Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Tornado Avionics, Displays...

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Tornado Avionics, Displays...

Old 15th Aug 2007, 09:04
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Munich/Gemany
Posts: 59
Tornado Avionics, Displays...

Dear Tornado-Techies,

in 2005 I asked on the "Spectators Balcony" of PPRuNe regarding a black-box I got via
eBay and which should be from the early RAF-Tornadoes where it has been re-
placed by something newer. In the last years I reverse engineered this one
as a very interesting hobby project. This box called


contains a full 12bit computer with 8192 words of core memory and I was able
to bring it back to live again, i.e. I can write programs for it now and I even connected a
LCD to the box for a first "Hello World" program. A report on this restoration project can
be found in the vintage computing mailing list via this link:

An slightly modified version is available via pdf from the following link:


As I got quite far, the question arises, what the original purpose of this box in
the Tornado aircraft was . From some input I conclude, that it must have been responsible
for controlling some of the displays in the back cockpit. So I got some books from
Dour Richardson and Andy Evans to learn about the Tornado and the displays in
question are named the TV-tabs or the CRPMD.

Maybe on this forum there are people still knowing about technical details on these
vintage displays and whether the "Programmer Electronic Control" was involved
here, too?

Did the TV-tabs include some kind of analog storage included? From discussion
in the German forum "www.flugzeugforum.de" it is obvious, that German and UK
versions of the Tornado are different. Are the displays, too?

As every techie might imagine - the real dream would be to have one of
these original displays to connect it to the box. In Germany trashed equipment is
often sold on auctions (www.vebeg.de) to the public. Is there something similar in
the UK or is there an other way to locate one of these vintage displays?

Any hints are highly welcome,

best regards,


P.S. the RAF-version of early Tornado contained a TV-tab like display for the
pilot, as well. Was this display technically similar to the TV-tab?

Last edited by baigar; 15th Aug 2007 at 11:36. Reason: Format looks bad...
baigar is offline  
Old 15th Aug 2007, 09:58
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Brum
Posts: 845

A fantastic piece of work, but don't you think you should get out more...

Nige321 is offline  
Old 15th Aug 2007, 10:06
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: earth
Posts: 1,397
One of the stickers is from GEC Marconi - I know one major component of the early F2/3 made by them and it was little better than the concrete it replaced!

If your box is part of this equipment and you got it to work you did a lot better than the RAF who had to spend lots more money and effort to turn it into the good piece of kit it is today!
soddim is offline  
Old 15th Aug 2007, 10:52
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Darn Sarf
Posts: 130
named the TV-tabs or the CRPMD.

Maybe on this forum there are people still knowing about technical details on these vintage displays
VINTAGE!?!?!?! Cheeky Monkey!!!
Olly O'Leg is offline  
Old 15th Aug 2007, 19:27
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 23
This doesn't really answer your question but to give you some more info - The F3 has 2 TV tabs in the back and 1 in the front. They were all monochrome (green) then a few years ago the rear ones were replaced with colour displays, but they can only be operated in monochrome (makes things a little tricky with 30 odd tracks on!) The front display is still the old tv tab (pilots dont break them anywhere near as often as clumsy navs).

I think that the mono ones all went to the GR4 - but I could be wrong!
WannaBeCiv is offline  
Old 16th Aug 2007, 05:43
  #6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Munich/Gemany
Posts: 59
Hi and thanks for the answers so far. Maybe I have to apologize
especially to Olly O'Leg for using the term "vintage" in my question
as these displays seem still to be airborne and some people may be
annoyed by this term!

For me the term "vintage" is in no way negative. As the development
ot the Tornado started (I think 1968), the computers of thoses days
where PDP8 with 12bit and 4k of memory. The legendary PDP11
was released in 1970. Both where rather large 19" machines - so
it was a masaterpiece to put a machine like this into a box like the
Programmer Electronic Control. Additionally IO-Devices in those days
have been the keyboard and the teletype - graphics displays where
NOT commonly available. So these TV-tab displays where ahead of
time those days. This is the reason why many people spend their
free time in getting hands on and keep machines like this running.
So sorry again if anyone feels offended by my question. My only
interest is understanding how this interesting technology was

Best regards,

baigar is offline  
Old 16th Aug 2007, 05:56
  #7 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Munich/Gemany
Posts: 59
Originally Posted by WannaBeCiv
The F3 has 2 TV tabs in the back and 1 in the front. They were all monochrome (green)
In the book "Panavia Tornado" from Andy Evans there is a photo showing the F3's
cockpit and your assumtion is right. But the pilot's display looks different (only a few
knobs below the display) than the normal TV-tabs.

So since the photo in the book shows even text on the pilot's display ths is definitively
some computer controlled display. Those days displays with internal analog storage
where widely used since the computer could draw the information and the display
will display it until a change has to be made - maybe the TV-tabs where of this type?
baigar is offline  
Old 17th Aug 2007, 17:10
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 268
Erik, an interesting project!

As for the box at the heart of your project, I do not recognise it, but I'll ask about.
peppermint_jam is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.