Resting place for famous fighter

It is an icon of the Cold War and a symbol of American pride. And at the weekend this F-100 Super Sabre fighter jet was hoisted back into its final resting place at RAF Lakenheath after undergoing a restoration programme.

It is an icon of the Cold War and a symbol of American pride.

And at the weekend this F-100 Super Sabre fighter jet was hoisted back into its final resting place at RAF Lakenheath after undergoing a restoration programme.

On Saturday it took several hours for a large team of servicemen to position the newly-refurbished plane on its pedestal near the main gate where it has been on display for the last 30 years.

Using a crane and armed with ropes, the team painstakingly hauled the aircraft off the back of a trailer and hoisted it into the air before inching it back into place.

The aircraft first touched down at the base in 1960 and was the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing's premier fighter, replacing the F-86 Sabre.

The jet has been on display since 1977 and belonged to a former wing commander of the base.

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The F-100 Super Sabre gained its place in history when it became the first operational aircraft in the United States Air Force inventory capable of exceeding the speed of sound in level flight.

But over the last five weeks a team of around a dozen people, including two British civilians, have been giving the jet its first “face lift” in more than a decade.

Staff sergeant Cory Wildermuth, who worked on the plane, said the restoration involved removing metal panels which were showing signs of corrosion and fitting new panels to replace them.

The aircraft was completely re-painted and given a clear coat to make it shine. Sticker motifs were also removed and the detailing was painted on.

Mr Wildermuth said: “The first step was to examine the sheet metal. There was some pretty severe corrosion on it so we removed these panels and manufactured new ones. Then we started painting the aircraft and removing the stickers and all the markings. All the stencils and details were then painted on.”

Mr Wildermuth said that during the restoration process the team was given assistance from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire which provided them with technical data and markings for the aircraft.

“It is really good to see the plane restored and back in its rightful place,” he said. “I feel we have preserved a legacy. This is a very proud day.”

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