New Air Force Football Helmets Highlight Historic 'Sharktooth' Design

PHOTO: A screenshot from the Air Force Football video which debuted the teams new AIRPOWER Legacy Series Sharktooth helmet. The helmet will be worn when the team plays Georgia State on September 10, 2016.Air Force Football
A screenshot from the Air Force Football video which debuted the team's new AIRPOWER Legacy Series Sharktooth helmet. The helmet will be worn when the team plays Georgia State on September 10, 2016.

Sports fans are raving about the new alternate helmet revealed by the Air Force football team yesterday.

The helmet, called AIRPOWER Legacy Series Sharktooth, pays homage to the historic shark design that dates back to World War II.

It will be debuted when Air Force plays Georgia State on September 10.

— Air Force Football (@AFFootball) August 14, 2016

On Twitter, College Game Day declared that the Air Force “won best helmet of 2016 and the season hasn’t even started yet.” SB Nation tweeted that the helmets were “an awesome nod to history.”

The iconic shark tooth first appeared during World War II on the nose of airplanes belonging to the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force. The group, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots across several U.S. military units and it defended China from Japanese forces.

PHOTO: American Volunteer Group aircraft, known by the Chinese as flying tigers, flying in tight formation on the Far Eastern front, where they are aiding the Chinese Army against the Japanese. Three Lions/Getty Images
American Volunteer Group aircraft, known by the Chinese as 'flying tigers', flying in tight formation on the Far Eastern front, where they are aiding the Chinese Army against the Japanese.

The Flying Tigers were eventually absorbed into the U.S. Army Air Forces, which became the U.S. Fourteenth Air Force. But the image of the fierce shark teeth never disappeared.

To this day, U.S. Air Force jets like the A-10 Thunderbolt display the iconic nose art.

PHOTO: An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group, Moody AFB, Ga., performs a flying maneuver during the 2016 Hawgsmoke competition at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Arizona, June 2, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense
An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group, Moody AFB, Ga., performs a flying maneuver during the 2016 Hawgsmoke competition at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Arizona, June 2, 2016.
PHOTO: The nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II displays a painted set of eyes and teeth in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, March 18, 2016. U.S. Department of Defense
The nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II displays a painted set of eyes and teeth in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, March 18, 2016.

“We wanted to honor the past, present, & future,” Air Force Football tweeted yesterday. “With these we will, wait until you see what’s next!”

This certainly isn’t the first time a military service academy football team has impressed with its helmet design.

Last year, Navy football debuted helmets that paired each class of ship with a football position. For example, defensive backs had helmets that depicted destroyers, wide receivers had submarines, etc.

Those helmets were handpainted for last December’s Army-Navy game -- where Navy beat Army for the 14th time in a row, winning 21-17.

For that game, the Army -- not to be outdone -- designed 17 different helmets representing the 17 branches cadets can enter after graduation. For example, fullbacks had the insignia for the 4th Infantry Division, while safeties wore insignia for the 101st Airborne Division.

PHOTO: The Army Black Knights helmets are seen at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2015. Icon Sportswire via AP Images
The Army Black Knights helmets are seen at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2015.
PHOTO: The New Navy Helmet right side is pictured before the NCAA football game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2015. Icon Sportswire via AP Images
The New Navy Helmet right side is pictured before the NCAA football game between the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2015.

It remains to be seen what the Army and Navy will come out with for this year’s rivalry game, but it’s safe to say that all of the military service academy teams have produced meaningful helmet artwork that rivals any top football program.