Tornado ECR’s aggressive take off with ultra-low level turn

Des Barker recently sent me the above picture.

It depicts a Tornado, in a clean configuration, perfoming an aggressive left turn at ultra low level, most probably immediately after take-off.

If you look closely to the picture (whose author is unknown), you’ll notice the aircraft wears the typical sharkmouth of the 155° Gruppo of the 50° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF), based in Piacenza.

Look at the following image I took on Mar. 11 at Pratica di Mare, where a Tornado ECR is currently involved in a testing campaign with the ItAF Flight Test Center, the RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo).

Tornado ECR mouth

Therefore, the aircraft is Tornado ECR, completely clean and without the refueling probe.

That maneuver resembles the typical John Derry turn to the left performed at the beginning of each Tornado display by the 311° Gruppo Volo of the RSV.

I analysed the EXIF of the image and I found that it was taken on Dec 18, 2008, at 14.09 LT, with a Canon EOS 350D, 234mm focal length, ISO400.

On that day, Piacenza airbase was still closed (it reopened on Dec. 19) and the 155° was still operating from Cameri airbase (the deployment started at the beginning of Sept. 2008, even if the aircraft flew the first operative mission on Sept. 16, and ended on Feb 3, 2009, with a ceremony for the farewell to the Tonkas).

Here’s a video of the same takeoff.

Maybe the maneuver was performed at Cameri, perhaps by a test pilot of the RSV involved in some kind of testing activity, or simply by a pilot of the 50° Stormo during a test/acceptance sortie.

For sure, it is not a normal take off or flyby.

If you have more info or ideas, just let me know.



About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. If you have set the Camera date wrong, or not done it at all you will (obviously) get an incorrect date. Possibley a clue? Either that or it’s a fake…

  2. I was told by a IAF Tornado pilot that it was done in Cameri by a pilot picking up a plane after they had made maintenance on the airplane ( test/acceptance ) –

    It seem that the maintenance team asked the pilot a low pass, and the pilot gave them a little something more.. just after take off-

    The event was photographed and even taped (there is a video of this flight around) by the maintenance team.

    The tape later ended on a General desk… Which brought the “gutty” pilot 30days of punishment, and another 30 days without flying..

    That’s what i know about it. I’ll try to upload the video somewhere

  3. Hi, I found this video on youtube that shows an AMX performing a very low pass. The title is written in portuguese so it’s probably a brazilian amx, but the airfield facilities seem to be very similar to those of the cameri tornado video. Maybe an italian amx?

Comments are closed.