P-51D Mustang ‘Miss Helen’ (G-BIXL)
Operator: Robert Tyrrell
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Powered by: RR Merlin Packard V1650
Colour Scheme: 352nd FG 487th FS “Blue nose bastards of Bodney”
Miss Helen is a little bit special, even among P-51 Mustangs. Delivered to the US Army Air Force (USAAF) in 1945 she saw active service in World War II with 352 Fighter Group (FG) ‘The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney’, and has several confirmed kills to her name. What’s more she’s still in flying condition today, and capable of ripping through the skies at up to 400 knots /460 mph!
She was flown by Capt. Raymond Littge as ‘Miss Helen’ and by later by Lt. Russell Ross as ‘Miss Nita’. Today wearing the the same paint scheme as she did in 1945, she’s the last original 352nd Fighter Group P-51 known to exist. 352 FG flew nearly 60,000 combat hours in just 19 months of WWII, claiming 519 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air, 287 on the ground and produced 26 aces for losses of 118 aircraft. Her full name is ‘P-51D-20NA 44-72216’ and when she was delivered to Capt. Littge he already had a kill tally of 10.5, including an Me 262. It’s uncertain exactly how many missions Littge flew in Miss Helen but it’s known for sure that he flew her on a mission escorting B-17 bombers to the marshalling yards in Dresden on April 17th 1945, along with another 51 Mustangs!
They came across an airfield at Platting with about 70 parked aircraft and Littge made an astonishing seven passes, destroying three Me 109s and 2 Me262s on the ground, despite having been hit in the initial attack on enemy flak positions (which nearly emptied his oil tank).
She’s passed through several hands since the War, including those of the Royal Swedish Air Force and Israeli Air Force, starred in the Hollywood film Memphis Belle, and is now owned by Robert Tyrrell and based at the Boultbee Flight Academy at Goodwood Aerodrome
Large Image: Matt Jones
Small Image: David Whitworth