My Girl, 75 years ago today
A North American P-51 Mustang of the USAAF, nicknamed “My Girl,” takes off from Iwo Jima in the Bonin Islands, 1 June 1945.
As noted by the WW2 Database, My Girl is a P-51D-20NA of 457th Fighter Squadron in the 20th Air Force’s 506th Fighter Group, which was stationed at Iwo’s North Field at the time, specializing in conducting 1,500-mile round trips escorting B-29s over Japan. That would explain the two large drop tanks.
One of the greatest limiting factors of fighter escorts from Iwo was the human factor. The B-29 was heated and pressurized. Compared to the unheated, unpressurized P-51, the bomber crews sat in secure comfort. The punishment on the fighter pilots’ bodies was compounded by the extremely high altitudes they flew to escort the bombers, usually more than 30,000 feet. This was several thousand feet higher than fighter pilots flew in Europe, escorting B-17 and B-24 bombers. The round trip from Iwo to Japan and back was nine hours, spent in a physically battered state.