Cover Caption: John Muszala Jr. flying the most recent product of Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, Idaho, with the majestic Teton Mountains providing a perfect backdrop. This P-51B Mustang, BERLIN EXPRESS, is the most authentic flying P-51B in existence.
Photo: Scott Slocum from his A36 Bonanza, flown by John Muszala Sr. and Bert Summers.
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Berlin Express by Greg Morehead
By 1944 the United States had mobilized its industrial might to the extent that fighter planes were nearly disposable. When P-51B Mustang 43-24837 crashed in Beckley, UK, it was written off with little significance. Today, after a multi-year, ground-up restoration at John Muszala's Pacific Fighters, this rare Mustang is the most authentic razor back Mustang flying. Finished in the markings of Bill Overstreet's P-51B Berlin Express, this airplane represents the history of a true American hero.
by Jeff Clemens
As John Muszala Sr. lifted off on the maiden flight of Pacific Fighters' new P-51 restoration, he took great pride in the successful completion of an airplane that represents an entire generation of heroes, and one in particular. The experiences of P-51 fighter pilot Bill Overstreet are worthy of a hero's status; from chasing a German Bf 109 under the Eiffel Tower to nearly being blown out of the sky when Joseph Kennedy's bomber detonated prematurely. Overstreet's eyes saw more history as it happened than Hollywood could hope to recreate.
Merlin Maestro by Greg Morehead
Seventy years after they were delivered to the United States Army, over 150 P-51 Mustangs are still flying. To keep these aircraft airworthy requires meticulous maintenance and dependably built Merlin engines. Among the handful of Merlin engine shops, Roush Aviation stands out as the industry leader in the design and manufacture of replacement parts, as well as a preeminent engine builder. Warbird Digest was given special access to the Michigan based shop and a private interview with the legendary Jack Roush.
Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks by Frank Mormillo
The Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, routinely schedules "Living History Events" that sometimes include combat veteran pilots paired with an aircraft from the museum's collection. Recently the museum featured their P-47 Thunderbolt and a panel of veteran pilots who mesmerized everyone in attendance with stories of flying the amazing Thunderbolt in combat.
Wiley of Troy
by Brian Silcox
In the ebb and flow of privately owned warbird collections, one of the most actively flown collections was for many year the Sanders family's warbirds. Although the aircraft remain in pristine condition, the aircraft aren't seen publicly as often these days. Over the years, photographer Brian Silcox traveled to the family's Troy, Alabama, location to capture stunning aerial images. His fine art photography documents the collection and the beauty of flight.
Flying an airplane requires a "safety first" attitude, and operating a 70 year old aircraft requires a higher level of awareness and expertise. Each year at the National Warbird Operator's Conference (NWOC), owners, pilots, restoration shops, engine rebuilders, and maintainers gather to share ideas and exchange information to ensure the continued safe operation of these flying treasures of American history.
Warbirds on Paper Warbird Factory:
North American Aviation in World War II
by Ann-Marie Loos
In the annals of aviation history, few companies engender the excitement and reverence as North American Aviation. Join John Frederickson and explore the war history of the company during World War II that would later become Boeing, making more aircraft from 1938 to 1944 than any other company in the United States.