Collings Foundation TF-51D Mustang – Restoration Status

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The Collings Foundation has a formidable collection of airworthy warbirds, almost all of which actively participate at air shows, or tour the length and breadth of the country. They also have several rare birds currently under restoration, including a Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, FM-2 Wildcat and Focke-Wulf Fw-190F-8. However, lost amongst the more exotic types under the knife, is a North American P-51D Mustang.

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The Collings Foundation’s P-51D during her time as a civilian aircraft in the 1960s. (photo via Collings Foundation)

The aircraft in question is 44-74960, which rolled off the Inglewood production line in July, 1945; too late to see service in WWII. It stayed with the US military until they struck her from the registry at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada in January, 1958. After that, she passed through a series of civilian owners until one of them spirited her out of the country illegally to El Salvadorin 1969 for service with the Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña (FAS), the Salvadoran Air Force. She apparently flew against Honduras during the 100 Hours War, sometimes incorrectly referred to as “The Soccer War”. Her known history runs cold at this point, but she re-surfaced again in 2007 with Dr. Mark Timken (who also once owned the Collings Foundation’s Fw-190F-8 for many years).

Dr. Timken decided to restore her as a fully-duel-controlled TF-51D variant, which is a big reason why the Collings Foundation pursued her purchase. The Mustang is currently under restoration with Gary Norville at American Aero Services in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. She is coming together quickly now, with the fuselage being ready for reattachment to the wings. Wiring and hydraulics installation are already under way as well, and Collings expect to have her flying again in the next year. She will then be available to join the collection’s Living History Flight Experience program where enthusiasts can buy time flying from the front cockpit with a qualified instructor in the back. Click HERE to learn more about these extraordinary flight opportunities.

3 Comments

  1. I love to build 1/24 scale aircraft have obtained almost every model that has been produced. I have several P51 kits including a vacuform B model that will be built as the Berlin Express as it was flown by my second cousin when he chased that ME109 under the Eiffel Tower. I also want to take one of my D kits and convert it to a TP51D. However I am having trouble finding any technical info, drawings, and or photos of the modifications. Is there anything you know of on line? If there is can you please point me in the right direction to find them? Thanks in advance.

  2. Check out War Eagles Air Museum near El Paso, Texas. “Friendly Ghost” is a flyable TF-51D built by Texas Engineering and Machine Company (TEMCO).

  3. Check out Crazy Horse one of the most famous TF51D’s around – there are two of them (I’ve flown one) and they look after many more as one of the brothers is probably one of the best P51 engineers on the planet. They are based in Kissimmee Florida.

    Hope this helps

    Kind Regards,

    Don Imrie – Scotland UK.

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