Photocall Fliegerhorst Büchel, Germany

27 May 2003



A relatively small one among the European aviation events is the annual Photocall at Germany's Büchel Air Base. Each year, Büchel opens it's gates to avaition photographers eager to see the German Luftwaffe up close during a day of normal operations. It is a very relaxed event run by the friendly PRO, who takes his guests to the active runway to watch take-offs. Following the last departure of the morning wave, one is than taken on a stroll along the "Liegeplätze" (dispersal area) of one of the component squadrons followed by a return to the runway to watch the arriving jets from the morning wave. The day is then ended by a look at the visiting aircraft platform.

Situated close to the historic town of Cochem near the Mosel river, Büchel houses Jagdbombergeschwader (JBG) 33. Formed on F-84F Thunderstreaks in 1956 under the title Waffenschule 30 , JBG 33 converted to F-104G Starfighters during 1962. For the next 24 years the sleak F-104 would form the Wing's equipment. It wasn't before 1986 that the current Tornado was introduced to replace the Starfighter. Nowadays, JBG 33 is one of two Luftwaffe wings to fly this the Tornado in it's original role as an interdictor, JBG 34 having disbanded in 2002. Further Luftwaffe wings fly the Tornado in other roles as reconnaisance and defence suppresion.

2003's photocall, held on 27 May, had excellent weather. A welcome change from the previous two events in 2001 and 2002 which were marred by rain and fog. 

Thanks for organising this event go to all involved at Büchel Air Base. 


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.


The previous equipment of JBG 33. F-104G Starfighter serialled 21+26 is proudly being kept in mint condition by the wing's personnell. Lacking however is the engine, otherwise this Starfighter would at least seem airworthy. Removing the usual fueltanks accentuates the Starfighter's sleek lines. 

A view down from the shelter on Tornado 43+85. A good number of Tornados was pulled from their HAS'es in order to be photographed by the assembled participants in this year's photocall.

This Tornado wears a camouflage scheme more often associated with the German Navy's. It may be a remnant of it's previous days with the Navy's MFG 1.

A view from the 04 runway. Tornado 43+86, in the same naval camouflage as the aircraft depicted above, prepares for take-off. Note that the refuelling probe, fuel tank and the intake trunk are in the Luftwaffe's paint scheme!

44+09 Applying full A/B immediately prior to brake release. This jet wears the Luftwaffe's camouflage scheme which has more greens than the naval one. 

The blue lightning zap on the rudder may have been picked up during an exercise abroad or a squadron rotation.

Visiting Naval Tornado 45+47 of Marinefliegergeschwader 2 on the visiting aircraft ramp.

The badge on the fin is for the occasion of the 90th anniversary of Naval aviation in Germany (90 Jahre Marineflieger). Sadly, it is unlikely that any Tornados will be seen in 100 years of Naval flying paint schemes as the German Navy is to loose it's fast jet component in yet another round of budget cuts.