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North American P-51 Mustang

North American P-51D Specifications:

  • Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
  • Wingspan: 37 ft.
  • Height: 13 ft. 8 in.
  • Wing Area: 235 sq. ft.
  • Empty Weight: 7,635 lbs.
  • Loaded Weight: 9,200 lbs.
  • Maximum Takeoff
  • Weight: 12,100 lbs.
  • Crew: 1
  • Maximum Speed: 437 mph
  • Range: 1,650 miles (w/ external tanks)
  • Rate of Climb: 3,200 ft./min.
  • Service Ceiling: 41,900 ft.
  • Power Plant: 1 × Packard V-1650-7 liquid-cooled supercharged V-12, 1,490 hp
  • Armament
    6 × 0.50 in. machine guns
    Up to 2,000 lb of bombs (2 hardpoints)
    10 x 5″ unguided rockets

The Mustang was undoubtedly one of the most versatile and successful single-seat fighters of World War Two. Originally designed to meet a British requirement early versions quickly demonstrated their superior performance and when later Mustangs were fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine the Allies had one of the truly great fighters of the 20th Century.

The fitting of drop tanks allowed Mustangs to escort American bombers all the way to Berlin and back. The everyday appearance of such a superb Allied fighter over the German capital sounded the death knell of the Third Reich.

Apart from being the most successful aircraft of its type, the Mustang illustrates the close co-operation between the USA and the UK. The Americans produced one of the best fighter airframes in the world and when matched to the superb British Merlin aero-engine a thoroughbred was born.

The P-51 was the most successful long-range fighter escort of World War II, but it was not an instant success. Designed for the British in only 120 days to meet their requirement to purchase more fighters, the first Mustangs were built with Allison engines; while remarkable at low altitudes, these variants were considered under-powered and disappointing at higher altitudes.

Happily, in late 1942 the aircraft was transformed when, in the UK, Rolls Royce Merlin engines were tested in place of the Allison. The Merlin, as used in the Spitfire, was then license-built by Packard in the USA and in 1943 was installed in the P-51B & C models. This near perfect marriage of engine and platform made the 1944 P-51D, with its bubble canopy and six-guns, one of the most iconic and potent fighters of all time

P-51D-25 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine”
P-51D Mustang “The Hun Hunter”
P-51D Mustang N351MX

P-51D Mustang “Ferocious Frankie”

This Mustang was built at the North American Aviation Factory at Inglewood, California and accepted by the USAAF on 27/02/1945. One month later it was sent to the 8th Air Force, via Newark and Liverpool docks, serving at Leiston in Suffolk among other stations.

The aircraft stayed in England for only 11 months before returning to Newark in January 1946. Briefly kept in storage, in January 1947 it was sent to the Royal Canadian Air Force, operating from Suffield, Alberta. In 1953 with only total 433 flying hours it was completely overhauled in Winnipeg and with only an additional 81 hours time thereafter, was put into outside storage in Carberry Manitoba.

Happily, in 1957, it was sold into private hands and registered as N6340T. The aircraft was bought for $5,400 in 1962 with a total of 511 airframe hours. Flying in the Unlimited Race at Reno in 1974, the effectively stock (original) aircraft finished second with an average speed of 384mph.

In April 1980 the aircraft flew across the Atlantic to new owners, The Fighter Collection. Re-sprayed, it became known as Candyman / Moose, with the name on one side of the fuselage and the Moose’s head on the other. The Mustang was first displayed in the UK at Biggin Hill in 1981.

In 1989, after filming in ‘Memphis Belle’, the aircraft was given a complete overhaul by The Fighter Collection at Duxford. The airframe was remarkably free of corrosion and damage, but a full strip down and component overhaul was undertaken. An overhauled original flying panel was installed. The rear fuel tank in the fuselage was removed and a wartime style modification made to fit a ‘dickey’ seat. This ‘mod’ in 1944 allowed Eisenhower to survey the D-day beaches from the back of a Mustang. A special 1760hp Merlin engine currently powers the aircraft.

OFMC acquired the aircraft early in 1999 and it now carries the highly distinguishing colours of Wallace E. Hopkins, as “Ferocious Frankie”, named in honour of his wife Frankie, coded B7 H of the 374th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group. Wallace Hopkins was born in Washington, Georgia and flew a total of 76 combat missions with the 361st where he flew as Operations Officer. He was an ACE credited with 8 victories and 1.5 damaged. His decorations include the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross both with Oak Leaf Clusters and the French Croix de Guerre, one of four awarded to members of the 361st.

 P-51D Mustang “Old Crow”

“Old Crow” is the ex United States Army Air Force P-51D serial 44-73877. When she was delivered she was stored until she was being delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force as RCAF 9279 on January 23, 1951.

She served with 403 (Auxiliary) Squadron at Calgary, Alberta. When struck of charge in 1958 she found her first civil owners in James H. Defuria and Fred J. Ritts of Intercontinental Airways, Conastota, New York where she would stay until 1960 registered as N6320T. She was then for a short period with Aero Enterprises at Elkhart, Indiana until going back to Canada owned by Neil McClain, Strathmore, Alberta who registered her as CF-PCZ.

On April 29, 1968 she was acquired by Paul D. Finefrock, Hobart, Oklahoma and registered as N167F.

Unfortunately she got damaged on September 1, 1969 while taxiing at the air races in Eiless, Texas, she collided with another Mustang. She was rebuilt and rejoined with Finefrock until 1980.

She was sold to the Scandinavian Historic Flight from Norway in September 1980 and was rebuilt during a five year project by Vintage Aircraft at Fort Collins, Colorado. She made her first post-restoration flight in 1985 and she was delivered to the Scandinavian Historic Flight on 27, 1986.

While with her current owners she had a couple of different liveries applied. She had the markings of “Old Crow” being in bare metal livery with red vertical stabilizer.

In 1989 she was painted olive drab and named “Cisco” in when she played a role in the feature film “Memphis Belle”. In 1999 she was painted as Lieutenant Urban L. Drew’s Mustang 44-14164 coded E2-D, who named her “Detroit Miss”. Of the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group while based at Bottisham in the UK. Drew was credited with 6 arial victories including 2 Me-262s in one single mission.

The markings she flies in until today where applied in 2001. Being the assigned Mustang 44-14450 with code B6-S of Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson who named her “Old Crow”. She was assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, based at Leiston, Norfolk, UK. The original “Old Crow” was lost on February 21, 1944 whilst being flown by Lieutenant Alfred R. Boyle who was made Prisoner of War.

In April 2009 N167F played a role in the new film by George Lucas, “Red Tails”, telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all Afro-American unit in the USAF history. She was painted with an all red tail for the duration of the filming in the Czech Republic.

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In 2012 she was sold from Nordic Warbirds to Shaun Patrick. It is now on the English register as G-SHWN. The Mustang sports a new colour scheme, and often referred to as “The Shark”. “The Shark” served with 112 Squadron in Sicily and Southern Italy at the end of WWII. G-SHWN is based at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England where NSF cooperate with Aerial Collective.

Norwegian Spitfire Foundation is operating the Mustang on the airshow scene. “The Shark” got a Packard Merlin V-12/V-1650-7/1700 hp engine, equal to a Merlin 68 engine. Its top speed is at 700 km/h.

TF-51D-25 Mustang 44-84847 – “Miss Velma”

A thoroughbred by any other name The Mustang itself, msn 124-44703, was built as P-51D-10-NA #44-84847 by North American Aviation’s Dallas plant right at the end of World War II. It didn’t see active service in WW2 but is believed to have served in the Korean conflict with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th TRW, based at Kimpo.

By 1952 she was back in the US with the Air National Guard, although I can’t find which State. The record goes dark from 1956 although the usual tale of ANG transition to jets, Mustang disposal, and boneyard storage or gate guardian duties seems likely.

Recovered and restored
The aircraft next appears in January 1999 as a restoration project with Odegaard Aviation of Kindred, North Dakota. Registered as N251RJ, she was subsequently sold to Duxford’s The Fighter Collection and moved to Chino, California to complete her restoration and conversion to TF-51 configuration.

Steve Hinton took the restored fighter up for her first flights in May 2007.

The aircraft was then painted as Miss Velma, fitted with drop tanks and flown across the North Atlantic to the UK, arriving at Duxford on July 4th, 2007 and entering the UK aircraft register as G-TFSI. (TF51 …Geddit?).”Miss Velma”, was involved in an off airport belly landing on July 9 2017 at the Duxford airshow in UK.

Almost incredibly, the restored Mustang was back in the UK by June 2018, in time to appear at Flying Legends 2018.

 

TF-51D-25 Mustang 44-84847 - (earlier "Miss Velma")
TF-51D-25 Mustang 44-84847 – “Contrary Mary” (earlier “Miss Velma”)

Just one year later, the newly rebuilt 44-84847 in the 78th FG colours of Lt.Col. Roy Caviness’ ‘Contrary Mary’, back at Duxford in July 2018.

As part of the rebuild, 44-84847 was given a new identity – that of #44-14251 Contrary Mary, originally a P-51D-10-NA (msn 109-27880) ‘WZ-I’, flown by Lt.Col. Roy Blair Caviness.

P-51D Mustang ‘Miss Helen’ 44-72216

Robs Lamplough’s 44-72216 with c/n 122-38675 was delivered from the North American Aviation Production line at Dallas Texas and delivered to the United States Army Air Force on September 1, 1945.

She served with the 352nd Fighter Group, 487th Fighter Squadron, based at Bodney in the United Kingdom. Coded HO-M she was first assigned to Captain Raymond Littge named “Miss Hellen” and later to Lieutenant Russel Ross who named her “Miss Nita”.

On February 25, 1948 she was, among other ex USAAF Mustangs, delivered to the Royal Swedish Air Force who flew the P-51 Mustangs under designation J26 (Jaktplan/Fighter 26). She got Swedish serial Fv26116 and was assigned to Flygflotti F4 (4 Wing) at Osterund and later, coded F (yellow) with F16 at Upsalla. In 1953 she was overhauled and struck of charge before being delivered to the Israeli IDFAF where she got serial 2343, coded 43.

In 1976 Robert Lamplough recovered her from a playground at the Ein Gedi Kibbutz in Israel and shipped her to the UK where she was stored at North Weald until 1981 when she was entered in the UK civil registry as G-BIXL. She was rebuilt using the main plane of Mustang 44-72770 that was recovered from a Dutch Technical School and made her first post restoration flight on May 5, 1987 as 472216/HO-L.

In 1989 she played a role in the feature film Memphis Belle as “Miss L” painted in olive drab with code AJ-L and in 2000 she was back in her original markings of 472216/HO-M named “Miss Helen”. Unfortunately she was involved in an accident in 2004 wich resulted in an off-airport landing where she was severely damaged. In 2007 the repairs were finished and she took the sky again.

Not for long as it would turn out in 2008. During the Autumn airshow at Duxford her engine was running rough and while landing after the so called balbo, on touchdown she was catapulted from the grass runway and bounced rough back into the air. She spinns on the ground after landing, damaging at least her gear and engine. It could have been a lot worse if she flipped over.

But once again she was  successfully repairs and today this very historic Mustang is fully airworthy.

In 2014 she was sold to its new owner Robert Tyrrell from Steventon near Abingdon. The aircraft is maintained by the Duxford based Aircraft Restoration Co. and can be seen regularly flying from there or from the owner’s airstrip at Steventon.

Mustang P-51C-10 43-25147 “Princess Elizabeth”

43-25147 was built by NAA at the Dallas, Texas plant in 1943. Its wartime history is unknown. It is only known to fly with the Israeli Air Force as IDFAF “13”, but the exact timeframe is again not known.

After its military service, the aircraft was used by the Holz Technical School in Tel Aviv from 1960 through to 1975. It was missing its engine, propeller, cowls and tail section. The fuselage had been cut open immediately aft of the cockpit to facilitate the removal of radio equipment prior to its intended scrapping.
It was rescued just in time, along with a D-model, by Californian brothers Angelo and Pete Regina in 1978. Pete had also bought the remains (aft fuselage and tail assembly) of another B-model Mustang 43-6351, which was the last genuine

B-model until it crashed at Hayward, California in 1957.
They obtained authentic B/C model cowl and engine mount from Gordon Plasket, who had bought the remains of the post-war Cavalier Mustang modification programme. The unique “turtleback” was restored using a mould taken from the then Frank Tallman (now Kermit Weeks) owned C-model 42-103831.

Upon restoration completion, the Mustang was repainted as Don Gentile’s 4th FG Shangri-La. It made its first flight on June 11th , 1981 with Dave Zeuschel at the controls.

The following years, the Mustang participated in the Reno Air Races flown by Skip Holm. In early 1986, the Mustang was put up for sale in Trade-A-Plane magazine. It was acquired by Joseph Kasparoff in February of that year.

In December of 1996 it was acquired by Stephen Grey’s The Fighter Collection. Steve Hinton flew her from Van Nuys to Fighter Rebuilders at Chino, California where she was stripped back to bare metal and where wing spar rectification work and an overall inspection was carried out.

The heads and banks of the Merlin engine were overhauled by JRS. After a number of test flights, the aircraft was crated up and shipped to the UK, where it arrived at Duxford on July 3rd , 1997.

During the rest of the 1997 airshow season she did not fly very much and TFC discovered that major work needed to be done on the fighter. Although the Regina brothers did a fairly good job with the means they had at the time, corrosion was found in the lower fuselage longerons which form the structural heart of the airplane.

TFC thus decided to carry out a complete airframe restoration, back to stock condition!

The total restoration process was to take 6 years… In August of 1998 she was completely taken apart again in order to facilitate the restoration. In December the fuselage and wings were packed into a container and shipped to John Muzala’s Pacific Fighters in Idaho. Over the next 12 months the contractor completed the structural restoration of the bare fuselage and wings.

In January of 2000, the aircraft arrived back in the UK, complete with new skins on the wings and fuselage, new long-erons and a new spar. The Mustang was put back together.

TFC acquired a complete set of Mustang drawings and, upon closer examination, found out that a C-model Mustang differed a lot to the D-model and so it became clear that a large number of parts in 43-25147 were in fact modified D-model parts. TFC made the decision to restore the aircraft to stock configuration.
Stock C-model parts were sought after or manufactured to the original NAA specifications.

The main area that was affected by a mismatch of parts was the undercarriage bay, the lower firewall and all mechanisms within that area. The team built a number of components from scratch, such as the bell cranks, torque tubes and the complete lower firewall.

She made her fist post-restoration flight in 2005 and once again became the star attraction at various airshows across the European skies.

In December of 2006, the P-51C was (unfortunately for many European warbird enthousiasts) sold to Jim Beasley and was shipped to the US in early 2007.

To to some delays by the FAA and paperwork, the Mustang was grounded until late May of 2007. She was re-registered N487FS and now resides with the Friedkin Air Force at Texas and is flown by Jim Beasley as part of the Horsemen P-51 display team.