ITAF 102nd Squadron unveils Tornado with special tail to celebrate its 80th anniversary

Tornado 80 anni 102 Gruppo
ITAF Tornado IDS, assigned to the 102 Squadron, takes off from Ghedi Air Base, Northern Italy. The aircraft received a special tail on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the 102nd Squadron.

The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) recently unveiled a Tornado IDS fighter-bomber with a special livery to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 102° Gruppo (102nd Squadron). The tail of the aircraft received the image of a duck, a cricket, the word "waltz" and the number 80 to represent the whole history of the unit.

The 102nd Squadron was founded on May 1, 1942 at the airport of Lonate Pozzolo, Northern Italy. During the Second World War it operated first in the central Mediterranean and subsequently, after the Armistice, on the Greek, Albanian and Yugoslavian side.

In the post-war period, after being hosted by the air bases of Orio al Serio, Vicenza and Villafranca, it was based at the 5th Fighter Wing in Rimini, from 1956 to 1993. In 1956 it also adopted the Duck emblem, replacing that of the Singing Cricket.

Since 1993 it has been located at the Ghedi air base (its current home), where it has been in charge of the role of Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for Tornado crews since 1999.

Among the many aircraft operated by the 102nd Squadron, the main ones are the Ju.87 Stuka, the Re.2002, the MC.205, the MK.9 Spitfire and the F-84 variants F and G, to then move to the most recent F-104 Starfighter and PA-200 Tornado.

Tornado 80 anni 102 Gruppo

With the Tornado, the 102nd Squadron took part in the war missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, becoming the first unit to drop live armament during Operation Allied Force.

Since 2008, the crews of the 102nd Squadron, together with those of the 154th and 156th Squadrons, have alternated in Afghanistan under the Air Devil Task Group as part of the NATO "ISAF" mission at the Mazar-e-Sharif air base.

In 2011, the 102nd Squadron participated in the "Unified Protector" operation in support of the Libyan crisis.

From 2014 to 2016 some aircraft of the 102nd Squadron were employed at the Al Jaber base in Kuwait under the Devil Task Group as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Today, together with the 154th and 155th Squadrons, it is part of the operational fulcrum of the 6th Wing at the Ghedi air base.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: Italian Air Force

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