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Tornado TV TAB DU: original use

Tornado MRCA TV TAB DU head down display
The MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft) TV tabular display unit is a head down display unit which is designed/used for the Tornado fighter jets around 1974>. The unit has a green monochrome display and a keypad. The display can show some simple graphics or video signal images. The new prices was a whopping €33.852,64! Luckily the prices dropped below € 200 for one unit in 'as is' condition. There are several MRCA TV TAB DU versions. There are CRT devices and units with a digital display. CRT's wear and are mostly replaced by the digital successor although I was informed that the digital FPGA display units on the marked are mostly beyond repair due to complex FPGA electronics and no available replaceable parts.

The display unit is mostly 'just a display'. The 'intelligence' for making images is in the WFG1 unit (which I don't have). It seems that the MRCA TV TAB DU can show video images fed into TNC connector "C" located on the rear panel and by pressing the [RCN] knob at the front should activate the video input. I haven't tested this yet.

The digital graphics are rather simple. The resolution was 640 x 200 pixels. There wasn't a display memory so the desired information like lines and circles were plotted based on XY information. The electron beam would 'draw' the desires image on the display.

The Tornado fighter jet has a large amount of data available in the central computer of the aircraft. To interface the data the TV TAB display unit is used. The keyboard is used to input information and the display is the computer system output to show the desired data. The display unit is engineered to use at high flight speeds. The display unit is the main interface to the navigator in the back seat of the aircraft. There are two identical display units installed in front of the navigators position. The display units are placed on either sides of the moving map navigation display unit.

Both Tornado variants: IDS (Interdictor Strike) and ADV (Air Defence) are equipped with the display units.

The display unit can show video images and also synthetic generated data by the main computer depending on the selected mode. Video information from sensors like a infrared camera, radar system or tv missiles (TVM). The synthetic generated computer data can be be displayed as an synthetic on the video images. Information of the central computer van be displayed in tabular form on the display.

The images are projected on the display using television raster techniques since the system is less comlicated and uses less power than other techniques. This means that there isn't a video memory! The electron beam of the CRT picture tube is 'aimed' by powering deflection coils. The vertical (y-axis) and horizontal (x-axis) coils are fed by signals from two dedicated printed circuit boards. De intensity (x-axis) is controlled by the video amplifier board. The printed circuit boards are multilayer boards which are interconnected by a common wire harness.


Panavia Tornado at Volkel (NL) on 28th of november 1991. Photo from the NIMM archives.

Source: Airplane photo: Collectie Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie

Nederlandse Data
The display unit is approximately 210 mm wide, 230 mm high and 465 mm deep. The weight is about 10,28...11,7 kg. There are several models and the numbers are therefore also different.

The product name is: MRCA TV TAB DU
The coding found is mostly: V22.498.85 of V22.498.90 (the latter in my case)
The Panavia Spec. coding is: SP P970 152
THe NSN is: 5821-12-186-7800
The (Marconi?) coding also found is: K0656 (and K0662 for the digital model?!)

Tornado cockpit


Source: Cockpit image: © Jet Art Aviation Ltd.