P-51D-25-NA 44-73279 was built at NAA Inglewood, California in 1944. It is unclear whether this Mustang saw any action during WWII. In fact, most of the history of the airframe is unclear until it was acquired as a collection of parts (including the data plate) by Bob Baker from John McGuire in 2000.
Bob's passion for Mustangs began back in 1993, when a friend invited him to go to EAA at Oshkosh and dragged Bob to a P-51 with all panels opened up (it was being judged at that time). That P-51 was N51BS Lil' Margaret which won Grand Champion that year.
Bob subsequently bought the book “Mustang Restored”, which was all about the restoration of Lil' Margaret and read it cover to cover. He thought that this would be real challenging to do, but he did not have the financial resources at that time.
Years later, he started to look around for an airframe to restore. Hi finally found a project in Trade-a-plane magazine. Without much experience, he started working on the airframe. He would bring parts home during the week, work on them, take them back to the shop on Friday and work on the airplane during the weekend.
Bob also realised that flying a Mustang required tail wheel skills, so he flew several T-6s and went to Stallion 51 for their P-51 training program.
As the project moved on there was some difference in opinion between Bob's and the shop's goals. The shop wanted to finish the project as soon as possible and didn't appreciate the level of detail that Bob wanted and was striving for. As a result, Bob took the Mustang out of the shop and hired a mechanic himself to finish the plane together.
They finally managed to complete the restoration project and Bob's first Mustang, P-51D-25-NA 44-73463, N351D, flew for the first time on June 17th , 2000. Named “Oklahoma Miss”, she won Best P-51 award that year at EAA.
Upon completion of his first P-51 project, Bob was introduced to John McGuire, a prolific warbird collector who owned the War Eagles Air Museum in Texas. John had a large supply of Mustang parts that he wanted to move, so between the two of them, they worked out a deal.
This is where N451D was born, from a collection of parts, a part of a fuselage and wing, which used to be P-51D-25-NA 44-73279. He hired Gerry Beck's Tri-State Aviation to build a blank fuselage and Bob Odegaard to rebuild a set of wings.
Bob is an odd one off as far as Mustang restorations go, because he does everything himself, almost entirely at his home workshop in Alva, Oklahoma. He admits that there are definitely easier and less time consuming ways to go about a restoration project, but then you often compromise on authenticity and detail. Bob even tackled the overhaul of the Rolls Royce Merlin as well, along with a friend (Jay Johnson) who used to work on Merlins in the 1980s.
Bob gathered a lot of Mustang parts over the years, and even made certain parts himself. For the next three-and-a-half years, Bob would put a lot of his time in this restoration project.
When the time came to pick a paint scheme for the new restoration project, Bob wanted a paint scheme that hadn't been done before and he wanted it to be of a pilot who was still alive at that time, so he could introduce that pilot to the newly restored P-51 and maybe take him up for a ride.
Bob's second choice (the first pilot he picked out had serious health problems and it was unsure if he would make it through to the end of the project) was Bill Pattillo of the 487th FS, 352nd FG, also known as the “Bluenosed Bastards of Bodney”.
Bob got in touch with Bill Pattillo, who provided him with a wartime photograph of his last P-51 44-14790, which he had named “Sweet & Lovely”. Bob studied the photograph and decided to replicate the aircraft as it appeared thereon.
Providing such historic detail on a restoration project is not a one-man effort according to Bob. There is a lot of networking going on between restorers. They all help each other out. Somebody will find an original part still in a box someplace and share every detail (how it was painted, what sort of markings were on it, ..) with the rest.
Bob made his own contribution to the restorer database with the addition of drop tanks. We're not talking about just the “standard restoration” 75 gallon drop tanks, but the original 108 gallon paper drop tanks!
The paper drop tanks were devised by the British. They came up with a system of making laminated and glued paper that would hold fuel. The advantages of paper drop tanks were that they were much lighter than their metal 75 gallon counterparts, they could hold more fuel, they were cheaper and more importantly, when dropped over enemy territory they did not provide a welcome source of metal for the enemy to recycle.
Downside was that if the fuel was left in the tanks for more than a few hours, the glues would break down and the tanks would turn to mush. Planes were never landed with the paper tanks still aboard. If a missions was scrubbed after the group was already airborne, the whole group of Mustangs would line up in a single file over a dump on the field, releasing their drop tanks like on a low level bombing mission. Upon impact, they would burst in a cloud of vapour, but never exploded. The tanks were simply too fragile to risk landing with.
The 108 gallon tanks were available somewhere in February of 1944, but most Mustang groups did not carry them until mid May. This was because there was an ample supply of 75 gallon drop tanks which were allocated by the 8th AF to the P-51 Mustang groups because they had longer range capability anyway, with the 108 gallon tanks reserved for the P-47 groups. By mid May, the supply of 75 gallon tanks was exhausted and Mustang units were cleared to use the 108 gallon tanks, which were now available in sufficient numbers.
At the time of the restoration of “Sweet & Lovely”, only three original intact 108-gallon paper tanks were known to survive, Two of those are locked away in museums. Through a source in the UK, Bob managed to track down an original 108 gallon paper drop tank stashed away in a garage (which is very rare and also very incredible). Bob did not hesitate and bought the tank and shipped it back to the US.
Once back, they made an exact copy, using the original tank as a mold.
Again, the process is shared with other Mustang restorers. The paper drop tanks can also be found on the restored “Happy Jack's Go Buggy”.
The project finally neared completion in 2003. Bob estimates that he had 7,000 to 8,000 hours of his own time invested in the restoration over a 4-year period. The P-51 was present at EAA Oshkosh in 2003 where it won Best Fighter.
Bob made the finishing touches on his newly restored Mustang and would return to EAA the following year. His paper drop tank idea really made the P-51 stand out amongst other restoration projects that year. He presented “Sweet & Lovely” on WWII metal runway planking, with the two 108 gallon paper drop tanks underneath the wings. He also had a detailed display stand of 352 nd FG memorabilia, including Bill Pattillo's original leather jacket.
Against other contesters that year, including Max Chapman's TF-51C and Midwest Aero Restorations' P-51D-20-NA
44-63807 “Daddy's Girl”, Bob Baker's “Sweet & Lovely” took the grand prize of Grand Champion Warbird WWII and it also won the Golden Wrench.
They asked a lot of people visiting the P-51 at Oshkosh which is the original tank and which is the replica… they fooled a lot of people. The port tank is the original one on “Sweet & Lovely”.
After completing this P-51 restoration project, Bob was not done as he acquired another Mustang airframe shortly thereafter, namely P-51D-30-NT 45-11495, which he would go on to restore in the colours of Lt “Bill” Pattillo's twin brother “Buck”.
In 2007, at the Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, Bill Pattillo was reunited with the P-51 restored in the colours he flew in WWII. Bill also signed his name on the aircrafts rudder at that time.
Pattillo Twins 1
Pattillo Twins 2
Engine run 1
Engine run 2
Built at NAA Inglewood, California in 1944
WWII and post WWII history unclear.
Acquired by Robert S. “Bob” Baker in 2000 as a collection of parts, including the fuselage with dataplate. Restoration begins.
Restored as Lt. Cuthbert A. Pattillo's 44-14790 HO-O "Sweet & Lovely"
Won Best Fighter at EAA Oshkosh.
Won Grand Champion Warbird WWII and Golden Wrench at EAA Oshkosh.
N451D is painted in the colours of Lt. Cuthbert A. “Bill” Pattillo's P-51D HO-O/44-14790 “Sweet & Lovely”, 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group. It was Bill's second P-51 of the war.
Both Mustangs flown by Lt. Bill Pattillo were named “Sweet & Lovely”.
Cuthbert A. “Bill” Pattillo and his identical twin brother, Charles, were born just seven minutes apart on June 3rd , 1924, in Atlanta, Georgia, Cuthbert being the oldest of the two. Just like many other identical twins, their lives would often run parallel: both enlisted in the Army Air Force, both flew with the 352nd FG, both left the service and entered the Georgia School of Technology, both re-entered service in 1948 and were assigned to the same base in Georgia before moving to the same base in Germany. Both were part of the display team “The Skyblazers”, both helped to form and were part of the original USAF Thunderbirds demonstration team, both would assume command of a Fighter Wing in Vietnam and both became Generals at the end of their military careers.
Bill graduated from Atlanta Technical High School in 1942 and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in November of 1942. Thanks to the alphabet, both brothers went through the same process during and after their training. When the list was parcelled out for training, both brothers were shipped off to primary training in PT-17s, followed by basic training in BT-13 monoplanes and finally advanced training in the AT-6.
They completed the aviation cadet program and received their pilot wings as Second Lieutenants at Marianna, Florida, on March 12th , 1944. After completing P-40 Warhawk training, they would be assigned to a Fighter Group. Bill remembers fearing that the Army Air Forces would finally separate them, following the loss of several Sullivan brothers on one ship.
They were separated… in a certain way. Both brothers were assigned to the 352nd Fighter Group, then known as the “Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney”, however Bill was assigned to the 487th FS while Buck was assigned to the 48 th FS. They would make the trip to Europe in late November of 1944.
At that time, the 352nd had already converted to the P-51 Mustang and Bill named his P-51K 44-11556 HO-Y “Sweet & Lovely”.
His first and only aerial victory would come on April 10th , 1945, near Ulzen, Germany. The unlucky enemy was an Me-262 jet fighter. Bill explains: “We had all these jets come busting through the B-17s. The fast cannon-firing Me-262s dropped three B-17 Flying Fortresses on one pass. I caught sight of about five of the German jets and called one out as a tally-ho target. Something did not appear right with the jet. It should have been able to outrun the Mustang.
When I got up close enough, he started turning, which gave me a chance to cut him off in the turn and get the kill.”
After the kill, Bill continued circling the airfield and managed to damage another Me-262 before it fled the scene.
On April 16th , 1945, both brothers were part of an epic strafing mission at Gonecker airfield near Straubing, Germany. Upon attacking an airfield, the attacking force would usually split up into two groups: one group would take care of the flak units and once this task was completed, the second group would come in and establish a pattern to tear up the airfield. In most cases, the first group would then join them in the attack.
On this particular mission Bill was part of the group which had to take care of the anti-aircraft batteries. He effectively aided in silencing the flak batteries which enabled his brother to commence his strafing run. Bill then joined in on the strafing runs.
Bill destroyed 6 aircraft on this particular mission, but his P-51 was also hit and he crash landed it into a plowed field. He was captured by the Germans and taken prisoner. On May 5th , 1944, he and other POWs were liberated by tanks of Patton's 3rd Army.
Bill would find his way back to England and continue flying with the 487th until he and his brother were released from active duty in December of 1945.
In all, Bill would complete 30 missions whilst flying with the 487th . He scored 1 aerial kill and damaged 1 more. He also scored 6 strafing kills and damaged 3 others on the ground.
You can read more about Bill Pattillo here.
|Pattillo, Cuthbert A.
The paint scheme
The 352nd FG was assigned to the 8th AF on July 6th , 1943, and was stationed at Bodney in Norfolk, UK. They converted to the P-51 Mustang at the end of March, 1944. It was at that time that all units in the 8th AF were assigned different Group colours.
The 352nd FG applied a bright sky blue shade to the noses of their P-51s, which were B- and C-models at that time and which were all delivered in the two-colour camouflage paint scheme of Olive Drab and Neutral Grey. However, the light blue coloured spinner and 12-inch wide nose band provided insufficient contrast with the camouflage finish, so the blue paintwork was extended back to a point approximately halfway below the exhaust stacks and then swept up and back to the windshield.
The following month, the 328th and 487th FS began receiving their replacement Mustangs, all in a natural metal finish.
For a very brief period the 352nd FG attempted to identify its new aircraft by replacing the white QIM cowlings with a substitute application of a medium blue paint. This particular procedure was quickly abandoned when it was determined that there was insufficient contrast between either finish to be functional as a group marker.
In May of 1944 the 352nd FG selected an RAF Azure Blue shade of paint to replace the original Medium Blue Group colour. The distinct blue colour earned them the name “Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney”.
On June 3rd , SHAEF issued an order for the application of the infamous D-Day stripes (aka Invasion Stripes). With the hastily application of the stripes on all operational aircraft, the second unit code letter was almost completely over painted, as was the unit call letter. The 328th FS and 487th FS elected to relocate the call letter to the tail fin, while the 486th FS chose to reposition it just above the wing root and slightly back from the exhaust cut-out. This was short lived however and by late June the 486th FS also repositioned the letter to the tail fin.
In October of 1944, the 8th AF issued an order for additional squadron identification by means of coloured rudders. The 328th FS (unit code “PE”) was assigned Insignia Red as a rudder colour, the 486th FS (unit code “PZ”) wore Identification Yellow and the 487th FS (unit code “HO”) adopted the same shade of blue as that used for the Group nose marker for their rudders.
As the war progressed some unit markings and colours changed slightly, some to offer better visibilty, others for a more esthetic reason. Starting in the summer of 1944, the 352nd applied a slightly darker shade of blue as they started receiving bare metal finished P-51Ds. The shade used was probably British Deep Sky Blue, which was similar to Insignia Blue.
The name “Sweet & Lovely” was white shadowed in yellow with black outlining and is displayed on both sides of the cowling. The crew names on the port cowling were black and the pilot's name on the port side of the canopy frame was painted in red. The 6.5 swastika kill markings are also applied in red.
For more information on the following general P-51 markings, please click their appropriate links:
US National Insignia markings
General P-51 markings
If we were to put a timeframe on N451D we could assume that it was situated later than December of 1944, given certain parameters:
Lt. Pattillo's first “Sweet & Lovely” 44-11556 was lost on the mission on April 16th , 1944, when he was shot down on a strafing mission. He was rescued and returned to his base somewhere in mid-May
She displays 6.5 kill markings. Bill scored 1 aerial kill and 6 strafing kills. Where the half kill originated at that time is unclear, but the same amount of kills is also displayed on a wartime photograph of 44-14790.
The complete absence of Invasion Stripes. These were ordered deleted by SHAEF on December 6th , effective December 31st , 1944.
Pictures of N451D Sweet & Lovely
Walkaround pictures of N451D Sweet & Lovely
Contributor pictures of N451D Sweet & Lovely
Contributor image copyright (left to right, top to bottom):
Pictures of the original "Sweet & Lovely"
(all images © 352nd FG Association Archive)
If you have any high-quality photographs of N451D you would like to share on this website, please contact us.
352nd Fighter Group Association