The US Air Force 48th Fighter Wing revealed the first of three heritage F-15s during an unveiling ceremony. The aircraft, a Strike Eagle version, belonging to the 492nd Fighter Squadron was painted in the skin of a P-47 Thunderbolt, the primary aircraft used by the wing during its service in World War II.
During World War II, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group flew P-47s in support of operations in Europe, including the Invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944 in which the group flew early 2,000 sorties, dropped around 500 tons of bombs and fired over 160,000 rounds of ammunition. The heritage project is a way for Liberty Wing Airmen to experience a piece of that history.
Many of the Airmen involved were able to use skills not fully utilized during normal F-15 painting. Those overseeing the job viewed it as a good chance to test their team’s capabilities and learn.
A checkered pattern on the nose, black stripes down the wings, several national insignias, which labeled the aircraft as U.S. during WWII, and a Statue of Liberty painted on the tail were several of the major elements of the paint job. More than 640 man-hours, across 15 days and $15,000 worth of painting equipment went into the process.
Lakenheath air base had been solely used by the RAF during the second world war from 1939 to 1945 and the was abandoned at the end of the war. The US Air Force’s 48th Bombardment Group, the forerunner of the 48th Fighter Wing, was relocated from Chaumaunt, France, to RAF Lakenheath in 1960 when the USAF took over the base.