Survivors
N487FS Princess Elizabeth
P-51C-10-NT N487FS Princess Elizabeth
Type
Serial number
Construction n°
Registry
Paint Scheme



Owner
Based at
P-51C-10-NT
43-25147
103-26778
N487FS
Princess Elizabeth
Lt. William Whisner
352nd Fighter Group
487th Fighter Squadron
Friedkin Air Force of Texas
Texas
US
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Airframe history

43-25147 was built by NAA at the Dallas, Texas plant in 1943. Its wartime history is unknown. It is only known to fly with the Israeli Air Force as IDFAF "13", but the exact timeframe is again not known.

After its military service, the aircraft was used by the Holz Technical School in Tel Aviv from 1960 through to 1975. It was missing its engine, propeller, cowls and tail section. The fuselage had been cut open immediately aft of the cockpit to facilitate the removal of radio equipment prior to its intended scrapping.

It was rescued just in time, along with a D-model, by Californian brothers Angelo and Pete Regina in 1978. Pete had also bought the remains (aft fuselage and tail assembly) of another B-model Mustang 43-6351, which was the last genuine
B-model until it crashed at Hayward, California in 1957.

They obtained authentic B/C model cowl and engine mount from Gordon Plasket, who had bought the remains of the post-war Cavalier Mustang modification programme. The unique “turtleback” was restored using a mould taken from the then Frank Tallman (now Kermit Weeks) owned C-model 42-103831.

Upon restoration completion, the Mustang was repainted as Don Gentile's 4th FG Shangri-La. It made its first flight on June 11th , 1981 with Dave Zeuschel at the controls.

The following years, the Mustang participated in the Reno Air Races flown by Skip Holm. It achieved two seconds and a third place in the Silver races during the 3-day event, running at speeds in excess of 380 mph.

In early 1986, the Mustang was put up for sale in Trade-A-Plane magazine. It was acquired by Joseph Kasparoff in February of that year. Joseph repainted the aircraft in an all red paintscheme and renamed her “The Believer”. He raced it sporadically at Reno.

In December of 1996 it was acquired by Stephen Grey's The Fighter Collection. Steve Hinton flew her from Van Nuys to Fighter Rebuilders at Chino, California where she was stripped back to bare metal and where wing spar rectification work and an overall inspection was carried out.

The heads and banks of the Merlin engine were overhauled by JRS. After a number of test flights, the aircraft was crated up and shipped to the UK, where it arrived at Duxford on July 3rd , 1997.

It was the star attraction of the 1997 Flying Legends airshow, so TFC's engineers had only 9 days to reassemble her and return her back to flying condition. While the Mustang was enroute to the UK, the decision was made to repaint her as Lt. William Whisner's P-51B-10 HO-W 42-106449 “Princess Elizabeth” of the 487th FS, 352nd FG, so the engineers also had to repaint her during those 9 days.
The P-51 took to the air again on July 12th , some 4 hours before the show was to start and the P-51 was indeed the star attraction of that year's Flying Legends airshow.

During the rest of the 1997 airshow season she did not fly very much and TFC discovered that major work needed to be done on the fighter. Although the Regina brothers did a fairly good job with the means they had at the time, corrosion was found in the lower fuselage longerons which form the structural heart of the airplane.
TFC thus decided to carry out a complete airframe restoration, back to stock condition!

The total restoration process was to take 6 years…

In August of 1998 she was completely taken apart again in order to facilitate the restoration.In December the fuselage and wings were packed into a container and shipped to John Muzala's Pacific Fighters in Idaho. Over the next 12 months the contractor completed the structural restoration of the bare fuselage and wings.

In January of 2000, the aircraft arrived back in the UK, complete with new skins on the wings and fuselage, new long-erons and a new spar. The Mustang was put back together.

TFC acquired a complete set of Mustang drawings and, upon closer examination, found out that a C-model Mustang differed a lot to the D-model and so it became clear that a large number of parts in 43-25147 were in fact modified
D-model parts. TFC made the decision to restore the aircraft to stock configuration.

Stock C-model parts were sought after or manufactured to the original NAA specifications.

The main area that was affected by a mismatch of parts was the undercarriage bay, the lower firewall and all mechanisms within that area. The team built a number of components from scratch, such as the bell cranks, torque tubes and the complete lower firewall.
The latter proved to be a challenge because there is a greater structural aspect in a C-model, as this is where the hydraulic jacks for the undercarriage doors are mounted. In a D-model, the jacks were moved aft and mounted on the wing spar itself, which made the D-model's firewall and adjacent panelling a much simpler affair. This was done to ease mass production during the war.

A pair of C-model jack brackets that fix the clamshell door jacks to the firewall were obtained in a trade with Mustang restorer John Paul in Montana, who also helped with sourcing parts for the aeroplane's canopy as well as some detailed photographs of various sub-assemblies.

New door jacks for a C-model however seemed impossible to obtain, so these were manufactured from scratch. The engineering team also manufactured 2 new wingtip extensions.

A number of surplus parts from Kermit Weeks' P-51C-10 42-103831 were also obtained, such as a set of early drop tank/bomb shackles.
In a clever effort to defray the cost of manufacturing parts specifically for 43-25147, TFC ordered a bulk batch of components to be made from the specially created castings for the undercarriage bay assemblies. The remainder of the parts was traded with various Mustang restorers in the US for other parts that were needed to complete the project.

The C-model's specific framed canopy was another hard item to find, so an all-new example had to be made from scratch by John Hinton at Fighter Rebuilders. The cockpit was restored to standard military configuration as conform as possible.
Aside from period instrumentation and a functioning gun-sight, the aircraft is fitted with seat armour, SCR522 and 535 radio control boxes (behind the pilot's seat) and an authentic first aid pack!
Look inside the wings' gun bays and you'll find four Browning 0.50-cal machine guns.

She made her fist post-restoration flight in 2005 and once again became the star attraction at various airshows across the European skies.

In December of 2006, the P-51C was (unfortunately for many European warbird enthousiasts) sold to Jim Beasley and was shipped to the US in early 2007.

To to some delays by the FAA and paperwork, the Mustang was grounded until late May of 2007. She was re-registered N487FS and now resides with the Friedkin Air Force at Texas and is flown by Jim Beasley as part of the Horsemen P-51 display team.

Youtube video clips of N487FS in various movies:

At the 2007 Gathering of Mustangs & Legends

Date Registry Owner
1943
1945-1960
1960
1978

1981
1982
1986

1996
1997
1998
2002
2005
2006
2007
2008
43-25147


N51PR

 

 

 

 

 

N487FS

Built at Dallas, Texas
Israeli Air Force IDFAF "13” until ??
Used at the Holz Technical School in Tel Aviv, Israel
Pete Regina, Van Nuys, California
Restored as “Shangri-La”, using parts of P-51B 43-6351
First post-restoration test flight on June 11 th by Dave Zeuschel
First B-model since 1948 to race at Reno
Joseph Kasparoff, Montebello, California
Flown as 36913 “The Believer” #97 at Reno
Stephen Grey, The Fighter Collection, Duxford, UK
Crated and shipped to UK
Disassembled and shipped to Pacific Fighters in Chino for restoration in November
Shipped back to UK for assembly
First flight
Painted as Lt. William Whisner's 42-106449 HO-W Princess Elizabeth
Sold to Jim Beasley, Coatsville, Pennsylvania, US in December
Added to the Friedkin Air Force of Texas

Paintscheme information

The real P-51B-10 42-106449 "Princess Elizabeth" was built by NAA at Inglewood, California in early 1944 and was shipped to the UK in February or March of that same year.

It was issued to the 352nd FG at Bodnay, Norfolk in April. There it was assigned to future ace Lt. William "Bill" Whisner of the 487th FS.

The name

The P-51B had been christened "Princess Elizabeth", a name coming about after a senior 8th AF officer suggested to Whisner's previous CO, Lt. Col. John C. Meyer, that a suitably named Mustang might impress the future Queen of England during her impending visit to the 352nd FG's base at Bodney.

The only unnamed bare metal machine in Meyer's 487th FS at that time was 42-106449, so this P-51 was duly deco-rated with the name. Whisner was unaware of this until after the artwork had been applied, and he was not best pleased with the nickname, nor the attendant press publicity which went with it.

The pilot

Already a combat veteran with 1 aerial and 2 strafing victories in the P-47 Thunderbolt, Whisner used the fighter to share in the destruction of a Bf 109G on May 30th . The German aircraft went down after it was attacked by both Whisner and the new squadron CO, Maj. George Preddy.

Whisner completed his first tour on May 31st , 1944, and was sent home on leave. Princess Elizabeth remained at Bodney and was assigned to Lt. Robert K. Butler.

The Mustang was eventually shot down by flak near Epaignes during the 352nd FG's mission during the invasion of Normandy on June 6th , D-Day. Lt. Butler succeeded in bailing out of the stricken fighter and evading capture until he made it back to Allied territory near the Normandy beachhead.

Whisner went on to score 5.5 additional kills during the Korean War, making him an ace in both Wars.

Name
Rank
Unit
Date
Credits
Whisner, William Thomas 1st Lieutenant 487th FS 01-29-1944 1
Whisner, William Thomas 1st Lieutenant 487th FS 04-30-1944 1
Whisner, William Thomas 1st Lieutenant 487th FS 05-29-1944 1
Whisner, William Thomas 1st Lieutenant 487th FS 05-30-1944 0.5
Whisner, William Thomas Captain 487th FS 11-02-1944 1
Whisner, William Thomas Captain 487th FS 11-21-1944 5
Whisner, William Thomas Captain 487th FS 11-27-1944 2
Whisner, William Thomas Captain 487th FS 01-01-1945 4
Whisner, William Thomas Major 334th FIS 11-08-1951 1
Whisner, William Thomas Major 334th FIS 11-09-1951 1
Whisner, William Thomas Major 25th FIS 01-06-1952 1
Whisner, William Thomas Major 25th FIS 01-11-1952 1
Whisner, William Thomas Major 25th FIS 02-20-1952 0.5
Whisner, William Thomas Major 25th FIS 02-23-1952 1
      Total credits 21

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.

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


© Mikhail Bykov


Pictures of N487FS Princess Elizabeth

 

Walkaround pictures of N487FS Princess Elizabeth

 

 

Contributor pictures of N487FS Princess Elizabeth

 

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

1
2, 3, 7
4, 8
5
6
7
8
9
10, 12, 20
13
14
15, 17 - 19
16
21
22
23
24
© Ted Quackenbush
© Simon Thomas
© Klaas Reinder Sluijs
© John Allan
© Michael J. Freer
© Ian Kirby
© Michael J. Freer
© Chris de Stefani
© Stephen Fox
© Dave Miller (Armchair Aviator)
© Gary Stedman
© g_takeuchi
© Bill Lindsay
© Scott Germain - Warbirddepot
© Hubert De Sousa
© Michael Ziem
© Michael Adams

Pictures of the original "Princess Elizabeth "

     
(© 352nd FG Association Archive)

If you have any high-quality photographs of N487FS you would like to share on this website, please contact us.

Usefull links

352nd Fighter Group Association

Copyright © Christophe Haentjens - http://www.crazyhorseap.be