.

Just to clarify once more - S is maritime strike. So the 111K would be B or GR unless it was going to be chasing Sverdlov cruisers.

Even the RN's first nuclear platform, the Scimitar, was just an F.

Edit: the AFVG had some chance of being GRS, since part of its role was to replace the maritime strike capability of the carriers ( Flight, 9 March 1967 ).
 
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I don't know how closely RH.142 and RH.210 were tailored to that specific aircraft. Could it have been R for Roodyne?
A lot of research aircraft were ER.xxx, presumably for Experimental Research, and helicopters invariably had H in there somewhere. Most likely, for some reason, their Airships decided that 'Research Helicopter' was an appropriate description of the Rotodyne.
Edit: the AFVG had some chance of being GRS, since part of its role was to replace the maritime strike capability of the carriers ( Flight, 9 March 1967 ).
I doubt you'd have the 'G' and the 'S' in there - either GR or SR (or indeed RS). Given the example of the Phantom and Harrier, you'd probably see the RAF version being FGR, and the Navy version being FRS. Unless there were role-specific models, as with the Tornado, in which case probably two Fighter marks, a GR, and an S (with or without R).
 
Just to clarify once more - S is maritime strike. So the 111K would be B or GR unless it was going to be chasing Sverdlov cruisers.
F-111K would certainly be capable of a mean maritime strike, 6x Sea Eagles et sim or 6x instant sunshine. Land based RN buy?

But the TSR2 role was definitely Bomber or tactical strike and Recon, so it'd likely have the RB profix.
 
F-111K would certainly be capable of a mean maritime strike, 6x Sea Eagles et sim or 6x instant sunshine. Land based RN buy?

Maritime strike from land bases was strictly an RAF affair.

Notable, the F-111K, like the RAAF F-111C, would have had the longer F-111B wings, which means four hardpoints per side. But only the inner two swivel. The RAAF birds carried four Harpoon on the inner pylons only. Outers were just for ferry fuel, it seems.
 
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Maritime strike from land bases was strictly an RAF affair.

Notable, the F-111K, like the RAAF F-111C, would have had the longer F-111B wings, which means four hardpoints per side. But only the inner two swivel. The RAAF birds carried four Harpoon on the inner pylons only. Outers were just for ferry fuel, it seems.
Even the SAC FB-111s only used the outer pylons for ferry fuel, though IIRC they were properly wired for iron bombs as well.
 
Getting way off subject now in what is a thread on Tornado, but F-111K Merlin T.1 & S.2 had standard length wings similar to the F-111A, NOT the lengthened F-111C wings
Primary role was to have been sea lane interdiction using Martel ASM. mounted on wing pylons
 

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Getting way off subject now in what is a thread on Tornado, but F-111K had standard length wings similar to the F-111A, NOT the lengthened F-111C wings
Primary role was to have been sea lane interdiction using Martel ASM. mounted on wing pylons

Huh. I went from the description on F-111.org, which I thought would be accurate.

 
Again outwith discussion on the Tornado thread, Unfortunately there are quite a few inaccuracies and mistakes perpetuated in the F-111K piece noted, mistakes coming from via previously published speculative source material since :(
Over the next few days il jot some notes re the above and post them on a dedicated type thread :)
 
Hi folks,
Airbus Defence published today first pictures of the Tornado 43+92 celebrating “50 Years First Flight” at GAFB Manching, Bavaria, Germany. :cool:
Source (X, English):
Code:
https://x.com/AirbusDefence/status/1770775939787415913?s=20
 
Thanks for posting the photos RavenOne. A smart looking paint job especially for the fiftieth anniversary year celebrations.
 
Time sure flies. I've always been fond of the Tornado, if I were an eccentric billionaire private collector, I'd love to keep one in flyable condition, do some high-speed low level flight until the FAA gets law enforcement to break down my door and arrest me for all of the laws flying just above treetop height must be breaking.

I know at one Tornado was offered to the USAF in a very unlikely bid for a Follow-On Wild Weasel program. Were they proposing to power it with F404s instead of the RB199s? In terms of weight and size they seem to be rather close.
 
Too short-ranged as an RAF interdictor;
Not agile or performant enough to be an Italian air-defender;
Probably just-right as a German Starfighter replacement, though with 100% more crew than they wanted.

Upon reflection it would seem that only the Germans really benefited from the Tornado, whereas the other partner nations were lumbered with an unsuitable type which prevented more appropriate procurement.

Little wonder the Dutch pulled out, and the French tend to go off on their own!
 
Tornado has done everything asked of it and more. One of the classic jets of its generation.

That's a really neat anniversary colour scheme - but then the Luftwaffe knows how to do a good commemorative paint job (leave it to the RAF and it looks like a teenager let loose with decals on an Airfix kit).
 
Today Airbus Defence unveiled their paint scheme on a Luftwaffe IDS ire celebrating 50 years since the first flight of the Tornado

View attachment 722994
Cheers
The signatures of the first two test pilots, Paul Millett and Nils Meister, are printed on the backboard port side just under the designation 43+92. :cool:
 
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Tornado has done everything asked of it and more. One of the classic jets of its generation.
Quite, but that's boring

Whereas some in the RAF might have wanted more range to be a medium bomber replacement, it's pretty unclear where this actually limited it's use in practice. It's still one of the longer ranged fighter bombers. And then Air to Air refuelling became a thing.
 
Too short-ranged as an RAF interdictor;
Not agile or performant enough to be an Italian air-defender;
Probably just-right as a German Starfighter replacement, though with 100% more crew than they wanted.

Upon reflection it would seem that only the Germans really benefited from the Tornado, whereas the other partner nations were lumbered with an unsuitable type which prevented more appropriate procurement.

Little wonder the Dutch pulled out, and the French tend to go off on their own!

The Tornado was a massively successful aircraft, a very capable aircraft that did great long service for all its users (and continues to give good service to its remaining users). Including in multiple military conflicts.

It also was incredibly important for the European and UK military aviation industries; without it they would now be in a very different (probably far worse) condition. Without it no Eurofighter, etc.

The Tornado has been significantly more important and more successful than a significant number of lionised “UK-only” post war aircraft such as the Valiant, the Buccaneer, the Lightning, arguably even the Hunter etc. It ranks right up with the likes of the Harrier, the Canberra, the Vulcan etc. And taking a broader perspective the Tornado is one of the most successful aircraft of its time, not quite up with the likes of the F-4, F-16, F-15 but certainly on power with the likes of the F-14, Hornet/ Super Hornet, Flanker variants etc.

It is a pity that personal prejudices can blind some to this reality because apparently the Tornado doesn’t pass some arbitrary “purity” test or because it isn’t someone’s denied fantasy of what could/ should have been (it’s no TSR2 etc).
 
And taking a broader perspective the Tornado is one of the most successful aircraft of its time, not quite up with the likes of the F-4, F-16, F-15 but certainly on power with the likes of the F-14, Hornet/ Super Hornet, Flanker variants etc.
The Flanker and variants have been produced to the tune of approximately 3 times the amount of Tornado's, and indeed, more than the F-15 variants. Flanker variants have also been operated by more than 3 times as many countries than Tornado. Indeed, also more than double the amount of operators as the F-15.
It has as widely disparate versions as a land based air superiority fighter, multiple role platform, carrier borne fighter, and heavy (45 ton) strike platform.
It truly is a remarkable and successful design.

The F-15 and Flanker variants are still in production, after 40 years and counting.

Both will still be in service for a long time yet.

Nothing against the Tornado per se, but I would put the Flanker and F-15 together in a particularly successful category, but would not put the Tornado into that category with them at all.
 
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So basically you're saying that any aircraft that isn't US/Russian can't be considered "successful" because it doesn't have a large indigenous user base or sufficient export financing to give them to other countries.

Those aren't metrics for success for me
 
So basically you're saying that any aircraft that isn't US/Russian can't be considered "successful" because it doesn't have a large indigenous user base or sufficient export financing to give them to other countries.

Those aren't metrics for success for me

Just to clarify I’m not saying that nor do I believe that, just in case that comment meant for me or that’s how my own comments are coming across.

For example I think the Viggen and Gripen were/ are successful programs and aircraft on their own, or any reasonable, terms. Ditto the Flanker family, a remarkable success given the evolution of the context with which it had to deal with.

And I’m not especially looking to build multiple tiers/ categories of arbitrary relative success for post war combat aircraft. That way lies madness.

I was trying to give real-world context to, and constructively push back against, another contributors bizarre claims of the Tornado’s supposed relative failure/ underlying unsuitability.
 
So basically you're saying that any aircraft that isn't US/Russian can't be considered "successful" because it doesn't have a large indigenous user base or sufficient export financing to give them to other countries.

Those aren't metrics for success for me
No.

Read my reply again, and what I was replying to.
It was another poster that tried to categorise different platforms success into tiers.
The examples in those different tiers didn't actually compare very well when looked at objectively.

The Tornado was a successful collaborative programme for European industry in 3 of the important European nations.
It was, in my opinion, a very important programme wrt local aerospace industries, and was very successful within the closed confines of that.
IIRC, about 900 were built, which is indeed very successful.

Its sole export success outside those confines, though, was a controversial deal, mired in allegations, paid for in barrels of oil, to a nation renowned for making weapons acquisitions for political goals and influence.
I personally think the Tornado is a fine design, within the narrow confines to which it was designed, and the design choices made.
I've never thought, however, that it would enjoy the longevity in production and service of other platforms designed a few years either side of it.
And so it was.
 
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I guess we're largely saying that it's difficult to evaluate "success" without looking at the individual programme and national objectives
 

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