P-51K-1, 44-11471, Lt. Carl H. Colleps, 118th FRS, 23rd FG, 14th AF, Cheng Kung, China 1945
118th TRS history dates back to August 31, 1917 when the 118th Aero Squadron commenced its operations in France. In 1923 the unit was redesignated as 118th Observation Squadron operating within the Connecticut National Guards. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor it was
assigned a mission of anti-submarine patrols at the Atlantic coast. In August 1942 the unit was withdrawn from this assignment and ordered
to prepare for the overseas deployment. In October 1943, already established as the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron it was attached
to the 23rd Fighter Group flying within 14th AF in the CBI theatre of operations (China-Burma-India). Flying P-40s its mission was initially
to defend the airports in India out of which B-29s operated. In May 1944 another transfer followed, this time to China. There the unit flew the
fighter and fighter-bomber sorties, the reconnaissance missions were rather rare. The unit performed these type of missions until the end of
hostilities. After the return to the USA the unit was again integrated into the Connecticut Air National Guards. It is still active currently flying
C-130H Hercules under the designation of 118th Airlift Squadron.
118th TRS Mustangs recognition marking were black, yellow trimmed lightnings on the fuselage sides and smaller ones on the wingtips. The
aircraft named Little Joe, carrying 192 numeral on the tail sports 5 Japanese flags painted under the windshield indicating five enemy aircraft
destroyed on the ground as flown by Lt. Colleps.
P-51K-10, 44-12539, Lt. Everett Kelly, 6th FS, 1st Air Commando Group, 10th AF, Asansol, India, summer 1945
Everett Kelly took part in the air combat over Burma on October 14, 1944 within 1st Air Commando Group part of which was the
6th Fighter Group flying P-47D Thunderbolts. During his return from his first mission, the attack at the Mingaladon airport, he
shot down a Japanese Ki-43. He failed to score afterwards. His unit was primarily focused on attacking the ground targets. 6th
FS commenced its conversion to P-51D/K in the second half of May 1945 at Kalaikunda airport where it gave up their beloved but
war-weary Thunderbolts. The unit did not see combat until the end of WWII and after its return to the USA on November 3, 1945 it
Same as the 51st FS custom already fighting in CBI, 6th FS decorated its aicraft with the checkerboard on the tail surfaces.
Kelly’s Mustang carried the inscription „Sigh!‘ on the nose port side and „Irene“ adorned the starboard side.
P-51K-10, 44-12073, Lt.Col. William M. Banks, CO of 348th FG, 5th AF, Ie Shima, July 1945
William McGowan Banks was born on September 1, 1915 in Raleigh, West Virginia. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 15, 1941. After
finishing the training he was posted to 62nd PS flying P-40s. In June he was attached to 90th FS, 80th FG. In October 1942 he was dispatched
to New Guinea to join the 348th FG equipped with P-47s. In November 1942 he was given command of the 342nd FS. He also led this unit from
November 1943 until May 1944. During the fighting in the area between October 1943 and February 1944 he shot down six Japanese aircraft.
In December while attached to the 348th FG he participated in the liberation of Philippines where he scored three more kills flying P-47. On
February 1945 the unit converted to Mustangs D and K. On June 8, 1945 he assumed the command of 348th FG. At that time the unit sortied out
of the Ie Shima island for the raids on Japan. During a sweep flown on August 9, 1945 into the Fukuoka prefecture area Banks, leading the flight
of four aircraft, eye witnessed the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki. With his flight he even circled the mushroom
cloud billowed after the explosion. After the WWII Lt.Col. Banks continued his career in the USAAF. He retired in June 1963. He departed for
aviatior’s heaven on May 6, 1983 in San Antonio, Texas.
INFO Eduard - September 2021