s/n 44-13321, Capt. John M. Simmons Jr., 317th FS, 325th FG,
15th AF, Lesina, Italy, August 1944
John Mack Simmons, native of Gadsden in Alabama,
joined army reserves in June 1942 and in January
1943 started his pilot’s training. After the graduation
he was dispatched to 317th FS in the Italian theater.
From the second half of April, he flew P-47s with this
unit, in May, the whole 325th FG was re-equipped with
superior Mustangs. While flying combats during the
World War II, John Simmons shot down seven enemy
aircraft and after it he remained in the USAF service.
On January 18, 1961, he perished in the T-33 crash
during the final approach. Since their African assignment the 325th FG aircraft were marked with yellow-black checkerboard painted on the tail surfaces
to distinguish them from the bombers they covered
and which gave them the nickname “Checkertails”.
The checkers’ dimensions were 10 by 10 inches. The
plane marked with number 27 carried the inscription
“Devastating Dottie” on the port side of the nose, the
starboard side sported the name “Lady Janie VII” as
all the aircraft of crew chief Ebert.
s/n 44-13606, Capt. Claude J. Crenshaw, 369th FS, 359th FG, 8th AF,
East Wretham, United Kingdom, September 1944
Twenty-four years old native of Monroe in Louisiana, Claude James Crenshaw, joined the ranks of the
Army Air Corps in December 1942. After his training
he was assigned to 359th FG based on East Wretham
in Great Britain. He completed nine-months long tour
of duty there, during which he shot down seven enemies. After that, he was ordered back to the United
States where he was flying as instructor. He also flew
combat in Korea and Vietnam retiring in 1965 with the
rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The aircraft flew in its
original factory finish. The green-painted nose was
359th FG marking the plane’s so-called invasion stripes on the fuselage and wings were already removed
as well as the black stripe painted on the vertical tail
surface and the rudder.
s/n 44-13859, Lt. Walter Mullins, 55th FS, 20th FG, 8th AF, Kings Cliffe,
United Kingdom, September 1944
Besides decorating the aircraft with girlfriend’s,
children’s or wife’s names, drawings of the sparsely
clad ladies decorated some aircraft noses as well.
Its artistic appearance depended on the ground personnel skills, if any could be found at the unit level.
One of the Mustangs that sported the “pin up girl”
artwork was the aircraft belonging to 55th FS flown
by Lt. Mullins. Factory finish was supplemented with
the olive color coat on the fuselage and wings upper
surfaces. 55th FS affiliation is further confirmed by
the fuselage code KI as well as the black triangle on
the vertical tail surface and the rudder carrying the
plane’s individual letter in white color.