Military Aviation

Freshly painted tail fin of the first F-35A belonging to the USAF first Europe-based Lightning II squadron unveiled

The 495th Fighter Squadron (FS), the first US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Lightning II squadron, was activated on Oct. 1, 2021.

Posted on Oct. 27, 2021 on RAF Lakenheath Facebook page, the interesting photo in this post features the freshly painted tail fin of the first F-35A belonging to the 495th Fighter Squadron (FS), the first US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Lightning II squadron.

The tail fin features the motto “Mala Ipsa Nova,” literally “Bad News Itself.”

As we have already reported, the 48th Fighter Wing (FW) activated the 495th FS nicknamed as the “Valkyries,” at exactly 8:49 and 50 seconds, on the morning of Oct. 1, 30 years to the day since its designation as a fighter squadron.

The first F-35A is scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year. The base was selected to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the Royal Air Force (RAF), existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities. Additionally, the a critical component in training and combat readiness for USAFE due to its excellent airspace and F-35 program partnership.

The new F-35 squadron will consist of 27 aircraft and roughly 60 personnel.

On Sep. 16, 2021 instead, an F-15C Eagle assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron (FS), dubbed ‘The King’, performed its final flight at RAF Lakenheath. ‘The King’ was part of three jets painted in heritage colors in 2019 honoring the World War II P-47 Thunderbolt.

Noteworthy with the arrival of the F-35As, 493rd FS’ F-15Cs will leave for good. The Grim Reapers future instead is still uncertain but the unit will probably be disbanded.

The King will be assigned to the Massachusetts Air National Guard (ANG), where the 104th Fighter Wing (FW) located in Westfield already flies F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

The Israeli F-4E crew that hit an Egyptian Mi-8 with gunfire and then used the afterburner’s thrust to push the helicopter down into the ground

Israeli F-4E crews shooting down very low-flying Egyptian Mi-8 helicopters The American-manufactured F-4 Phantom II was… Read More

2 days ago

F-15E that shot down a Mi-24 helicopter with 2000lb LGB surpasses 15,000 flight hours during combat mission

Only F-15E with air-to-air kill surpasses 15,000 flight hours A US Air Force (USAF) F-15E… Read More

4 days ago