Our Plane’s History

Fighter plane 44-84753, a P-51, was manufactured in Dallas TX, and delivered in June 1945, between VE Day (May 8, 1945) and VJ Day (August 14, 1945).  It was delivered to the 31st Fighter Squadron (FS), 412th Fighter Group (FG), a test and evaluation unit headed by Tex Hill that would evaluate the performance of Mustangs versus military jets just coming under development.  The 31 FS 412 FG was stationed at March Field CA at that time, and is today the primary USAF test group at Edwards Air Force Base.

In 1951 the plane joined the 131st Bomber Squadron of SAC and in 1953 it joined the Kentucky National Guard.

The italicized information and photographs are provided by the Mustangs Mustangs website, as part of a larger article they recently published on 44-84753:

Here’s a great shot of [44-84753] in post WWII paint, sometime before going to the Kentucky ANG.


753 began its civilian career as N5436V and was registered to Robert Rodman. Les Grant was the next owner in 1966. When Grant owned 44-84753, the reg was kept as N5436V and it was deep red with black stripes. Grant’s daughter sent in this link with some pictures of it during Grant’s term.


Ted Contri owned her next and changed the reg to N51TC (#1). The P-51 was kept in the red w/black stripes civilian paint. In 1987, Contri sold 753 to Robert Pond and it was registered N251BP. It was operated by the Planes of Fame East. The aircraft was painted in silver and blue with blue and yellow checked nose and rudder, named “Mighty Moose”.

Bernie Jackson picked her up in 1998 and owned N251BP for 12 years. He loved to fly the P-51 and did so often. The yellow checkers were removed, along with the nose art leaving the silver blue paint. In 2001, Bernie changed the paint a bit to an RCAF scheme and added the nose art “The Vorpel Sword”.


In 2004, they decided to go through a restoration and she was stripped down to bare metal. Crew Chief Jim Martinelli headed up the work. All systems were rebuilt, stripped and re-painted as new. The fuselage was gutted, stripped and re-painted. The outside remained bare metal, just like a factory finish. Then a bold humorous act of history was performed. During the ensuing first flight in 2005, the N number was spray painted on the side of the bare metal fuselage . . . just like old times. Cool. ([Perhaps] Martinelli was involved in that one)


Then, Bernie decided to do something different. So he did. He put a Russian red star on the side of a P-51 Mustang. First civilian P-51 with Russian paint.


Cielos LLC purchased the plane in the summer of 2009.  It has been undergoing an avionics upgrade, partial overhaul, and repainting at Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Pacific Fighters is the renowned fighter restoration business run by father and son John Muszala and John Muszala Jr.  The new paint scheme is based on the P-51D  “Buzzin’ Cuzzin” from the 78th Fighter Group, 83rd Fighter Squadron.