The Collings Foundation is well known for its large collection of airworthy WWII military aircraft which tour the United States each year. However, the organization also maintains a significant fleet of Viet Nam War era aircraft as well, including a number of jets such as the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II, North American F-100 Super Sabre and Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. These aircraft are nearly all based at Ellington Field, in Houston, Texas. They don’t tour as far and wide as the WWII types, most likely due to the vastly more expensive fuel and maintenance requirements, but they do still participate in air shows and keep their military heritage alive in the eyes of the public.
Periodically, all of the Collings Foundation’s aeroplanes undergo a repaint to not only refresh the finish, but also to represent another unit, and thus allow another story to be told. The collection’s Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star jet trainer recently received a new paint scheme. The aircraft started out life with the US Air Force as 51-6953 transferred to the Dutch Air Force or KLu in 1964, before being stricken in 1971 and joining the civil register. Interestingly, the Collings Foundation chose her new markings to represent a support aircraft from the 111th Fighter Bomber Squadron of the 136th Fighter Bomber Group. Known as the “Ace in the Hole” squadron, the modern-day Air Force unit is actually based at Ellington Field, and has been in existence since 1917. The freshly-painted T-33 will surely please a lot of the locally based US Air Force personnel, but it’s also bound to attract attention wherever she goes. The Collings Foundation has much to be proud of in what they do, and we look forwards to seeing this T-33 flying the flag in the near future.