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Tom Cleaver
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P-51A at Chino last weekend

November 2, 2013 · in Show Reports · · 5 · 1.8K

This is the P-51A , in the markings of "Mrs. Virginia" of the 1st Air Commando Group; the original was flown by their legendary commander, Colonel Phil Cochran. Phil and the Air Commandos were immortalized in the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates," which ran in American newspapers in the late 40s and 50s (one of my favorites, growing up). It was created by Milton Caniff, who also created "Steve Canyon."

This P-51A was rescued by Ed Maloney back in 1955 when the aviation mechanics school at Glendale Grand Central Airport closed (to make way for Interstate 5), where it had been used as an instructional airframe. Along with the P-51A, Ed also saved the A6M-5a Zero, the P-47G Thunderbolt and the Me-262A-1a - all of which were being used as instructional airframes!

The airplane was restored to flying status in 1980-81, and has been flown off and on for the past 32 years (it has constant radiator problems, as it has here with the radiator removed). It's been in several different markings over the years - I personally liked it best as an RCAF Mustang Mk.I in the markings of Holly Hills, the first Mustang pilot to shoot down an enemy airplane (Fw-190 during the Dieppe raid).

Photos taken in the late afternoon flat light last weekend, so the color's a bit washed out.

Reader reactions:
3  Awesome

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

5 responses

  1. Tom, washed out or not-that is an Great looking aircraft- love the lines of the early Mustangs!

  2. I wish I could touch this real and authentic bird. But it s so hard from here:(

  3. man...that's lovely

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