Survivors
N51BS - Lil Margaret
F-6D-25-NT 44-84786 N51BS Lil Margaret
Type
Serial number
Construction n°
Registry
Paint Scheme



Owner
Based at
F-6D-25-NT
44-84786, adopted 44-73822a
124-44642
N51BS
Lil Margaret
Capaint Clyde B. East
15th Tactical Recon Sqn.
10th Photo Recon Group
Henry J. "Butch" Schroeder

Midwest Aviation Museum
Danville
Illinois
US
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Airframe history

How many times have you heard about the “stock Mustang in the garage”-story? Well, this restoration project is such a story. This particular P-51 was acquired by Henry “Butch” Schroeder from Bill Meyers in 1981, who had this Mustang stored away in a garage. It had never been on a civil registry before and just sat there for many years, as a kind of time capsule.

This particular Mustang was first delivered to the USAAF as 44-84786, on June 8th , 1945, too late to see any combat action over Europe. It was transferred to the ANG, 363rd TRS at Brooks Field, Texas in September of 1946 en finally surplussed at McClellan AFB, California, on November 25th , 1949.

It became close to being exported to the Israelian Air Force, but this did not go through.

It was acquired in 1952 by Michael E. Coutches of Hayward, California, who had her stored. After almost 10 years, she was passed on to Bernard Coski, where she adopted id 44-73822.

In 1966 she was sold to William “Bill” Meyers of St. Louis, Missouri, where she was stored in a garage for almost 15 years.

Finally, after hearing many rumours about that “stock Mustang in the garage”, Henry J. “Butch” Schroeder, came into contact with Bill Meyers and the two of them worked out a deal in 1981. Here began the story of one of the most beautiful, authentic and certainly very rare restoration project, as not many F-6Ds were still known to exist, let alone one which had been preserved in stock condition for so long. In essence, the F-6D is a modified P-51D for photo reconnaissance duties.

Only a total of 126 Inglewood-built P-51Ds from blocks 20, 25, and 30 were converted after completion as F-6Ds. A few others were similarly converted near the end of the war. All of these photographic Mustangs carried two cameras in the rear fuselage, usually a K17 and a K22, one looking out almost horizontally off to the left and the other one down below looking out at an oblique angle. Most F-6Ds and Ks carried a direction- finding receiver, serviced by a rotating loop antenna mounted just ahead of the dorsal fin. Most F-6Ds and Ks retained their armament.

The project was unique in the fact that it had never been rebuild before, it still even had the original makers plate in the cockpit. Other restoration projects have been rebuilt one or more times and often had post WWII military service modifications or civilian modifications (avionics updates, additional back seat, …) included during their restorations.

Butch was not the first to restore a Mustang to its original condition, but he was the first to incorporate absolutely everything to make this F-6D as authentic as it was during WWII: they installed the original armor plating, a fuselage fuel tank, …).

After the sale was completed, Butch had the almost complete stock airframe shipped on 5 trailer loads to Vermilion County Airport at Danville, Illinois, where the 12 year restoration work would take place.

As with all restoration projects, progress seemed slow at times. For every hour of actually working on the airplane, at least 3 hours are spent on the phone tracking down parts and rare items.

It was not his first acquaintance with a P-51 as Butch previously owned another tall-tailed Cavalier P-51. He also got some help of the meanwhile well known Mike VadeBonCoeur, who originally got involved with Butch whilst helping him out in cleaning Butch's Cavalier Mustang on a voluntary basis. This evolved to routine maintenance and later in helping transporting the newly acquired F-6D from St. Louis to Danville.

Mike meanwhile went to college and got his qualifications as an A&P and joined Butch on the project fulltime on a trial basis.

P-51s at North American Aviation were manufactured in five completely separate parts, all to be assembled when each component part was totally finished. These major sections were the central fuselage (including the cockpit), the rear fuselage (with empennage and tail feathers), two complete wing sections and the forward fuselage section (with engine). This helped in lowering production costs and also resulted in being able to produce as much as 1 complete Mustang per hour!

Butch and Mike decided to follow in NAA's philosophy and utilize the same method in putting the airframe back together.

Butch & Mike also restored a T-6 in between work on the F-6D. Their T-6 won Reserve Grand Champion Warbird at EAA Oshkosh.

When Mike became involved the wings were already pretty much done. They were already completely stripped and re-painted internally. Unused but stock fuel tanks were used in the wings. The fitting of the gun bay doors, internal brackets for the ammunition feed chutes and all of the riveting and painting was done while the wings were still on stands.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.
Left: Fuselage minus firewall after a first effort at polishing the skin (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)
Right: The frame for the engine cowling during construction (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

The F-6D fuselage is identical to the P-51D fuselage, apart from the camera ports. It is built around 4 main extrusions which bolt to the firewall at the front and go in a tapering shape to the transport joint to the rear of the cockpit, attached to a shelf in the rear fuselage and all joined together in a two-piece fuselage rim at the transport joint.

Over the years the four extrusions take the strain and stress put upon the aircraft, and are often subject to internal inter-granular corrosion.

The extrusions on this project were replaced with new ones from John Seevers. Attached to the main assembly are the three sections of the air scoop (also commonly called the “doghouse”). The doghouse includes the coolant radiator and a complex ducting system with internal metal shapes which are very difficult to reproduce.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.
Left: The completed doghouse section. This section is full of complex, curved metalwork and is an absolute nightmare to recreate (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)
Right: The doghouse fits tightly against the radiator with a complex ducting and pipe system (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

The fuselage was stripped and re-skinned by Bob Young of Young's Airframe Repair. When this was completed, it was primed and painted.

Butch spent several years looking for the camera ports for the F-6D. Dennis Schoenfelder sent some of the ports from an ex-Israeli Air Force airplane in the early years of the project. When Butch received the Mustang, the ports were just flush patched (covered up), though you could see where the patches were. 
They also did not have any of the camera mounts.

Butch had the upper camera ports, which were dented, sent to John Neel at Georgia Metal Shaping, who made replicas of it and who even straightened out the original one. New glass was cut and fitted.

During the restoration process, the Mustang was registered on the civilian register as N51BS (51 Butch Schroeder).

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.
Left: The polished fuselage. Note the aft house and doghouse fitted prior to fitting the wings in order to ensure a perfect fit (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)
Right: Installation of the fuselage fuel tank was not easy, but was done by the book (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

Butch spent a lot of time looking for other various hard to find original items, such as a fuselage fuel tank, an original armor plate and the original radios. He also managed to obtain an APS-13 tail warning radar and the very rare light assembly that goes on the upper left-hand windscreen.               

The fuselage fuel tank in N51BS is installed, but is non-operational as they have a plate installed behind the filler cap so no one can stick a fuel nozzle in it.

Next up, the hydraulics were up and the team had every hydraulic component rebuilt.

The Merlin engine was rebuilt by Mike Zolman of the Fort Wayne Air Service.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.
Left: Spaghetti anyone? The myriad of wires for the cockpit electrical system (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)
Right: An original K-14 gunsight just after initial installation (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

During every restoration process, owners at one point or another have to tackle the sometimes not so obvious question of which paint scheme they will paint there Mustang in. Whilst doing some research, Butch stumbled upon a wartime photograph of Captain Clyde B. East's F-6D “Lil Margaret” and its special paint scheme with the blue and white checkered tail. Upon stripping the paint of their F-6D, Mike and Butch found traces of blue and white paint which tied the aircraft to its previous wartime markings. A short time later, Mike and his wife Beth were touring around a flea market when they stumbled upon a print of an F-6D in those unit markings. What really made this paint scheme interesting is that the pilot, Captain Clyde East, was still alive!

The decision was thus made to restore their F-6D in the markings of Captain Clyde B. East's personal Mustang “Lil Margaret”, whilst assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 10th Photo Reconnaissance Group.

Finally, the time came to assemble the aircraft back together. In order to put everything in place, the crew first went to work on the hydraulic tank and hydraulic lines. Next, the tail cone was bolted in place, along with the tail feathers and dorsal fin, made by John Neal. All fairings were unused stock parts, manufactured by NAA, most still in their original wrappings. The bulk of the fairings between the wings and the fuselage are also original NAA parts, except for the front leading edge fairings, which were made by Dennis Schoenfelder out in California.


The aircraft outside the hangar at Danville. Mating the wings and fuselage makes the plane look deceptively close to completion(© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

The fuselage was already painted on the inside and the crew got as much as possible of the rigging out of the way, before mating the two subassemblies. Mike explains: “This is the way NAA used to do it at their factory. It became obvious, once the mating was done, how little room there was in the cockpit. Also, once mated, the floor of the cockpit is angled so you would have to work against that constantly.”

Next up, the Merlin was put into place and the oil tank was installed. The firewall now had everything in place.

With the tail cone installed and all the cabling run, the rigging couldn't be completed until mating because obviously the stick is attached to the main plane.

© Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd. © Midwest Aero Restoration, Ltd.
Left: With most of the markings applied. Note the missing wingtips (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)
Right: Wingtips installed, flaps down and some paintwork being completed (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

They were able to rig the rudder but didn't have the scoop, doghouse or radiator installed, although NAA at the time assembled the fuselage and main plane with those already installed.

The tail wheel gear was fitted and all the instruments installed in the panel.

The mating of the two main sections and the engine was all done at the same day in order to make maximum use of the crane. The wings were pushed outside on their framework. Next, the complete main plane, with the undercarriage extended and locked, was lifted out and supported underneath the center. The fuselage was then lowered onto the main plane, where it was attached with four large bolts which fit through the lower fuselage extrusions into the wing section. With the wings and fuselage joined together, the engine was installed. The whole mating process took three hours.


Wheel well showing plumbing and wiring as well as the door rams. Note the undercarriage uplock in the top center of the picture (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

With everything in place, the final rigging, wiring and plumbing could be completed, and the paint work (everything but the nose art and stencils) could be finished.

Markings and stencils were done directly on the polished surface. Even the markings which are specific for recon Mustangs were not forgotten: The port wing housed some black crosses, distinct for photo reconnaissance Mustangs. The port side of the canopy also displays some crosses which, along with those on the port wing, aided the pilot in sighting of focal length and wind drift.

All stencils were manufactured by Banaire in California. Even stenciling which is found on the inside of the aircraft were applied in order to provide an accurate representation of what the aircraft would have looked like when it left the factory in the 1940s.

The guns were received from Jay Wisler. They were stripped down, sandblasted, and the aluminum parts were repainted matte black. The metal mounds were stripped and gun-blued. As far as the ammunition was concerned, the crew purchased all the D-links and linked them together themselves, with the aid of a linking machine from Jay.


The finished gun bays complete with inert ammunition. Not the bore-sighting information placard inside the gun bay doors (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

They also have original solenoids and original gun heaters installed. When you get inside the cockpit and squeeze the trigger, the solenoids will click.

There are two wiring systems for the guns in a P-51, so the pilot could keep firing if one was battle damaged. One comes from the front side of the wing through the wheel wells, and the other along the rear spar just forward of the flaps. Had the guns been real rather than replicas, they could be fired as all the support equipment works.

To top it all off, an original N1 gun camera is also installed in the leading edge of the port wing.

As far as the cockpit is concerned, this was painted in the standard NA cockpit green for authenticity. All of the camera controls are original. The external fuel tanks are functional and plumbed, but cannot be jettisoned in the air as this is against FAA regulations.

The original radios were detailed externally. Again, to comply with FAA safety regulations, restored warbirds must have modern avionics equipment installed.

Lil' Margaret has a modern King KX155 unit and a North Star LORAN, as well as an encoding transponder. They are installed below the original radio switches and are concealed by a canvas cover on the ground, so you cannot see it.

The only hint of non-originality in the cockpit is the VOR head in the instrument panel and this occupies a slot that was blanked off in the military.

Also, an original K-14 gunsight is installed and actually works!

Before the first test flight, extensive engine runs and retraction tests were carried out.

Then, finally, on June 17th , 1993, N51BS first took to the sky on its first post restoration flight, flown by John Diley.

Cockpit completed. Note the wooden floor and stainless steel kick plates (© Mike VadeBonCoeur)

Upon completion, the newly restored F-6D was taken to the annual EAA convention at Oshkosh, where she won the EAA Grand Champion WWII Warbird in 1993.

Today, she is still maintained and operated by Butch Schroeder.

Date Registry Owner
1945
1946
1949
1952
1963
1966
1981

1993
44-84786






N51BS
Accepted by USAAF on June 8th
With ANG, 363rd TRS, Brooks Field, Texas, in September
Surplussed at McClellan AFB, California on November 25th
Michael Coutches, Hayward, California
Adopted ID of 44-73822, N5484V with Bernard Coski, Washington
To William “Bill” Myers of St. Louis, Missouri, stored
To Henry J. “Butch” Schroeder, Danville, Illinois on December 24th
First civil Registration
First post restoration flight on June 17th
Won EAA Grand Champion WWII at EAA Oshkosh

Paintscheme information


The original Lil' Margaret served with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 10th Photo Reconnaissance Group during WWII and was the personal aircraft of Captain Clyde Bennet East.

The name

Clyde East named his P-51 after his girlfriend and later wife during WWII, Margaret Ann Dilks.

The pilot

Clyde Bennet East was born on July 19th , 1921, and enlisted with the Canadian Air Force (he did not meet the requirements at that time to join the USAAF. He graduated from flight school and received his wings at the RCAF 6th Service Flying Training School, Dunville, Ontario, on November 6th , 1942. Along with his wings, he also received a commission as a Pilot Officer (2nd Lieutenant), as well as an assignment to England as a “Fighter Pilot Trainee”.

Upon his arrival in the UK he was assigned to two RAF Training Schools, Ansty and Watton, plus an additional Mustang Operational Training Unit (OTY) course at Hawarden. When all this was behind his back, he was assigned to the 414th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) in early June of 1943.

With the 414th TRS, stationed at Gatwick, Surrey, at that time, he was given the choice to fly one of three different airplanes: the Supermarine Spitfire, the Hawker Hurricane or the North American Mustang. Being an American, he opted for the P-51 Mustang.

The main tasks for the 414th TRS was to provide photo reconnaissance, intelligence and carry out ground attacks for both the Dieppe Raid and the allied Invasion of Europe. They were re-equipped with Mustang Is in mid 1942.

During the summer of 1943 he flew 26 photographic and interdiction missions, also known as “Rhubarbs” into France, Belgium and Holland. Rhubarbs were missions, conducted by a flight of two P-51s, next to the reconnaissance purpose obviously, also focused on attacking rail traffic, motor transports, canal barges and stray enemy aircraft. P/O Clyde East was promoted to Flying Officer (1st Lt.) in August of 1943.

The P-51s Clyde flew at that time were of the Mustang Mk. I type, as the British called it.

After his 26th mission with the 414th TRS, Clyde voluntarily transferred to the USAAF, which at that time was also fully engaged in the war, on January 10th of 1944. He was assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tactical Recon Group, belonging to the 9th AF in January of 1944, as a First Lieutenant.

The 15th TRS had only been in England for a few weeks and was stationed at Middle Wallop, near the South English Coast.

By June 6th , 1944, the Squadron was fully combat ready flew more than 50 combat missions into the “Beachhead” area of Normandy. In addition, the Squadron maintained a “strip alert” in case of an enemy attack.

After standing strip alert on D-Day morning, Lt. East was assigned to lead a flight of two P-51s on a recon mission of the roads, railroads and airfields in the area approximately 100 miles behind the invasion beaches. Second Lieutenant Earnest Schonard was to be his wingman on this particular mission.

As it turns out, they would make their own piece of history on that day.

On passing the Laval Airfield, both men spotted a formation of four FW-190s in a landing pattern. Without hesitating, they both attacked the enemy aircraft. Lt. East managed to destroy one German airplane and Lt. Schonard destroyed a second and a probable third (they saw three fires burning after the attack). The kill was Lt. East first kill of his flying career and it was also the very first kill of D-Day.

Only a total of four enemy aircraft were destroyed on D-Day and both men accounted for two of them, though there were over a thousand Allied fighters deployed in defense that day.

After an R&R period in the States, Clyde East joined up for a second tour in the ETO.

On one remarkable mission, Lt. East was given the task of guiding the fire of Gen. Patton's 3 rd Army 8-inch howitzers artillery. They were engaged in attacks on rail marshaling yards at the town of Trier, near Luxemburg. Capt. East spent more than two hours dodging anti-aircraft fire from altitudes of 13,000 feet down to 300 feet in his Mustang whilst directing fire at the targets. The raid was highly successful and Lt. East was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during this mission.

In January of 1945, Clyde East was promoted to Captain.

Early in the morning of March 24th , six Me-109s bounced Capt. East and Lt. Larson in the vicinity of Eisnach. The 109s hit them from out of the sun, but the section made a 180° turn to the left and caught two stragglers as the Messerschmitts followed them into the turn. East and Larson chose their respective targets and opened fire almost simultaneously, with devastating results. East's 109 exploded in the air and pieces of it slightly damaged his plane. Larson's 109 spun into the ground and exploded. After they climbed back to 7,000ft., Capt. East spotted another Me-109 getting into firing position on Lt. Larson's tail and blasted it out of the sky for his fifth kill, making him the second 10th PRG ace (the first being Capt. John H. Hoefker).

By VE-day, May 8th , 1945, Clyde East had worked himself up to the rank of Captain and had amassed over 350 hours of combat time, flying over 200 missions.

He scored an official total of 13 aerial kills (making him the highest ranking Photo Reconnaissance Ace) and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and the Air Medal with no less than 36 oak leaf clusters! He also aided in the destruction of numerous enemy tanks, motor transport and troop concentrations, often in cooperation with allied fighter/bomber aircraft.

After the war, Clyde held several positions within the USAF (all in the reconnaissance roles) and returned to war with the outbreak of the Korean War.

By October of 1950, he had already flown more than 60 visual and photo reconnaissance missions over North Korean territory.

In May of 1951, Clyde East was promoted to Major and was subsequently re-assigned as Commander of the 15th TRS, the RF-80 unit within the 67th TRW (in name this was the same unit to which he had been assigned in Europe in 1944 and 1945).
He continued to fly combat recon missions in the RF-80 and in July of 1951, Major East, Major K. Woodyard and Capt. Joseph Henry Ezell participated in the first combat mission to utilize air to air refueling. By the end of his Korean tour in September of 1951, Major East had flown over 130 combat missions in RF-51s, RF-80s and T1-33s. He received three additional Distinguished Flying Crosses and six more Air Medals, earning him a citation in the Guiness Book of World Records from 1955 to 1968 for the highest number of repeat awards of combat.

Clyde East was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on March 2 nd , 1959.

After an overseas assignment to Italy, he again saw some military action during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Lt. Col. East was tasked with establishing the recon master plan when the unit deployed TDY to MacDill AFB, Florida in mid-October to stand Alert. "The U-2s had already provided all the general locations of the missile sites, and then the Navy F-8s went in first two days before we did", said East. "The RF-101s were supposed to take all the detailed low level shots, but our Wing Commander was not about to be upstaged by the Navy! We had an open phone from TAC to the Pentagon, and ultimately it was up to President Kennedy to determine who flew what flights and when". Ordered directly by the President, Voodoos of the 20th and 29th T/R Squadrons made approx. 100 recon overflights of Cuba for a 3.5 week period, verifying the presence and later the eventual dismantling of the Soviet missiles.

For his actions and his participation in recce missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Lt. Col. East received a fourth Distinguished Flying Cross.

He retired from the USAF as a Lieutenant Colonel in February of 1965, and for the next 28 years held a position as a Military Analyst with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, where he was employed until his retirement in 1993. During this period he participated in numerous studies sponsored by the US Department of Defense, the Air Force and the Army.

Clyde East currently resides in Southern California at Oak Park and in the end of July, 2011, he celebrated his 90th birthday.

Name
Rank
Unit
Date
Credits
East, Clyde B 1st Lieutenant 15th TRS 06-06-1944 1
East, Clyde B 1st Lieutenant 15th TRS 12-17-1944 1
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 03-15-1945 1
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 03-24-1945 2
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 03-27-1945 2
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 04-04-1945 1.5
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 04-08-1945 3.5
East, Clyde B Captain 15th TRS 04-13-1945 1
      Total credits 13

The paint scheme

During its training days from November 1941 to December of 1943, the 10th Photo Reconnaissance Group was equipped with a number of types of aircraft. From November, 1941, into 1942, many of its aircraft were still obsolete observation planes such as the Douglas O-46, the North American O-47 and the Curtiss O-52. As time went on, the need for more modern types of aircraft and tactics became evident, and the Group began using P-39s, P-40s, P-51As, A20s and some L-4 and L-5 Liaison aircraft.

These were usually painted in the standard Olive Drab and Grey scheme.

Most of the aircraft carried their Squadron insignias on the fuselage along with the standard national insignia markings and serial numbers. The fighter aircraft carried three-digit aircraft numbers in white on each side of the nose and propeller spinners were painted in the Squadron color.

The 15th TRS P-39s and P-40s had the aircraft numbers and spinners painted in yellow, the Squadron color.

In August of 1943 the Group was composed of the 15th , 28th and 152nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons. Their aircraft had the spinners painted in the Squadron colors: yellow for the 15th , white for the 28th and blue for the 152nd .

During the fall of 1943 maneuvers in Tennessee the Group's aircraft were split between the opposing ground forces and a color movie film taken at the time shows various temporary markings on the aircraft. In the film were 28th TRS P-39s with red-orange bands on the outer wings and rear fuselage and spinners over-painted in this color.

The 152nd TRS P-40Ns were painted with a broad white fuselage band just aft of the cockpit section. Some 15th TRS P-40s were seen with no special markings while others had the broad white fuselage band as seen on the aircraft of the 152nd .

At this time the aircraft numbers carried on the nose had been changed from a three-digit number to a two-digit number and a letter.

National markings on the aircraft at the time of the fall maneuvers were the star-and-bar type with a red surround.

The Squadron commander's aircraft still carried the twin fuselage band identification marking.

When the 10th PRG arrived in England to set up operations at Chalgrove in February of 1944, many of its initial issue of F-5 Lightnings (photo reconnaissance version of the P-38) were painted in Olive Drab and Grey, but this scheme quickly gave way to photo recon colors. The finish applied initially was Azure Blue overall with yellow serial numbers and aircraft numbers.

Some of the F-5s were stripped of all paint and flown in a bare metal finish. This was especially true for some of the aircraft used for the May 1944 dicing missions (these had not only the paint but some equipment removed as well to lighten the aircraft, and many seams were filled and polished to help increase its speed).

Later model F-5s received by the Group came in photo recon blue paint overall or in a natural metal finish. The serial numbers and aircraft numbers applied to the aircraft painted Photo Reconnaissance Blue were in black on some planes and in yellow on others, however, some F-5s were seen with black serial numbers and yellow aircraft numbers.

The Squadron code letters were in white.

The bare metal F-5s had all serial numbers, aircraft numbers and code letters painted in black.

The aircraft number assigned to each plane was the last three digits of its serial number and was in 8-inch letters. This number was painted on both sides of the nose on some aircraft and on the outer engine cowlings on others.

The TRS Mustangs assigned to the Group were painted and marked very much like the Mustangs of the 8th and 9th Air Forces. The first F-6Cs (P-51Bs and Cs) received by the 12th and 15th TRS were Olive Drab and Grey and carried the white wing bands, white nose band and white spinner.

The Olive Drab F-6Cs had yellow serial numbers and white Squadron codes. Before D-Day however, both Squadrons had already received a number of natural metal finished F-6Cs, and all later F-6D and F-6K Mustangs were received in natural metal finish.

These F-6s carried the standard black wing and tail bands, but the noses and spinners began to reflect the Squadron colors: yellow for the 12th and dark blue for the 15th . Many of the Olive Drab Mustangs still serving with these units at the time also had their spinners and nose bands repainted in the Squadron colors.

Squadron codes and serial numbers for these natural metal aircraft were in black.

The 10th PRG adopted a Group marking during the last months of the war: a blue and white checkerboard on the upper portion of the rudder and vertical tail surfaces.

The F-6s also carried the Squadron colors similarly on the nose: their spinners were painted in the Squadron color and the 12-inch nose band was checkerboarded to correspond: yellow and white for the 12th TRS and blue and white for the 15th TRS.

When the 162nd TRS joined the Group in April of 1945, it carried red spinners and a red and white checkerboard. Since applying these checkerboards was time-consuming all of the Group's aircraft did not receive these markings before war's end.

The Squadron codes for the 10th PRG Squadrons were as follows:

12th TRS – ZM
15th TRS – 5M
162nd TRS – IX

Some of the F-6 Mustangs also wore mission symbols: a pair of binoculars to represent visual recon missions or a camera for photo missions. The Mustangs also displayed swastikas or German crosses to represent enemy aircraft destroyed in aerial combat.

Also noteworthy is that, unlike with the 8th AF, pilots of the 9 th AF were not given credit for enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

The timeframe of N51BS can be situated somewhere between April 13th of 1945 and VE-day (May 8th , 1945), given the following data:

  • She displays 13 kill markings and Capt. Clyde East scored his 13th aerial victory on April 13th , 1945
  • She is painted with the latest 10th PRG group markings with the blue and white checkerboard
  • The lack of Invasion Stripes: SHAEF issued the final addition of Operation Memorandum Number 23 on December 6th, 1944, ordering the cessation of all Invasion markings on all operational aircraft effective December 31st , 1944.

However, the serial number on N51BS is not the historical correct serial number of the aircraft flown by Capt. Clyde East at that time, but is the serial number of the restored airframe itself.

The serial number of Capt. East's F-6D in the last 6 months of the war was 44-14306.

Capt. East also states that he flew almost all of the 20 or so Mustangs of the 15th TRS. He only flew K-5M when it was assigned to him on the schedule. He did score the bulk of his victories whilst flying 44-14306.


"Millie, My Baby and Me", the personal aircraft of Lt. Haylon R. Wood, 15th TRS

Pictures of N51BS Lil Margaret

       

 

Contributor pictures of N51BS Lil Margaret

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

1 - 16
17 - 19, 29
20, 21
22
23 - 27
28
30
© Robert Bourlier
© Jim Reader
© Alex Christie
© Curtis Fowles
© Al Sauer
© David F. Brown
© Mike VadeBonCoeur

Pictures of the original "Lil Margaret "

   

If you have any high-quality photographs of N51BS you would like to share on this website, please contact us.

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