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The Panavia Tornado: A Photographic Tribute (Hardback)

Aviation World War Two Aviation Aviation Reference Modelling

By Michael Leek
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 245
ISBN: 9781781592977
Published: 11th November 2015

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Through a collection of dramatic and informative photographs, supplemented by cutaway illustrations, this book highlights the agility and flexibility of this dedicated RAF aircraft. Throughout the course of its career, it has formed the backbone of the RAF across its many different theaters of operation. Utilized in a strike, anti-aircraft, air superiority, air defense, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and fighter-bomber capacity, this aircraft type has enjoyed an immensely varied career. Each aspect is illustrated in this photographic celebration.

The book includes photographs by the author and a select number of other amateur photographers, with the vast majority of photographs – never previously published – taken low level around the hills and mountains of England, Scotland and Wales. This impressive new photographic publication will be presented in full colour and is sure to be prized as a collector's piece amongst fans of the genre.

As featured in

Italian Defence Review

Photographic tribute books tend to fall into two categories in my opinion - those with large colourful images accompanied by mediocre captions while others pull together unusual, rare and dramatic images supported by detailed copy that add further insight into a particular image. Michael Leek's latest title on the Tornado expertly falls into the latter category...

... As a Tornado fan I'm certainly glad to have this title on my shelf.

Air Forces Monthly - Glenn Sands

... Mr Leek’s latest book is another beautifully prepared photo exposition of jets thundering about over the Lake District and through the Machloop in addition to views from places near and far...

... This book is stunning. I saw something on Facebook about the Machloop earlier this week and it gives me food for thought about a trip to Wales to see things for myself. If a trip there is a geographical impossibility for you, then this book may well be enough to sate your appetite for big noisy jets in confined airspace. But there is so much more to this book. Brilliant.

War History Online - Mark Barnes

At first sight this could be judged as the 9th Tornado's photo book, but when you start reading it you realise that it is a truly interesting book for the text also. Author Michael Leek is quite effective in the description of this effective and powerful multi-role combat jet that still today, after more than 40 years since first flight (1974), stands high in the NATO arsenal for tactical punch and capability. The first chapters treat the Tonado genesis and its many peculiarities (swing wing, compact and powerful turbofan engines, advanced avionics), the development and production spread over Italy, Germany and UK's contractors and the long and rich combat log of the many years of RAF Tornado's operations in all the combat theatres that always saw this jet standing high among the adversaries. The author is quite critical towards the recent controversial MoD policy and attitude towards the RAF and indeed his thoughts are embraceable in many cases. Surely the hardest part is the wonderful photo issue with beautiful shots by the author and other photographers portraying the RAF Tornados in the beautiful landscapes among Lake District, Wales and Scotland. There is also some space for the Italian, German and Saudi planes, adding a rich "splash of colour" to the book. Not to be missed by the many Tornado's fans

Amazon Review - Marco De Montis

Ancient scripture’s multi-armed destroyer of worlds is writ large in the Tornado, the RAF’s awesome harbinger of death and destruction that can fly missions day or night in all weather, even in a snowstorm.

This, the author’s second book in his mini-series of photographic essays that pay homage to three singular RAF warplanes, focuses on the impressive Tornado Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA).

Leek’s latest volume is also well-armed - with a sumptuous collection of over 350 full-colour digital photographs taken by eight amateur photographers. Some traipsed up mountains to places where even goats fear to tread, just to capture heart-stopping images of low-flying Tornados. There are truly arresting images of this warplane, mostly airborne and bristling with gadgets and weaponry that are the stuff of schoolboy dreams and enemy nightmares.

The supersonic Tornado is a variable winged, twin-seat, twin-engine, strike, reconnaissance and interceptor plane that operates at low-level or high altitude carrying a formidable array of stores. The author lays out the salient design features and technical specifications of the Tornado in RAF service, including the interceptor variant. And, through time-lines, he traces the plane’s upgrades in avionics, weapons delivery capability and reconnaissance systems, explaining in forensic detail why the GR4 has proved to be one of the world’s most effective warplanes over the past 30 years.

Leek emphasizes the importance of flying hours for pilots to get to grips with plane. And he sounds a warning about ill-considered cost-cutting, by successive governments and incompetent senior civil servants mired in short-termism, that fails to look to the future and plan accordingly.

The author explains the variable wing geometry of the Tornado and each aircraft’s sometimes unique markings. We come away with a deeper understanding of airmen’s decorative terms: raspberry ripple, double-armed cross, gold star, green bat, and stabbed cat. There is even a disquisition on the plane’s various national colour schemes, with the Germans emerging as masters in the art of military aircraft livery.

Leek also provides a comprehensive list of all Tornado squadrons in service in the UK and abroad. This is supplemented with details and images of the Tornado in service with German, Italian and Saudi Arabian air forces, and a record of the GR4’s operations in all theatres of war since 1990.

The author highlights the proven combat record of the Tornado over three decades and laments the impending retirement of the GR4 from frontline RAF service (the F3 has already gone). He regards the decision as unwise, suggesting it seriously reduces the UK’s capacity to meet short and long-term global threats in an increasingly uncertain world.

Michael Leek rounds off this thrilling biographical visual portrait of the awe-inspiring MRCA with a comprehensive bibliography and index. Next up, the Harrier, the flying bedstead no-one thought would ever take off.

Amazon Customer Review

'I am writing to congratulate you on the magnificent collection of photos that make up the book The Panavia Tornado - A Photographic Tribute. I flew the Tornado GR4 between 2004 and 2011, and the images bring back fond memories indeed.

Serving RAF Squadron Leader and Tornado GR4 pilot

'Ordered The Panavia Tornado book! Always look forward to reading books by Michael Leek. The latest book is brilliant, by the way. I can't stop reading it, much to my wife's annoyance!

Former RAF Airman
 Michael Leek

About Michael Leek

Michael Leek MA MPhil(RCA) FRSA
Michael, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has long had an interest in the design and development of military aircraft. Through a successful career in art and design education, including leading one of the UK’s most successful illustration schools at what is now the Arts University Bournemouth, he designed and managed a number of aviation-related projects for the former RAF Vulcan Display Team, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, the Imperial War Museum (Duxford), the Science Museum and with a number of other organisations. Long before UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) became common place, some of his students, as part of a work experience programme, produced illustrations of early design prototypes.
Taking up digital photography as an amateur in 2005 Michael has progressed from a basic point-and-shoot to a full-frame DSLR camera, along with other bodies, numerous lenses and supporting accessories. Practice and experience led him to write the very first book to be published anywhere on military low flying photography (Military Low Flying in the UK – The Skill of Pilots and Photographers). This was in 2012. Since then he has published or is working towards a trilogy of books based on his digital aviation photography. The first in this mini series, The British Aerospace Hawk – A Photographic Tribute, was published in October 2014. The second, The Panavia Tornado – A Photographic Tribute, was published in November 2015, and the final book, The British Aerospace Harrier – A Photographic Tribute, will be published in 2016. All of Michael’s aviation photography books have been published by Pen and Sword Books.
Michael Leek is a member of the Royal United Services Institute, the Society for Nautical Research and the Navy Records Society. He served briefly in a civilian volunteer sea-going capacity with the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service (RNXS) until it was disbanded following the end of the Cold War. He has written and contributed to other books relating to art history and illustration practice.

Perfect Partner

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Replacing the Vulcan, Buccaneer and Jaguar in the front line of the Cold War, the remarkable “swing-winged” Tornado GR1 provided Britain’s strike capability in the last years of the Cold War in the 1980s, equipping some 10 RAF squadrons. During the Gulf War, Tornado GR1 crews led Britain’s contribution to Coalition operations against Iraq, and in the subsequent years Tornado GR1s were involved almost continuously in operations over Iraq. In 1999 the Tornado GR1 force carried out offensive missions over Kosovo as part of NATO operations in the Balkans. The Tornado GR1’s Terrain Following…

By Michael John W Napier

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