North American TF-P51D Mustang 'Contrary Mary'
Operator: Fighter Aviation Engineering LTD
Year of Manufacture: 1944
Powered by: Rolls Royce Packard Merlin V1650-7
Colour Scheme: USAAF, 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group USAAF Station 357 (Duxford, UK). 1945. Pilot: Lt Col Roy B Caviness.
Established in 1942 the 83rd Fighter Squadron was initially equipped with P-38 Lightning’s and assigned to RAF Goxhill before moving to its permanent home at RAF Duxford. The primary mission was the long range escort of B-17 and B-24 bombers over occupied Europe. In mid-1943 the squadron along with the rest of the 78FG replaced their P-38's with P-47 Thunderbolts, then again in 1944 transitioned to P-51D Mustangs. The transition to the Mustangs gave the squadron the range needed to escort the heavy bombers all the way to Berlin, as well as engage in fighter sweeps and attack airfields, bridges, railroads and other targets of opportunity.
Originally G-TFSI flew in the colour scheme 55th Fighter Group. Capt. Frank Birciel’s “Miss Velma”
44-84847 was one of the last Mustangs constructed at North American’s Dallas Plant. Photographic evidence exists of 44-84847 serving with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Sqn. At Kimpo, South Korea in 1951. At that time 44-84847 was shipped back to the U.S to serve with the Air National Guard. In 1999 44-84847 was under restoration in North Dakota. The following year she joined The Fighter Collection and subsequently moved to a new owner Fighter Aviation Engineering Ltd and now wears the colour of the RAF Duxford based ‘Contrary Mary’.
First image credit: Aviation Engineering Ltd
Second image credit: Harry Measures