15 August, 2011

Profile 57 - UPDATE - "Nothing Much" as flown by Don Erickson

Don flew two models of the P-51 - the C model and the D model.  He asked that I do "The D."  And so it will be.

Did you have a look at the photo in the post below?  The black-tailed Mustangs look more like sharks than they do their horse namesake.

Funny about the sharks, however - a Shark was the squadron's mascot.  The shark is a logical choice, too.  Most people have seen the white-toothed P-40 fighters of the "American Volunteer Group" (AVG) - that group was originally a bunch of mercenary pilots who were hired by the Chinese government to help repel the Japanese invaders.

After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. politicos took a dim view (rightly) of Americans flying for foreign powers against a common enemy and 'appropriated' the AVG into the Army Air Forces.  Naturally, there was a rebellion - the mercenaries vs. the bureaucrats - and for the most part, the bureaucrats won.  There's a saying - "Be careful of the guy who sits in the plushest chair."

So, the shark-toothed P-40s lost their Chinese nationalist markings and became the 23rd Fighter Group...but kept the shark motif as a mascot.

I'll be publishing parts of my interview with Don in the next update.  But until then, I thought you'd appreciate the patch he wore on his leather jacket.

Interesting stuff's a'comin.