KC-135R with tiger motif.
The photographs in this post were taken on Jun. 22 at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ, by Richard Porcelli.
They show a special 141st Air Refueling Squadron (108th Wing, NJ ANG) KC-135R that commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the organization of the then 141st Aero Squadron. The tiger motif was applied to the tanker in honor of the squadron commander, Capt. Hobart “Hobey” Baker.
The paint job applied to the KC-135R 62-3508 is quite similar to the one sported by another Stratotanker of the 141st ARS: the KC-135E 59-1456 that took part in Tiger Meet RIAT Fairford in 1997.
Formed in October 1917, the 141st AS was sent to Europe in December 1917 and finally entered combat from Tour Airfield, France, in April 1918.
The squadron commander, Capt Hobey Baker, was a star Princeton University athlete, especially in ice hockey and also football. Some of the records he set at Princeton still stand. He then joined the Army reserves and volunteered to go to Europe in early 1917.
After advanced training in France, he joined the 103rd Aero Squadron (formed from the Lafayette Escadrille) where he was credited with 0.25 victories (a Fokker DVII shot down on May 18, 1918). He then transferred to the 141st Aero Squadron, becoming commander, and got credit for a further 1.2 victories, also Fokker DVIIs (1.0 on Oct 20th and 0.2 on Nov 5). Baker was killed on December 21, 1918 (the day he was to return to the US) while taking a final flight on a recently repaired SPAD XIII.
The 141st AS was deactivated in 1920, then reactivated as the 341st Fighter Squadron/348th Fighter Group, the leading P-47 outfit in the Pacific War. They fought in New Guinea, the Philippines, and ended up in the Japanese occupation force. They were disbanded in 1945 while in Japan. After WWII, the 141st Fighter Squadron was reformed as part of the 108th Fighter Group, New Jersey ANG. It flew fighters (F-47D, F-51D/H; F-86E, F-84F, F-86H, F-4D/E) until conversion to the tanker role in 1991.
The unit emblem is still today the Bengal tiger (a Princeton Tiger in honor of Capt. Baker) with orange and black markings playing with a German helmet and Iron Cross.
H/T Richard Porcelli