Look at this Beautiful 70th Anniversary USAF F-16 from the Texas Air National Guard.
Special paint schemes on combat aircraft are common enough now that it is impossible to report on them all, but this beautiful F-16C (Block 30) from the 149th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard stands out for a few reasons.
This single seat F-16C, flown by USAF Colonel Timothy J. Madden, Commanding Officer of the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, wears a new paint scheme for the upcoming 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force later this year on Sept. 18. The aircraft was first photographed at the U.S. Air National Guard Aircraft Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa on May 26, 2017.
The aircraft is painted to mimic the livery of a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt from 1944. Interestingly, this is well before the U.S. Air Force was started and U.S. combat aircraft flew under the Army Air Corps, then a part of the U.S. Army.
The 149th Fighter Wing holds a number of significant firsts in Air Force history including the first unit to perform midair refueling during a combat mission and the first Air National Guard unit to shoot down a MiG in combat. Both of these firsts happened during the Korean conflict.
As with the P-47D Thunderbolt from 1944 it is patterned after, not only does this F-16C wear the bright yellow markings but also the striking black and white “invasion stripes” painted on all allied aircraft in the days just prior to the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944. The black and white invasion stripes were a way for gunners both in the air and on the ground to avoid friendly fire incidents. In 2015 the Royal Air Force painted invasion stripes on a Typhoon based at RAF Coningsby to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The special livery on this F-16C is likely to become popular with aviation photographers since it is highly visible in most lighting conditions, even overcast, and the distinctive mix of invasion stripes and yellow squadron regalia can be seen from any angle. No matter which flight attitude the aircraft is in, it remains highly recognizable.
This is not the first time a USAF F-16 has worn invasion stripes to commemorate a P-47 unit from WWII. Back in 2014, F-16 aircraft number 84-1264 was given an orange tail and invasion stripe heritage paint scheme to honor the 358th Fighter Group of WWII. The F-16’s modern unit, the 122nd Fighter Wing, traces its back to this unit in WWII. The original 358th FG flew P-47s and operated in Europe before and after D-Day.
While no official word has been seen about airshow appearances by this aircraft, it will hopefully be seen at airshows throughout the summer in Texas and around the region in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.