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P-51D Mustang Big Beautiful Doll
P51 Mustang, in my opinion the most beautiful looking and sounding machine ever to take to the air. American planes, British engines. The best fighter of WWII. In Europe, USAAF P51s accounted for nearly half of all enemy aircraft destroyed.
But it’s a poor shot. This was my first airshow, and I learnt a lot, not least that it’s pointless turning up at an airshow without a 400mm lens. No matter. I’ll know for next time. As for this photo, it has been magnified more times than an individual apple pie on a Mr Kipling’s advert. Look closely and you’ll see the pixels.
This P51D is flown by American aviator Ed Shipley of The Horsemen, the world’s only Mustang flight demonstration team. The roar of 3 Mustangs charging overhead in formation was the highlight of the day for me. I was blown away by them, stood there, mouth agape and getting a suntan.
This particular Mustang has appeared in various movies including Saving Private Ryan – remember at the end of the film, where Tom Hanks is shooting his pistol at an oncoming tank, which then blows up? And the P51 soaring overhead was described incorrectly as a ‘tank buster’ (which would have been a P47 but never mind). It currently wears the markings of P51D 44-72917 Big Beautiful Doll. That aircraft was flown by Colonel John Landers USAF from Duxford airbase between 1944 and 1945.
EDIT JULY 2011
Sadly this aircraft crashed on July 10th 2011 at The Flying Legends Airshow (which was where this photo was taken) after it was clipped by a Douglas A-1 Skyraider. Pilot Rob Davies safely parachuted down.
Click this link for photos of Big Beautiful Doll’s last moments