Suffolk

RAF Lakenheath F-15 jets painted in wartime colours

F-15E Strike Eagle in WW2 colours Image copyright US Air Force
Image caption An F-15E Strike Eagle painted in the colours of its World War Two predecessor, the P-47 Thunderbolt

US airmen have spent more than two weeks painting modern F-15 jets to look like their World War Two counterparts.

The 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, has unveiled the first of three "heritage" aircraft to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June.

American crews at the base in Suffolk painted the fighter jet to look like a P-47 Thunderbolt, with chequered nose, stripes and several national insignias.

Col Will Marshall said it paid tribute to "the 48th Fighter Wing legacy".

The commemorative work - which also saw a Statue of Liberty painted on the F-15's tail - took just over 640 hours and used £11,500-worth of paint.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A P-47 Thunderbolt plane in 1942 - although this one is without the characteristic extra markings
Image copyright US Air Force
Image caption The livery of a P-47 Thunderbolt is being recreated on an F-15 (picture shows a restored Thunderbolt landing at RAF Lakenheath)

During World War Two, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group flew P-47s to support the Allies in Europe.

It was involved in the D-Day invasion, on 6 June 1944, when crews flew 2,000 sorties from RAF Ibsley in Hampshire, dropping about 500 tonnes of bombs and firing more than 160,000 rounds of ammunition.

National insignias painted on the side of the jets showed they were American.

Lakenheath had been solely used by the RAF during the 1939-45 conflict and was abandoned as an operational base at the end of the war.

The United States Air Force's 48th Bombardment Group, the forerunner of the 48th Fighter Wing, was relocated from Chaumaunt, France, to RAF Lakenheath in 1960 when the USAF took over the base.

Image copyright US Air Force
Image caption An airman based at RAF Lakenheath paints around a National Star insignia

Staff Sgt Joel Campbell said he "loved" working on the project with other members of the 48th Fighter Wing - also known as the Liberty Wing.

"We took our time to make sure we got every little detail right - we wanted the paint to look its best," he said.

"The airmen feel strongly about this project and it was a good experience for all of us. It's something that will represent the Liberty Wing, past and present."

Image copyright US Airforce
Image caption Members of the Liberty Wing pose with the F-15 fighter jet after its commemorative paint job

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