ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – --
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – A painting depicting the 48th Fighter Wing heritage F-15s was presented to the wing on behalf of Colin Mason, the 48th Munitions Squadron Honorary commander and aviation artist, and his wife Elizabeth, June 19, 2020.
This painting is a tribute to 48th FW history and their involvement in D-Day at Normandy, France during World War II.
“It shows the first ever F-15 aircraft painted here at Lakenheath with invasion stripes and what Normandy looks like in 2019,” said Col. Steve Collen, 48th Maintenance Group commander. “It then takes you back in history to the ghosted P-47’s in the background flying over the beaches with all of the action on that day.”
The painting is also outfitted with a plaque made from an authentic piece of a Spitfire aircraft skin that flew during that period and is still flying today. The plaque, titled Airpower: Then, Now and Always, is engraved with the following words provided by Angela Vazquez, 48th FW historian.
“From the training fields of Savannah, Georgia, in 1941, to the beaches over Normandy in 1944 and every major campaign on the Western Front during World War II, through the Cold War and today’s fight, the 48th Fighter Wing has played an instrumental role in the history of the United States Air Force. This painting depicts the artist’s interpretation of the past represented by the faded but never forgotten images of WWIIs P-47s in the background of today’s F-15s maintaining the high ground today and tomorrow.”
The Masons began hatching plans for the painting in July 2019 with work beginning in late January 2020.
“My brief as the artist was to bring together a time in history that combined the past and the present,” said Mason. “Namely, June 6, 1944 and June 6, 2019 to commemorate that action 75 years ago, The D-Day landings over the beaches of Normandy, France.”
The Masons spent countless hours doing research of the location, past and present, and worked closely with Collen and other members of the 48th FW throughout the process on the design of the Fighter Squadron specific heritage F-15s, and P-47’s, to ensure the markings and scene were 100 percent accurate.
“This painting is a great tribute to that heritage and a good reminder of the honor we had to conduct a fly-past over the beaches of Normandy with our heritage painted F-15s,” said Col. William Marshall, 48th FW commander. “The fact that it was painted by one of our British friends, and honorary Commanders, makes it even more special and a perfect example of the special relationship that exists between the US and UK. We are honored to have it hang in the Wing Headquarters and will use it to remind ourselves of the legacy and gift of freedom given to us which is now ours to defend.”