P-51D-25, 44-72628, Lt. Ralph R. Coltman/ Lt. James E. Coleman, 458th FS,
506th FG, 20th AF, Iwo Jima, July 1945
From its inception in October 1944 at Lakeland Army Airfield in Florida, 506th Fighter Group was equipped with P-51 Mustangs. During the training Its pilots were polishing the skills in very long range flights
since their mission was escorting the B-29 bombers in the Pacific Theater of Operation. On March 17th,
1945, the ship carrying the unit’s personnel anchored at Guam where they received new P-51D versions
20 and 25 which they flew over to Tinian and consequently Iwo Jima from where, starting in May 1945
flew the sorties against Bonin Islands and Japan and also escorts to B-29 bombers on their sorties against
Japan. 506th FG aircraft sported colorful tails, either in solid color or in the form of diagonal stripes. Blue
indicated 458th FS. The aircraft 44-72628 is attractive thanks to the variety of artwork and inscriptions
on its fuselage nose.
BACK IN STOCK
P-51D-25, 44-72671, 457th FS, 506th FG, 20th AF,
Iwo Jima, June 1945
2nd Lt. William Saks is better known among historians for his Mustang’s decoration than his combat achievements and scored enemy aircraft kills. In the ranks of 457th Fighter Squadron he participated in the
B-29 bombers‘ escort sorties which were devastating Japanese islands or in the entire 506th FG Mustang
fleet raids against the logistical centers and other military targets in Japan.
His fate was sealed on June 1st, 1945 when returning to Iwo Jima he perished together with another
eleven pilots of this unit. This day he flew with machine 44-72885. The cause of this tragedy was bad
weather. This day is called Black Friday in 506th FG records. 457th FS aircraft tails were sprayed in
green color for better recognition during the long range escort flights. 2nd Lt. Saks named his aircraft Enchantress, there was a sparsely-clad girl painted under the windshield inspired by Albert Varga’s artwork.
INFO Eduard - February 2020