North American TF-51D Mustang 44-84847, Miss Velma, (N251RJ)
Built too late to see combat service in World War Two, P-51D 44-84847 was one of the last Mustangs constructed at North American Aviation’s Dallas, Texas, plant. Details of her post war service career are limited, but there is photographic evidence, from September 1951, of her serving with the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kimpo, South Korea, during the Korean War.
By late 1951 the 45th TRS were replacing their aging Mustangs with RF-80 Shooting Star jets, and so 44-84847 was shipped back the US to serve with the Air National Guard until around 1956. Around this time she slips off the radar until January 1999 when she re-appears in North Dakota as a restoration project. The airframe joined The Fighter Collection fleet the following year and was moved to Chino, California for a full restoration with the decision made to modify her to two-seat TF-51D configuration.
The restoration culminated in a first flight in May 2007 with Steve Hinton at the controls. Following this our Mustang was painted in the 55th Fighter Group scheme of Capt Frank Birtciel’s P-51D 44-14561, Miss Velma. Following the successful completion of her flight testing, Miss Velma was fitted with external drop tanks and flew across the Atlantic to the UK, where she arrived at Duxford on the 4th July 2007.