For the first time in a long time, I’ve made a profile that was not a commission and here is the result. This is P-51D-5-NT s/n 44-11222 “Jolie Hélène” of the 368th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group. I found some pictures of this aircraft and decided I wanted to make a profile of it as it had a few oddities. I wasn’t able to find answers to all of my questions relating to it, and was hoping my followers might have some.
The first question I have is: who was the pilot of “Jolie Hélène”? According to the excellent website Little Friends, 44-11222 was assigned to Lt Emory C. Cook and carried two names: “Evelyn” (left side) and “Sweet Sue” (right side). The aircraft was later assigned to Lt Frank Rea Jr., who kept the names and belly-landed it at East Wretham on 17 March 1945.
Obviously, 44-11222 was either a different aircraft or carried a different name at some point in its career. Does anyone have more information regarding this? My guess is that “Jolie Hélène” was the name it was given when it was repaired and assigned to Lt William Foster (seen here on the pictures), who served with the 368th FS from February to July 1945.
“Jolie Hélène” also has some interesting and unusual features aside from the buzz code beneath the wing:
- Inside rear-view mirror. Mustangs of the 359th FG had different types of rear-view mirrors (when equipped).
- The presence of an AN/APS-13 rear warning radar on the fin is not unusual at all, but on “Jolie Hélène” its location is slightly different from the standard location. In addition, it seems that a metal plate was added when it was installed.
- Notice the partial red band around the gun ports, and the not-so-accurate application of yellow paint on the rudder.
- There appears to be something on the rear fuselage, just aft of the antenna mast. Does anyone know what that could be? [Author’s note: Thanks to John Terrell, who taught me that this is an ID light, seen only the D-5 Mustang).
2 thoughts on “P-51 Mustang “Jolie Hélène” and a few questions”
The item on the spine of the fuselage just aft of the antenna mast is a white recognition light (same shape/design as the lights on the wingtips). This was a feature of only the earliest D’s – the P-51D-5-NA and P-51D-5-NT – and was deleted from all further P-51D production that followed (thus a very rare feature). The APS-13 set on this early aircraft was installed in the field, utilizing a factory-supplied kit, as it wasn’t introduced on factory-produced Mustangs until quite late in D-model production. Fantastic work (as always) on the profile!
John Terrell, thanks a lot for this explanation! I had figured out the reason for the different appearance of the APS-13 aerials but I’d never noticed the presence of the dorsal light. Having checked some D-5 photos, it seems obvious now. One learns everything every day, so now I need to go back to my D-5 profiles and correct them as necessary. Once again, thanks a lot! 🙂