A Machine Gun-Toting Rabbit Is The Latest U.S. Air Force Mascot

306th Fighter Squadron

The 306th Fighter Squadron is back, and it has a clever mascot to boot. The 50 Airmen squadron is a part of the Air Force’s 177th Fighter Wing.

Reinstated With Their Original Emblem

The squadron was first assembled in 1957, and it seems like its emblem was created around the same time. The image is of a tux-wearing rabbit sporting a beret and holding a machine gun, all in front of a four-leaf clover.

Many of the Air Force mascots lean toward more whimsical features. For example, the 311th Fighter Squadron’s mascot is a snake with bared fangs that is made of an ammunition belt.

The 14th Fighter Squadron has a samurai atop a lightning bolt, and the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron’s mascot holds a bloody dagger and a smoking gun.

Early Missions

When the squadron first got its rabbit mascot, they were the 306th Tactical Squadron and a part of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing. They were deployed to the Tuy Hoa Air Base at the end of 1966.

They flew F-100 Super Sabres for recon and bomber flights up to North Vietnam. But, according to the National Air and Space Museum, they realized F-100 was “not a good match against North Vietnamese MiG-17s and -21s in air-to-air combat.”

The F-100 shifted to dropping bombs, flying support missions, and dropping napalm. The plane would fly out with two napalm canisters, two 500-pound Mk. 82 “Snake eye” bombs, two external fuel tanks, and a setup nicknamed “snake and nape.”

Most of the missions lasted an hour or two, and pilots often did multiple in a day. Their low flying led to increased accuracy. According to the Smithsonian, the planes were called “flying artillery.” Overall, they flew around 360,000 missions from 1964-1971.

New Mission

After Vietnam, the F-4 Phantom IIs, F-105 Thunderchiefs, and the A-7 Corsair IIs took over for the F-100. The 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated and deactivated as needed for many decades.

The small unit will “support the increased maintenance requirements” of the F-16. Most of the planes are 31 years old, which means it takes time and skill to keep them going, which is what the 306th will provide.

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