The cool clip in this article features a time lapse video of a US Air Force (USAF) A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the Indiana Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing being painted at the Air National Guard Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa. The Blacksnakes of the 122nd Fighter Wing conceptualized the design in order to commemorate 100 years of aviation in the Indiana National Guard.
Indiana’s two Air National Guard units, the 122nd FW in Fort Wayne and 181st Intelligence Wing in Terre Haute, have a long history of flying single-seat fighter aircraft in the Hoosier State. The design creators venerated both the Blacksnakes of the 122nd FW and the Racers of the 181st IW as part of the A-10 paint scheme.
As explained by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot, 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard, in the article ANG facility completes Blacksnake livery on Indiana A-10, the paint scheme on the A-10 is a mixture of black and dark grey (the two-tone colors on the centennial Indiana ANG A-10 are gray 118 and black 038) with colors breaking along standard A-10 paint lines on the wings, engines and fuselage. The nose of the aircraft is complete with the distinctive 122nd FW green eyed snake, complete with fangs, surrounding the aircraft’s 30mm rotary cannon.
One side of the aircraft has a 122nd FW tail flash with the text, “Fort Wayne” embossed in yellow over Indiana state-flag-blue background. The opposite tail flash shows a “Racers” checkered flag with the text “Terre Haute” of the disbanded 181st Fighter Wing, now the 181st intelligence Wing.
The distinctive A-10 twin engines are embossed with an Indiana ANG centennial logo displaying the text “Indiana Air National Guard” under a large number “100,” along with the years “1921-2021.”
Although the Air National Guard was not officially established as a separate service until after World War II in 1946, some ANG units like the 122nd can trace their beginnings to the interwar period.
Following World War I, the War Department recognized the necessity of including aviation in national defense. The Indiana National Guard began its flying mission in 1921 with the establishment of the 137th Observation Squadron, which was initially based at Fagley Field in Kokomo, just north of Indianapolis.
Now in Fort Wayne, the 122nd FW has been flying single-seat fighter aircraft for most of its history.
In the 1990’s, the 122d Fighter Wing became the first unit in the Air Force to receive the night-flying systems that enabled the fighters to be fully mission-capable 24 hours a day. With the night-vision goggles and the ability to fly with covert lighting, (which effectively “blacks out” the jets to observers on the ground or in the air,) the targeting pod and the Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL), the unit’s F-16C+ jets became among the most capable fighters in the USAF fleet.
After being approved in the fiscal year 2010 Program Objectives Memorandum, the 122nd Fighter Wing began preparing to convert from the F-16 Fighter Falcons, to the A-10 Thunderbolt II in the winter of 2010. The conversion was due to the projected life-span of the F-16, as well as budget restraints.
Today the Blacksnakes are still equipped with the A-10 Thunderbolt II, used primarily for close air support.
Master Sgt. William Hopper, 122nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs superintendent, said the 122nd adopted the Blacksnake moniker from Revolutionary War figure Anthony Wayne, the namesake of the city of Fort Wayne.
Also known as “Mad” Anthony Wayne, Native Americans gave Wayne the title “Black Snake.” Wayne was known for a methodical fighting style where he instructed his Soldiers to lie in wait for the right moment to strike, similar to the actions of a North American Black Snake.
“The Blacksnakes are proud of the name’s historical significance and connection it gives us to our local community and hometown of Fort Wayne,” said Hopper.
The uniquely painted A-10 may soon begin showing up at air shows, where it will be fulfilling its purpose in promoting the mission and heritage of the Air National Guard.
Photo credit: U.S. Air National Guard
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