Tag Archives: P-51D

Three By Tuskegee

1LT Harry T. Stewart Jr., foreground, of Queens, New York, is pictured on April 1, 1945, when returning from an escort mission in his P-51D Mustang. Stewart is holding up three fingers to indicate that he shot down three Messerschmitt Bf 109s (an accomplishment that earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross) while escorting B-24 Liberators tasked to bomb the St. Polten marshaling yard. Pictured behind Stewart is his crew chief, Jim Shipley, of Tipton, Missouri.

Stewart’s jubilance was tempered by the reality that two of his fellow “Red Tails” pilots lost their lives during the same engagement with German fighters. The engagement, in which eight P-51s fought off a dozen Me 109s and four Focke-Wulf Fw 190s, took place near Wels, Austria just a week before the end of the war in Europe.
Born on Independence Day 1924, while still a teenager, he cycled through flight training at Tuskegee Air Field Stewart and joined the all-black 332d Fighter Group. Flying P-40s and later P-51s, he flew 43 combat missions in the ETO. He remained on active duty until 1950 and in the reserves into the 1960s, retiring as a light colonel.
An interview with Lt.Col. Stewart, below:

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.

LC-USZ62-93535

LC-USZ62-93535

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.

Of note:

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.

Barn find P-51 in circa 1972 Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca condition

From Platinum Fighters.

We recently pulled P-51D N38227 out of the hangar for the first time in 30 years. This airplane is in the same condition it was when it flew with the Guatemalan Air Force over 45 years ago. Sold with the worlds largest private inventory of Merlin engines and P-51 airframe parts – many New Old Stock.

For more information see here

Got some scratch for a ‘barn find’ P-51?

You can always sit in it and make machine gun sounds...

You can always sit in it and make engine and machine gun sounds…

Last flown in 1983, Platinum Fighter Sales has an original and unrestored multi-owner P-51D Mustang up for grabs.

Known as the “Cadillac of the Sky” in World War II, the P-51 Mustang fighter was the mount of choice for several U.S. Army Air Force aces including Chuck Yeager.

The aircraft at hand, S/N 44-77902-N38227, was built in 1944 and carries the famed Packard Merlin V-1650-7 piston engine with Rolls-Royce 620 Heads and a few truckloads of spare parts including what look to be several spare canopies, blocks, wing segments and the like.

“This may be the last original unrestored P-51D Mustang in original military configuration,” notes Platinum, advising even the armor plating is still installed.

The plane flew with the Guatemalan Air Force between 1954-1972 and was returned to the States afterward, but has been in storage since the Reagan Administration.

If it surprises you that the Guatemalans flew the P-51 for so long, keep in mind that the last piston-engine dog fights, that of the Soccer War between fellow Central American military powerhouses Honduras and El Salvador in 1969 involved Mustangs and Corsairs.

Price?  $4.5 mill. But hey, it’s a P-51. All you need are a half-dozen M2 Brownings for the wings are you are set.

The time a P-51 shot down a perfectly good C47 on purpose

Lt. Louis Curdes, in Bad Angel p-51 note the kills

Lt. Louis Curdes, USAAF in his P-51D “Bad Angel.” The markings are from the 3rd Air Commando Group, 4th Fighter Squadron, from Laoag Airfield, Luzon, Philippines, 1945. Proudly displayed on the fuselage of “Bad Angel” were the markings of the pilot’s kills: seven Nazis; one Italian; one Japanese…and one U.S.

The US plane was not a mistake, or friendly fire, he intentionally took it down.

Dafuq?

Yup.

Curdes arrived in the ETO with 82nd Fighter Group, 95th Fighter Squadron in April 1943 and was assigned a P-38 Lightning. Ten days later he shot down three German Messerschmidt Bf-109s. A few weeks later, he downed two more German Bf -109’s– making him an ace in a month. Over the next three months, Curdes shot down an Italian Macchi C.202 Folgore fighter and two more Messerschmidts before his luck ran out, being splashed by a German fighter on August 27, 1943 over Salerno, Italy.

Escaping, he made it back to Allied lines and after training on P-51s, was sent to the Pacific where he dusted a Mitsubishi reconnaissance plane near Formosa.

Then came the American.

It was an unarmed C47 cargo plane that was attempting to land at Batan air field which had recently been taken over by the Japanese, it would have been certain death or worse for the 12 passengers and crew. Not being able to raise the plane by radio and attempts at waving the C47 off ignored, the C47 still continued with it’s landing plan. At that point Lt. Curdes choose to shoot the C47’s engines out and force them to do a water landing where they were picked up by a Navy ship in the area.

It’s an odd story for sure, but left Curdes as the only American WWII pilot to down at least one of each major enemy’s planes– and one of his own.