Mustang unveiled in new colours at Sywell

Formerly flying in Australia, a CAC-built Mustang has now been repainted and will operate in British skies

On January 24, 2024 – less than two months after its arrival from Australia – former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) CA-18 Mustang Mk.21 A68-110 (VH-MFT) was unveiled by Air Leasing and Ultimate Warbird Flights in a new guise at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire.

Polished perfection: ‘Jersey Jerk’ at Sywell on January 24
Polished perfection: ‘Jersey Jerk’ at Sywell on January 24 Darren Harbar

A license-built, now two seat, dual control, example of the iconic North American type, the 1947-built machine has emerged in the colours of P-51D Mustang 44-15152/QI-T Jersey Jerk – the personal mount of Maj Donald J Strait while commanding officer of the USAAF’s 356th Fighter Group 361st Fighter Squadron based out of Martlesham Heath in Suffolk during 1944. Strait flew 122 combat missions to become the 356th’s leading scorer with 13.5 ‘kills’.

Formerly in Australia, the aircraft has been repainted in the UK
Formerly in Australia, the aircraft has been repainted in the UK Darren Harbar

Initially flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, he christened his aeroplanes Jersey Jerk in reference to the state he grew up in, and after finding that the name he had wanted (Jersey Bounce) was already taken. Reluctant to include the word "jerk" in the name, he relented after his crew chief told him: "Sir, let me tell you why we want to name it that. Any guy that would take off in a single engine airplane, cross the North Sea in the wintertime and take a chance of getting his ass shot off by the Luftwaffe or by anti-aircraft fire has got to be a jerk!"

Having previously flown in Australia as Snifter, the Mustang is now owned by Fighter Aviation, and will join the Ultimate Warbird Flights fleet in due course. It's also scheduled to fly at June's Sywell Airshow.

The Mustang represents a machine flown by US fighter ace Maj Donald Strait
The Mustang represents a machine flown by US fighter ace Maj Donald Strait Darren Harbar