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Tom Cleaver
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“Spam Can” in her new incarnation at Chino today

October 12, 2013 · in Show Reports · · 11 · 2K

Every few years, repaints "Spam Can" (the world's oldest continuously-licensed P-51D, since 1957) to represent a famous . She is now in the markings of the 506th Fighter Group, one of the VLR groups operating over Japan from Iwo Jima in 1945.

That first picture finally catches me in front of the camera, thanks to a lady who was not only a Mustang Fan but a TC The Author Fan (fortunately for me, she's 35 years too young and married, or I would have been in serious trouble). Those who might wonder about the shade of yellow in the tail, one of the guys from the 506th informed me that it is Yellow Zinc Chromate! The other squadron with "green tails" used Interior Green. There weren't any other paints available on Iwo Jima.

Update: In response to visitors from elsewhere who have questioned the source of the information, this is what Bill Ebersole (the youngest pilot in the 506th, flew "Hon. Mistake") told me last year when the new scheme was revealed publicly at a "First Saturday" event about the VLR Mustangs and the 506th FG. I overheard Bill say that "they got the right color," and asked him what he meant, at which point he told me about the use of the yellow zinc and the black. Also that insignia blue was used for the third squadron since there were cans of it from the other groups on the island. (don't ask me why they would have that, the ways and hows of the military are frequently obscure). Modelers frequently confuse YZC with colors like what Tamiya presents as YZC, which is actually too green. YZC is in fact yellow and seems to have a touch (I believe, since when I have done this with a bottle of flat yellow, I get the shade) of black. YZC would in fact be available for repairs to airplanes, since the salt water marine environment of Iwo Jima, combined with the methane of the volcano, would harm unpainted aluminum (look at how flat the aluminum surfaces of the aircraft are in photos) in interior repairs.

Since there are no color photos of these airplanes I am aware of, the memories of guys like Bob Ebersole are what you have to go with.

Reader reactions:
3  Awesome

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

11 responses

  1. You dyed your hair blonde...?

  2. I know, it looks strange - it's sunlight reflecting off the greyish-brown.

  3. Yeah, I've seen that angelic glow that comes from camera's pointed at peoples heads in bright light. Its called gray hair. Something that I tell people not to do...get old. No one listens to me.

    Ten points for a commendable presentation given the lighting.

  4. still i pictured you about 80 years old overweight with white hair and a white beard because you all ways refer to your age...and your right gett'in old ain't for whimps

  5. Gray hair? You guys are amateurs. I go so fast it all blew off.

  6. Tom ... IF I didn't see the pic of you by the the actual "Spam Can" I would have thought the other pics were of a model YOU had built and posed in front o a hanger ! THANKS for the photos !

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