For me, one of the most intimidating aspects of building a Mustang is the exhaust trail. Merlin’s don’t really put out black “soot”…they discolor the surrounding metal into a beautiful rainbow with a touch of lead deposits, giving a light grey tone. I lived with, polished, and flew Betty Jane for 8 years on the Wings of Freedom tour. We flew her hard and nearly everyday of the 10 month tour(s). Keeping a natural metal airplane looking good is difficult at best, with rain being our biggest enemy. Over the years I photographed the exhaust trail as a future reference for building a model of her. The higher elevation airports gave us a richer fuel burn and the white lead deposits added to the rainbow. Rain would start the oxidation process at a horrendously fast rate. During the war they cleaned them with high octane fuel…and while this still works, it isn’t good for the long term preservation of the skin. Crew chiefs were extremely proud of ‘their’ airplanes, and the Mustang is a fairly fragile airplane from the standpoint of being liquid cooled. Maintenance (chasing leaks) is a bit more intense than their air cooled counterparts so constant cleaning and panel pulling was normal. No matter how much cleaning and maintenance was done, one flight would burn in a new stripe. Sooo…building a model almost requires the exhaust burn. I’d love to see some examples before I start the model. I hope these photos help!
14 additional images. Click to enlarge.