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Tucano Display 2003

                  90th Anniversary of 2 Squadron at RAF Marham       Friday 5th April 2002
Having arrived early at Marham camp, i was officially informed that due to the Queen Mothers funeral procession in London, flying was delayed until 1 o'clock as a sign of respect. Every downside has an upside and in this instance it proved so, to fill in the time until we could watch the arrival aircraft after 1 o' clock we were given a mini guided tour from the Op's room onwards to the HAS hangars (Hardened Aircraft Shelters) and in some cases with nicely placed GR4's outside .

It has to be said that the RAF people on the day couldn't have done more to try and help us and answer our somewhat array of strange questions, at such short notice they managed to solve the problem, and by the time they'd finished herding us about most of them could have made good shepherds.

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Nose area of a Tornado GR4 from 2 Sqn.

Tornado GR4's landing.

The prime factor of all the focus of 2 Squadron opening its doors to the public over the 5/6th of the April weekend was to celebrate the 90th anniversary of 2 Squadron, being the oldest fixed wing Squadron in the world and being proud naturally to uphold its unofficial motto of being " Second To None".

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Swift FR5 fromm Newark museum in 2 Sqns markings.

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What every GR4 driver is wearing these days, note the NEW Mk10 helmet.

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Tornado GR4 from evaluation unit.
First port of call on our mini tour was to find out what the well dressed pilot wears, especially if he's unlucky enough to have ditched into the North Sea, and it was at this point that I have to say with a rye smile that it was quite comical to watch a pilot from the well oiled military machine thrown into turmoil as he tries to hold and engage the interest of 15 or so hardened aircraft fanatics who needed their fix of heavy metal jet noise and vision. I think he carried on in autopilot mode thinking all hope was abandoned at some point. Joking aside the safety and survival and flight planning mini lectures were good listening.

Leaving the Op's room of 2 squadron you are immediately faced with the serious reminder of what dangers these pilots and navigators face everyday when at war. This time I was looking at the 4 barrels of the anti aircraft gun, the ZU 23, all black and menacing, operated by the Iraqi's against the Allied air forces during the Gulf war.

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ZU 23.

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Just around the corner from this was an even greater threat from the Gulf war days in the form of the ground to air missile launcher, an SA8B, lethal to about 15,000 ft and mobile to boot. There aren't many occupations with these little nastie's as hazards.

The rest of the morning was spent touring some of the HAS sites, and one in particular proved well worth the visit as this particular hangar was the parking site for a trials and evaluation unit GR4 using the area to trial the new wet and dry RECCE pod.

At around 1 o'clock we were bussed to the area near the threshhold point of runway 06, proving to be a difficult location to photograph from, as the sun in all its glory was nearly everywhere but where you actually wanted it. This noted there was an area just after the piano keys where the light turned in our favour, so chances had not to be missed, in photographic terms it was either a case of over exposing or settling for silhouette images.

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Mirage 2000.

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Hunter T7.

It was nice to see a T7 Hunter in 2 Sqn's markings, but what must have been the highlight for everyone was the 2 seat TF104G Starfighter from Grosseto Italy. Also seen on the day, an F15E, Canberra PR9 , 2 seater Mirage 2000 (French x2), German F-4F, Harrier GR7, Jaguar GR3, Chinook HC2, Merlin HC3 and numerous landings and take offs by the home based GR4s.

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Starfighter TF104G from Grosseto, Italy.

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German F4.

Thank you to the patient and helpful staff at 2 Sqn for an interesting day out.

reviewed by John Bilcliffe