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Exactly 50 years after flying ist first F-84F "Thunderstreak" jets on July, 22nd, 1958, the JaboG 32 (Fighter Bomber Wing 32) celebrated its anniversary at its home base Lechfeld. The Families Day attracted 20.000 visitors to inform themselves about the wing's roles and equipment, to have a look at the static display and of course to enjoy a cold beer.
Already 7 years of the introduction of the F-84F the first F-104G Starfighters came to the wing in 1965 and were the strike aircraft for the next 17 years.
The wing's current aircraft type is flown since 1982, when the first Panavia Tornados arrived in Lechfeld. Originally flying in the IDS (Interdiction / Strike) version, the FBW's mission changed to electronic warfare when the IDS Tornados were replaced by the ECR (Electronic Combat / Reconnaissance) in 1991. Carrying the HARM-missile and a special emitter location system (ELS), the JaboG 32 is specialized in the suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) and has thus been deployed in the NATO mission "Allied Force" over the Kosovo in 1999.
To celebrate this important 50th anniversary JaboG32 also presented a special painted Tornado (46+23). The blue basic colour of the aircraft represent the Bavarian sky and the silhouette of the nearby Alps together with the symbols – Tigers & Monsters - of the 2 Squadrons of JaboG32. During the arrivals day for the open doors day this superbly painted jet was presented together with the "Tiger Jet" of the 321 Squadron.
50th anniversary Tornado 46+23 & Tiger Jet 46+48
Other visiting Tornados during this day were some more German IDS and Recce Tornados as well as the special painted jet of the JaboG 31 "Boelcke", which did not unfortunately land. But enough touch&goes and fly-bys made sure that everyone of the attending photographers did at least some good photos! A surprising visitor was also an Italian Tornado of the 6 Stormo from Ghedi as well the two British Hawks of the RAF's No 19 Squadron, one of them (XX184) wearing a special paint scheme remembering the 70th anniversary of the entry into service of the Spitfire with this Squadron. XX184 was therefore painted as one of their first SPitfire Is from 1938. And of course the colourfull Hungarian L-39 was also a nice sight coming in around midday.
Heeresflieger CH-53 & Bo105 - F4U Corsair of the Flying Bulls
The day saw also one Phantom from Wittmund wearing a special "emission sticker", which is nowadays mandatory for every German car…, and a Eurofighter coming in to land. The Heeresflieger furthermore did send some helicopters and warbirds participated in the fly-in as well, though most of them arrived only on Saturday morning.
When the fly-in was finished a walk through the static display was granted to get some more nice photos of the participating aircraft.
More photos of the JaboG32 s/c Tornados
Verdict: Regarding the fact that the Luftwaffe Command prohibited any flying activities during this important anniversary day the wing did very well in inviting many interesting aircraft and in presenting itself to the public. The streaming masses in and out of the airfield during the afternoon were a clear sign of the public's interest in the Luftwaffe and its support of the wing. Though many more would have attend the event if the sky would have been filled with jet noise. Let's hope the things will change in the future!
Tip: the excellent book about the wing's history can be ordered at http://www.50jahre-jabog32.de/
Published: 31 July 2008