Deceased Demonstrator D-Day Drone

Its flying days at an end, the no-longer-grim General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, serial number 00-003, has been retired to act as a static exhibit for 432nd Wing of the U.S. Air Force at Creech AFB, Nevada – and it is performing that very role this week in the Changi aircraft park, carrying the badges of the 17th, 18th, 20th and 22nd Attack Squadrons.  

But the black and white stripes on its V-tail indicate an additional, historical duty: to mark the contribution of the USAAF toward the 1944 invasion of occupied Europe. Immediately before the fateful June 6, thousands of Allied aircraft were marked on their wings and fuselage with a broad white band containing two narrow black bands. 

The “invasion stripes” were to assist in aircraft recognition or, to put it more bluntly, to stop trigger-happy soldiers and sailors from shooting down their compatriots. Over the years, they have been applied to veteran warplanes for added historical effect – and even to some modern types on certain military anniversaries.