War Horse Tornado Gifted to Australians
Australians have been gifted a priceless piece of history, with the Royal Air Force (RAF) donating a Tornado GR4 to the Air Force Association (WA Division) Aviation Heritage Museum.
The aircraft, with registration ZG791, has made its way all the way from Southampton, England, to be laid to rest in Western Australia.
The Tornado GR4, known as a “war horse” in the aviation community, has a long and storied history. It served the RAF with distinction for almost 40 years, flying in conflicts all over the world, from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan and Libya. It has now found a new home in Australia, becoming the only gifted Tornado GR4 outside of the United Kingdom.
Air Force Association Patron Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld AO DSC (Retired) spoke of the significance of the handover, saying it signifies the ongoing close relationship between the RAF and the RAAF.
“While on operations together over Iraq we flew with Royal Air Force Tornado
GR4’s,” said AM Hupfeld, who served as Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force from July 2019 to July 2022.
“It is entirely fitting therefore, that the Air Force Association (Western Australian Division) are being honoured with the handover of this truly remarkable war horse. I see this as a mark of respect for Australia, through the Air Force Association (Western Australia), to be given custodianship of this valuable piece of Royal Air Force history. A history that we have shared.”
RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston KCB, CBE, ADC, Chief of the Air Staff, who flew the Tornado GR4, also shared his experience with the aircraft.
“ZG791 is part of my own RAF story. We flew many hours together including a bird strike in June 1998 which I’m pleased to say ended well, although not for the poor bird,” Sir Michael said.
“The Tornado served us with distinction for nearly 40 years during which time it developed from the GR1 into the outstanding GR4 combat aircraft. Remarkably, the Tornado Force was continuously deployed on operations from 1990 until we retired it from service in 2019.”
Now, the Tornado GR4 will serve as a symbol of the RAF’s history and achievements, as well as the close relationship between the RAF and the RAAF. The Aviation Heritage Museum will ensure that the aircraft is preserved for future generations, allowing its story to be explored and shared with a wide audience.
As Sir Michael said, “Our history is a handrail for the future, and I am so pleased the stories of all our friends and colleagues who operated, supported and maintained the Tornado can be explored and shared with the widest possible audience, here in Western Australia.”