P-51D-5, 44-13500, Capt. Robert J. Goebel, 308th FS, 31st FG, 15th AF,
San Severo, Italy, 1944
December 22nd, 1939 is a birthday of 31st Pursuit Group which was renamed as Fighter Group on May
15th, 1942. On February 1st following year the unit was activated at Selfridge Field airport in Michigan and equipped with P-39 aircraft. In October 1942, after a short service with 8th AF, the unit was
transferred to North Africa and incorporated into the 12th AF. During its deployment with 8th and 12th
AF the unit was equipped with British Spitfires, after the transfer to 15th AF it received P-51 Mustangs. At
the same time its mission changed to flying escorts to the heavy bombers. While the identification of the
airplanes flying with 8th and 9th AF consisted of black or white stripes on the wing and tail surfaces the
aircraft operating in the south of Europe carried yellow stripes. Red nose and spinner was also part of the
recognition marking of the 15th AF fighters. To help friend-or-foe identification during the bomber escort
sorties 31st FG aircraft carried red diagonal stripes on the tail surfaces. Lt. Goebel named his machine
BACK IN STOCK
P-51D-10, 44-14467, Lt. Gordon H. McDaniel, 318th FS, 325th FG, 15th AF,
Rimini, Italy, March 1945
The birth of 325th Fighter Group is dated in August 1942 when it was activated at Mitchel Field airbase
in New York. The training on P-40 aircraft was conducted at Hilsgrove Field airbase in Rhode Island.
The unit was transferred to North Africa in the beginning of 1943 and re-equippment to more powerful
Thunderbolts took place in the end of the same year. Once the training was completed the transfer to Italy
followed. Here, in the ranks of 15th AF, the unit was flying escorts to heavy bombers on their raids over
Southern and Central Europe. The entire group was re-equipped with Mustangs in May the following year.
Further escort missions of the heavy bombers over Europe followed as early as in June. 325th Fighter
Group was disbanded in May 1945.
Since the deployment in Africa the 325th FG aircraft were marked with yellow-black checkerboard on
the tail surfaces to help with the friend-or-foe identification flying escorts to the bombers who gave them
the nickname „Checkertails“. The checkerboard squares on P-51s measured 10 by 10 inches each. Lt.
McDaniel had his girlfriend‘s name (Mary) and his nickname (Mac) painted on the nose of his fighter.
INFO Eduard - February 2020