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Air Force One, just ahead of where the wing joins, has a silver "swoosh" on the bottom of the fuselage:

enter image description here

Air Force Two, or other congressional aircraft painted with the blue/white livery that I was able to find do not have that same feature:

enter image description here

What is the purpose of this "Silver Swoosh"? I was bale to identify the following two paths of reasoning, which raise additional questions:

Option 1: Part of the Paint Job

  • If the silver is just part of the paint job, why don't other congressional aircraft have that same feature?
  • If it is part of the paint job, what does it signify or what drives its inclusion?

Option 2: It fulfills a defensive function

  • What defensive purpose does it fulfill?
  • Since it seems to be highly reflective, does it potentially serve as a mirror for missiles with certain seeker heads?
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It's just for looks; an area of unpainted aluminum, polished.

In this close up you can make out the rivet lines and skin laps of the bare aluminum surface. With a little work it's easy to get a finish like chrome plate, especially on a queen of the sky like that.

enter image description here

Back during American's natural finish paint scheme days, 80% of the fuselage was unpainted and polished. AF1 just does it on a little patch so it's like a chrome accent.

There was significant weight saving in AA's case, but they finally gave in and painted their entire airplanes because the polishing has to be done regularly and is a pain, and over time the polishing, on an airplane that spends a lot of time outside and constantly re-oxidizes, slowly removes the pure aluminum cladding of the metal that is its corrosion protection.

Vinyl wrap is now starting to become common on airliners, and in theory you could probably do that sort of accent today with "chrome look" vinyl wrap, but AF1 has had that paint job for decades.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ They are the queens of the Air Force ^^ $\endgroup$ – Peter Apr 23 '19 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ Not doubting you, just curious on your source for this. As it stands, this is "a guy on the internet said..." $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 16 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ My only source is "been in aviation for 40 years and it's obvious". But you have a point, so I added a close up and some context. $\endgroup$ – John K Mar 17 at 2:16

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