Fully restored iconic World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane unveiled at Gillespie Field

EL CAJON (KUSI) — The P-51D Mustang is one of the most iconic fighter planes in military history, first used by the U.S. during World War II. Flyboys Aeroworks, a collective focused on restoring and conserving World War II period aircrafts and aircraft components, unveiled a fully restored P-51 at Gillespie Field during a ceremony Saturday. 

The P-51 is most recognizable as the plane flown by the 332nd Fighter Group, known as the "Red Tails" of the Tuskegee Airmen.

"The P-51 provided U.S. Army Air Forces with a high-performance, high-altitude, long-range fighter that could escort heavy bomber formations to Berlin and back," Tom Czekanski, the National WWII Museum’s senior curator and restoration manager said. "With American pilots, including Tuskegee Airmen, at the helm, American forces were able to dramatically reduce the loss of bomber crews, which they had been suffering since the daylight bombing campaign began in 1942."

The restoration project took two years for the group to complete, and their work will now be moved to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The fighter plane will be the first authentic P-51 at the museum. The plane’s exterior was painted to resemble the plane flown by famed Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown. Brown was the first pilot to shoot down a German Me-262 jet fighter with a P-51 Mustang during the war.

"The P-51D was among the most important military aircraft ever built, and everyone at Flyboys Aeroworks who has contributed to this project was honored to be a part of this historic effort," said Rolando Gutierrez, owner of Flyboys Aeroworks. "We are truly humbled to have had the opportunity to keep history alive."

Categories: Local San Diego News