The Customs process provided very short notice of the delivery, but the HFC Volunteer Technical Team jumped into action, traveling to Scone over the Easter weekend and removing the aircraft from its shipping container within an hour of its arrival. The painstaking task of reassembling the Mustang then began in earnest.
The Mustang arrived in excellent condition; other than a few minor scratches, it had suffered no ill effects from its 20,000 km journey in pieces. The HFC team spent three days on the assembly process and moved her, temporarily, into the display area at Hunter Warbirds. The aircraft will undergo some minor mechanical and cosmetic work in the coming weeks (along with a deep clean and polish) before she’s formally inducted into Hunter Warbirds.
The Hunter Fighter Collection Board is deeply grateful to several people, and we extend our thanks to the RAF Museum UK, Richard Grace and his team at Sywell UK, Paul Bennet and his team and Ross Pay. In addition, we extend our thanks to the Upper Hunter Shire Council for their assistance with the project. We also wish to thank the HFC Volunteers who gave up their Easter break – at short notice – and worked tirelessly to reassemble the Mustang for display.
The Mustang is currently marked in a livery representing a 357th Fighter Group P-51D which the late Flight Lieutenant Jack Cleland, RNZAF flew while serving as an exchange pilot with the unit. Cleland was one of the few Commonwealth pilots who did an exchange posting with the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII, serving with the 357th FG between July and September 1944 – often on B-17 escort missions. We look forwards to welcoming Jack Cleland’s family, who live nearby in the Hunter Valley, to see the aircraft which represents the WWII fighter pilot’s service.