Planes

Our civilian Heritage Flight pilots fly alongside modern USAF fighter/attack jets in the following vintage warbirds: P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and A-1 Skyraider. Learn more about these powerful fighters, their combat history and the war heroes of their cockpits below, and see the Air Force teams that take to the skies with them. 

P-51 Mustang

The legendary P-51 Mustang dominated the skies over Western Europe after it was introduced in World War II. The single-seat aircraft had a maximum speed of 437 miles per hour and could escort heavy bombers deep into the heart of Germany. The P-51 and the pilots that flew them were crucial to turning the tide of war in the Allies’ favor.

F-86 Sabre

The Sabre made its name in the skies over Korea where the swept-wing fighter destroyed nearly 800 MiG 15s during the Korean War. The jet, the first of its kind in the American arsenal, broke speed records throughout its evolution.

P-38 Lightning

The P-38 Lightning, dubbed the “fork-tailed devil” by terrified enemies, was one of the most influential fighters of WWII. The twin-engine plane was first conceived by Lockheed in 1937 and officially introduced in 1940. The P-38’s guns and supercharged engines that could power it to 400 miles per hour made it a formidable weapon in the American arsenal. P-38s went on to fly more than 130,000 missions over Europe, the Mediterranean, the Pacific, North Africa and the Aleutian Islands.

P-40 Warhawk

The Curtiss P-40 anchored America’s aerial arsenal during the early years of WWII. Recognizable thanks to the fearsome fangs painted around the air intake, the fighter was especially valuable in the China-Burma-India Theater where it was made famous by Gen. Claire Lee Chennault’s “Fighting Tigers.” The plane was upgraded throughout the war, but was eventually overtaken by newer aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the P-38 Lightning. 

P-47 Thunderbolt

The Thunderbolt was one of the heaviest and most heavily-armed fighters of WWII. Built by Republic Aviation, the P-47 was instrumental as a ground-attack aircraft as the allies made their push from the beaches of Normandy into Germany’s heartland. The plane remained in service through the 1950s, with other countries continuing to utilize them for years. 

A-1 Skyraider

The Douglas Aircraft Company’s A-1 Skyraider was one of the most versatile and beloved aircraft in America’s post-war arsenal. The Skyraider sprang from the Navy’s decision to combine the jobs of dive-bombing and torpedo missions into one platform, but eventually became indispensable as a close-support aircraft. WWII ended shortly after the first Skyraiders were ordered, but the aircraft was used in Korea and Vietnam and entered service for American allies across the globe.  

USAF Teams

  • A-10
  • F-16
  • F-22
  • F-35 (Heritage only, no demonstration for 2018)