D-FBBD - Big Beautiful Doll
CAC CA-18 Mk. 22 Mustang A68-192 G-HAEC Big Beautiful Doll
Serial number
Construction n°
Paint Scheme

Based at
CAC CA-18 Mk. 22
Big Beautiful Doll
John Dave Landers
78th Fighter Group
84th Fighter Squadron
Air Fighter Academy GmbH

Heringsdorf , Usedom
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Airframe history

Big Beautiful Doll is an Australian built airframe (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation or CAC, more specifically CA-18 Mk. 22). It was built in 1951 and delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as A68-192 on March 8th , 1951.

It had no exciting history with the RAAF as it only flew a grand total of 4 hours of acceptance and test flights, after which it was put into storage. It wasn't until April of 1958 that it was sold to F. Chris Braund of Tamworth, New South Wales and was registered as VH-FCB.

It was now flown on a regular basis up until 1961 when it was sold on to Jack McDonald. Jack operated the aircraft from 1961 to 1966. In October of 1966, the Mustang changed owners again, this time to Ed Fleming of Skyservice Aviation in Camden, New South Wales.

In 1969 the aircraft was acquired by George A. Scholey of Frontino Inc., Manila, the Philippines. On its first test flight it suffered a forced landing as a result of an engine failure. During the next 3 years, the airframe was repaired and re-engined. After repairs she flew again, but disaster would strike again very soon: on October 18th , 1973, the aircraft crash landed on Manila airport and was totally written off.

The crippled airframe was stored in a warehouse in Manila until it was shipped to Hong Kong in 1975, together with a large number of spare parts and major components of another American built P-51D 44-72917.
44-72917 was en ex 170th FS IL ANG Mustang later sent to Korea. It returned after the war and was later delivered to the Philippines Air Force where it was registered as PI-C651.

Both A68-192 and 44-42917 were acquired by Mal Rose, Ray Hanna and others, who were all flying for Cathay Pacific out of Hong Kong. Both airframes were used to rebuild a new complete Mustang airframe. Even though major components were used from 44-42917, the new owners opted to keep the original Australian identity.

It was briefly under ownership of D.E. Baker & Partners and registered as VR-HIU.

The aircraft was restored for Ray and Mark Hanna by the Hong Kong Aeronautical Engineering Company (hence the registration of G-HAEC, the company's initials). After final assembly and engine runs, the aircraft made its first flight in February of 1985.

It was then palleted for shipment to the UK where it would fly with Ray Hanna's Old Flying Machine Company (based at Duxford) starting February 28th , 1985, painted in camouflage and coded CV-H. During its time with the OFMC,
G-HAEC acquired multiple paintschemes and also became quite the movie star.

Its first movie appearace was in 1987, when the aircraft was repainted as “592/Missy Wong from Hong Kong” in Steven Spielberg's “Empire of the Sun”, along with two other P-51s.
Later, in 1989, it made another movie appearance in the movie “Memphis Belle”, where it flew under the name “Ding Hao” (AJ-A), along with 6 other Mustangs. Filming was mainly done at Binbrook and Duxford.

Later, if briefly acquired the paintscheme of RAAF A-68-192 again.

G-HAEC would remain based at Duxford operated by the OFMC and the Historic Aircraft Collection, until it was sold to Rob Davies of Woodchurch Warbirds, Kent, in March of 1997.

It would briefly return to the big screen in 1998 in Steven Spielberg's “Saving Private Ryan”, along with P-51D N167F.

In 2001, the aircraft received the paintscheme it still wears today: that of Colonel John D. Landers' “Big Beautiful Doll” (463221/EZ-Z) of the 84th FS, 78th FG, which was based at Duxford during 1944/1945.

Becoming a regular star in movies, the latest movie in which it participates is George Lucas' 2009 movie: “Red Tails”, a movie about the 332nd FG also known as the "Tuskegee Airmen". It flew alongside P-51s N167F and F-AZSB.

Youtube video clips of G-HAEC in various movies:

Empire of the Sun
Saving Private Ryan
Red Tails - filming clip 1
Red Tails - filming clip 2
Red Tails - filming clip 3

In 2011, the P-51 was sold by Rob Davies to the Air Fighter Academy GmbH in Heringsdorf. Once in Germany, it was revised and given a polished skin by the people at Meier Motors. Registration was changed to D-FBBD.

Whilst the P-51 was now based in Germany, the plan was for it to be still flown regularly at UK airshows by its previous owner Rob Davies. Unfortunately, during the break for landing pass after the Balbo, Big Beautifull Doll was involved in a mid-air collision with the french Skyraider F-AZDP and crashed in a nearby field. The pilot, Rob Davies, miraculously bailed out of the aircraft and opened his chute just in time. The aircraft was totalled, it is unclear whether it will be able to be restored again.

Date Registry Owner








Commonwealth Aircraft Company (CAC), delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on March 8th
F. Chris Braund, Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia in April
Jack McDonald, Melbourne-Moorabbin, Victoria, Australia
Ed Fleming, Skyservice Aviation, Camden, New South Wales, Australia in October
George A. Scholey, Frontino Inc., Manila, Philippines on February 27th. Suffered a forced landing and it took 3 years to repair
Crash landed again at Manila Airport on October 19th
Acquired by Ray Hanna & Mal Rose. Rebuild commenced in Hong Kong Kai Tak Airportusing center section of P-51D 44-72917
D.E. Baker & Partners, Hong Kong
Ray Hanna, the Old Flying Machine Company, Duxford in February
First flight after rebuild. Shipped to UK, arrived in Gatwick by air freight on February 28th
Painted as RAAF A68-192
Painted as 588 "Miss Wong from Hong Kong" for the movie "Empire of the Sun"
Painted as A-AJ "Ding Hao" for the movie "Memphis Belle"
Acquired by Rob Davies, Woodchurch Warbirds, Kent, UK
Repainted as 463221/EZ-Z "Big Beautiful Doll"
Sold by Rob Davies to the Air Fighter Academy GmbH in Heringsdorf. Went through the workshop at Meier Motors for revision and checkup. Was ferried by Rob Davies to Meier Motors on April 9th.
Crashed at Flying Legends airshow, Duxford, UK, as a result of a mid-air collision with Skyraider F-AZDP.

Paintscheme information

P-51 D-FBBD is currently painted in the colors of Colonel John Dave Landers' “Big Beautiful Doll”, 78th FG, 84th FS.

The name

We're not really sure how J. D. Landers came up with the name “Big Beautiful Doll”. Maybe he got his inspiration by the 1911 love-song “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” by Nat D. Ayer

The pilot

John Dave Landers was born on June 23rd , 1920 in Rexroat, Carter County, Oklahoma. He received his wings on December 12th , 1941, just two days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour.
Landers served with the 49th Pursuit Group, 9th Fighter Squadron in the Pacific Theatre, achieving 6 credited victories against the Japanese whilst flying P-40s. He evaded capture in December of 1942 after being shot down and bailing out of his fighter plane near Dobodura, New Guinea. After a period as a flight instructor in the United States, Landers joined the 55th Fighter Group, 38 th FS on April 25th , 1944.

After becoming group officer of the 357th FG on October 10th, 1944, he was promoted to commanding officer of the 78th FG on February 22nd, 1945, who were based at Duxford at the time. All of his mustangs were named "Big Beautiful Doll". In his latest BBD, he raised his overall score to 14.5.

Landers, John D. 1st Lieutenant 9th Pursuit Sqn 12-26-1942 2
Landers, John D. 2nd Lieutenant 9th Pursuit Sqn 04-04-1942 2
Landers, John D. 2nd Lieutenant 9th Pursuit Sqn 06-14-1942 1
Landers, John D. 2nd Lieutenant 9th Pursuit Sqn 07-30-1942 1
Landers, John D. Lt. Colonel 357th FG 11-18-1944 1
Landers, John D. Lt. Colonel 78th FG 03-02-1945 2
Landers, John D. Lt. Colonel 78th FG 03-19-1945 1
Landers, John D. Lt. Colonel 78th FG 03-30-1945 0.5
Landers, John D. Major 38th FG 06-25-1945 1
Landers, John D. Major 38th FG 07-07-1945 3
      Total credits 14.5

The paint scheme

The 78th Fighter Group was assigned to the 8th AF in November of 1943. They were also the last Group to convert to the P-51 Mustang, namely in January of 1945.

They originally started out with P-38 Lightnings. In fact, they were one of the first units to be trained in and equipped with the P-38 in 1942. Most of the group's pilots and aircraft were re-assigned to the 12th AF for combat in North Africa however.

As a result, the 78th was re-equipped and trained to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt, with which the unit could finally begin operations in the ETO.

The Thunderbolts, which replaced the 78th FGs Lightnings, were initially identified with the same plane-in-group numbering system as those originally utilized on the P-38s. These numbers were replaced with white 24-inch tall squadron code letter combinations in March of 1943, and would ultimately be applied to the groups P-51 Mustangs.

Also, at the urging of the British Air Ministry, the white UK recognition stripes and yellow cocarde surround used on the P-38s were applied to all 78th FG P-47Cs shortly after arrival. It was widely feared that allied anti-aircraft gun crews would too easily mistake the airborne Thunderbolt silhouette with the German FW-190, thus greatly increasing the risk of friendly fire incidents.

The checkerboard cowling marking began to appear on the groups P-47s at the same time the new squadron codes were adopted in March of 1943. The “squares” were actually 8 by 7 inch rectangles which were applied six per row.

The Group's P-47s arrived in natural metal and thus, following an 8th Fighter Command directive, the upper surfaces of these aircraft were painted with a RAF Dark Green. A Sky Blue paint was applied to must under-surfaces. Tail numbers were reapplied with 7-8 inch tall yellow numerals.

This was in anticipation of the Group's potential post D-Day deployment within Continental Europe and the 78th FG would continue to adhere to this camouflage policy until the end of 1944. Natural metal finished P-47s did participate in Group combat operations during this time frame but only until time allowed for the application of the aforementioned paint scheme. When D-Day Invasion Stripes were applied, the fuselage codes were masked-out prior to the painting process and not obscured in any way.

Squadron colours did not begin appearing on the Groups tail rudders until late October of 1944. The 78th Fighter Group consisted out of the following Fighter Squadrons:

  • The 82nd FS (unit code “MX”) had their rudders painted red
  • The 83rd FS (unit code “HL”) had their rudders painted white with a red outline around it
  • The 84th FS (unit code “WZ”) had black rudders

With the transition to the P-51 Mustang the black and white checkerboard was carried over from the P-47s. The original 78th FG nose markings consisted of a series of 12 by 12 inches black squares upon a white background, stylized with a rear line sweep down and forward from the anti-glare panel, which eliminated the number of squares per lower line to five.

The size of the squares was quickly modified down to an 8 by 8 inch motif, but the stencils for this configuration were barely cut when the nose pattern was changed again to employ 6 by 6 inch black squares, which was ultimately adopted.

The eight 6-inch squares per horizontal line (as with the 353rd FG) were bordered by a 2-inch wide red line backing the rear of the checkerboard and swept back low down to the wing root. Further checkers were added with the sweep back and there were usually twelve squares per longitudinal row between the spinner and wing root.

Additionally, the 78th FG spinners were equally divided into black & white halves. In flight, these created an almost strobe-like effect, creating an illusionary slow motion visual effect.

Tail rudders received squadron colour almost immediately after the new P-51's arrival at the 78th FG maintenance areas. The 83rd FS quickly adopted an additional 2 inch contour outline for added visibility. The original tail numbers were simply masked-over prior to rudder paint application leaving an unpainted horizontal strip on the rudder. This policy was soon modified with the numbers being removed entirely and repainted. In the case of the 82nd and 84th FS's these were relocated entirely forward of the rudder.

Squadron codes remained the same size and configuration as those previously used on the Groups P-47s with stencil lines invariably being filled-in. The 82nd and 83rd FS often accented their fuselage codes with a thin Insignia Red contour outline.

The Commanding Officer of the 78th FG began a practice which was ultimately adopted by several other Mustangs within the Group. This entailed a pattern of between seven and nine alternating vertical B&W stripes running along both wing tips. A variation on this scheme was the application to the same area of respective squadron colours.

By 1945, the QIM (Quick Identification Markings) used on P-51s was no longer necessary and was subsequently removed on new and existing airframes. The Invasion Stripes were also no longer used at that time. As a result, neither are displayed on Big Beautiful Doll.

In the closing two months of the war the 84th FS adopted the practice of painting the main canopy frame of their Mustangs Insignia Red. This was the favoured location of many 78th FG pilots for the application of their individual kill marks.

Displayed on the port side of the forward fuselage are 36.5 kill markings, six of which are Japanese aircraft kills. A total of 14.5 were aerial kills (all of the six Japanese kills were aerial kills), all other were ground kills. The “half-kill” occurred on March 30th , 1945, where he shared in the destruction of a Me-262.

In total, Col. Landers was credited with destroying 14.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, 1 damaged and 20 more on the ground whilst strafing enemy airfields.

Why his aircraft displayed 36.5 kills is uncertain as his official tally remained 34.5

The paint scheme on Big Beautiful Doll is thus situated in the period after March 30th of 1945:

  • No QIM markings
  • No D-Day half stripes
  • Lander assumed command of 78th FG on February 22nd , 1945
  • Half kill which is displayed occurred on March 30th , 1945

For more information on the following general P-51 markings, please click their appropriate links:
D-Day markings
US National Insignia markings
General P-51 markings

Pictures of D-FBBD Big Beautiful Doll


Walkaround pictures of D-FBBD Big Beautiful Doll



Contributor pictures of F-FBBD Big Beautiful Doll

Contributor image copyright (left to right, top to bottom):

6, 7
9, 10, 11
12, 28, 29, 32
13, 14
15, 16, 17
18, 19, 25
20, 22
23, 24
27, 30, 31

© Malcolm Clarke
© Gareth Horne
© John Myers
© Simon Thomas
© George Canciani
© Jan Žeravic
© Suchy
© Zdenek Hatas
© Uwe Glaser
© Derek Ferguson
© Filip "FiLM" Malát
© Geoff - GJC1
© Martin Kotek
© Michael Ziem
© Frank C. Duarte Jr.
© Fergal Goodman
© Jarrod Cotter for Warbird Depot
© Alex Christie
© Jean-Marie Hanon
© Stephen Blee


Pictures of the original "Big Beautiful Doll"


© 78th FG, USAAF

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