McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
Part 1: Early F-15As
Developed during the same time as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat (featured
last month), the F-15 Eagle quickly became the USAF's premiere air superiority
fighter, with outstanding capabilities in a wide range of missions.
From interceptor to ground attack, the F-15 has done its job admirably
and will continue to do so well into the 21st century.
With such a long lifespan, a look at how the camouflage and markings
have evolved for the F-15 is in order. We'll start off by looking at
the early Eagles during the 1970s.
By the time the F-15 was entering service, the concept of using gray
camouflages for fighters was resurfacing. Originally used to great effect
by the Germans during the Second World War, camouflage in general and
gray camouflage in particular fell out of vogue during the late 1940's
and 1950's. By the time the Vietnam conflict rolled around, the Air
Force was painting its planes up in a scheme to help blend them in with
the ground. Unfortunately this made them very visible at altitude, something
the Germans knew about during WW2. After experimenting with different
colors (including an Air Superiority Blue), the two-tone gray scheme
shown here was chosen.
Of course, adding bright red and white stripes to a plane defeats the
whole purpose of camouflage. But in this case, the red and white stripes
on the nose and wing (now shown) were used for training purposes. Other
standard markings on Eagles for this period was the TAC badge on the
tail. At this time, all tail codes were in white, conforming to a T.
O. that was written for planes camouflaged in the much darker toned
South East Asia camouflage scheme.
Aside from the tail codes, the only real difference between F-15s was
in the colored bands on the tail. This F-15 displays black and yellow
checks, while the two Luke Eagles had a green band with white stars.
These bands differed between the squadrons and was the only real source
of color on the F-15. A special style of star and bar was used on these
early Eagles, too. The standard star and bar incorporated a blue border
around the whole emblem, while on the F-15s this was removed to reduce
the visibility, leaving only the white/red/white bars and a blue circle
with a white star.
Speaking of Germany, many F-15s have flown over that country and were
based on its soil during the Cold War. This particular F-15 flew from
Bitburg and displays a very subdued scheme. No tail bands are present,
and the white tail codes have been replaced by the more familiar black.
The star and bar have remained the same, however. At roughly the same
time as the change from white to black codes, the sparrow missiles slung
under the fuselage were also camouflaged, with the bodies matching the
color of the undersurfaces and the fins being a darker gray.
Technically not in the 'early' years of the F-15, this illustration
is included as it is the one that appears on the back of the Revell-Monogram
Snap-Tite kit of the Eagle.