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    NATRACOM unveils plan to repaint training aircraft

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    Courtesy Story

    Chief of Naval Air Training

    By: CNATRA Public Affairs

    COPRUS CHRISTI, Texas – Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) leadership authorized a plan to replace the orange-and-white paint scheme of CNATRA aircraft following the consideration of many proposals submitted by instructors and Student Naval Aviators assigned to Naval Aviation Training Command (NATRACOM). The long-standing orange-and-white paint used on all training aircraft will be replaced with new schemes, including one that pays tribute to naval aircraft that flew in World War II and the Korean War. Junior officers (JO) assigned to NATRACOM submitted many of the concepts and proposals including those selected for advanced flight training aircraft.

    Naval aircraft originally utilized variations of the orange-and-white paint scheme in the mid 1950’s. Over six decades later, CNATRA will incrementally repaint today’s training aircraft in an effort that will reflect the pride of Naval Aviation’s rich heritage in primary air training while also providing advanced naval air training platforms with an appearance that more closely reflects the operational fleet aircraft that Student Naval Aviators (SNA) will eventually fly.

    “Our students and instructors are the center of gravity for CNATRA. Their commitment to their professions as Naval Aviators and their commitment to our mission to produce the highest quality Naval Aviators is ironclad,” said Rear Adm. Richard Brophy, Chief of Naval Air Training. “What they do exudes a great deal of professional pride and this effort is a clear example of not only their respect for our proud heritage, but their focus as warfighters. I could not be more proud of our aviators and we are happy to approve this project on their behalf.”

    Heritage inspired design – primary flight training

    The T-6B Texan II, Naval Aviation’s primary aircraft trainer, will adopt a new blue coat of paint reminiscent of aircraft employed by the Navy and Marine Corps in World War II and the Korean War such as the Grumman TBF Avenger and the Chance Vought F4U Corsair.

    “When people look back to the start of Naval Aviation, they see these historic aircraft,” said Lt. Will Connerley, an instructor pilot assigned to the “Rangers” of Training Squadron (VT) 28. “A lot of our sense of tradition and mentality as a wardroom is rooted back into these paint schemes. When I think of the history of Naval Aviation, my mind immediately goes back to those [historic] aircraft flying in battles, such as the battle of Midway.”

    Connerley’s proposal, similar to the blue paint chosen for the T-6B Texan II, highlights the heritage of Naval Aviation by recommending CNATRA adopt one of several historical examples in his submission.

    “Sometimes the rigors of the training program can overshadow how fun it can be. I think walking out to a visual reminder of the roots of Naval Aviation, the history, and the evolution of the different generations is a huge reminder of how fun this job can be and how lucky we are to be to part of this career and this special group of people,” said Connerley.

    A portion of the CNATRA T-6B Texan II fleet currently represents Marine Corps students and instructors by displaying the words “U.S. Marines” on the aircraft fuselage. These aircraft, when painted blue, will include an additional homage to historical Marine Corps aviation by displaying a black-and-white checkerboard design on the nose cowling of the airplane.

    Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 312, known as the “Checkerboard” squadron, flew combat missions over Okinawa in 1945 and later in the Korean War. VMF-312 is an early and well-known example of a Marine Corps squadron that utilized the pattern. Although the exact origin of the design is unknown, VMF-312 proudly displayed the checkerboard pattern on the nose and rudder of their aircraft, including the Chance Vought F4U-1D Corsair during WWII. Today, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA)-312, continues to operate as one of the Marine Corps’ premier attack squadrons operating the F/A-18C. The squadron continues to display the checkerboard pattern proudly.

    Glossy grey – advanced flight training

    CNATRA utilizes four different type/model aircraft, with a fifth on the way, to support intermediate/advanced strike, intermediate/advanced multi-engine and advanced rotary training. These aircraft include the T-45C Goshawk, TH-57 Sea Ranger, TH-73 Thrasher (replacing the TH-57 Sea Ranger), and the T-44C Pegasus, soon to be replaced by the T-54A (King Air 260). For these aircraft, the new paint scheme will utilize shades of a glossy grey coat to more closely resemble the tactical paint scheme (TPS) covering operational fleet aircraft. The shade of grey will closely resemble the specific counterpart for each training aircraft. For example, the coat of the TH-73 Thrasher will reflect the darker tactical paint scheme of the MH-60S Seahawk, while the T-54A will have a lighter coat similar to the P-8A Poseidon. Colored markings will contrast the grey paint for lettering and symbols like the United States roundel. Additionally, the tail of each aircraft will feature a distinctive color scheme identifying the specific training air wing (TAW) an aircraft is assigned to, typically referred to as a tail “flash.”

    Lt. Zachary Pennington is a Naval Aviator and instructor pilot assigned to Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 8. Pennington’s design proposal was one of the finalists selected.

    “My first thought was, ‘Well every other service paints their training aircraft service color. The Army paints theirs green, Air Force does the grey like we do. Why not the Navy?” said Pennington. “Why not paint it haze grey like in the fleet?”

    Pennington explained that while flying outside of the local training area, many aviation professionals would often be on the lookout for a grey Navy aircraft when he made contact with tower or ground control, occasionally misidentifying the orange-and-white aircraft right in front of them.

    “It makes you feel like you are a little bit more a part of the actual Navy when you are painted up like a military aircraft,” Pennington said. “I think the bigger deal is going to be for the students. It makes them feel like they are not on training wheels anymore. It makes them feel like they are part of the club. I think it’s very important for their learning process.”

    The new changes to CNATRA aircraft will be gradual. An aircraft will only receive its new paint when the current life-cycle of its orange-and-white coat is nearly complete. This will result in the last orange-and-white paint coats disappearing in seven to eight years. With newly acquired aircraft including the T-54A and the TH-73 Thrasher steadily arriving to TAW-4 and TAW-5 respectively, newer aircraft will be delivered with the updated paint scheme already in place. TH-57 Sea Rangers and T-44C Pegasus aircraft nearing the end of their service in the Navy, or in “drawdown,” will not receive the new designs.

    CNATRA’s mission is to train, mentor, and deliver the highest quality Naval Aviators who prevail in competition, crisis, and conflict. Headquartered at NAS Corpus Christi, CNATRA comprises five training air wings in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, which are home to 17 training squadrons. In addition, CNATRA oversees the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron the Blue Angels and the training curriculum for all fleet replacement squadrons.



    Date Taken: 08.29.2023
    Date Posted: 08.30.2023 10:54
    Story ID: 452317
    Location: CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, US

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