P-51D-20, 44-72218, flown by Lt Col. John D. Landers, CO of 78th FG, Duxford, United Kingdom, March 1945
John Dave Landers was born on August 23rd, 1920 in Joshua, Texas. He joined the Army Air Force in April 1941. After undergoing
pilot training, he was assigned to the 9th FS in Australia in January 1942, a unit that flew P-40s. In the Pacific theatre, he gained
six kills, and in January 1943, he was called back to the States. There, he served as a flight instructor, but by his own request, he
was reassigned to a combat unit in April 1944. That combat unit was the 38th FS based at Wormingford, which flew the P-38, re-equipping with the P-51 from July 1944. After being promoted to Lt Col., he took over command duties of the 357th FG, which he
led from October to December 1944. After some downtime in the United States, he returned to Great Britain and was named CO of
78th FG, holding this post until the end of the Second World War. In December 1945, he left the
military and worked in construction. He died on September 12th, 1989.
P-51D-20, 44-63607, flown by Lt Col. Glenn T. Eagleston, CO of 353rd FS, 354th FG, 9th AF, Y-64 Ober Olm, Germany, April 1945
Glenn Todd Eagleston was born on March 12th, 1921 in Farmington, Utah, and he joined the USAAF in 1940. In 1942, he underwent
flight training, after which he was first assigned to the P-39 equipped 79th FS, and then to the 353rd FS, which was transferred
to Boxted in the UK with their Mustangs in October 1943. Although being a constituent of the 9th Air Force, the unit flew escort
missions for 8th AF bombers. In the spring 1944 landing preparations, the 354th FG returned to tactical support of ground forces,
and eventually relocated to fields in liberated Europe to remain close to combat areas, and this included the 353rd FS. Squadron
command was handed over to Capt. Eagleston in October 1944, and the unit used their Thunderbolts in support of ground forces. In
mid-February, 1945, the unit went back to using the Mustang. After the Second World War, during which Glenn Eagleston amassed
18.5 kills over enemy aircraft, he remained in the Service, and took part in combat over Korea, where he shot down a pair of Soviet
MiG-15s. He retired at the end of February 1967, and died on May 7th, 1991.
P-51D-20, 44-63984, flown by Maj. James B. Tapp, CO of 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF, Iwojima, May 1945
During attacks on Tokyo vicinity airfields on May 25th, 1945, 7th AF Mustang pilots fired unguided HVAR rockets for the first time.
A quartet of thusly armed Mustangs was part of a force that included initially some 128 fighters, but only a mere 67 aircraft found
their mark. The flight of HVAR armed Mustangs was led by Maj. James Buckley Tapp, who hit a hangar with his rockets at Matsudo
Air Base, and then shot down a Ki-44 Tojo in combat.This would be his 7th kill, while his first four came about during the first
escort mission of Superfortresses over Japan on April 7th, 1945. These up to eight hour missions came to be known as VLR (Very
Long Range) missions, and Maj. Tapp became the first USAAF ace to gain all his kills during these VLR flights on April 12th, 1945.
With a total of eight confirmed kills and two damaged, Maj. Tapp is the second ranked Mustang pilot in the Pacific area during World
War Two. Symbols applied by the ground crew of Margaret IV on the right side of the fuselage below the cockpit further indicate
that this Mustang flew a total of nine combat missions to May 25th, 1945, during which the pilot destroyed five enemy aircraft.
INFO Eduard - FEBRUARY 2022