“Jumpin Jacques” is a P-51D-20-NA model, built at North American’s Inglewood facility in California. Accepted by the USAAF on December 21 1944 as 44-72035 she was originally earmarked for service with the Eighth Air Force in England but this was quickly changed to Project Number 91037R, indicating service in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations.
Having spent the Christmas and New Year period at Inglewood 44-72035 began her journey overseas on January 4 1945 with a ferry flight across the mainland USA arriving at Newark, New Jersey, on January 10. She was prepared for shipment, by boat, overseas and finally left the US on January 24 1945, assigned to “Oham” the codeword for the 15th Air Force based in Italy.
Peter taxys on the grass at Old Warden44-72035 was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group. The 332nd became very famous as the first all African-American Fighter Group known as “The Tuskegee Airmen”, although at the time they were referred to them as “The Red Tails”. She entered combat with the 15th Air Force around March 1945,in the last few months of the war flying on bomber escort and ground attack sweeps over Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. She still carries the battle scars to this day, with bullet repairs in several places on the fuselage.