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Luke Air Force Base is a fighter training base located a few miles to the west of Phoenix. For years I have made a habit of photographing the fighter and trainer operations at Luke. In the seventies, U.S.A.F. pilots were training in McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom IIs against aggressor pilots in Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs. Luftwaffe pilots in Lockheed F-104G Starfighters flew more hours at Luke AFB than any other Luftwaffe base. The first McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagles were being introduced into service.
A formation of twelve Lockheed F-104G Starfighters flies past the Luke AFB Airshow on February 5, 1966. Photographer: Richard Lockett.
I received a Takumar 400 mm f5.6 telephoto lens for Christmas in 1974. Naturally, one of my first objectives was to take the lens to Luke and shoot the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs and Lockheed F-104G Starfighters flying around the base.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4E-33-MC Phantom II 67-0208. The WA tail code indicates that this Phantom II is visiting from the 414 Fighter Weapons Squadron of the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing at Nellis AFB in Nevada. It was sold to Turkey in 1984.
McDonnell-Douglas RF-4C-26-MC Phantom II 65-0884 deploys a drag chute to slow itself down. 884 was retired to AMARC as FAP0951 on March 3, 1994.
North American T-2C Buckeye BuNo 155221 of VT-3. Tail code 2M. 155221 was retired to AMARC as 2T0174 on October 11, 1991.
Northrop AT-38B-40-NO Talon 61-0866. The black and yellow checkered tail band suggests that this Talon was assigned to the 57 FWW at Nellis AFB. It was retired to AMARC as TF0111 on August 30, 1991.
Lockheed T-33A-5-LO 58-0500 of the 26th Air Division. 500 was retired to AMARC as TC1353 on January 11, 1988.
Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief 62-4425. Tail code GA denotes that it was with the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing based at George AFB in California.
For many years, Luke AFB was the biggest Luftwaffe base in the world. The Luftwaffe operated many Lockheed F-104G Starfighters at Luke AFB, taking advantage of the good flying weather. The Starfighters at Luke carried standard U.S.A.F. markings, but the pilots were German. The G-model of the F-104 Starfighter was developed to be produced under license by NATO countries to serve in their air forces and was not purchased in quantity by the U.S.A.F.
A McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II shares the flightline with two Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs, and a McDonnell-Douglas TF-15A Eagle. The Phantom II and the Eagle both carry the LA tail code of the 58th Tactical Training Wing. The blue fin cap of the Phantom II indicates that it is with the 426th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. The Tiger IIs are from the 64th or 65th Fighter Weapons Squadron of the 57th Tactical Training Wing based at Nellis AFB. They served in the role of dissimilar aircraft tactics training and were commonly referred to as the aggressor squadron. They carried a variety of camouflage schemes intended to represent the aircraft of several different potential foes.
A pair of McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagles of the 58th TTW arrive over the base. Each one is carrying an inert AIM-9J Sidewinder missile mass simulator.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II of the 57th Tactical Training Wing.
This view of a McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle of the 58th TTW makes the camber (curvature) of the wing leading edge easy to see.
Grumman F-14A Tomcats were not often seen at Luke. This one apparently has an emergency need to get on the ground. It must be comforting to see the meat wagon waiting by the side of the runway. Tail code NG means that this Tomcat is with the VF-24 Renegades, based at Miramar Naval Air Station in California.
McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle of the 550th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. Their tail band is black with a pair of silver wings.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4C-23-MC Phantom II 64-0758 wears SEA camouflage and carries a centerline bomb rack. It was retired to AMARC as FP024 on November 6, 1986.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighters 63-13265 built by SABCA and 65-12745 built by Messerschmitt are flown by Luftwaffe pilots. Both Starfighters were later sold to Taiwan. 63-13265 has been preserved at the Yilan Soldiers Cemetery in Su-Ao, Taiwan since August 2009.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4C-25-MC Phantom II 64-0926 is carrying racks for practice bombs and a centerline 20 mm gatling gun package. It was retired to AMARC as FP351 on October 17, 1989. It was sold to Fritz Enterprises of Taylor, Mississippi on June 1, 1999.
Republic F-105B-20-RE Thunderchief 57-5833 carries the HI tail code of the 466th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Air Force Reserve, based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter 67-14885. It sports a bare metal finish like most of the Starfighters at Luke. It was later sold to Taiwan.
Lockheed C-140 Jetstar in a very dark gray and green camouflage.
The range control pilot of the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron Based at Williams AFB flies a Northrop F-5E Tiger II with yellow bands on its tail wingtips and fuselage to enhance its visibility to the pilots engaged in air combat maneuver training.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II Red 846 of the 57th Tactical Training Wing.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II 74-1565 Red 65 of the 65th FWS. It was written off on October 20, 1986.
Study of the underside of McDonnell Douglas F-15A-14-MC Eagle 75-0080 of the 58th TTW.
This pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom IIs is carrying racks with practice bombs.
That camouflaged Lockheed C-140 Jetstar departed a little more than an hour after arriving.
The Lockheed T-33A T-bird was still a common sight at the time.
A pair of McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagles of the 58th TTW.
McDonnell Douglas TF-15A Eagle of the 58th TTW. The original designation of two seat Eagles was TF-15A. It was soon changed to F-15B.
Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter 63-8457 is a two seat trainer variant. It was later operated by Taiwan. It crashed on September 7, 1991.
Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter 61-3080.
Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter 61-3080 has acquired a coat of gray paint. It was later sold to Taiwan. It is preserved at ROCAF Technical School in Gangshan.
The leading edge extensions of the wing are evident in this view of a Northrop F-5E Tiger II of the 57th Tactical Training Wing.
Air National Guard McDonnell-Douglas F-4C-19-MC Phantom II 63-7530 and McDonnell-Douglas TF-15A-17-MC Eagle 76-0139 of the 58th TTW. TF-15A 76-0139 was retired to AMARC as FH0160 on May 17, 2007.
During the eighties, the Century Series fighters were retired, the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II was phased out, and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons and McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles entered service in the squadrons based at Luke.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15B-15-MC Eagle 76-0127. Tail code LA indicates that it is with the 405th Tactical Fighter Training Wing which had superceded the 58 TTW in August 1979. The yellow tail stripe identifies its squadron as the 461 TFS. It was retired to AMARC as FH0157 on April 19, 2007.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter 63-13262 was built under license by SABCA in Belgium. Although it carries full U.S.A.F. markings, it is in the service of the Lufwaffe.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter 63-13244 of the Luftwaffe. It was later sold to Taiwan.
Two-place trainer version of the General Dynamics F-106B Delta Dart 58-0900. It was converted to a target drone QF-106 (AD274). It crashed on landing on July 10, 1995.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4C-20-MC Phantom II 63-7624 is carrying an SUU-23/A 20-millimeter gatling gun pod and launching rails for sidwinder missiles. The pod was developed to provide the Phantom II with the gun that its designers had omitted. The pattern of fire from the gun pod was much less precise than that from the fuselage mounted gun of the F-4E.
The instructor pilot in McDonnell-Douglas F-15B-17-MC 76-0139 is observing the trainee pilot in F-15A-16-MC Eagle 76-0061 as he makes his approach to landing. F-15B 76-0139 was retired to AMARC as FH0160 on May 17, 2007. On November 9, 1995, F-15A 76-0061 suffered an engine failure. It made a fast landing at Whitemen Air Force Base and ran off the end of the runway. It was written off on May 1, 1996.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4C-21-MC Phantom II 64-0665 is carrying an SUU-23/A gun pod. The blue fin cap indicates that this Phantom II was from the 426th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. It is preserved at the Minnesota Military Museum.
In the early 1980's the standard SEA camouflage was modified by wrapping the camouflage around the lower surfaces of the Phantom II, replacing the off-white underside.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagle. The red tail stripe identifies its squadron as the 426th TFTS of the 405th TFTW. Later the red tail stripe was augmented with a yellow delta.
General Dynamics F-106B Delta Dart 58-0900 departs about an hour after its arrival.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A-11-MC Eagle 74-0106 of the 426th TFTS. Note the large air brake behind the cockpit. The deployment of the air brake allowed the pilot to maintain higher engine RPMs to insure that power would be available rapidly in the event of a wave-off. 106 was retired to AMARC as FH0040 on September 22, 1992.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15D 0105 and F-15C 0062 Eagle. They carry green tail stripes with five white diamonds, indicating that they belong to the 555th TFTS.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter 65-12748 breaks out of formation into the landing pattern. The upper surfaces of its wings are painted white. The undersides of the wings of the other two Starfighters can be seen to be unpainted. White upper wing surfaces and unpainted lower surfaces may have been standard.
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter 65-12748 makes a pass over the runway. It was later sold to Taiwan.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15D-23-MC Eagle 78-0572 of the 426th TFTS of the 405th TFTW. The red tail stripe is now augmented with a yellow delta with a red chevron.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15D-23-MC Eagle 78-0571 of the 426th TFTS. The pilot's name block is a red stripe with a yellow eagle head.
A pair of Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs, Red 35 and Red 64, accompany a pair of McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagles of the 405th TFTW.
General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon. Tail code is HL, signifying that this F-16A belongs to the 388th TFW based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The red tail stripe shows that this F-16A is from the 34th TFS. It is carrying a pair of inert AIM-9L Sidewinder mass simulators on the wingtip rails.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II 73-1635. Red 35 is from the 64th FWS based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada as indicated by the yellow and black checkered tail stripe. This Tiger II sports a gray and two-tone blue camouflage. .
General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcons from the 34th TFS of the 388th TFW with varying numbers of inert AIM-9L Sidewinder mass simulators.
General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon 83-1115. The 58th TTW tail code changed to LF. The blue tail stripe identifies that this F-16D is from the 311th TFTS.
The pilot of McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagle 75-0077 took time to acknowledge the presence of the photographer as he approached the runway. This Eagle carries the name Gissler on the name block. Note the low visibility version of the U.S.A.F. insignia by the engine inlet. It was retired to AMARC as FH0018 on March 31, 1992.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II 74-1564 red 64 from the 64th FWS in two-tone gray camouflage. The last two digits of the serial number are enlarged as a squadron identifier.
Northrop F-5E Tiger II 74-1558 red 58 from the 64th FWS in tan and brown camouflage with a black nose cap.
Flight of four McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagles of the 405th TFTW. Each is carrying a single AIM-9L mass simulator.
The green tail stripe with five white diamonds indicates that McDonnell-Douglas F-15D-27-MC Eagle 80-0054 is with the 555th TFTS.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15D-27-MC Eagle 80-0054
This McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagle is also with the 555th TFTS.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A Eagle of the 555th TFTS.
General Dynamics F-16D Block 25F Fighting Falcon 84-1397. The black tail stripe outlined in red indicates that this F-16D is from the 312th TFTS of the 58th TTW. The nose of an AIM-9L sidewinder is just visible behind the large external fuel tank on the left wing.
General Dynamics F-16C Block 25A Fighting Falcon 83-1137 from the 312th TFTS. The sidewinder mass simulator on the right wing is lacking the canard fins.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15B-9-MC Eagle 73-0114 was later transferred to the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15B-9 Eagle 73-0114 is now on display at the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards Air Force Base in the colors of the 412th Test Wing.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A-13-MC Eagle 75-0046 of the 555th TFTS. It was retired to AMARC as FH0021 on April 14, 1992.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A-14-MC Eagle 75-0077 and F-15A-13-MC 75-0046 of the 555th TFTS.
Northrop AT-38B Talon 68-8106 of the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron in gray and two tone blue camouflage. This is a slightly different camouflage from that worn by F-5E 74-1635 seen above. The 4477th TES also flew Mig-17s, MiG-21s, and MiG-23s at the Tonopah Test Range. This Talon flew with the USAF Thunderbirds.
Northrop T-38A-40-NO Talon 61-0851 of the 4477th TES in another variation of gray and blue camouflage.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle. It carries the yellow and black tail stripe of the 461st TFS of the 405th TTW.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15E-43-MC Strike Eagle 87-0171 of the 461st TFS. Strike Eagles are painted in much darker gunship gray. They carry conformal fuel tanks equipped with a pair of sparrow missile pylons on each side of the fuselage.
Plan view of a McDonnell-Douglas F-15C Eagle.
Shock diamonds are visible in the afterburner flames of this McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle from the 461st TFS. It is carrying an inert AIM-9L Sidewinder mass simulator on the right wing.
Yellow tail stripe indicates that this General Dynamics F-16D Fighting Falcon of the 314th TFTS of the 58th TTW.
General Dynamics F-16A Block 25A Fighting Falcon 83-1126 of the 832 AD carries a multi-colored arrowhead on its vertical stabilizer. It is now displayed at the Hill AFB Air Museum in 388th Fighter Wing colors.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15A-16-MC Eagle 76-070. The tail stripe is a silver wing on a black background indicating that this F-15A is with the 550th TFTS. It was retired to AMARC as FH0107 on December 14, 1994.
General Dynamics F-111D Aardvark 68-0124 on static display at the Luke AFB Airshow on March 17, 1989.
The yellow fin cap of General Dynamics F-111D Aardvark, 68-0124 indicates that it is from the 524 TFS based at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. Tail code CC denotes the 27th TFW. The SEA camouflage worn by the F-111 had black on the lower surfaces instead of off-white. It was retired to AMARC as FV0046 on Apr 25, 1991.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15D Eagle
McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 87-0205 of the 461st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron of the 405th Tactical Training Wing.
A flight of four McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles of the 461st TFS.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle of the 461st TFS.
McDonnell-Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle of the 461st TFS.
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
General Dynamics F-16C Block 32C Fighting Falcon 86-0215 of the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 944th Figther Wing.
General Dynamics F-16C Block 32C Fighting Falcon 86-0238 of the 302nd TFS
General Dynamics F-16D Block 42A Fighting Falcon 88-0156 of the 310th TFS of the 58th Tactical Training Wing.
General Dynamics F-16D Block 25E Fighting Falcon 84-1330 of the 314th TFS of the 58th Tactical Training Wing. Converted to F-16D Recce Reconnaissance variant. Slid off the end of the runway at Gila Bend Auxiliary Field during a botched touch-and-go on April 2, 2008. It was retired to AMARC as FG0589 on Septamber 12, 2008.
General Dynamics F-16D Block 25F Fighting Falcon 85-1507 of the 314th TFS of the 58th TTW.
General Dynamics F-16D Block 25F Fighting Falcon 85-1515 of the 314th TFS of the 58th TTW. it was retired to AMARC on September 30, 2010.
Luke Air Force Base displays.
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Edited February 10, 2013