Text: Régis Rocca - Pictures: Régis Rocca & SIRPA Air © sbap 2013

Striking minds, striking memories…

For Escadron 1/7 Provence’s first participation in a NATO Tiger Meet (core theme « Tiger Instinct ») I imagined a livery which is a return to the very basics of the « Tiger » nature, to the deepest primary pulsions of the beast, a recall of its internal structure, feline and muscular. Using a basic two-tone colour scheme –tan and deep blue- I adapted the curves of the tiger’s anatomy to the Rafale’s specific architecture.The tail is the main visual element when the aircraft is on the ground and during the take-off and landing phases, it thus carries the leading theme of this identity : the growling tiger head in profile . The traditional SPA 162 marking is applied on the nose, as a tribute to the old «12» Squadron aircraft that bore this mythical emblem.

The upper surface of the aircraft is painted a glowing tan colour, showing a pair of clawed paws, meeting at the centre-line and bearing the squadron emblem.The curves blend black and white lines, their continuation along the aircraft becoming the tiger’s fur (black lines over tan). The under-surface is midnight blue for a good contrast with the opposite side of the aircraft. The three tanks are painted the same colour.

The outside tanks carry the Tiger Instinct logo as well as a set of graphic pictograms summarizing the exercise : 1 /7 Provence, NTM, Norway. The central tank bears the logo on its under-surface so as to be visible when flying low or during tight curves. The overall aim is to show the tiger’s natural, physiological and muscular instinct.

Painting the aircraft was an endeavour of colossal proportions, executed by the Master himself : Seb « Harry » Bault who, over a period of 10 days, working 10 to 15 hours a day, gave birth to the tiger. His know-how is without equal, his passion and his willpower were essential to the success of the project.The challenge was to
adapt my theoretical design to an aircraft’s sharp curves, in practice an exercise
that was more difficult than planned. I could not have imagined a better partnership than ours for this project : we were able to think together, to listen to one another and to adapt to recommendations. Harry, I thank you for all this, you are priceless !

I would also like to thank all those who took part in, helped and worked for the success of this endeavour : GD, Ringo, Babouc and Minette inter alia for 1/7 Squadron and of course the many members of the technical teams and their managers who regularly came to help, often burning the midnight oil. Special thanks to Ced’ for his varnishing work and his availability.

Concentration, this was a heavy work!

Result one...

Result two...

Tiger is ready

"Rage" the designer & "Harry" the painter

Marchandising...

Patch, Flying suit & forage-cap...

Tiger instinct...

The result in flight (Courtesy SIRPA Air - EC 1/7)

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