It seems that over the last few years, towns and cities around the UK have taken to decorating their streets with various decorated models such as dragons, sheep, gorillas and pigs. However, for the last two years, King’s Lynn’s decorations have been somewhat aviation themed with Spitfires in 2015 and now, to celebrate the Centenary of RAF Marham, the mighty Tornado.
Launched at the beginning of June and running until the end of September, no less than 16 model Tornado GR4s (the official documents for the trail state 15 however I found 16 on display) are currently located around the town having been attached to lampposts and buildings. Organised by the local Air Cadet Squadron, 47F (King’s Lynn), the models form a 2-mile trail around local landmarks and places of interest and are interspersed with informational boards giving more of the history of the West Norfolk airbase.
RAF Marham has always had a close association with the town and the Tornado Force has been a regular sight in the skies above for many years so it is a fitting tribute to not only the base but also the aircraft itself.
Each model has been sponsored by local businesses and wears different paint schemes accordingly. Some are representations of real schemes worn by recent GR4s such as the 9 Sqn ‘Batjet’, the Op Granby pink jet, the 40 year anniversary jet and the more recent Marham Centenary special whereas others are purely fictitious such as one picturing local villages and scenery and another paying tribute to the Air Cadets 75th Anniversary.
It is great to see aviation history represented in such a way, providing an interactive and fun way to get the whole family out and about. During my walk around the trail, I spotted numerous families both young and old enjoying it with maps that have been made available at the local tourist information. Certainly, a more informative way of spending an hour or two walking than head buried in a phone searching for Pokémon!
The trail runs until September 30, 2016 and a downloadable map of the trail can be found here – http://www.visitwestnorfolk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/1390-101-Tornado-Trail-WEB.pdf . A word of warning however – the Tornado icon on the map represents one of the 24 information boards and, with only 16 model Tornado’s, there obviously won’t be one on show at each location nor are the locations of the models explicitly shown on the map.