Survivors
PH-VDF - Scat VII
TF-51D-25-NA 44-72922 PH-VDF Scat VII
Type
Serial number
Construction n°
Registry
Paint Scheme



Owner
Based at
TF-51D-25-NA
44-72922
122-39381
PH-VDF
Scat VII
Major Robin Olds
479th Fighter Group
434th Fighter Squadron
Jan van der Flier
Antwerp
Belgium
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Airframe history

44-72922 is one of those rare P-51 Mustangs who survived WWII and is now still flying in the same color scheme it had over 60 years ago. Although the airframe crashed several times and thus is not the exact same airframe it was when it was manufactured, it has been rebuilt each time around its original serial number.

This Mustang was built by North American Aviation in 1944 under construction number 122-39381 and was delivered to the USAAF that same year as 44-72922. There it served with the 434th Fighter Squadron, 479th Fighter Group as “Scat VII” L2- W , Major Robin Olds' personal aircraft.

Her history just after the war is still obscure. It is only known that she was put up for disposal at McClellan AFB, California, on February 17th , 1958. At that time 44-72922 entered the civilian market when it was acquired by Robert H. Fee of San Antonio, Texas and reregistered N7718C.

Only 3 months later the P-51 again changed hands, this time to Larry Sheerin, also from San Antonio, who reregistered it again as N18Y.

On November 20th of the same year she was resold once more to Robin Eschauzier, Lackland AFB, Texas. Registration changed to N6830T on February 3rd , 1961.

On October 25th , 1962, William D. Owens bought 44-72922 which was reregistered once more, this time to N577WD on January 28th , 1963.

After a three-year ownership by Space Systems Laboratory Inc., the Mustang was acquired by David B. Lindsay of Trans Florida Aviation on March 24th , 1967, who had her stored for conversion to Cavalier Mustang. The fuselage of 44-72922 was used shortly to build a Learstang racer (N91JD “Vendetta” between 1985 and 1988).

Eventually the fuselage was rebuilt as a stock TF-51D Mustang at Salinas, California, in 1993. The aircraft was painted in its original color scheme of 434th FS, 479th FG “Scat VII” L2- W, which was flown by Major Robin Olds.

In May of 1993 the newly restored TF-51D was acquired by Jim Shuttleworth of Huntington, Indiana, who reregistered her as N93TF. The first post-restoration flight occurred on June 6th , 1993.

On February 20th , 2003, tragedy struck upon 44-72922 when she crashed and was completely destroyed in Urbana, Indiana, killing pilot Jim Shuttleworth. The Mustang failed to recover from an apparent spin and impacted the ground inverted with the landing gear extended. You can read the NTSB accident report here.

In 2006, what was left of her remains were rebuilt once more for Flight Management LLC. She was reregistered NL93TF and painted once more in its original paint scheme of "Scat VII". She was one of the participants at the 2007 Gathering of Mustangs and Legends at Rickenbacker airport, Columbus, Ohio.

In 2009 she made the trip across the Atlantic once more when she was sold to Jan van der Flier. The aircraft was taken apart, crated and shipped by container from Kissimmee, Florida to Lelystad, Netherlands.

There she was put back together by Stichting Vroege Vogels and made the short trip to her new home base at Antwerp airport, Belgium.

On March 3rd , 2010 she suffered a taxiing accident when the left main gear ran into a hole at Antwerp airport, resulting in the collapse of the main gear. Repairs started immediately and the engine was sent back to the US for revision and repairs.

In the beginning of August, repairs were finished and she flies once again. She's a regular visitor to European airshows.

Jim Shuttleworth at 1989 reunion of 434th FS, 479th FG
Marion, Indiana Fly/In Cruise/In
2011 Oostwold airshow

Date Registry Owner

1944

1958
1958
1958
1958
1961
1962
1963
1963
1967

1971

1984
1985
1985
1991
1992
1993

1993
1993
2003
2006
2007
2009
2010

44-72922


N7718C N18Y

N6830T

N577WD

 

 

 

 

 


N93TF


NL93TF

PH-VDF


Manufactured by North American Aviation and delivered to the USAAF. Flew as “Scat VII” L2- W with the 434th FS, 479th FG during WWII
Put up for disposal at McClelland AFB, California on February 17th
Purchased by Robert H. Free, San Antonio, Texas on February 17th
Larry Sheerin, San Antonio, Texas in May
Robin Eschauzier, Lackland AFB, Texas on November 20th
Reregistered on February 3rd
William D. Owens, Hondo, Texas on October 25th
Reregistered on January 28th
Space Systems Laboratory Inc., Melbourne, Florida
David B. Lindsay, Trans Florida Aviation, Sarasota, Florida on March 24th . Put into storage pending conversion to Cavalier Mustang.
David B. Lindsay, Lindsey Newspapers, Florida on September 10th . Stored dismantled at King City, California
Gordon W. Plaskett, King City, Florida
John Dilley, Fort Wayne Air Service, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fuselage used in the construction of Learstang Racer N91JD “Vendetta”
Fuselage rebuilt as stock TF-51D at Salinas, California
Carol L. Shuttleworth, Huntington, Indiana in March
Restoration as TF-51D completed as “Scat VII” L2- W with the 434th FS, 479th FG
Jim Shuttleworth, Huntington, Indiana in May.
First post restoration flight on June 6th
Crashed and destroyed on February 20th
Rebuild for Flight Management LLC, Seattle, Washington
Attended the Gathering of Mustangs & Legends at Columbus, Ohio
Sold to Jan van der Flier. Stationed at Antwerp airport, Belgium
Suffered a taxiing accident on March 3rd , in for repairs
Repairs completed, airworthy again from the beginning of August

Paintscheme information


44-72922 is one of those rare examples of which the airframe and its paint scheme today is still the same as it was during WWII. Although it needs to be pointed out that the airframe itself is no longer 100% original because of a heavy crash in 2003.


The name

Robin Olds named every last one of the aircraft he flew “Scat”, followed by a number. Starting out with Scat I, a P-38, all the way up to Scat XXVII, his personal F-4C at Da Nang, during the Vietnam War.

“Scat” was a reference to his West Point roommate, who was nicknamed Scat. When Olds' roommate was grounded out of pilot training because of eye issues, he took it really hard. Olds told him he'd still fly with him and promised to carry Scat's name into battle on his assigned aircraft. His old roommate was killed in 1945 as an Infantry Officer.

Robin Old obviously was a man of his word, as all of his aircraft were in fact named after his old roommate.

Robin Olds, a major at that time, only flew 44-72922 P-51D “Scat VII” for about 3 weeks before the war was over, but did score his last 4 kills with it. She was also the only Scat until that time not to be written off by another pilot and thus survived the war in one piece.

The pilot

Robin Olds was born an “Army brat” on July 14th , 1922 in Honolulu and would go on to become one of the most successful fighter pilots. He was a triple-ace, with a total of 17 air-to-air (including the Vietnam War) and 11.5 strafing victories.

Robin primarily grew up on Air Corps bases and it is no surprise that he got his love for flying there. He spent the majority of his childhood at Hampton, Virginia, where he also attended elementary and high school. He made his first flight at the age of 8, at the controls of his father's open cockpit biplane.
At the Hampton High School he also was part of the football team that won the state championship of Virginia in 1937.

Instead of entering college after graduating in 1939, he enrolled at Millard Preparatory School in Washington DC. With the outbreak of the war in Europe that same year, Olds tried to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in an attempt to go and fight the enemy, but his father refused to sign his enlistment papers and insisted that he attend West Point instead.

Robin completed Millard Prep and applied for admission at West Point. After receiving a conditional commitment for nomination from a Pennsylvania congressman, Old moved to Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where he lived in the YMCA and supported himself by working odd jobs. He also took and passed the entrance exam and was accepted into the Class of 1944 on June 1st , 1940. He entered the academy a month later.

In the middle of his third class year, the academy began an accelerated program for those entering in 1940 that ultimately shortened the course of study to three years. Also, for those applying to the Air Corps, primary flight training was provided at nearby Stewart Field, of which 206 cadets completed the training.

Robin graduated on June 1st , 1943 and received his pilot's wings from General Henry H. Arnold that very same day and became a 20-year old Second Lieutenant.

After earning his wings, he completed fighter pilot training with the 329th FG, at Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale, California. In early 1944 he was part of a group assigned to form the newly activated 434th FS, which would become part of the 479th FG, based at Lomita, California at that time. He would log 650 hours of flight time during training, including 250 hours in the P-38 Lightning.

The Group departed LA for Camp Kilmer on April 15th , 1944, and shipped aboard the USS Argentina for Europe on May 3rd . They arrived in Scotland on May 14th and travelled by train to RAF Wattisham, where they arrived the very next day. The 479th FG was the only Group in the 8th AF still equipped with the P-38 at that time.

The 479th became operational on May 26th and began flying bomber escort missions and attacking transportation targets in occupied France in advance of the Normandy invasion. Robin Olds flew an older P-38J model at first, which he named “Scat” (see above for the origin of the name).

His crew chief at that time, T/Sgt. Glen A. Wold, said that Olds showed an immediate interest in aircraft maintenance. Olds learned how to do emergency servicing and insisted that his aircraft be waxed to redure air resistance. He often helped his maintenance crew out in carrying out their tasks.

On July 24th , Olds was promoted to Captain and became a flight leader. On August 14th , 1944, Olds finally got his first kills of the war. Flying P-38J Scat III, in the form of two FW-190s, following a low-level bombing mission to Montmirial, France.

Only 11 days later, Capt. Olds and his wingman became separated from their group on an escort mission to Rostock, when they spotted a large gaggle (estimated 50+) of Me-109s.

In just 25 minutes, Olds destroyed 2 of them. Despite suffering severe damage to his own aircraft (including loss of a side window of the canopy), Olds managed to down another Me-109 on the way back home, making him the last P-38 ace in the ETO. He also claimed 3 probable kills whilst flying P-38s, but these were never accredited of confirmed.

The 479th FG finally converted to the P-51 Mustang in September of 1944. He scored his first kill in a Mustang 44-14426 named “Scat 5” on October 6th , 1944.

After this kill, it wasn't until February 9th of the following year that the newly promoted Major Olds struck again. That very same day, he scored number 7, an Me-109, just southeast of Mageburg, Germany, using the new K-14 gunsight. At some 450 yards from his target, he let the K-14 calculate the deflection and fired, surprising himself somewhat when his first burst hit the German fighter. He closed in and fired twice more, his third burst sending the Messerschmitt down.

One week later, on February 14th , 1945, Old would have a field day on a mission to Berlin, downing 3 enemy aircraft, two Me-109s and one FW-190. These were downed whilst flying another Scat, this time 44-11746 “Scat VI”.

During a review later by the USAF Historcal Research Agency, one of the two Me-109 kills was changed to a probable, although the Frank Olynyk study gives him full credit for the kill (thus explaining the difference between Olds' official USAF Historical Reseach Agancy total number of kills of 16 and the 17 acclaimed by Dr. Frank Olynyk).

On March 19th , he downed another Me-109 and FW-190. His final kill of WWII occurred on April 7th , 1945, when Major Olds led the 479th FG on a B-24 escort mission to an ammuniation dump in Lüneburg, Germany.

Major Olds achieved the bulk of his strafing credits the following week in attacks on Lübeck Blankensee and Tarnewitz airfields on April 13 th and Reichersburg airfield in Austria on April 16th , when he destroyed 6 German planes on the ground.

Strafing victories were not without hazard, as Olds explained on the April 13th mission: I was hit by flak as I was pulling out of a dive-strafing pass on an airfield called Tarnewitz, up on the Baltic. Five P-51s made a pass on the airdrome that April day. I was the only one to return home…When I tested the stall characteristics of my wounded bird over our home airfield, I found it quit flying at a little over 175 mph indicated and rolled violently into the dead wing (note: the right flap had been blown away and two large holes knocked in the same wing). What to do? Bailout seemed the logical response, but here's where sentiment got in the way of reason. That airplane had taken me through a lot and I was damned if I was going to give up on her…why the bird and I survived the careening, bouncing and juttering ride down the length of the field, I guess I'll never know.”

Scat VI was written off and he flew his most recent (and this surviving P-51) Mustang 44-72922 “Scat VII”, only for a couple of weeks before his tour was over.

He ended his combat tour in field grade rank and was given command of the 434th FS on March 25th , 1945, at the age of 22. He was officially credited with 13 (later adjusted to 12) German planes shot down and 11.5 aircraft destroyed on the ground, and made ace in both the P-38 and P-51.

After the war Robin Olds held several positions in the USAF, most of them desk duties or less appealing duties, and began a career long struggle with superiors he viewed as more promotion- than warrior minded. This also explains why he finished service in WWII as a major, but had only risen to the rank of Colonel some 20 years later. It also made him miss out completely on the Korean War.

It wasn't until September 30th , 1966, that he caught a break and that he was allowed to return to doing what he loved doing: going to war and dogfighting. On that day, Colonel Robin Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (aka “The Wolf Pack”) in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

He also was one of the masterminds of Operation Bolo in which F-4 Phantoms pretended to be F-105 Thunderchief bombers and thus tricked the Vietnamese MiGs to come up and fight.

Old destroyed a MiG-21 during Operation Bolo (on January 2nd , 1967), making him the only pilot to score kills in both WWII and the Vietnam War. He scored two more kills in May of that year, making him a triple-ace.

Sources claim that, during the remainder of his tour, Olds passed up on downing another enemy aircraft because he had learned that 7th AF would immediately relieve him of command as a symbolic hero if he would have made ace in the Vietnam War. It wasn't until July of 1972 that another USAF pilot surpassed his Vietnam score.

After Vietnam, Olds was promoted to Brigadier General, but he would not hold another major command and spent the remainder of his carreer in non-operational positions. In 1972, four years after Robin had left the Vietnam War, the USAF was again struggling to break even in their kill ratio against the Vietnamese Air Force. He volunteered to return to the war and even offered to take a reduction to Colonel for a chance at a fifth MiG, but his request was turned down. As a result, Robin Olds filed his retirement papers on June 1st , 1973.

Brigadier General Robin Olds passed away on the evening of June 14th , 2007, from the results of cancer.

Name
Rank
Unit
Date
Credits
Olds, Robin Captain 434th FS 08-14-1944 2
Olds, Robin Captain 434th FS 08-25-1944 3
Olds, Robin Captain 434th FS 10-06-1944 1
Olds, Robin Major 434th FS 02-09-1945 1
Olds, Robin Major 434th FS 02-14-1945 2
Olds, Robin Major 434th FS 03-19-1945 2
Olds, Robin Colonel 433rd TFS 05-20-1967 1
Olds, Robin Colonel 433rd TFS 05-20-1967 1
Olds, Robin Colonel 555th TFS 01-02-1967 1
Olds, Robin Colonel 555th TFS 05-04-1967 1
Olds, Robin Major 434th TFS 04-07-1945 1
      Total credits 16

The paint scheme

As stated above, PH-VDF is (almost) exactly the same P-51 as the one it was during WWII, ie. it still has the same serial number and still has the same paint scheme as the one flown by Major Robin Olds during the final weeks of WWII.

It is “almost” the same because:

  • 44-72922 crashed in 2003, which left it almost completely destroyed. Most parts were recovered (including the dataplate) to rebuild it to airworthy condition
  • It is currently rebuilt as a dual-control TF-51, while the original obviously was not a dual-control Mustang

The 479th FG was assigned to the 8th AF in April of 1944 and had its UK operating base at Wattisham from May 15th , 1944, until April 16th , 1945. The Group started out with the P-38 Lightning and originally carried geometric symbols as a means of Group recognition markings. These were a circle for the 434th FS, a triangle for the 435th FS and a square for the 436th FS.

Lt. Col. Kyle L. Riddle, the first commander of the Group who selected those markings, was shot down on August 10th , 1944 whilst flying an escort mission, and was replaced by Col. Hubert A. Zemke, the former CO of the 56th FG. When he took command of the 479th FG, he immediately directed that colours were to replace the geometric symbols as squadron identifying elements.

Whem Col. Zemke was also shot down several months later, Kyle Riddle (who had evaded capture by the Germans and found his way back to England) resumed command of his old Fighter Group. He was promoted to full Colonel upon resuming command, but he opted to stay with the new colours instead of the symbols.

The majority of P-38s received by the 479th FG were in a natural metal finish. The ones delivered in a two-colour factory camouflage paint scheme had their respective squadron symbols applied to the outer tail section in white paint, as opposed to the black used on the metal finishes. In both cases, the standard height of the symbols was 30 inches.

The call letters on the inner tail surfaces were only 18 inches as opposed to the 30 inches used by most 8th AF P-38 units.

When the Normandy Invasion lured, a number of natural metal finished Lightnings were given an “edging” application of dark green paint to the upper boom, tail and top wing surfaces. This was in anticipation of a partial deployment to the European Continent following the invasion. By mid-summer these applications were phased out.

The colours used to identify the 479th FG was actually the absence of colour. The P-38s had all paint removed from the spinners as well as a 12 to 18-inch section directly behind the spinners.

When squadron identification colours came into effect, the 479th used the following on both rudders: the 434rd FS (unit code “L2”) carried ANA No. 619 Bright Red, the 435th FS (unit code “J2”) applied ANA No. 505 Light Yellow and the 436th FS (unit code “9B”) had no colour.

It should be noted that the 479th FG received some of its P-38s from other units, most notably the 20th and 364th FGs. In both of these instances the spinners and first 12 inches of engine cowling were painted in those unit colours, Light Yellow and Insignia White respectively. These colours were generally not removed and put into service with the 479th FG squadrons “as is”. This can sometimes prove confusing when researching wartime photographs connected with the unit's history.

The 479th FG finally converted to the P-51 Mustang in September of 1944 as a shortage of P-51Ds delayed their original conversion date. Squadron colours were immediately applied to the rudder areas and the aircraft tail numbers were either removed entirely or over-painted during this process at that time.

D-Day half stripes were initially applied as per SHAEF instructions but this practice tapered off considerably when word filtered down to the FGs of the pending cessation of the use of these devices.

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

Upon delivery all UK/QIMs were either partially or entirely removed from the nose and empennage areas, so this meant bare metal spinners and engine cowlings.


Profile © Nick King

It was also upon conversion to the P-51 that the 436th FS started using ANA No. 515 Gloss Black as their new squadron colour. This unit originally adopted a black & white checkerboard pattern consisting of a series of 12-inch squares applied to the aircraft's rudders, with the serial numbers being completely removed from all tail sections. Use of this pattern was discontinued however the following November in favour of a solid paint coverage of the entire rudder surface area.

Later handling of tail numbers among the squadrons of the 479th FG ran the full gambit of applications and varied from complete removal, over-painting, block-masking to full reinstatement. In the latter case the 434th and 435th FS used either black, yellow of in a few cases, a combination of the two when reapplying numbers over the newly painted rudders.

The time frame of PH-VDFs paint scheme can be placed somewhere between April 7th , 1945 and VE-day (May 8th ):

  • The airframe was delivered to the 479th FG in March
  • It displays 13 kills markings on the port side of the canopy and Major Olds scored his last kills on April 7th , 1945

The rest of the markings appear to be spot on as the ones in 1945, albeit one oddity is apparent with a period photograph of Major Olds and Scat VI. In that picture, Scat VI, shows at least 15 German battle flags on the port side of the cockpit. Apparently, the strafing kills were included amongst the kill markings on Scat VI.

Because no WWII picture is found of Scat VII, it is unclear whether it carried only the 13 air-to-air kills or if it also displayed the strafing kills on the cockpit side. If anyone can provide any evidence on this subject, please feel free to contact us.

 

Pictures of PH-VDF Scat VII

   

Walkaround pictures of PH-VDF Scat VII

Contributor pictures of PH-VDF Scat VII

© Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman
© Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman
© Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman
© Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman © Ben Boddeman
© Ben Boddeman © Drew Chaplin © Kevin Scott © Alex Christie
© Jim Reader
© Jim Reader © Rick Schlamp © Rick Schlamp
© Deltafastback © Airportbum © Airportbum © Max Haynes
© Max Haynes © Max Haynes    

Left to right, top to bottom:

  1. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF being uncrated at Stichting Vroege Vogels
  2. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF being uncrated at Stichting Vroege Vogels
  3. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF fuselage being moved
  4. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF fuselage in the hangar
  5. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF wing section
  6. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF cockpit details
  7. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF cockpit
  8. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF cockpit
  9. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF cockpit
  10. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF merlin engine
  11. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF tail section
  12. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF tail section
  13. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF propeller mounted
  14. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF cowlings in place
  15. © Ben Boddeman
  16. © Ben Boddeman
  17. © Ben Boddeman - PH-VDF first engine run after putting the airframe back together
  18. © Drew Chaplin - NL93TF entered a spin and crashed near Urbana, Indiana
  19. © Kevin Scott - picture taken at Seattle - Boeing Field / King County International, Washington on September 11th, 2007
  20. © Alex Christie- NL93TF at Columbus - Rickenbacker International, Ohio, on September 29th, 2007
  21. © Jim Reader - beautiful inflight picture of NL93TF at Idaho, July 28th, 2008
  22. © Jim Reader - beautiful inflight picture of NL93TF at Idaho, July 28th, 2008
  23. © Rick Schlamp - image taken at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington on September 11th, 2007
  24. © Rick Schlamp - image taken at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington on September 11th, 2007
  25. © Deltafastback - photo taken on May 17th, 2008 in Madison, Mississippi
  26. © Airportbum - photo taken on April 10th, 2010 at Northwest Florida Regional Airport, Florida, US
  27. © Airportbum - photo taken on April 10th, 2010 at Northwest Florida Regional Airport, Florida, US
  28. © Max Haynes - Great inflight picture taken during the 2007 Gatherling of Mustangs & Legends
  29. © Max Haynes - Great inflight picture taken during the 2007 Gatherling of Mustangs & Legends
  30. © Max Haynes - Great inflight picture taken during the 2007 Gatherling of Mustangs & Legends

If you have any high-quality photographs of PH-VDF you would like to share on this website, please contact us.

Usefull links

Stichting Vroege Vogels

Copyright © Christophe Haentjens - http://www.crazyhorseap.be