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The Airpower Legacy Series was developed by the Air Force Academy athletic department to promote and celebrate the history of the Air Force’s aircraft. The series begins this year with the football team wearing an alternate uniform for the Georgia State game on Sept. 10 in Falcon Stadium to celebrate the Tiger Shark teeth nose-art which has been represented on multiple Air Force aircraft dating back to World War II. During the WWII era, fight plane pilots were called “Flying Tigers” and were part of the U.s. Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force. The helmets worn for the game will feature a shark-teeth design like those painted on the aircraft.
The team’s 2016 football schedule poster features a P-40 aircraft with the Tiger teeth and other sports teams’ posters will feature other Air Force aircraft including the C-130, HH-60, A-10 and other aircraft that wear the tiger shark teeth. All team sports posters will feature Air Force aircraft. In addition to football, volleyball, wrestling and ice hockey, other sports will feature Tiger teeth on helmets or other equipment/uniforms.
The department has developed a logo/patch to commemorate the series. The logo will be used each year and will appear on the special uniforms in football and other sports warm-ups or uniforms that participate moving forward.
History of the Tiger Shark Teeth
By the time the U. S. Army Air Corps activated the 23d Fighter Group on July 4, 1942, the American Volunteer Group had already made the shark teeth famous in the skies over China. However, as famous as they made them, and as iconic as they’ve become, the AVG can’t take credit for creating the shark teeth paint scheme. They had seen pictures of furiously decorated P-40 Tomahawks, which was the British version of their P-40s, and simply mimicked the paint scheme for their own airplanes.
The shark teeth have been present throughout history. They’ve been painted on P-40s, P-51, A-7s, F-4s, F-105s, F-16s, HC-130s, A-10s, and a version of them even exists on an HH-60.