GAR’s Tom Gautier caught 18(B) Squadron’s Centenary Chinook on Salisbury Plain last week – and we thought you would like to see the result.
The application of special colour schemes is not an activity that the Royal Air Force Chinook Force has had much opportunity to engage in since the aircraft entered service in the early 1980s. Various celebrations have been marked through the addition of small markings but with the Force having been heavily committed in various operational theatres around the world over the past three decades, no precedent has been established. Having been so heavily committed to operations in Afghanistan for over a decade it was felt that the 100th anniversary should be a time to briefly pause and celebrate a distinguished history and that an anniversary scheme would offer the perfect means to do so publicly.
This is the result of that decision:
A small team from 18(B) Squadron began initial feasibility studies in late-2014. The project subsequently gathered pace and following approval from the Joint Helicopter Command under which RAF Odiham operates, the work to create the centenary aircraft began in earnest. The task was not an easy one, as the organisational structures of the Royal Air Force have changed significantly since a Chinook last carried markings of this scale some 25 years ago.
Indeed the last recorded instance of the Chinook aircraft being subjected to a change of overall markings was proven to relate to the Gulf War of 1990-91. Interestingly, in the later stages of the project when a specific airframe was selected, it became clear that one of the few aircraft to receive the Gulf War camouflage was in fact ZA712…the airframe now carrying the centenary markings!
Look out for it at airshows this season, as the Chinook Display Team intends to use the ZA712 whenever it is feasible to do so.
Thanks to RAF Odiham for the additional info.