retired us air force maj cody

Capt. Kippun Sumner, U.S. Air Force

  • Two of the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Warthog jets are flying with paint and decorations that pay tribute to airmen that served in past conflicts.
  • One of the Warthogs has special markings created for the D-Day invasion.
  • The other plane is flying a camouflage that was common for Air Force warplanes during the Vietnam War.

    A new video shows a pair of A-10 “Warthog” ground attack jets sporting some very anachronistic paint patterns. The two jets are painted with markings used by aircraft in World War II invasions and the Vietnam War.

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    The video shows the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight team training last week at Davis-Monathan Air Force Base in Arizona, along with an F-16 Viper, an F-22 Raptor, an F-35A Lighting II, a P-51 Mustang, an A-1 Skyraider, and an F-86 Sabre.

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    Heritage Flights typically feature a mix of modern and vintage Air Force warplanes flying in close formation during national airshows. The shows are meant to honor badass planes from the past.

    One of the Warthogs is painted in the famous “invasion stripe” pattern from World War II. During the allied invasion of Sicily, 23 Douglas Dakota transport planes full of paratroopers were shot down by friendly ground troops that mistook them for enemy planes.

    In order to prevent such an incident from possibly occurring on a much larger scale, Allied warplanes participating in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 were painted with five alternating stripes of black and white. This made avoiding friendly fire much easier, as anti-aircraft gunners in the invasion fleet and on the ground were simply told to treat any aircraft with the stripes as friendly.

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    The Warthog also features the U.S. Army Air Force roundel painted on each of the engine nacelles housing the TF-34 engines.

    thunderchief in vietnam

    Air Force F-105 Thunderchief fighter bomber dropping a stick of bombs over Vietnam, 1967.

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    The second A-10 participating in the Heritage Flight training is sporting U.S. Air Force Southeast Asia camouflage. The medium green and light brown camo provided cover for fighters, bombers, and attack jets against North Vietnamese aircraft diving down on them. This paint job persisted on some Air Force planes until the late 1970s.

    In the video, the A-10 shares the same paint job as the A-1 Skyraider, the Warthog’s predecessor that was widely used during the Vietnam War for close air support missions.

    The Heritage Flight team typically does between 50 and 70 air shows and overflights a year, but it doesn’t have any shows lined up. Blame the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced air show promoters to cancel or delay several such shows.

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