70 F-15s Lined Up For Yesterday's 'Elephant Walk' In North Carolina

In 1944, the U.S. 4th Fighter Wing played a key roll in knocking the German Luftwaffe from the sky and opening up the heart of Germany to deadly U.S. bombing campaigns.

Until then, the Allies lacked a fighter plane that could travel the distance with its bombers and protect them from the Nazi Messerschmidt’s.

That finally changed in January 1944, when U.S. Col. Don Blakeslee modified some P-51 Mustangs and filled his 4th Fighter Wing with the planes that could fly all the way to Berlin and back with B17 and B24 U.S. bombers.

It was the incessant dogfights on the flights back to England that finally spelled the end for the Luftwaffe and allowed the invasion of Normandy to proceed.

D-Day, of course, was the beginning of the end for Hitler’s Third Reich and to commemorate the occasion the 4th Fighter Wing lined up 70 F-15E Strike Eagles in a procession called an “Elephant Walk” at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina yesterday.

The planes then went on a “Turkey Shoot” training mission, destroying more than 1,000 targets on bombing ranges across the state.

David Cenciotti at The Aviationist points out this North Carolina procession is larger that the South Korean display of force last month meant to impress Pyongyang.

The following pictures are from the Seymour Johnson website and taken by the Air Force. And thanks to  Matthew J.in Britain for clarifying some details on Allied bombing runs. Keep the feedback coming.

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Elizabeth

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airmen Gino Reyes

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Gino Reyes

A F-15E Strike Eagle takes off as another F-15E taxi’s

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Colette Graham

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