Discussions about the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron
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I've studied a little bit of Thunderbird history but never really got into it. I was looking at some old Thunderbird photos today and particularily the F-4's. I noticed that unlike the rest of the era's, the F-4 most of the formation photos I saw only consisted of 4-5 jets, anybody know why there wasn't a 6th at the time? Another thing I noticed is that in all but one of the photos I saw the number 4 jet had his tail covered up or blackened out. I was wondering if anybody knew why that is?
Both of these questions have been answered in the past in these forums. I'd suggest you search "blackened tail" or "sooted tail". Basically, they didn't clean the tail of #4 allowing it to get blackened from flying behind Lead's exhaust. The reason why you only see 5 Thunderbird Phantoms is because they only had a single solo routine during those years. The dual routine was discontinued after an accident just prior to the Phantom era.