Celebrating 50 years of the Mighty Mighty this month. Today a closer look to the fourth prototype built. F-15A 71-0283 made its first flight on 13 January 1973, and was used as the structural test aircraft. This was the first F-15 with the slightly smaller wingtips which had been redesigned to counter a severe buffet problem encountered during the test program. The aircraft was used by the combined McDonnell Douglas /USAF F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards AFB from May 1973 (coded ‘4’). By 1978, 71-0283 had become a McDonnell Douglas test aircraft, and on 12 November 1979 it was noted in the red and white color
Note the original smaller-sized air brake on the spine. 71-0283 was finally retired in 1998. Undergoing restoration at Wright-Patterson AFB (OH) in July 1999, and ended up preserved at the Defense Supply Center, Richmond (VA) by October 2000.