Tornado arrives at Northern Ireland museum

Ireland’s largest aviation museum has added former RAF Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG771 to its collection.  

“Its arrival in October was absolutely thrilling,” said Ray Burrows, Chairman of the Ulster Aviation Society (UAS), which operates the museum at Lisburn in Northern Ireland. “The convoy of low-loaders and lorries docked at Belfast Harbour. It was a terrific sight to see as it roared along the highways and side roads to our site.” 

RAF Panavia Tornado GR.4 ZG771
Tornado ZG771 shortly after arrival with UAS. Buccaneer S.2B XV361 can be seen in the background Alan Jarden 

Specialists from the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron spent three days re-assembling the Tornado with the help of a crane and some assistance from UAS volunteers. The jet’s arrival had been delayed by 18-months due to the pandemic. 

Very few GR.4s have been delivered to museums, and ZG771 is a relatively rare trainer variant, fitted with dual controls. Its acquisition was initially progressed by UAS patron AVM Harvey Smyth, a native of Northern Ireland. Ray added: “We now have about 40 aircraft – I’m losing count as we expand – and we expect to add two more, those ones from the Irish government.”