During the summer of 2009 I had the pleasure of attending “The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” for the first time. Four days were spent at the EAA Airventure 2009 Convention immersed in all things aviation. One of the big attractions was the large collection of Warbirds present. I came home with hundreds of pictures of various aircraft types, B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-25 Mitchells, AT-6 Texans and images of 16 individual P-51 Mustangs.

       One of these Mustangs stood out from the rest because of the “Checkertail” scheme applied to its tail surfaces. This highly polished airplane is a North American P-51D-30-NA Mustang. It was built with USAAF serial # 44-74446 and first served with the Royal Canadian Air Force as 9223. It served with the RCAF until the late ‘50s then going through several hands until the certificate was transferred to Nathan R Davis on July 16, 2001.

       In 2003 The aircraft was painted to represent a Mustang of the 325th Fighter Group which was known as the "Checkertail Clan". The Checkertail Clan was activated at Mitchell Field, New York on August 3, 1942. Training was completed using the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. On April 17, 1943 the group joined the 12th Air Force in Tunisia. At this time they were flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts which were their mounts until May of 1944 when they were re-equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs. The group finished the war fighting in the Italian Campaign.

       The individual scheme chosen for this Mustang honors Major Herschel H. Green. Major Green, later Colonel Green, was the leading ace in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations with 18 kills in the air plus 10 more on the ground. He was an ace in both the Thunderbolt and the Mustang. He went on the fly 100 combat missions and retired from the Air Force in 1964. He published his memoirs in the book “Herky, The Memoirs of a Checkertail Ace”.

       To build my representation of “Checkertail Clan” I used Revell’s 1/48th scale P-51D Mustang kit # 85-5241. The model was built mostly straight out of the box. I did add paper strips to the seat assembly to represent seat belts. I also removed the antenna mast and replaced it with a piece of .016” wire to more closely represent the current antenna. I also replaced the kit spinner and propeller with an Ultracast # 48136 “P-51 Mustang Hamilton Standard Cuffed 4-Blade Propeller & Spinner”.

       Once assembled, I still faced the painting and decaling of the model. I do not do a lot of bare metal finishing on my models, so there is and continues to be a learning curve. The real aircraft, like a lot of today’s Warbirds, has an almost chrome finish. I wanted my model to have this same appearance so I consulted with my local hobby shop, The Hobby Emporium

       It was suggested that I use Rust-Oleum Specialty Metallic Silver. I was able to find this at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. This paint is a lacquer. I discovered that lacquers should not be applied over enamels, so I was careful to paint the main portion of the model then mask of the areas that need to yellow or olive drab. When first painted the model did have the chrome look that I desired, but once I followed my usual method of applying Future before decals the chrome effect was not so visible.

       The Checkertail decals were used from Eagle Strike Productions sheet #48-092 “Checkertail Clan”. The kit decals were used for the National Insignia, walkways and various maintenance markings on the aircraft. The data blocks, FAA # NL1451D and the #11 were all custom made using Photoshop Elements, my inkjet printer and Clear Decal film purchased from Micro Mark. Once printed the decals were over sprayed with Microscale Liquid Decal Film. I first thinned the Decal Film with alcohol then it was applied in increasingly heavy coats.

       Overall, the model is a fair representation of a beautiful P-51 Mustang. I do have to work on my technique for achieving the chrome finish of many of today’s warbirds.

Bibliography:

       Warbird Registry Info on P-51D "Checkertail Clan"

       Joe Baugher's list of USAAF Serial Numbers

       Federal Aviation Administration Registration Info for NL1451D

       Mustangs Mustangs website info on Serial # 44-74446

       Information on Herschel Green

       Information on 325th Operations Group

       Information on P-51 Mustang 'Checkertail Clan' from the Warbird Training Center

Photo GalleryModel Magazine DatabaseModel ProjectsEnthusiast's LinksHomeContact Us