Salvador Mafe Huertas and Riccardo Niccoli, Panavia Tornado (Kagero, 2020)
The Panavia Tornado has been a fixture in the skies for forty years, flown by Europe’s top air forces in peace and war. It is a brute of a thing, capable of significant destruction, but also elegant in its way with its smooth lines running across the cockpit and swept wings then back to that massive tail. To see one in action is to want to know more about it. To that end, Salvador Mafe Huertas and Riccardo Niccoli have written a primer for the Tornado complete with many photographs and graphic renderings.
The authors begin with the development of the Tornado from 1968 as a pan-European project. As they do this, they introduce the main parts and components of the plane. These are described in some detail as you might expect from a book of this type. It is ironic that a fighter-bomber designed for use in the Cold War did not see action until that had ended but was deployed in the decidedly hot wars that followed. Our authors follow the Tornado into the Middle East and Gulf War, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Libya, operations against ISIS, and Syria. The last active RAF Tornados landed at their home base in February 2019, but the durable plane continues in use by other air-forces.
There are other books about the Tornado, but this one does the job as a primer for the plane despite a couple of errors and some glaring omissions – the lack of coverage of Cold War service and just a brief mention of Saudi Tornados. The book is filled with photographs, some of which are superb, and include a balance of RAF, German, and Italian planes. The colour graphic illustrations are excellent (an A4 print of the cover comes with the book), so that if you wanted to build a model, most of your bases will be covered by this book. I think old Tornado crews will enjoy this as will anyone wanting a guide to the plane.