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Frank Cronin
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“Nose Art Group” Tamiya P-51D

June 18, 2018 · in Aviation · · 14 · 2.5K

Allow me first to make the point that I do not in any way disparage the town of Cooter Missouri nor any of the fine people that live there….

That being said:

This is a model of an airplane that I have wanted to build for a very long time and it is my posting for the “Nose Art Group”.

Many years ago my wife worked with a young lady that told her she was raised and lived in Cooter, MO. I found this rather interesting as I was familiar with the “COOTER' flown by William “Hank” Gruber, with the 357th FG, 362nd FS. I knew nothing about Gruber and I wondered if he was in fact from Cooter, MO. I asked a close friend of mine, Merle Olmsted, if he knew if Gruber was from this town. He had no information on where Gruber was from and did not know the true origin of the name on the airplane. At the time he said he had no contact with Gruber or if in fact he was still with us. I attempted to find out information on Gruber but found nothing about his biography. There were only three very brief notes, one a photo, in Merles last book, “To War with the Yoxford Boys”. The town of Cooter, does in fact exist in the boot heel of Missouri. It's population is 469 according to Wikipedia.
Cooter has also become sort of a standing joke with me and the family. When things go bad here in the PRC I say “that's it, we're moving to Cooter to regain our senses” Of course no one is packing and it will always remain as my “Shangri-La"

According to Houck's History of Missouri the town of Cooter was named in 1854 for the Madame Coutre, the owner of a brothel that served travelers that passed through the Missouri Bootheel. Madame Coutre is listed in documents as being a merchant and tavern owner in the area of present-day Cooter. As a result of her brothel, cooter entered American English as a slang word. Madame Marie Coutre ran the brothel until her death in 1812. Her daughter, Joan Cooter, took over the family business, which lasted five generations
The Cooter Tavern Inn was shutdown by federal agents in 1925 enforcing Prohibition laws. The brothel was demolished, but the town retains the name of its legendary founder.

From all I know at this point, Gruber either named his aircraft for the town he hailed from or perhaps for the American English slang term of “cooter” One only knows.

So with my knowledge of the P-51 “COOTER' and my love of the 357th FG and the young lady from Cooter, I have finally made a model of this aircraft for the “Nose Art Group” as an homage to William “Hank” Gruber and my dear friend Merle Olmsted

Reader reactions:
7  Awesome

12 additional images. Click to enlarge.

14 responses

  1. Beautiful work Frank. Your love of the group shows in the model and the story is every bit as interesting as the nose art.

  2. Frank, Nicely done ! The Tamiya kit is still a great kit even up against the new stuff coming out, and its a P-51. Very cool story, makes you wonder where some of the other names we see actually came from. I like it !

  3. I like it, Frank...good job!

  4. Interesting story, there are plenty of places that got their name from unilikely sources, and Cooter fits that shoe. I’ve always loved to know more from where the names originated so thank you for sharing that story.
    As for your P-51 it is a gem, the OD camouflage looks great and the colourful nose looks even better. Well done sir!

  5. Great background story Frank, and the P-51 looks great as well. Nicely done. Where did you find the decals for this ride as I'm now interested in doing one.

  6. A beautiful Pony, and a fun "history" to go with it! Kudos.

  7. Outstanding, Frank!

  8. Frank this is a STUNNING Mustang and the background story just adds to this one being a WINNER. I always wondered about the name Cooter as it appeared on a Republic F 105 G during the Vietnam war.

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  9. A really great build and interesting story!

  10. Nice work there, Frank. Another good-looking Yoxford Boy.

  11. Morne,
    That is indeed interesting. For all we know, there may be a connection to Gruber or to Cooter, MO. Thank you for the compliment.

  12. Lovely work Frank. There's something about those red & yellow checks.

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