The Aircraft

North American P-51D Mustang ‘Frenesi’ (N-357FG)

  • North American P-51D Mustang
  • Operator: Comanche Fighters
  • Year of Manufacture: 1944
  • Powered by: RR Merlin Packard
  • Colour Scheme: 357th Fighter Group “Frenesi”

 

Technically, the restored “Frenesi” was an F-6K and was sold surplus immediately following WWII, registered as NX66111, the aircraft was entered into the 1946 Cleveland Air Races as racer No.80 “Full House”, but its engine failed and was forced to crash-land. The aircraft was sold to Jack Hardwick in the early 1950’s and rebuilt, with a jump seat and rudimentary dual controls installed in the back of the cockpit, and was sold onto the Dominican Air Force in 1954, becoming FAD 1900. The aircraft served with the Dominican AF until it was sold and imported back into the US in 1984. The aircraft flew again on the US register as N21023 by 1990, and was sold to Jim Beasley Sr. and later owned/operated by Jim Beasley Jr. During this time the aircraft was painted as “Frenesi”, the personal mount of WWII 357th Fighter Group ace Gen. Tommy Hayes (the name inspired from a 1940 Artie Shaw tune). A complete rebuild of the airframe began. By 2009, the project was sold to Dan Friedkin, now registered as N357FG, and the restoration was continued at Midwest Aero Restorations, known for their award-winning authentic Mustang rebuilds. The aircraft has now emerged in early 2017, resplendent and flying again in the markings of “Frenesi”.

P-51D-5-NA #44-13318 “Frenesi” was flown by Lt. Col. Thomas L. Hayes, Jr. Hayes got his pilot’s wings in February 1941 and flew P-40s with the 17th Pursuit Squadron. He was shot down and wounded in February 1942. After recovering from his wounds, he was assigned to the 35th Fighter Group, flying P-39s and P-400s. While in this unit, he was credited with two Japanese aircraft destroyed on the ground. He later joined the 357th Fighter Group and took command of the 364th Fighter Squadron in May 1943. He was also appointed Deputy Commander of the 357th Fighter Group in March 1944. By the time he returned to the US in August 1944, he was credited with 8.5 aerial victories and 2 ground victories.

Frenesi was names after a popular song of the time, “Free ‘n Easy”. It was one the very first D-model Mustangs received by the 357th Fighter Group, and probably the only one operational on D-Day. The markings include 84 bomb marks, each indicating a completed mission rather than a bomb strike. There are two Japanese kill marks and nine German ones. The aircraft is painted Olive Drab over Medium Gray and has an unusual unpainted area containing aircraft information forward of the cockpit.

 

Images: Comanche Fighters