P-51D-5, 44-15284, Lt. Col. Felix L. Vidal, CO of 325th FG, 15th AF,
Lesina, Italy, spring 1945
Felix Louis Vidal was born on July 22, 1912, in Madison, South Dakota. After graduation from Madison
High School, he enlisted in the military academy in
West Point. After the graduation, he went through pilot training and when the USA entered WWII he held
the staff and command posts. On March 2, 1945, he
assumed command of the 325th Fighter Group and
on June 6, 1945, Lt. Col. Wyatt P. Exum replaced him
in this role. Felix Vidal's further career was associated with the aviation and army and he retired in 1963
with the rank of Brigadier General. He passed away
on July 16, 1983, in Brevard, Florida. During his tenure
with the 325th FG, nicknamed Checkertails due to
their recognition markings, Felix Vidal flew Mustang
christened Dusty Butt. On May 31, 1945, this airplane
was damaged during the crash.
P-51D-5, 44-13440, Lt. William R. Hinton, 317th FS, 325th FG, 15th AF,
Lesina, Italy, September 1944
The 317th FS was activated on July 1, 1942, on Rhode
Island and after six months of the intense training
on P-40, together with its sister squadrons from the
325th FG it was transferred to North Africa. While
there it was put under the 12th AF command and fought in Algeria and Tunisia. In the beginning of Sep-
tember 1943, the unit started its conversion to P-47
after which the whole group was ordered to bombers’ escorting missions under the 15th AF command.
In May 1944 the unit started to fly Mustangs which
they operated until the end of war. William “Billy”
Hinton, the ace with five kills, christened his aircraft
BALLZOUT II (the name BALLZOUT was also carried by
his first Mustang P-51C). The inscription was painted together with his personal insignia in the form of
a spittin´ tiger.
P-51D-20, Maj. Norman L. McDonald, CO of 318th FS, 325th FG, 15th AF,
Mondolfo, Italy, April 1945
Norman Leroy McDonald was born on January 21,
1918, in Framingham, Massachusetts and in the second half of 1930s underwent civilian pilot training.
He continued training with the Army Air Force which
he completed in December 1941. In May 1942 he was
ordered to the 52nd FG, namely the 2nd FS. With this
unit he flew in the North African campaign and after he finished his tour of duty from October 1943
he went through the conversion to P-47 in the USA.
After that, he was sent to Checkertails on his own
request in August 1944. He assumed the command of
the 318th Fighter Squadron and held this post until
January 5, 1945. While he flew with the 318th FS he
added four kills of the enemy aircraft to his 7.5 air
victories scored with the 2nd FS.