North American Aviation P-51 Mustang
Perhaps history's most iconic and recognizable fighter, the Mustang's speed, range, and firepower turned the tide of the American daylight bombing campaign during WW2 and paved the way for victory in the European Theater of Operations. Operated by 27 different nations, the Mustang was the standard for more than a decade.
P-51B-5-NA, 356th Fighter Squadron, 354nd Fighter Group, RAF Boxted, UK, circa 1944
On 11 January 1944, the P-51 Mustang flew it's first long range escort mission over Europe. On that mission, then Major James Howard earned the only Medal of Honor awarded to a fighter pilot in the ETO.
Flying the razorback P-51B Ding Hao!, Howard - having become separated from the rest of his formation - single handedly defended a cell of 25 B-17's from 30 - 40 enemy aircraft. Howard was credited with 4 victories and over the course of 30 minutes, even after his machine guns had jammed or run out of ammunition, he defended the bomber formation... not a single bomber was lost.
Ding Hao! is shown with 2 x 110 gallon external tanks.
P-51D-10-NA, 318 Fighter Squadron, 325 Fighter Group, Northern Italy, circa 1945
On 14 March 1945, Mary Mac was flown by Gordon H. "Mac" McDaniel shot down 5 German aircraft, becoming an "ace in a day."
While 1Lt McDaniel finished the war with 6 victories, Mary Mac was lost less than a month later when she didn't return from a single aircraft strafing sortie in Italy.
Mary Mac is shown in her typical configuration with 2 x 75 gallon external tanks.
For additional information about "Mac" and Mary Mac, see www.ace1945.com which is put up by MAC's son-in-law Frank Lawless.
P-51D-10-NA, 457 Fighter Squadron, 362 Fighter Group, RAF Leiston, circa 1944
Missouri Armada flew with the 357 FG's 362 FS and was flown by Capt John England, an ace with 17.5 victories. He was a highly decorated pilot and the name sake of England AFB in Louisiana.
G4+E is shown in her olive drab upper/light grey lower camouflage with "late" invasion stripes only painted on the lower surfaces.
Missouri Armada is shown in her typical configuration with 2 x 110 gallon "paper" drop tanks.
P-51D-15-NA, 487 Fighter Squadron, 452 Fighter Group, RAF Duxford , UK, circa 1944
Dopey Okie was flown by Lt Karl Dittmer who was also a B-17 pilot and subsequently served in both the Korea and Vietnam Conflicts flying F-51's, F-86's, and O-1's among other planes.
HO+I proudly wears the Group's famous blue nose that earned them the nickname of The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney and the blue rudder of the 487th. Dopey Okie is shown in her typical configuration with 2 x 75 gallon drop tanks.
Lt Dittmer's son was my squadron mate forty year's later.