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Tornado F3 Aerial Ballet

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Tornado F3 Aerial Ballet

Old 13th Jan 2013, 12:54
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Tornado F3 Aerial Ballet

Eight or nine years ago I witnessed (as a ground civilian) five Tornado F3 engaged in an aerial dogfight over the eastern end of Loch Tay in Perthshire. What seemed so remarkable was the low speeds (almost to the point of stalling) and the number and close proximity of the planes to each other. It went on for at least 15 minutes, at I guess between 5 and 10,000 feet. Was this a common training exercise and does anyone have any pictures of something similar?

The Tornado's appeared much more agile than I would have imagined and I don't think I've seen one do much other than fly in a straight line, even at an airshow! So could the ADV version "mix it" with it's gun?
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 14:21
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From more than a mile away you are sure they were F3s ?
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 15:48
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Absolutely certain! Light grey pointy things, also not that far from Leuchars. They might have been lower, I might not be the best judge of height, but I had binoculars with me, but not unfortunately a camera.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 15:55
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So, not one like this? Proximity to an RAF station, even Leuchars, is not a great indication of where an aircraft is based.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 16:03
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Ahh, the days of no SPILS and lots of alpha....

OAP

Last edited by Onceapilot; 13th Jan 2013 at 16:42.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 16:05
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Once a Pilot..... D'you mean back in the days when an F3 could pull more than 2G without a written explanation being required?
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 16:08
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Have seen the very same many times in past years over the Yorkshire Wolds:

F3 v F3
F3 v F15
and in the latter years up till it's demise F3 v Typhoon

and yes, I did work on F3 and know what it looks like up there in the blue yonder
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 19:47
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Airpolice, if they were F3s they wouldn't be much like that would they?

Sabre Dog, it was fairly common to do 2v2 like, although dissimilar was preferable. As for using the gun; forget it.

Last edited by Geehovah; 13th Jan 2013 at 19:49.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 19:48
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That's my point.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 19:51
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Then a bunch of GR4s doing day tactics at low level would be fairly unlikely........
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 20:04
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Geehova: But not impossible, not even unheard of in that part of the world.

As it only lasted 15 minutes it's not the whole sortie, and possibly just a chance encounter by a three ship bouncing a pair.

This is back in the days when there were enough people flying around in the UK to meet up with some passing trade.

F3s might be more likely to do this stuff 80 miles east of there, in their traditional play area.


I know I couldn't tell the difference between a GR4 & an F3 at over a mile while it was manoeuvring, even with binos. Could you?
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 20:17
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With the RHWR, yes, I'm sure we could.
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Old 13th Jan 2013, 22:48
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I know I couldn't tell the difference between a GR4 & an F3 at over a mile while it was manoeuvring, even with binos. Could you?
...easy at the front, less so at the rear...proportions....and as CM said...fin...
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Old 14th Jan 2013, 13:11
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at I guess between 5 and 10,000 feet
Wow, exciting stuff - a dog fight at 5 feet! At least we can be fairly confident of your ID skills if they were indeed at this heady altitude...

Last edited by dead_pan; 14th Jan 2013 at 13:11.
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Old 14th Jan 2013, 17:23
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AP,
"I know I couldn't tell the difference between a GR4 & an F3 at over a mile while it was manoeuvring, even with binos. Could you?"
With a quote like that I hope they never let you near an ASRAAM. And to those disbelievers, yes the F3 could turn and burn a slow speed. Great to do for fun but tactically the way to an early grave. There is no doubt that the F3s optimum height to fight was ground level up to about 100ft. It also was easier to max perform at slow speed with the SPILS Out, not that I ever tried.
I would add that certainly back in the 80s and 90s the easiest way to ID the GR was the ac that was slow speed, still in 45 wing and out of ideas


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Old 14th Jan 2013, 17:32
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I know I couldn't tell the difference between a GR4 & an F3 at over a mile while it was manoeuvring, even with binos. Could you?
I would have been sacked if I couldn't..................... It was a basic skill. Colour, shape, tanks. I could go on.....

No binos. I had TESS for a while. The VAS for Tornado never arrived. Just the old Mk 1 eyeball and basic air combat skills like any other air defender.
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Old 14th Jan 2013, 18:58
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I would add that certainly back in the 80s and 90s the easiest way to ID the GR was the ac that was slow speed, still in 45 wing and out of ideas
Hahaha! What Dominator2 said.... didn't change much throughout the next decade either
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Old 16th Nov 2014, 11:02
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Still no real answer to my question. I appreciate your comments.

I know perfectly well what I saw, as did the other people I was with. If I didn't know what an Tornado F3 was and wasn't interested in it, I wouldn't be on a forum like this! So why are some people so patronising? It's not quite trolling, but it is just as pointless.

Are there any former F3 pilots out there?
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Old 16th Nov 2014, 11:16
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I would add that certainly back in the 80s and 90s the easiest way to ID the GR was the ac that was slow speed, still in 45 wing and out of ideas
The easiest way is the GR4 has two RHWR aerials on the fin, front and rear. While the F3 only has one, the rear aerial.

In the photo above the GR4 has a doppler aerial for drift, FLIR, [email protected] ranging and marked target seeker fairings. These were not fitted to F3.

I never saw F3's fitted with outboard pylon stores / "ballast".
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Old 16th Nov 2014, 11:23
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If an F16 was stupid enough to let an F3 take it slow speed you could hold off the F16 in an F3 with mid-flap selected at <200kts below 18,000ft until one of your wingmen came and sorted him out. I did this once in the ACMI against a youngster in an F16.

One small snag with mid-flap in the F3 was that if you did not retract it before firing ASRAAM/AIM-9 then you would blow a nice hole in the flap!!!

LJ
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