RAF Lakenheath: Liberty wing unveils heritage jet

F-15 heritage RAF Lakenheath
An F-15E Strike Eagle assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron received the heritage colors of its World War II P-47 Thunderbolt predecessor.

January 31, 2019 - The 48th Fighter Wing revealed the first of three “heritage” F-15s during an unveiling ceremony at RAF Lakenheath AFB today.

The aircraft was painted in the skin of a P-47 Thunderbolt, the primary aircraft used by the wing during its service in World War II.

“This heritage project is about the 48th Fighter Wing legacy, and more specifically the wing’s support to the D-Day invasion during World War II,” said Col. Will Marshall, 48th Fighter Wing commander.

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.

“It’s kind of a mesh of the old with the new; it’s a P-47 and F-15 hybrid,” said Tech. Sgt. Casey Cheff, 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Corrosion Control Section non-commissioned officer in-charge. “We had 25 designs we thought of and managed to work that down to three. It ended up being a great opportunity for training our crew.”

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.

“I loved this project,” said Staff Sgt. Joel Campbell, 48th EMS heritage jet dayshift lead. “We wanted the paint to look its best, and the finesse in making sure everything was perfect was the biggest challenge. The Airmen feel strongly about this project too, and it was a good experience for all of us.”

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 according to Cheff.

More than 640 man-hours, across 15 days and $15,000 worth of painting equipment went into the process.

“We took our time to make sure we got every little detail right,” Campbell said. “We got to work on something new and interesting that tied back to our history in World War II. Our Airmen like a good challenge, and it’s something that will represent the Liberty Wing, past and present.”

Source, Images: 48th Fighter Wing PA

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