HELP: P-51D Excavation in France Turns Up Questions

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ColesAircraft, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:
    DSC09682.JPG National insignia.JPG National insignia-a.JPG P51 skin-h.JPG

    These photos depict a recent P-51 excavation in France. I received these photos along with a huge box of the parts themselves (today, in fact), and I've noted some interesting peculiarities. This is supposed to be a D-Day loss and a P-51 'D' model. But it can't be. Look at the red surround on the national insignia - which dates the loss of this aircraft to between July and September 1943, many months before the 'D' was even in Europe. In fact, it seems quite possible that this aircraft, pieces of which I'm looking at on my carpet, is an A-36 Apache!

    The following part numbers I've written down from various places:

    102-31276-2
    97-31108-5
    73-31370

    In any case, the pilot was killed in this crash and the identity of his aircraft and the history of the loss deserve to be known. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    - Ron Cole

    index
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,993
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Don't want to burst your bubble, Ron, but the A-36 was used only in MTO and in Burma. In September 1943 (and prior of that), there is almost zero chance that A-36 were used over France. Further, the USAAF had almost no, or none at all, P-51s in the ETO at the date of interest (July - Sept 1943).
    Of course, I'm looking to be educated here; Ron, more photos would be welcomed, like the engine plate, for example
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    The first P-51D that I have going down was Lt Harvey Arnold 336/4th FG 44-13307 near Comberg June 18, 1944.

    There were neither P-51A nor A-36 on ops except for the Recon units.
     
  4. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:
    #4 ColesAircraft, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
    I have no bubble to burst, and thank you for the information so far. I just need to try and ID what I have. It's unusual with the red surround in any case. What I do with these parts is pair them with my original artwork of the aircraft. So tracking down its markings is important - more so what aircraft it was! Whatever is on my floor here was made by North American, was a single engine a/c w/ a Hamilton Standard prop, and was sporting the July-Sept. 1943 US national insignia. And the pilot died in the crash.



    Here are more photos of the dig:

    Hamilton.JPG Head armour.JPG Rudder pedal-c.jpg The lorry filled up.JPG
     
  5. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:

    Thanks for that info!
     
  6. woljags

    woljags Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    glazier/vintage car restoration
    Location:
    maidenhead uk
    #6 woljags, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  7. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:
    #7 ColesAircraft, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
    A-36-2-LR.jpg

    I have identified one important piece of this wreckage (see above). I believe this proves that this is not a P-51D as the 'D' had a different tail. Also it seems that the A-36 and P-51A used a Curtiss propeller, and this aircraft had a Hamilton Standard used on the 'B' and 'D' models.

    Looks like a P-51B. Still interested in those red rimmed insignia! What unit was flying the P-51B over France between July and September 1943?

    I love this stuff! Thanks for the help so far. Maybe I'll send out some freebie prints once the artwork is done. :)
     
  8. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,281
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    none
    Location:
    Lazio
    afaik none unit flying P-51B over france in july-september. First missions started in december.
     
  9. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:
    #9 ColesAircraft, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
    Looks like the 354th Fighter Group took delivery of their P-51Bs sometime between October and December - depending upon the source. I've seen two photos of 354th FG P-51Bs w/ red around the insignia - one undated, the other claiming to be in October. The order came down to paint out the red in September, but that doesn't mean it happened in every unit overnight.

    Seems like this must be a very, very early 354th FG P-51 loss. This is very cool to me, because it would mean that the Mustang did see action with these short-lived markings. I don't know if anyone's been able to verify that before. These details also imply this could be one of the first P-51 losses in the ETO.

    354FG-P-51B.jpg

    Above: Early 354th FG P-51B, allegedly dated October 1943, w/ red rimmed US insignia.
     
  10. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    25,143
    Likes Received:
    960
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calgary
    #10 Crimea_River, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
    Squadron Signal's Mustang in Action has the 354th's first escort mission over the continent on Dec 5, 1943. First sweep, according tanother source, was over Belgium Dec 1. No losses.

    Edit see below....
     
  11. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    25,143
    Likes Received:
    960
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calgary
    #11 Crimea_River, Nov 9, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
    Checking loss records for late 43/early 44. Where in France is this?

    I have a 354th FG loss on Dec 11/43 but no location. Lt Norman Hall of 363rd FS

    EDIT - this could be 43-12196 (354th FG, 356th FS) pilot became anoxic and crashed into English Channel 1 mi S of Portland Bill, UK Dec 11, 1943. MACR 1457. Pilot MIA. Possible oxygen system failure.

    If so, it's obviously not your bird.

    Will keep looking.
     
  12. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    25,143
    Likes Received:
    960
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Calgary
    Loss records I looked at show several in Jan and Feb 44 but no locations unfortunately.
     
  13. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,069
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    That's so cool fellas!
     
  14. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Aviation Artist - Toy Designer
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    Home Page:

    Terrific loss information - and I've been unable to find anything better anywhere myself. Lots of info on victories, but little on losses. I found a couple of more images of P-51Bs with the 354th that still have the red rimmed markings:

    355th.jpg

    This machine also has nose art - so they seem to have been used in action with the red prior to being repainted blue according to regulations.

    I have an email out regarding the exact location of this dig, along with a query regarding how it was thought that this a/c was a 'D' model that supposedly fell a year later than this one seems to have.

    Cole's Aircraft: index
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    There were zero P-51B's in ETO until the first boatload came to Speke (approximately August 1943) for assembly and modification radios, etc to ETO standards. The 354th initially trained on P-51A from 67th Tactical recon Gp. in November and got their first P-51B-1 in third week of November.
     
  16. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    The first P-51D flew first combat mission in very late May/early June. It was the P-51D-5 which had exactly the same eppenage as the P-51A/B/C. The P-51D-10, arriving at 8th/9th AF combat groups in August, 1944 had the production ventral tail fin. Kits were retro-fitted to all early D/K models and then to B/C's that were still in combat ops through January-March 1945.
     
  17. jasonp51d

    jasonp51d New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Occupation:
    Recruitment
    Location:
    Cambridgeshire
    Home Page:
    102-31276 is a Beam Assembly - Fuselage sta 204-1/4 radiator air scoop attaching - these were only fitted to B, C D versions
    97-31108 is a Frame Assy - Fuselage rear section covered complete - these were fitted to A, B, C versions
    73-31370 is a Frame Assy - Fuselage sta 273-1/2 upper - these were fitted to A, B, C versions

    It would seem to me you most likely have a P-51B or C.

    If any of these parts are for sale or disposal please let me know as my museum is currently building a P-51D-5-NA cockpit section see Bottisham Airfield Museum - P-51 Project Page

    Please contact me at [email protected]

    Thanks

    Jason
     
  18. Geedee

    Geedee Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    3,292
    Likes Received:
    210
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wiltshire, UK
    Well done Jason, you beat me to it with the info (only found this one out today !)
     
  19. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    70
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Keep the info coming guys.
     
  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47,663
    Likes Received:
    1,417
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    In the B&W photos posted, be very careful of assessing the outline to the star and bar as red. The directive ordering the red surround from June 28 1943, to be implemented no later than 1st September, was countermanded on August 14th 1943. This ordered a change to a blue surround. Generally, where a red surround was already in place, this was overpainted with fresh blue paint, which gave a contrast, looking darker than the 'older', most likely weathered, blue of the disc to the star.
    The photos posted appear to be a good example of this, where the tonal change is apparent, and different to red, even if orthochromatic film had been used. (no other tones in the photos suggest the use of this film type).
    Also, in the colour images of the wreckage, although there appears to be a small portion which has a reddish cast, I believe this is possibly oxidised blue paint, which would give a purplish cast, as seen in the images, an effect also caused by chemical reactions of different types of soil.
    I may well be proved wrong, but I really think that the outline was originally blue.
     
Loading...

Share This Page