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North American P-51 Mustang
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G-TFSI North American TF-51D Mustang c/n 124-44703 - USAAF 414251 WZ-I Contrary Mary - Oostwold airfield in Holland - 9 June 2019 vliegveld Oostwold (EHOW)

The North American P-51D Mustang is a single-seat attacker/fighter aircraft. The Mustang was originally designed by North American Aviation Corp as the Model N.A.73 at the request of the British Air Purchasing Commission for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The prototype Model N.A.73X, NX19998, flew first in October 26th 1940, only 117 days after the project started. The early NA-73 Mustang fitted with an Allison V-1710 engine, was an excellent low-altitude reconnaissance fighter, but had low performance above 15000ft. After re-engining with the Rolls Royce Merlin, the P-51B was one of the best fighters of WWII. The most produced model of the Mustang was the P-51D-NA that went in production in 1944. The P-51D-NA, was an attack/fighter plane equipped with a 1695 hp Rolls-Royce (Packard) Merlin V-1650-7 engine. The armament consisted of six fixed 12.7 mm machine-guns in the wings and some aircraft had rocket pylons added to the undersides of the wings to carry up to ten rockets per plane. 6502 P-51D-NA planes were manufactured. Total production of all models was 15,576.

The Fighter Collection' North American TF-51D Mustang G-TFSI, painted in the USAAF 414251 / WZ-I '‘Contrary Mary' colours was one of the highlights at the Oostwold Airshow 2019. This warbird is powered by a Pakard Motor Car Co Merlin V1650-7 (Hamilton Standard 24D50-87) engine. The G-TFSI was in 1944 constructed at the North American Aviation Inc plant in Dallas, Texas, as the North American P-51D-25NT Mustang 44-84847 and one of the last Mustangs built. The aircraft wasn't used in combat service in WWII. In 1948, the designation of the North American P-51 (P for pursuit) was changed to F-51 (F for fighter), so the P-51D 44-84847 became a F-51D. From September 1951, the F-51D 44-84847 served as a reconnaissance aircraft with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kimpo, South Korea, during the Korean War. By late 1951 the 45th TRS were replacing their aging Mustangs with RF-80 Shooting Star jets, and F-51D Mustang 44-84847 was shipped back the US to serve with the U.S. Air National Guard until around 1956. It is not know what happened with the aircraft after it was withdrawn from service with the Air National Guard (ANG). On 15 January 1999 the airframe appeared in North Dakota as a restoration project as it was registered that day N251RJ with Bob Odegaard, Kindred, North Dakota, a famous flyer and well known as restorer. On 1 March 2000, the N251RJ was registered with James Maloney, Fargo, North Dakota. In 2004, the N251RJ was restored with the Odegaard Family and registered with Donna Odegaard, Kindred, North Dakota. In 2005, the airframe was sold to Stephen Grey's "The Fighter Collection" at Duxford, UK. The F-51D airframe was moved to Fighter Rebuilders at Chino, California, for a full restoration with the decision made to modify her to a  two-seat TF-51D configuration with full flying controls in both the front- and backseat. On 12 April 2005, the aircraft was registered with Steve Hinton, Chino, California. The restoration project culminated in a first flight on 22 May 2007 with Steve Hinton at the controls. Following this the Mustang was painted in the 55th Fighter Group scheme of Capt Frank Birtciel’s North American P-51D Mustang 44-14561/ CY-D "Miss Velma". Following the successful completion of her flight testing, "Miss Velma" was fitted with external drop tanks and flew across the Atlantic to the UK, where she arrived at Duxford on 4 July 2007. On 13 June 2014, registration N251RJ was cancelled as exported to the UK. On 17 June 2014, the TF-51D was registered G-TFSI in the UK with Patina Ltd, Jersey, and as before operated by The Fighter Collection at Duxford. On 9 July 2017, during the Flying Legends air show at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, P-51D Mustang 44-14561/ CY-D "Miss Velma" was part of a formation of ‘Warbirds’ approaching the end of their display sequence over Duxford Aerodrome. The engine stopped without warning during the latter stages of this air display and after it restarted and stopped several times, the pilot concluded he would be unable to return to the airfield. The aircraft sustained damage after the forced landing in a cornfield, but the pilot was uninjured. The damaged aircraft was rebuild and painted as 414251 WZ-I ‘Contrary Mary’ in the 1945 colour scheme of the USAAF, 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group that operated in that year out of the USAAF Station 357 (Duxford, UK). On 13 July 2018, the aircraft was seen active again during the Flying Legends air show 2018 at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. However the aircraft is converted into a two-seat TF-51D, the G-TFSI is registered by the CAA as a North American P-51D Mustang.

page last updated: 18-06-2019
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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