- Berlin Express
- Merlin Maestro
- Bill Overstreet
- Thunderbolt of the Hellhawks
- Wiley of Troy
By 1944 the United States had mobilized its industrial might to the extent that fighter planes were nearly disposable. When P-51B Mustang 43-24837 crashed in Beckley, UK, it was written off with little significance. Today, after a multi-year, ground-up restoration at John Muszala's Pacific Fighters, this rare Mustang is the most authentic razor back Mustang flying. Finished in the markings of Bill Overstreet's P-51B Berlin Express, this airplane represents the history of a true American hero.
Seventy years after they were delivered to the United States Army, over 150 P-51 Mustangs are still flying. To keep these aircraft airworthy requires meticulous maintenance and dependably built Merlin engines. Among the handful of Merlin engine shops, Roush Aviation stands out as the industry leader in the design and manufacture of replacement parts, as well as a pre-eminent engine builder. Warbird Digest was given special access to the Michigan-based shop and a private interview with the legendary Jack Roush.
As John Muszala Sr. lifted off on the maiden flight of Pacific Fighter's new P-51 restoration, he took great pride in the successful completion of an airplane that represents an entire generation of heroes, and one in particular. The experiences of P-51 fighter pilot Bill Overstreet are worthy of a hero status; from chasing a German Bf 109 under the Eiffel Tower to nearly being blown out of the sky when Joseph Kennedy's bomber detonated prematurely. Overstreet's eyes saw more history as it happened than Hollywood could hope to recreate.
The Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, routinely schedules "Living History Events" that sometimes include combat veteran pilots paired with an aircraft from the museum's collection. Recently the museum featured their P-47 Thunderbolt and a panel of veteran pilots who mesmerized everyone in attendance with stories of flying the amazing Thunderbolt in combat.
In the ebb and flow of privately owned warbird collections, one of the most actively flown collections was for many years the Sanders family's warbirds. Although the aircraft remaining pristine condition, the aircraft aren't seen publicly as often these days. Over the years, photographer Brian Silxox traveled to the family's Troy, Alabama, location to capture stunning aerial images. His fine art photography documents the collection and the beauty of flight.