RAF Leeming (XXV Squadron) Photocall 2008 Review
Saturday 29th March
At the end of March XXV[F] squadron held a photocall to allow the public one last chance to visit the squadron and see its history before it disbanded on April 4th. A variety of aircraft from both the RAF and foreign air arms were in attendance for the public to view up close and aircrew available to talk to. The sun even participated for a couple of hours in the morning too.
reports from Leeming, with photos provided by .
The gates opened early to allow the gathering queue of cars onto the base and after a quick check of the tickets and the handover of some professionally done booklets on XXV[F]'s history and a programme for the day the enthusiasts were directed to the car park, from where the participants could be seen dotted along the airfield.
From the car park a pair of hawks served as the entrance to the aircraft line-up. Unfortunately crew sickness, availability, aircraft taskings and the weather meant that a not inconsiderable amount of RAF assets were unable to attend however all of the foreign attendees, save the Alpha Jets and one of the Tornado ECRs, were present and as an added bonus a pair of Italian Air Force Tornado IDSs were also sitting on the line.
To the right, on entrance, sat an 11[F] Squadron Typhoon followed by not the advertised one but a pair of Mirage F1CRs belonging to Escadron De Reconnaisance 02.033 based at Reims/Champagne AB. Disappointingly these rarities sat with their canopy covers wrapped firmly around the cockpit when the day started however credit were credit's due as later in the day the covers had been removed leaving the aircraft far more photogenic. Beyond the Mirages a pair of RDAF F-16s lay and on from them was the Nimrod MR2 of 120 Squadron.
One of the unique features of the Friends of XXV[F] Squadron Day was the ability to enter a Hardened Air Shelter to see a 25 Squadron F3 surrounded by its QRA fit. The only thing missing was an elevated viewing platform and a quick plea and a promise to our hosts not fall off secured the use of a set of aircraft stairs that had been sitting in the side of the HAS.
Sat in the next HAS along was 11[F] Squadron's Wing Commander's Typhoon, 'DXI', and beyond that outside another HAS was Tornado ZE728 'FZ' with a former XXV[F] mount, in the form of an Isaacs Fury II - Hawker Fury replica, close by.
At the other end of the line-up the German participants could be found as Tornado ECR 43+89 and Phantom 37+75. The Italian Tornados could also be found in this area, as could examples from 56[R] and 12[B] Squadrons.
Just out of reach from this area was former 23 Squadron Phantom, XV499. Once again 'ask and ye shall receive' seemed to be the order of the day as later on it was possible to walk over to photograph this ex Falklands aircraft.
As the day progressed and the weather began to close in the aircraft stairs, which had been standing tantalisingly out of reach between some of the participants, were brought out allowing the enthusiasts a different perspective. The hosts were even good enough to reposition the stairs after their growing queues had been appeased.
XXV[F] Squadron must be congratulated for hosting this event and for the way that they took on suggestions from the enthusiasts on the day to better it. There was a good selection of aircraft, which were given plenty of space, although the tape at the front of the aircraft could have done with being slightly further back. The food available was reasonably priced and the RAF hosts were helpful in the extreme. The enthusiasts had a great day and the RAF raised money for some forces charities, a win-win situation and one that would be fantastic to see more often and not just as a one-off when a squadron disbands.