Photo: nearly 70 F-15E Strike Eagles in largest Elephant Walk to date.

F-15E Strike Eagles of the 4th Fighter Wing perform an "Elephant Walk" as they taxi down the runway during a Turkey Shoot training mission on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., April 16, 2012. The wing generated nearly 70 aircraft to destroy more than 1,000 targets on bombing ranges across the state to commemorate the 4th's victory over the Luftwaffe on April 16, 1945. The aircrews are assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing's 333rd, 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Rissmiller)(Released)

Impressive Elephant Walk at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.

Nearly 70 F-15E Strike Eagles of the 4th Fighter Wing performed an “Elephant Walk” during a Turkey Shoot training mission on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., on Apr. 16, 2012: a contingent larger than a mid-size European air force and a “show of force” even more impressive than the one organised at Kunsan air base on Mar. 6 to send a message a Kim Jong-un in anticipation of the (failed) ballistic missile test.

The wing, with aircrews assigned to the 333rd, 334th, 335th, and 336th Fighter Squadrons, generated about 70 sorties to destroy more than 1,000 targets on bombing ranges across the state, to commemorate the 4th’s victory over the Luftwaffe on Apr. 16, 1945.

The term Turkey Shoot dates back to a mission that took place Jun. 19, 1944 during WWII: on this day U.S. Navy aircraft carrier downed 373 Japanese planes with the loss of only 23 American planes and, according to the 4th FW historian Dr. Roy Heidicker, a Navy pilot who participated in this mission was attributed as saying “It was like a turkey shoot”.

While supporting the war effort the 4th FG destroyed more enemy aircraft than any group or wing in Air Force history and “We [the 4th FW] proudly carry on the legacy of the 4th FG’s victories, as well as those of the wing’s Korean, Vietnam, Gulf War efforts and believe it is critically important that current and future generations of Airmen understand and celebrate our history, so they can visualize what they will be capable of doing in the future,” Col. Patrick Doherty, 4th FW commander said in the press release published on the SJ website.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


      • counted about 60-65, but how about having them airborne all together? how far could they get with those additional fuel tanks? looks like a grounded airforce to me…

        • looks like a waste of money to me. I love aircraft, I fly private now and I road as a crew chief for skids in the military. I just don’t like to see the waste. Awsome photo op though.

  1. I think, the Elephant Walk, looked great to me. First time I have seen this, and am happy it was placed on the aviationist site. Wish my father was still alive to see this too. Retired from Air Force,VOA,high school teaching, and Ham Radio instructor till the night before he fell and had a head injury, which caused him to die the same day. We never missed an air show together. I miss that, but have an older son who has been in the Air Force, going on When he becomes stationed close to home, I would like to go to one with him. Once again, really enjoyed this.

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