Test your P-51 memory, knowledge and research ability!
Lowell Thompson sent this photo in (he's the little guy by the right gear) and helps with this info. His father remembers this as Sherm Cooper's N5445V (they knew Mr. Cooper because he was their family dentist). Along with Sherm Cooper's P-51 on the field was N5438V, 44-74923. See the April 1972 issue of Air Progress (a full story on Cooper and a color photo spread showing his collection in front of the same hangar can be seen on pages 36 &37). BUT in the text it says, "He...kept eyeing a beautiful polished F-51 that was based on the field." (This is 1963) "When he heard of a Mustang for sale at Willows, he offered its owner his Swift plus some cash and became the owner of a warbird. He flew the fighter home, and that's where his education began. The Mustang, a little shabby all over, had a sick engine. So with the help of a friend who knew about Merlins, Cooper pulled the engine out of the fighter." "There she sat," grins Sherman, "out on the ramp in the rain with oil dripping and hoses and wires hanging out of the engine cavity while the other F-51 on the field sat polished and gleaming in its hangar. My patients, who knew I owned a Mustang, would come into the office and say, 'Boy that guy who's got that beat-up Mustang out in front is really in bad shape, but yours looks real good inside the hangar.' I didn't dare tell them any different."
So, is the nice and polished P-51 in this photo Dr. Coopers? Or is it N5438V which was owned at the time by JJ Wolohan and then Hawke Dusters of Modesto, CA? Lowell Thompson says that the photo is either '63 or '64. Cooper bought the mustang in '64, and if it needed engine work and lots of polishing, this very well might be N5438V.
Another case that needs a little more work...
A plausible explanation is that it was the Hawke Dusters airplane. Bud Fountain, who was, I think, the owner of Hawke Dusters, flew an F8F-2 in the early 1970s that was highly polished with similar bright red trim.
I think your photo shows P-51D-30-NA, 44-74923, c/n 122-41463, which at the time would have carried the registration N5438V. It wound up in El Salvador, where it served as FAS 410. It came back to the U.S. in pieces, and was restored, adopting the identity of 44-11353 in the process. It has since carried the registration N132, N100DD, N345 and N6395. The late John R. Sandberg owned it in the early '80s, and it was raced at Reno as #28, 'Tipsy Too.' It suffered an engine failure and crash landing at Reno '83, while being flown by Chuck Hall. It was then owned by Gary Levitz, who also raced it, but changed the name to 'Miss Ashley,' race #38. Levitz won the Gold Final in this basically stock P-51 at Reno '88. The last I had heard of it, it was being crated for eventual shipment to Europe.
T.J. Johansen was very kind to send me a period photo of N5438V and everything seems to match, thus solving a very old mystery. Now if we can just find a period photo of Sherm Cooper's shabby P-51! Anyone out there have one?
Thanks Jim, Lowell and T.J. for solving this one.
This P-51 has been positively identified as N5438V, 44-74923
My dad will be able to solve this,he worked for Bud.I played as a kid in both Bud and Sherm's mustangs. Bud's was all polished and Sherm's was a very soft blue with white on top of fuselage in front of cockpit with a bit of gold trim when I was around. Bud purchased his in 66 for 6,000.00 with a spare engine if I am correct, I will get a hold of my Dad tomorrow who at 70 is in his 39th ag flying season, taught by one of the best, Bud Fountain. This is a real cool site! Chris Taylor
This is the 51 owned by my late father, J. J. Wolohan of Livingston, CA. The location shown is its home field, Merced airport, where it shared a the hanger with his D18 Beech, among others. He sold the plane in 1966 to an acquaintance, Bud Fountain. He also sold a spare engine he paid $2,500 for in the early 60's. When my brother & I took a break from helping polish we'd sneak a little driving time on the yellow tug in the background.
Wondering if any one has any info on my grandfather Edwin Hawke who started Hawke Dusters. Thank you.
i remember this i grow up in riverbank calif and bud would fly this bird all over the riverbank and oakdale area and yes he did own hawke dusters