Ex-RAF Museum P-51D Arrives in Australia

The Hunter Fighter Collection team stand proudly beside their latest acquisition, P-51D Mustang 44-73415, which arrived at their base in Scone, New South Wales during early April, 2023. (image via Hunter Fighter Collection)


Last December, we reported that the Hunter Fighter Collection in Scone, New South Wales, Australia had acquired North American P-51D Mustang 44-73415 from the RAF Museum in the UK. Well, we can now report that the aircraft has arrived at its Australian home, as its new owners related with the following (gently edited) posting…

 North American P-51D-25-NA Mustang has arrived in Scone NSW! After a long trip from the UK and clearing Customs in Sydney, the Mustang, finally made its way to Scone on April 6th, just in time for the upcoming ANZAC day.

The Mustang’s fuselage emerges from its shipping container in Scone, NSW following a 20,000km journey from the UK by sea. (image via Hunter Fighter Collection)

The Customs process provided very short notice of the delivery, but the HFC Volunteer Technical Team jumped into action, traveling to Scone over the Easter weekend and removing the aircraft from its shipping container within an hour of its arrival. The painstaking task of reassembling the Mustang then began in earnest.

The partially re-assembled Mustang sitting outside the Hunter Fighter Collection’s hangar in Scone, NSW. (image via Hunter Fighter Collection)

The Mustang arrived in excellent condition; other than a few minor scratches, it had suffered no ill effects from its 20,000 km journey in pieces. The HFC team spent three days on the assembly process and moved her, temporarily, into the display area at Hunter Warbirds. The aircraft will undergo some minor mechanical and cosmetic work in the coming weeks (along with a deep clean and polish) before she’s formally inducted into Hunter Warbirds.

 

The Hunter Fighter Collection Board is deeply grateful to several people, and we extend our thanks to the RAF Museum UK, Richard Grace and his team at Sywell UK, Paul Bennet and his team and Ross Pay. In addition, we extend our thanks to the Upper Hunter Shire Council for their assistance with the project. We also wish to thank the HFC Volunteers who gave up their Easter break – at short notice – and worked tirelessly to reassemble the Mustang for display.

The Mustang is currently marked in a livery representing a 357th Fighter Group P-51D which the late Flight Lieutenant Jack Cleland, RNZAF flew while serving as an exchange pilot with the unit. Cleland was one of the few Commonwealth pilots who did an exchange posting with the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII, serving with the 357th FG between July and September 1944 – often on B-17 escort missions. We look forwards to welcoming Jack Cleland’s family, who live nearby in the Hunter Valley, to see the aircraft which represents the WWII fighter pilot’s service.

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