The Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing (AW) ‘Flying Yankees’ unveiled a Lockheed C-130H Hercules wearing a commemorative paint scheme on February 5 to honour the wing’s centenary, which will be celebrated this year.
The newly applied livery, worn by C-130H (serial 93-1456), celebrates the history of the 118th Airlift Squadron – which shares the same nickname as its parent wing – and showcases its World War One and World War Two lineage. The squadron’s reconstitution as a National Guard unit occurred in 1923, placing it amongst the first 29 Guard Observation Squadrons, before being allocated to the state of Connecticut.
The unit was therefore influential in the development of the modern-day ANG. This is depicted by the C-130H, as the unit’s original emblem is emblazoned on its tail, while the lightning bolts represent a depiction of the squadron’s modern-day patch and the markings worn by P-51 Mustangs flown by the 118th Fighter Squadron during World War Two.
In 2021, the 103rd AW achieved a top grade in the unit's effectiveness inspection. Throughout 2022, the 103rd was involved in various taskings, including Exercise Swift Response, which sought to build US readiness to face near-peer adversaries and took place in the shadow of the Ukraine War. In addition, the wing deployed an aviation package to the Horn of Africa, where they flew 643 hours across more than 100 combat missions.
This deployment supported allied interests in the region, delivering personnel, cargo and transporting fuel. During this deployment, the unit spearheaded a ‘wet-wing’ technique to deliver combat outposts in contested areas, including Somalia and Kenya, which rapidly defueled the aircraft to bladders directly from the C-130H’s wings, with the aircraft’s engines still running.