Gate Guardian Refurbishment

Jane Reilly  |  Published: May 9th 2017
group photo

The Panavia Tornado XZ630 that stands proudly on Henderson Parade Square at RAF Halton has had a makeover in recent weeks.

It was the first British pre-production aircraft which flew on 14th March 1977 and participated in weapons release trials at the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down.

After a successful career as a trials aircraft, Panavia Tornado XZ630 was retired to ground duties and has been the Gate Guardian at RAF Halton’s Recruit Training Squadron Parade Square since 2004. It was refurbished to resemble a GR4 from 31 Squadron, currently based at RAF Marham, and known as the ‘Goldstars’. The refurbishment was carried out by Serco contractors.

Workshop Supervisor, Michael Higgins, said: “We carried out a thorough high pressure deep clean of the entire aircraft from top to bottom which included the removal of algae, and protection applied to the top surfaces, realigning both tailerons to a neutral position, aligning undercarriage doors, removal and replacement of weathered rear wing tips. We then transformed the front section of to resemble the GR4 Tornado, including Blacked Out Cockpit, Canopy, Grey Radome and Speedlight Grey was applied to the wheels, we removed all the faded aircraft marking (decals) and applied new, then finally applied a white finish to the three aircraft plinth stands. The last task was the fitting of The Panavia Tornado XZ630 history plaque on the front wheel plinth.

“We were all very pleased with the entire transformation and in particular the blacked out cockpit area which looks striking and provides a real contrast from the old look, this is also a distinguished new feature point within future RTS Graduation photographs. The project though challenging at times was very satisfying and with the weather on our side meant we met each deadline date and we were all able to relax a little and enjoy seeing the fruits of our labour week by week.”

Flying Officer Connor Frampton, the Project Officer for the refurbishment, expressed his delight stating: “I’m pleased with the final product, the Serco team responsible have done a fantastic job. The work took a total of two months and the final finish is fitting for an aircraft of the Tornado's status.”

Browse our Articles

Articles By Date
Search our Articles
Back to top