P-51D bound for new owner in France once flight-testing complete
On 25 August, North American P-51D Mustang 45-11518/G-CLNV flew again at Sywell, Northamptonshire with Pete Kynsey at the controls, following restoration by Air Leasing. Owned by the W Aircollection in Paris, once flight-testing is complete the aeroplane will move to its new base at La Ferté-Alais, where it will join the W Aircollection’s other Second World War fighter, Supermarine Spitfire XIV RM927.
The Mustang has been painted in the markings of the 74th Fighter Squadron, which was part of the 23rd Fighter Group, 14th Air Force, operating in the China-Burma-India theatre towards the end of the war. It is understood it may be repainted in France over the winter.
Enthusiasts in the UK will remember the fighter as G-MSTG, which Maurice Hammond operated from Hardwick, Suffolk. Purchased by Hammond from Sir Tim Wallis in New Zealand, restoration began at Maurice’s workshop at Eye in September 1997, the fighter taking to the air again at Hardwick on 14 July 2001 as ‘414419/LH-F’ with the name Janie. It was a regular participant in events until 2 October 2016, when the Mustang crashed on landing at Hardwick, Hammond being seriously injured and the back-seat passenger killed. The aircraft was subsequently acquired by Fighter Aviation Engineering, but during June 2023, as the rebuild neared conclusion, it was registered to the W Aircollection.
Serial 45-11518 was originally shipped to New Zealand in August 1945 and gained the Royal New Zealand Air Force serial NZ2427. With the war over, it went into storage, remaining there until 1952. Sold off in 1958, the P-51 was bought by Sir Tim Wallis of the Alpine Fighter Collection at Wanaka as a long-term restoration project during 1990.