Since its birth 100 years ago the 36th FS has been involved in every major conflict: from World War I to WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and about 36 years of alert readiness on the Korean peninsula
“Basically this was a clean slate, we had to sand everything down on this plane, all the old paint and [install] a new tail flash that was custom made,” said U.S. Air Force (USAF) Senior Airman William Williams, 51st Maintenance Squadron (MXS) sheet metal and corrosion technician. “We used a Gerber to design different stencils so we can get the design right.”
As told by Senior Airman Franklin Ramos, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article Centennial Tail Flash Ceremony there was custom work from members of the corrosion control shop such as the hand designed letter fonts and stripes that run along the aircraft’s tail.
“We let the Airmen take the reins on this,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Cotrill, 51st MXS corrosion manager and NCO in charge of corrosion control. “This is something that I’ve only done once in my 14-year career, and it was refurbishing an F-86 Sabre. This is pretty much a one time in a career opportunity and they got the chance to lead the charge and they knocked it out of the park.”
noteworthy without any technical orders or guidance to aid them, the corrosion control team was able to complete the aircraft in less than three weeks.
“This is probably [one of] the hardest aircraft we’ve ever done,” said Williams. “It takes so much work just to get the checkers on one side of the plane to match the other side of the plane because you can’t see both sides at the same time. We have to match everything up as best as we can. Certain contours of the plane are not same on both sides so it’s even harder because you can’t just print the same thing and expect it to look the same on the other side.”
“It’s going to feel pretty good when we see it takeoff because so much work went into it,” pointe out Williams. “I hope everyone likes it.”
The F-16 embraces the Flying Fiends culture of the 36th FS.
“What we see in the tail flash is the combination of two distinctive histories. The red striped tail flash represents the history of the fabulous Flying Fiends. The tail flash specifically became famous during the Korean War as we flew with our red striped tail flash on our F-80 Shooting Stars and our F-86 Sabres,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Wayne Mowery, 36th Fighter Squadron jet fighter pilot. “Underneath the red stripes you see the checkered tail design and that is the history of the 51st Fighter Wing, which we officially became a part of in 1974.”
Since its birth 100 years ago the 36th FS has been involved in every major conflict: from World War I to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and about 36 years of alert readiness on the Korean peninsula.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos and Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III / U.S. Air Force