North American P-51D Mustang 44-72035
"Jumpin Jacques" is a P-51D-20-NA model, built at North American’s Inglewood facility in California. Accepted by the USAAF on December 21 1944 as 44-72035 she was originally earmarked for service with the Eighth Air Force in England but this was quickly changed to Project Number 91037R, indicating service in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. Having spent the Christmas and New Year period at Inglewood 44-72035 began her journey overseas on January 4 1945 with a ferry flight across the mainland USA arriving at Newark, New Jersey, on January 10. She was prepared for shipment, by boat, overseas and finally left the US on January 24 1945, assigned to "Oham" the codeword for the 15th Air Force based in Italy.
44-72035 was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332nd became very famous as the first all African-American Fighter Group known as "The Tuskegee Airmen", although at the time they were referred to them as "The Red Tails". She entered combat with the 15th Air Force around March 1945,in the last few months of the war flying on bomber escort and ground attack sweeps over Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. She still carries the battle scars to this day, with bullet repairs in several places on the fuselage.
After the wars' end, the four Fighter Groups of the 15th Air Force remained in Italy until the summer of 1945. Between July and September, all returned to the USA where they were inactivated by November. The newer aircraft on their strength were retained and returned to the USA for continued service. Such was the case with 44-72035, which is recorded as having returned to the mainland USA on October 10 1945. The aircraft was placed into storage until January 1947, at which time she was turned over to the 4112 Base Unit at Olmstead AFB, Pennsylvania to undergo an overhaul in preparation for service with Air National Guard units.
44-72035's first ANG unit assignment, in January 1948, was to the 125th Fighter Squadron, Oklahoma ANG, based at Tulsa, followed by a number of units including the 192nd in Nevada. This unit was amongst several placed on Red Alert in response to the heightened tension at the beginning of the Korean War, which had begun in June 1950. With the continuing escalation of the war in Korea a great number of ANG units were called to active duty to help bolster the strength of the USAF.
During this period 44-72035 would have had the wording "U.S. Air Force" above the serial number on the fin and the Buzz Number "FF-035" applied to the fuselage below the cockpit, evidence of which are still visible in the metalwork to this day. On March 12 1953 44-72035 was released from active duty with the USAF and in October 1956, with its military career finally over, 44-72035 was placed into storage at the Sacramento Air Material Area to await disposal. A little under a year later she was sold to Whiteman Enterprises of Pacoima, California, for $1,110.00, whereupon she was registered as N5411V on September 25 1957, with just 1,083.15 total recorded flying hours.
With her new civilian US registration, N5411V remained under the ownership of Whiteman Enterprises for 24 years until, on December 4 1981, she was sold to Humberto Escobar of Bogota, Colombia. After 8 years in South America, in August 1989 she was exported to France, where she was owned and operated by Jacques Bourret of Aero Retro based at St Rambert. When looking for a colour scheme for the P-51, Jacques came upon the photo of a Mustang named "Jumpin Jacques" and could not resist adopting this as the new scheme. The original "Jumpin Jacques" was flown by Lt Jacque E Young of the 3rd Fighter Squadron, 3rd Air Commando Group, a unit that operated out of the Philippines.
Over the years "Jumpin Jacques" has appeared at many air shows throughout Europe, and was seen at Duxford's Flying Legends air show on more than one occasion. With her gleaming polished exterior, "Jumpin Jacques" has become a favourite, much to the delight of all enthusiasts of this true thoroughbred. The fact that she has never had a major rebuild and is almost totally original as built in 1944 makes this a rare and special P-51 Mustang. She still carries evidence of her battle scars with repairs just behind the pilot’s position on both sides of the fuselage, and puncture repairs to the fin.
As an original "Tuskegee" fighter, the Hangar 11 Collection Mustang is a rare thoroughbred and much welcomed on the UK and European Air show scene.
To see more images of the aircraft, click here.