Tornado GR4 fighter bomber crews, whose comrades are currently taking part in the international coalition campaign against Islamic State militants, flew in formation with former Cold War warrior Vulcan XH558 to mark the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial spire in Lincoln.

A 12 (Bomber) Squadron pilot who flew on the sortie said: “It was a real privilege to fly one last time with such a historic and magnificent aircraft. It was a fitting tribute that the RAF’s current bomber, the Tornado GR4, escorted the old Vulcan bomber, a once in a lifetime opportunity which we were very proud to be a part of”.

The RAF Marham-based squadron, which this year celebrated its centenary, has a distinguished list of battle honours including combat operations in Iraq, being the first GR4 unit to operate in Afghanistan, and supporting long range bombing raids against Gaddafi-regime targets in Libya.

Britain’s only flying Vulcan, which this year completes its final flying season, was the first B2 bomber delivered into RAF service on 1 July 1960 and at 55 years old is the last and oldest of its type anywhere in the world.

Despite 24 years service in the RAF the Vulcan was only once used in anger – against Port Stanley in the Falklands in the famous ‘Operation Black Buck’ mission to deny the Argentines use of the airfield.

Vulcan pilot Wing Commander Bill Ramsey (retired), who flew the delta-winged icon for nine years, said: “I am really pleased RAF and Vulcan To The Sky team came together to set up a Vulcan and Tornado ‘Past and Present’ flight; especially on the occasion of the dedication of the new Bomber Command Memorial in Lincoln that commemorates the service and sacrifice of so many brave people.”

Editor: Simon Mander

Photographs: Rich Cooper
Veteran aircraft of past and present RAF combat missions paid tribute to the heroes of Bomber Command by performing a spectacular mid-air link-up over Lincolnshire.

Vulcan flying with Tornado GR4's
Avro Vulcan 'The Spirit of Great Britain'