492nd FS hosts P-47 heritage day

A P-47 Thunderbolt and a Supermarine Spitfire fly next to each other before landing at RAF Lakenheath, England, May 7, 2018. The Thunderbolt aircraft was painted to replicate the 492nd Fighter Squadron’s World War II color scheme. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing push a P-47 Thunderbolt into position at RAF Lakenheath, England, May 7, 2018. During World War II, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group flew P-47s in support of operations in Europe, including the Invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

A P-47 Thunderbolt lands on the flightline at RAF Lakenheath, England, May 7, 2018. The Thunderbolt accompanied by an F-15E, F-15C and a Supermarine Spitfire were on display during a heritage event hosted by the 492nd Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Airmen and their families from the 48th Fighter Wing came together for a heritage and fundraising event hosted by the 492nd Fighter Squadron featuring a World War II era P-47 Thunderbolt and a Supermarine Spitfire here, May 7.

The Thunderbolt aircraft, named “No guts, no glory,” was painted to resemble the 492nd Fighter Squadron’s historical World War II colors.

However, getting the Thunderbolt painted in this classic color scheme and transporting it to the 48th Fighter Wing was no easy process.

“It was very difficult to find any photographs of the squadron,” said Graham Peacock, owner of the P-47 Thunderbolt. “We eventually found some bits of photographs, some of the front, some of the back, and we were able to put it together. This arrived two weeks ago from the [United] States in a shipping container, so we stripped all the paint off it, repainted it in these colors, put it back together and flew it for the first time on Friday.”

During World War II, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group flew P-47s in support of operations in Europe, including the Invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944.

“We just wanted to make sure that our Airmen can reach out and touch that continuity of heritage,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Renken, 492nd FS Commander.

During the Normandy campaign, the 48th Fighter-Bomber Group flew nearly 2,000 sorties, dropped nearly 500 tons of bombs and fired over 160,000 rounds of ammunition.

“The Airmen stationed at RAF Lakenheath represent an ongoing sustained commitment to airpower in Europe, but also that special transatlantic relationship we have with the United Kingdom,” Renken said. “Everything we do behind the scenes, like the interoperability and joint-readiness training we conduct with the Royal Air Force, can be hard to see, so this is a great opportunity to bring that relationship to the forefront and expose everyone to it.”

In addition to providing Airmen an opportunity to experience the heritage of the 48th FW, the event was also a part of an effort to raise money for the Air Force Assistance Fund.

“We’re very appreciative of the 492nd Fighter Squadron for helping the Liberty Wing raise money for this year’s Air Force Assistance Fund,” said Capt. Jessica Thomas, a nurse assigned to the 48th Inpatient Squadron and Air Force Assistance Fund project officer.

The Air Force Assistance Fund is an annual effort to raise funds for four different charities that provide support to Airmen and their families when they are in need.

Throughout the day Airmen, their families, and various squadrons from all over the wing posed for photos in front of the aircraft in exchange for an optional donation to the AFAF.

“Every year when the campaign comes around, it means something special to me,” Thomas said. “Back when I was an Airman First Class stationed in Japan, I received a Red Cross notification saying that I needed to get home right away. If it wasn’t for the Air Force Assistance Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to make it.”

The reminder of the Liberty Wing’s heritage serves to reinforce the importance of the unit’s history and how Liberty Airmen continue their tradition of excellence and partnership with the U.K.

“We have strong community partnerships with our friends at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and that enables us to get an inside look at the heritage our Airmen get to enjoy being in the U.K. and supporting the U.S. Air Forces in Europe mission,” Renken said. “We’re living it and breathing it every day.”