Book Review: “Very Long Range P-51 Mustang Units of the Pacific War” by Carl Molesworth

Osprey Publishing

Published in 2006 by Osprey Publishing as part of their Aviation Elite Units series, this softbound book has 128 pages and 30 color aircraft profiles. Written by noted aviation historian and author, Carl Molesworth, the book focuses on the air war over Japan as fought by the 15th, 21st, and 506th Fighter Groups after their arrival on Iwo Jima through the end of World War II. The text is supplemented with numerous photographs, many from the private collections of pilots who flew the dangerous and grueling VLR missions.

As is common with Osprey aviation titles, aircraft profiles by Jim Laurier are included. The profiles are very nicely done and equally cover all nine squadrons of the three groups.

Aircraft Profiles by Jim Laurier

The following aircraft are included in the profiles:

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-64015; 15 Squirt, flown by Col. James O. Beckwith, CO of 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63483; 67 Tom Kat, flown by Maj. Gilmer L. “Buck” Snipes, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63438; 77 San Antonia Rose, flown by 2nd Lt. C. Douglas Reese, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63483; 67 Stinger VII, flown by Robert W. “Todd” Moore, 45th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63822; 150 Lil Butch, flown by Cap. Walter H. “Sam” Powell, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63972; 185 Black Rufe, flown by 1st Lt. W. Hayden Sparks, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63619; 169 Danny Dawgmeat, flown by 1st Lt. Harry M. Tyler, 47th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63973; 100, Jeanne VIII, flown by Maj. James M. Vande Hey, 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63353; 124 Button-II, flown by 1st Lt. Doyle T. Brooks, Jr., 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72641; 104 Sweet Rosalee, flown by 2nd Lt. Joseph P. Gutierrez, 78th FS, 15th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63755; 200 Miss Gene V, flown by Maj. Fred A. Shirley, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63719; 202 Little Maggie, flown by 1st Lt. Victor F. Kilkowski, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63898; 208 “AbORTion”, flown by Cap. Jack K. Ort, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63451; 227 Mary Alyce/My Miss Moe, flown by 1st Lts. Robert J. Lowers and John E. Montgomery III, 46th FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63733; 250 Dede Lou, flown by Maj. Paul W. Imig, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63756; 254 Sharpie, flown by 1st Lt. Robert C. Sterritt, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63975; 256 Fertile Myrtle, flown by 1st Lt. Clarence H. “Bud” Bell, 72nd FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-73623; 300 My Achin! Ass, flown by Maj. Harry C. Crim, Jr., 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63781; 305 Shrimp IV, Cap. Charles G. Betz, 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63934; 313, flown by 1st Lt. John F. Galbraith, 531st FS, 21st FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72557; 527 HEL-ETER, flown by 1st Lts. John W. Winnen/Philip G. Alston/Warren Clayton/Denny O’Hearn, 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-63291; 531 “Nip ‘Nocker”, flown by 1st Lt. Wesley A. Murphy, Jr., 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72854; 540 Kwitcherbitchin, flown by Capts. William B. Lawrence, Jr. and Alan J. Kinvig, 457th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72607; 555 Madam Wham-Dam, flown by Maj. Harrison E. Shipman, 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72561; 552 Mrs. Beak, flown by 1st Lt. Edward H. Mikes, Jr., 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72558; 556 The Boll Weevil/“A Neat Package”, flown by 1st Lt. Bennett C. Commer and 2nd Lt. Henry J. Seegers, Jr., 458th FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72547; 600 Tallahassee Lassie, flown by Maj. Thomas D. DeJarnette and Lt. Col. Harley Brown, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72588; 616 Shanghai Lil, flown by 1st Lts. Darrell S. Bash and Edward J. Linfante, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72587; 619 Hon. Mistake, flown by 1st Lts. James R. Bercaw and William G. Ebersole, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang, Serial No. 44-72855; 643 Providence Permittin’, flown by 1st Lts. Allen F. Colley and Leonard A. Diets, 462nd FS, 506th FG, 7th AF.

This is an excellent reference book and a great read. Highly recommended and a must have if you are interested in the Iwo Jima VLR Mustang groups or the air war in the Pacific theater of operations.

This book is still being published and can be purchased directly from Osprey’s website (https://ospreypublishing.com/), or from any number of on-line book sellers. If you are not a page turner, it can also be purchased as an eBook in either an ePub or PDF format from Osprey’s website.

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