108th Wing Tiger Scheme

 

In June of 2017, the 108th Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard publicly unveiled a special tiger scheme on one of their KC-135R Stratotankers.  The gigantic tiger decals that adorn the KC-135R with the registration of 62-3508 were applied over a span of a few weeks during a normal maintenance cycle for the jet.  The decals were applied to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 141st Air Refueling Squadron, which was founded on October 8, 1917 in San Diego, California.

Over the years the squadron has gone through many different designations and home bases, and currently the 141st ARS calls Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst home station, having been based at McGuire since December 1952.  Most recently, the squadron has flown the F-105B Thunderchief, F-4D Phantom, F-4E Phantom, and the KC-135E Stratotanker before converting over to the KC-135R Stratotanker in 2007.

The 141st gained the nickname as the Tiger squadron back from its founding.  One of the first commanders of the 141st ARS was Capt. Hobard "Hobey" Baker.  Baker is considered one of the greatest ice hockey players of his era, and the first great American hockey player; while studying history, politics, and economics at Princeton University, he also played for the Princeton Tigers collegiate hockey team.  Baker graduated from Princeton in 1914 and worked for J.P. Morgan Bank until he enlisted in the United States Army Air Service. During World War I he served with the 103rd and the 13th Aero Squadrons before being promoted to captain and named commander of the 141st Aero Squadron. Baker died in December 1918 after a plane he was test-piloting crashed, hours before he was due to leave France and return to America. 

The squadron's insignia was an orange and black tiger with a flyer's helmet. The 141st flew its first patrol on 23 October and every day thereafter. Its combat commander, "Hobey" Baker, was a famous hockey and football star at Princeton before the war. It was said, Hobey preferred Ivy League men in his unit, preferably from Princeton. Indeed, he painted the aircraft in his squadron in Princeton colors: Orange and Black.

This is not the first time that the 108th Wing's KC-135s have had tiger decals adorning the aircraft.  During a visit to Europe in the 1990s, one KC-135E featured a giant tiger down each side of the fuselage.  In addition, another aircraft in 2003 featured a large tiger on each side of the forward fuselage to commemorate the Tiger Meet of the Americas, held in Colorado in 2003.

Aircraft 62-3508 is shown in the slideshow below with the tiger artwork adorning the aircraft.  In addition, all other KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft in the 108th Wing's fleet features commemorative nose art and no tiger artwork.  Aircraft 62-3508 also features this nose art.

Photos in the slideshow were taken between June and August 2017.  Apologies for the large copyrights in each photo - this is necessary in this day and age where photos are widely stolen and passed along as if they are one's own.