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Tornado begins RAF farewell with paint job and a flying display

Enthusiasts were out in force to watch the specially decorated planes take a spin.

Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service, during a flypast at RAF Marham in Norfolk.
Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft with a specially painted livery to commemorate their retirement from service, during a flypast at RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Three specially-painted RAF Tornado jets flew together for the first time in what is the aircraft’s retirement year.

The final Tornados will leave service before the end of March after almost 40 years with the RAF.

More than 100 plane enthusiasts gathered at the fence line of RAF Marham in Norfolk to see the three jets in flight on Wednesday.

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Plane enthusiasts line the perimeter fence at RAF Marham in Norfolk (Joe Giddens/PA)

One of the jets is painted in camouflage colours and the other two have artwork on the tail, one with the gold star of 31 Squadron, and the other with a bat with wings extended which is the badge of Nine Squadron.

31 Squadron operates the Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham and is known as the Goldstars, and Nine Squadron was the world’s first operational Tornado squadron.

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Three RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft (Joe Giddens/PA)

The three aircraft flew in formation around the airbase, and enthusiasts also saw a pair of F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets and two Typhoons take off from the runway.

The Tornado has been in service since 1979 and was first used in combat during the first Gulf War.

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An F-35 Lightning II stealth jet, which will take over from the Tornado GR4 aircraft (Joe Giddens/PA)

Its capabilities will be transferred to the Typhoon.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has paid tribute to the Tornado as an “amazing aircraft that has inspired so many”.

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