P-51 Mustang Takes to The Skies at Sywell After Restoration

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

By Nigel Hitchman

Today August 25, 2023, P-51 Mustang G-CLNV was flown at Sywell Aerodrome for the first time after an extensive restoration by Air Leasing. The pilot for the first flight was well-known warbird test pilot Pete Kynsey, who carried out three flights in it today, including the official CAA air test. Paperwork permitting the aircraft will be delivered to its owner ‘W Air Collection’ at La Ferte Alais, France next week.

Constructed in 1945 as a P-51D-25-NT by North American at the Dallas, plant in Texas, USA, the Mustang was taken on strength with the United States Army Air Force with serial number 45-11518. Right after its delivery the Mustang was delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force with serial number NZ2427.

Following many years of storage in New Zealand, the aircraft was restored to flying condition by Maurice Hammond in Suffolk, between 1997 and 2001, with a first flight on July 14, 2001, as ‘Janie’. Operated for many years, it suffered a crash at Maurice’s home base of Hardwick on October 2, 2016. Tragically, the 84 year old passenger John Marshall was killed, and owner-pilot Maurice Hammond suffered a broken neck, but recovered.

The wing and other structures were completely rebuilt by Air Leasing at Sywell and a new dual control fuselage was obtained in the United States, fitted with the original, restored tailcone and other components. It is expected to make its airshow debut at Melun-Villaroche in a couple of weeks.

Air Leasing Ltd, UK is run by Richard Grace and team at Sywell aerodrome, Northamptonshire U.K., looking after several warbird collections and carrying out major restorations such as the recently completed Hawker Tempest, Spitfire RM927, four of the Buchóns from the Battle of Britain film, David Arnold’s Seafire III and many others. They also run the ‘Ultimate Warbirds’ rides business including the Grace Spitfire, ML407, originally restored by Richard’s late father Nick, who started the business which was carried on by his wife Carolyn and greatly expanded when Richard took over several years ago. [Note. On 23 October 2023, this article has been edited to include the details of the 2016 fatal accident.]




  1. I personally don’t aree where these pieces of War Art are taken as long as they are restored to their original glory and carefully used by qualified personal or displayed properly that will keep them for generations in the future.

  2. Great news, it’s good to see her back in the air again,Maurice will be pleased to see her back in the air where she belongs after the crash. Another top job carried out by Richard and the team, shame that she’s off to France, but at least she will be loved and used, plus it’s not that far to fly back for a special display any time.

    • Your comments appear to be very dismissive of actually what happened in the ‘crash’….The impact of my fathers loss to each and everyone of his family has been and continues to be beyond any measure.
      Our family also supported Maurice in what had happened… to see this plane restored may be what you feel should have been the correct future for it I. I cannot ever be in agreement with your thoughts, I look at this picture and see my late father in that seat…I hope when you enjoy seeing it at its next show,you will maybe take some time to remember him and his family.
      I send a wish to you that you never walk in our shoes or have to tie the laces in the same way …..

    • Where she belongs after the crash ? Should’ve been scrapped,
      It was my grandad who got killed in that plane , do you not have any respect at all ? A man , that man being my grandad got killed in that plane which caused a devastating loss. Doesn’t hurt to have some empathy does it. Plenty of other planes you can be a fan of and support. Just not the one that took away the life of one of my family members

  3. I am totally in disbelief that this aircraft is flying again with some of the original parts being used. I was told that it was beyond repair in any way shape or form. For the record….. it was my father who was in the rear of the cockpit on that fatal day it crashed at hardwick… and was killed instantly.

  4. Deeply upset & disgusted that this plane flying again after being told for scrap only after the accident in 2016 in Norfolk in which my father was killed instantly , this terrible accident left his family devastated , and my brothers who witnessed this horrific scene.

  5. Very sad the severity and horrific outcome of the crash mentioned in 2016 very briefly mentioned , dispite my father loosing his life in front of his 3 sons, to hear this aircraft is airborne again , the family was told would never be restored due to these devastating circumstances and lasting effects on our family.

  6. Having spent Thousands of hours on Janie with the owner it was a super aircraft. It goes without saying what a loss it must have been to the family who lost there father,
    For the record the aircraft you see today. there father did not sit in the back of it as it had a complete new fuselage with many more parts & very little i guess of the original parts. It will be used & admired in France by many people & most of the warbirds rebuilt today had someone in it who died for his country

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