This P-51D model “Mustang”, serial 44-72942,was built in fall of 1944 by North American Aviation in Inglewood, California. It was delivered to Army Air Force in Feb 1945 and shipped to the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in Europe. It was transferred to the 15th AF and would have served in the 332nd, 325th, 31st or 52nd fighter groups in Italy and into southern Germany in the spring of 1945. The exact disposition of “942” is not known while in combat service in Europe. Of particular interest though is that the 332nd FG was the red tail Tuskegee Airmen.
In September of 1945 this Mustang was one of the few aircraft from a combat theater to be shipped back to the United States,the vast majority being left overseas. It served in several ANG units until 44-72942 was dropped from USAF inventory as surplus and sold on September 20, 1957 to Dale Newton for $755. The aircraft passed thru several brief owners until October 1962 when it was purchased by Robert E. Fulton,Jr, inventor of the Fulton Airphibian and Skyhook Air Rescue System. Bob flew this Mustang extensively over the next 22 years finally selling the somewhat tired P-51 to Gordon Plaskett in 1984. The aircraft underwent a complete restoration and was painted in the colors of Lt.Col.John C. Meyer, commander of the 487th FS, 352nd FG, 8th AF in Europe.
I purchased the aircraft in 1985 and have flown it more than 2,600 hours over the last 33 years. It has been remarkably reliable and has never had a major mechanical failure or in flight emergency of any kind. Wonderful airplane.
During WWII, about 15,500 Mustangs were built of which about 175 are flyable today. Maybe another 100 are in museums worldwide on static display. But of surviving examples only a handful are known to have actually served in a combat theater. Almost all of the P-51s that exist today were new in boxes at the end of the war, ready for shipment.
Tony Buechler June,2018
|Date of Manufacture
|North American P-51 “Mustang”
|37 feet .5 inches
|32 feet 9 inches
|Single 1695 hp Packard Merlin V1650-7 V12 piston engine
|Hamilton Standard, 4 blade
|Rate of Climb
|Number of Crew
|Six 12.7 mm wing mounted machine guns
|Two 1000 lb bombs or Six Rockets
|175 flyable, 100 in museums
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