Two-seat Mustang to leave UK

Contrary Mary sold to new owner across the Atlantic

The sale has been announced of North American TF-51D Mustang G-TFSI, well-known on the UK airshow circuit as first Miss Velma, in the colours of the 55th Fighter Group mount of Capt Frank Birtciel, and then Contrary Mary, marked as the 78th Fighter Group aeroplane flown by Lt Col Roy Caviness. Owned by Fighter Aviation Engineering and operated by Air Leasing, the two-seater was based at both Duxford and Sywell, performing passenger flights from the latter airfield with Ultimate Warbird Flights. Its sale to a new owner in the USA has been brokered by the Aircraft Sales Company, working alongside Air Leasing, which has carried out maintenance on the aeroplane and prepared it for shipping.

Built as a single-seat P-51D at North American Aviation’s Dallas, Texas plant with the serial 44-84847, the Mustang saw no Second World War service, but is known to have been active in the Korean War with the US Air Force’s 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, stationed at Kimpo, South Korea. Returning to the USA, it served with the Air National Guard, but no further details are to hand. 44-84847 became a restoration project in 1999, at that stage in North Dakota and registered N251RJ. It moved to Fighter Rebuilders at Chino, California during 2005 and was converted into a TF-51D with full dual controls, making a maiden post-restoration flight on 25 May 2007. This was in time for a trans-Atlantic delivery flight to Duxford in late June of that year, in the hands of Ed Shipley. Now owned by The Fighter Collection and painted as Miss Velma, the fighter debuted at the Flying Legends show a few days later. It was operated by TFC for several seasons, taking up the UK registration G-TFSI in 2014. From 2016, it has been part of the Anglia Aircraft Restorations and Fighter Aviation Engineering stable. Following a wheels-up emergency landing just off the airfield at Duxford at the end of 2017’s Flying Legends display, the Mustang was repaired over the course of the next year, after which it assumed its new identity as Contrary Mary.

Making up for the departure of the TF-51D, Air Leasing/Ultimate Warbird Flights has taken delivery of Australian-built Commonwealth CA-18 Mustang Mk21 VH-MFT, which arrived at Sywell after shipment from Australia in early November.

TF-51D Contrary Mary getting airborne from Duxford for a display in May 2022, with Nick Smith at the controls.
TF-51D Contrary Mary getting airborne from Duxford for a display in May 2022, with Nick Smith at the controls. BEN DUNNELL