Survivors
N20MS - Daddy's Girl
P-51D N20MS Daddy's Girl - © James P. Church
Type
Serial number
Construction n°
Registry
Paint Scheme



Owner
Based at
P-51D-20NA
44-63807
122-31533
N20MS
Daddy's Girl
Raymond S. Wetmore
359th Fighter Group
370th Fighter Squadron
Charles Somers
Sacramento
California, USA
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Airframe history

Daddy's Girl is another beautiful piece of restoration work by Mike VadeBonCouer and Dave Young of Midwest Aero Restoration in Danville, Illinois. The total restoration project took three years, but the result is absolutely stunning!

P-51D-20NA 44-63807 is a WWII veteran aircraft which was assigned to the 8th AF. After the war, the aircraft was sold from US surplus stock to the Cuerpo Aerea (Uruguay Air Arm and later renamed Fuerza Aerea Nacional and in 1951 Fuerza Aerea Uruguaya) along with 24 other P-51Ds, 11 B-25s and 2 C-47s.

In late November, early December of 1951 those 25 P-51D-20NAs, all within the serial block of 44-63xxx, were flown to Uruguay and were given FAU serial numbers 251 to 275. 44-63807 was delivered on December 4th and was given serial FAU 272.

Due to the lack of spare parts available for the Mustang (as a result of the Korean War), the Mustangs were only sporadically used during a period of ten years. After that period, the FUA sold its eight best Mustang airframes along with a C-124 Globemaster full of spare parts to the Bolivian Air Force for the grand total of $8 USD! The rest of the FUA Mustangs were destroyed in accidents or scrapped.

It arrived with the Bolivian AF on March 19th , 1960, and became FAB 506. It remained in service with the Bolivian AF for 17 more years.

In December of 1977, a group of Canadians (Arny Carnegie of Edmonton, Alberta) arranged the exchange of a number of Canadair built T-33ANs for six of the airworthy Bolivian Mustangs. The trade was accepted and in 1978 the six Mustangs were ferried to Canada. 44-63807 now became registered as C-GXUO and retained its Bolivian AF paint scheme.

In July of 1978, C-GXUO was sold to Bill Bailey Aviation Service in Edmonton, who kept is until 1984. It was then again sold on to Ed Stringfellow of Mid South Lumber Company of Birmingham, Alabama and was re-registered as N20MS.

The Bolivian AF camouflage paint scheme was stripped off and it was put in a silver and yellow military scheme and named "Tiger Lilly".

On March 9th , 2001, it was sold to Jon Vesely of Inverness, Illinois. Jon had heard about Midwest Aero Restoration's high quality work and decided to have 44-63807 completely rebuilt by them.

Like many of the Mustangs that returned from South America, and extensive rebuild wasn't a needless work. The structure was affected by a lot of corrosion and required the replacement of many skins and structural items. Field repairs which were often carried out also required rectification.

Mike VadeBonCouer recalls the condition in which the airframe was in when it came to Midwest Aero Restoraions: "...20MS was a tired old girl. Overall it was pretty original and had been patined over many times in the wheel wells. The tail cone was very tough as were the wings. It was a safe airplane but by today's standards it needed the attention it received. I also think it was well taken care of despite the fact it had never really been gone through".

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.

Vesely's plan was to restore the Mustang to stock as much as possible but with minor safety and comfort changes such as a Garmin 430 and GTX327 transponder. The large original gyros were replaced by a standard 3 1/8" horizon and DG and turn coordinator. The interior and panel colors were kept original despite these changes. On the outside everything was restored to stock condition as well, except for the back seat and only one gun bay detailed with guns and ammo. The left gun bay serves as baggage space.

Midwest Aero's trademark flawless polished finish was also applied to the airframe. Furthermore, all four longerons were replaced due to corrosion.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.

Midwest disassembles the wings, does the gear casting removal, cleaning and stripping and blasting of the wings to assess the corrosion. If the amount of corrosion is considerable, the wings aree sent out to Odegaard Aviation in Kindred, North Dakota for rebuild.

In N20MS, the left main spar had been bent and showed a huge crack just next to the ammo bay. On the right wing, both the inboard and outboard spars were replaced.

The Merlin engine was rebuilt by Jack Roush in Livonia, Michigan. Roush owns Mustangs himself and has rebuilt several Merlin engines for his Mustangs, incorporating several design improvements to the lubrication, cooling and oil systems.

A lot of research also went to the paint scheme which was chosen. Several schemes were looked at, but the eventual choise was a 359th FG paint scheme in the form of Ray Wetmore's "Daddy Girl". It is the first restored P-51 to represent the 359th FG. Even chosing the correct color shade is not as easy as it might seem. Due to differences in color printing, the same photo can have different shades in different books. Jack Smith, author of a book about the 359th FG and several former 359th FG pilots were consulted and so the shade is as accurate as it gets.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.

As the restoration project neared completion, the Mustang was sold to Charles Somers of Sacramento, California. Charles had Midwest finish the rebuild as planned, including the chosen paintscheme.

Vlado Lenoch first flew the newly restored P-51 Daddy's Girl on July 12th, 2004. As with their previous restoration project "Cripes A' Mighty", Midwest Aero won Reserve Grand Champion at the 2004 EEA in Oshkosh with Daddy's Girl.

The Mustang now resides with its new owner at McClellan AFB near Sacramento.

Date Registry Owner
1944
1951
1960
1977
1978
1985

2001
2002
2004
44-63807
FAU272
FAB506
C-GXUO

N20MS
Delivered to the USAAF, assigned to the 8th AF.
Delivered to Uruguayan AF on December 4th
Delivered to Bolivia AF on March 19th
Arny Carnegie, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in December
Bill Bailey, Bailey Aviation Service, Calgary, Alberta, Canada in July of 1978
Ed L. Stringfellow, Mid South Lumber Company, Birmingham, Alabama, USA in June. Repainted as " 463807/MJ-S/Tiger Lilly"
Jon Vesely , Inverness, Illinois, USA on March 9th, 2001
Restoration begins by Midwest Aero Restorations, Danville, Illinois, USA
Charles Somers, Sacramento, California, USA
Restoration complete, painted as "414733/CS-L/Daddy's Girl"
Won reserve Grand Champion at the 2004 EEA in Oshkosh

Paintscheme information


The original “Daddy's Girl” was a P-51D-10-NA with serial number 44-14733 and was flown by Captain Raymond S. Wetmore.

The name

Daddy's Girl was named after Diane Knuppenburg Wetmore, the first of four children born to Wetmore and his wife. Diane was born in the summer of 1944.

The pilot

Ray Shuey Wetmore was born on September 30th , 1923 in Madora, California. He initially enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 24th , 1941, as an armament specialist. He did not enter the Aviation Cadet program until July 3rd , 1942 and earned his wings on March 20th , 1943.

He was assigned to the 370th FS of the 359th FG in April of 1943. He scored his first 4.25 victories whilst flying the P-47 Thunderbolt.

The 359th FG was assigned to the 8th AF on October 19th , 1943, and converted to P-51s on May 5th , 1944.

With his new stallion, Wetmore became a 20-year old ace with a double victory on May 19th , 1943, downing two Me-109s. By the end of the month, his total score was already up to 8.25 and by the end of the year he made Captain with nearly 15 kills.

In total, Wetmore flew 142 combat missions (flying the P-47 and the P-51) and achieved a total of 23 kills (later adjusted to 22.59). He became the 359th FGs highest scoring ace and ranked third in highest scoring P-51 Mustang aces (behind George E. Preddy en John C. Meyer) and eight best of all Americans in the ETO.

He scored a total of 21.25 air-to air kills and 2 strafing kills. 16 kills were made in the P-51 Mustang and 9 of these were scored whilst flying “Daddy's Girl”. One remarkable (and also his final) kill was a Messerschmitt Me-163 Comet rocket plane on March 15th , 1945. He ended the war as a 21-year old Major.

Name
Rank
Unit
Date
Credits
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 02-10-1944 1
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 03-04-1944 0.25
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 03-16-1944 2
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 04-22-1944 1
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 05-19-1944 2
Wetmore, Raymond S. 1st Lieutenant 370th FS 05-29-1944 2
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 11-02-1944 2
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 11-21-1944 3
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 12-31-1944 1.5
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 01-01-1945 1
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 01-14-1945 4.5
Wetmore, Raymond S. Captain 370th FS 03-15-1945 1
      Total credits 21.25

The paint scheme

The 359th FG, also known as “The Unicorns” were assigned to the 8th AF on October 19th , 1943. Although the 359th FG did not become officially operational until mid-December of 1943, many of its pilots had already flown combat sorties with other 8th AF FG.

They started out flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Individual squadron codes had been assigned to the 359th FG one month before activation. The squadron codes were displayed on all P-47s in the prescribed manner for all P-47 units within Great Britain.

All other aircraft markings were likewise in compliance with 8th AF directives and no other distinguishing unit markings were displayed at this time. Oddly enough the only other significant change to the Groups markings during this period occurred in March of 1943 when the 370th FS was instructed to change its code from the existing “CR” to “CS” in all future applications.

In March of 1944 the 359th FG were assigned their Group identity color: light green. As a result, they received a directive to over-paint the existing white 24-inch QIM currently affixed to all Group P-47s with this light green colour.

In reality, the end results often varied due to a combination of available RAF paint inventory as well as the use of a regulation US ANA /503 Light Green (refer to ANA Bulletin No. 166, dated December 4th , 1943).

The 359th were one of the first Groups to convert to the P-51 Mustang in May of 1944.

They used the same US ANA /503 Light Green (as with their P-47s) to decorate the spinner and 12-inches of the cowling on the Mustangs. For whatever reason, a lot of 359th FG Mustangs continued to display the UK QIM markings for some time after their March 23rd , 1944, removal date.

With the arrival of the first natural metal finished P-51, the noses were originally painted in the same shade of green as their camouflaged counterparts. It was quickly discovered however that this particular shade of green had insufficient contrast against the metal finish to be effective as a unit marker.

As a result, by mid summer of 1944, a US Medium Green or British Dark Green paint was chosen as the replacement colour on all 359th FG aircraft.

The nose paint tended to fade rather quickly resulting in a wide assortment of green colour shades within the Group.

The 8th AF issued an advice in May of 1944 to paint the topsides of natural metal finished aircraft in a camouflage scheme. However, the 359th FG applied this camouflage to virtually none of its aircraft.

At about the same time the 368th FS adopted (albeit unofficially) the custom of painting its rudder trim tabs in the same green shade as that used on nose applications. A limited number of natural metal finished Mustangs received a disruptive camouflage application of dark green paint to the upper surface areas of the wings, horizontal stabilizers and empennage.

For whatever reason, many 359th FG aircraft continued to display the black QIMs on the horizontal stabilizers long after these were ordered removed.

In October, the 8th AF issued an order to the Fighter Groups to adopt additional individual squadron recognition colours, by the means of coloured rudders. The 359th Fighter Group consisted of the following Fighter Squadrons:

  • 368th Fighter Squadron: carried code letters “CV” and adopted Light Yellow rudders
  • 369th Fighter Squadron: carried unit code letters “IV” and had their rudders painted Bright Red
  • 370th Fighter Squadron: carried unit code letters “CS” until March of 1944, after that they changed to “CR”. Their rudders were painted in Insignia Blue

The radio call letters were simply block-masked out with the application of the coloured rudders.

In November of 1944 an extended nose group marking was used. The extension took the green coloured nose back in a sweep to the end of the exhaust stack and then back down to terminate under the leading edge of the wing.

Late in the war the 368th and 370th FS were known to have begun painting several of their aircrafts main canopy frames in squadron colours as well.

Outlining the fuselage codes was a practice used sporadically throughout the Group but was most prominent within the 370th FS where the application of a red contour outline was widely used.

The 369th FS was known to have adopted the use of a series of 2-inch horizontal red stripes positioned along the dorsal fin fillet. The number of stripes varied from time to time.

For more information on the following general P-51 markings, please click their appropriate links:
D-Day markings
US National Insignia markings
General P-51 markings


© Mark Styling

If we were to put a timeframe on N20MS we could assume that it was situated later than March 15th , 1945, given the following parameters:

  • She displays 23 kill markings and Ray Wetmore scored his last kill of the war on March 15th , 1945
  • Absence of D-Day markings is correct, they had been ordered removed entirely on December 6th , 1944

 

Contributor pictures of N20MS Daddy's Girl

     

Contributor image copyright (left to right, top to bottom):

1 - 9, 12
10
11
© James P. Church
© Gary Chambers
© Steve Williams

If you have any high-quality photographs of N20MS you would like to share on this website, please contact us.

A very big thanks to Mike VadeBonCoeur and James Church for their kind support on this project!

Usefull links

Midwest Aero Restorations

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