by Tommy H. Thomason

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

U.S, Navy F-84 Thunderjet Target Drone Program

It's not Photoshopped:

For more on this aircraft, see

Unfortunately, no color photo of it exists and interpretation of this one is difficult.

As a target drone, it should have been painted overall Insignia Red.

However, the wings and empennage seem to be a lighter color than the fuselage. Except for not having a red stripe on the wings and a red rudder or vertical tail, it appears to be painted as a drone controller, with an Engine Gray fuselage and Orange Yellow wings and empennage.
Note that the entire vertical tail of some target tow/drone controllers were red.

This F-84 went through a Navy repair and overhaul facility before going to NADC, so presumably the proper color scheme was known.  However, there is a possibility that there was some confusion with the scheme.

In any event, this was an F-84B, so it had a shorter fuselage and sliding canopy than the E and subsequent. (Also see


  1. Nice to see some new information on this oddity!

  2. Hi Tommy,
    I had the same gut reaction (color scheme) as you, but looking at it carefully, I'm thinking that it might be overall red after all. Obviously the fuselage facing us is in strong shadow, and look at the top where the sun still catches it. The vertical fin gave me pause, but this is the only surface with a large "face" towards us, and there's a lighter phenomenon all the way down the fuselage, too (sort of a "pinstripe halo"). Finally, compare the shade of the red stripe in the insignia to the color around it on both the fuselage and the port wing.
    Very nifty!