19 May 2021
Corgi Panavia Tornado GR1-ZA591 FN RAF No 16 Squadron 75th Anniversary - Mildenhall Air Fete, Suffolk 1990
REF NO: AA33622
With many RAF squadrons able to trace their establishment back to the early air operations of the Great War, the 1990s saw quite a number of them commemorating their 75th anniversaries. As was customary on these occasions, squadrons would send one of their aircraft into the paint shop to be adorned with special anniversary artwork, much to the delight of aviation enthusiasts across Europe.
These aircraft would spend the next few months attending official RAF events, open days and airshows, where they would become some of the most popular and most photographed aircraft around. Without doubt, one of the most spectacular of the RAF squadron 75th anniversary schemes was the smart all-over black paint finish applied to Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZA591, an aircraft which would represent No.16 Squadron throughout its 75th anniversary year.
Even though the strike/attack variant of the Tornado would go on to post an impressive Royal Air Force service record that spanned almost forty years, No 16 Squadron would only spend a relatively short period operating this magnificent aircraft. Exchanging its Blackburn Buccaneers for the Tornado in 1984, the squadron would only use the aircraft for seven years, but not before it had seen combat operations during the Gulf War and turned out one of the best looking squadron anniversary aircraft.
The squadron originally formed at Saint-Omer, in the Pas-de-Calais region of France in 1915, where it was engaged in flying photographic, reconnaissance and artillery spotting sorties during the earliest days of military flying. Always referred to as 'The Saints' due to its original formation location, the distinctive stick man with halo logo originates, of course, from the popular TV spy character from the 1960s.
Corgi's replica of the Tornado is epic, particularly so with this livery applied. Featuring an opening canopy, sturdy display stand, parts to display the undercarriage up or down, and wing-mounted armaments, the most impressive features are the movable wings that replicate the options on the real aircraft - the horizontal tail stabilisers also pitch just like the real thing.
The satin black finish is absolutely spot on and the graphics, including The Saint, are perfectly applied. It's another epic release of the Tornado that has sadly now retired from service. A fitting tribute!