Thursday, May 7, 2015

Will a Crime be Committed Against This Mustang

Click here to see the auction webpage.
If there is any imagination or passion left in the world of aviation, someone will save this "survivor."  Stored away for ages, it is now going to a court ordered auction. That means someone soon will own this rarest of rare P-51s.  If it's you, please save it AS IS.
I suppose I should explain what I mean by "survivor."  In the world of automotive collecting, sterilizing everything with new paint and restorations isn't always good. Finding a vehicle that has been stored away for ages which can also be made roadworthy is considered a real find. No longer do new owners immediately envision a total restoration when they find these machines. 
Today's enlightened owners wish instead to honor a machine's history by displaying it in a manner that expresses what the car truly was and still is; a treasure.  Therefore, they bring the mechanical underpinnings up to speed but leave everything they can as it was found.   That's what someone must do with this Mustang.
This P-51 shows Mustangs the way they spent a majority of their lives, as private aircraft.   That civilian paint scheme is therefore an important window into its history. It is a "survivor" and it should be left that way.
I can only pray that it is found by someone with money and a conscience; someone who instead of wishing to feed their ego with a military paint scheme, can preserve its history for the viewing pleasure of the public.  It would be a crime to do anything else.


Unknown said...

TOTALLY, 1000% agree with you Rich!! This Mustang, if restored as-is, would get far more attention at events than the pristine, nicer-than-new restorations....ones that have 80% newly fabricated parts too.

Anonymous said...

Would be torn between keeping it in its current colors and flying it to airshows wearing farmers coveralls, and making it exactly as it was when it was accepted off the line in 44'


Samuel said...

While I agree with the idea that his plane would be significant and interesting if left in civilian colors, I think the underhanded maligning of restorers and owners as needing to feed their ego is very unfair.

The fact is, these were military planes during the greatest struggle in recent history. They were primarily warplanes not the executive transports they became. I sincerely doubt that the majority of the caretakers of warbirds are "ego driven" but sincerely want to honor the history of these planes.

Now if you want to argue that painting your RV-4 like a Mustang is egotistical, I'm all ears. :-)

Rich Davidson said...

Actually, until the addition of recent years, most Mustangs spent more time in civilian paint that military. Most of them didn't even see combat.
I'm not sure why the ego is such a sensitive thing to everyone. Have you not spent a single day around aviation? Egos are very much a driver in the warbird community, vintage community, and a few others. Reality should not bother you. It should just be something you are aware of and understand. OF course, you could be right. Someone may restore this as a warbird because they lack vision and class. The ego may not have anything at all to do with it. But as for the RV-4's painted as Warbirds, I do not think that is egotistical. I think that is merely and indication of how a sport once full of vision and ideas has been reduced to group of people who want to make everything a warbird. It's silly and sad.
Thanks for your comment. It is always interesting to see people react to different opinions.

Stuart Glenn said...

"Aviation and freedom, neither exists without the other. I wish I could find a way to drive that home to everyone in our sport." For almost twenty years I've been expressing this belief to anyone who would listen." Took this quote from another article you just wrote. Is freedom defined by what Rich says it is or is it truly freedom, to buy fly and restore aircraft the way each individual sees fit? It's no crime to be passionate about military aviation or vintage aviation or flying 172's with avionics that cost 3 times the amount of the aircraft. You want to paint that mustang pink with balloons on it? Do it, if it gets you involved and that aircraft back in the sky! Good grief, I am sure most of the civilian painted P51's got painted because the government didn't want them flying around with military markings on them anyway. Where would we be if some one told Curtis that he had to build aircraft like Wright or Pitcairn, Stearman, Boeing or Vultee. Where would Burt Rutan be if had to build monoplanes or biplanes only? It was individuals who built aviation from nothing and it will be individuals that will decide whether G/A evolves or dwindles. Yes there are tons of egos in aviation, no doubt, but one writing and complaining about them may want to check his own at the door. When its considered a crime to buy and restore an airplane the way one wants to because it does not meet your own personal standards are we really promoting aviation and freedom? Gosh, I read a lot of the Nordo news and I applaud you for what you do in your community for aviation, that is your dream, congratulations to you for achieving it. Maybe most of your audience agrees with you. But why label someone else's dream criminal because it may not meet your ideas and style of restoration? I think the only crimes here would be to let that airplane deteriorate in a hangar or to chastise anyone for expressing what aviation means to them by buying, restoring and styling an aircraft to meet their expectations and dreams. I applaud anyone that has the guts to get into aviation and aircraft ownership, its not easy and its definitely not cheap, but it is a passion and it is freeing both physically and emotionally. You are entitled to your opinion and we do not have to agree! Isn't freedom wonderful?

Rich Davidson said...

Thanks for your comment SG. To my surprise, I've even had a few Mustang owners tell me they agree with me on this. But please remember, this is only my opinion. I have no magical powers to pass laws and actually make it illegal for a new owner to repaint this plane. But, if I did have the power I still would not do that. I believe in freedom. As as always, freedom also brings with it the freedom to make bad decisions. Love your comment. Always feel free to tell me how you feel. If everyone agreed life would be boring.