Switzerland was among those European countries that purchased the North American P-51 Mustang from US surplus stocks post World War 2. This aircraft type, generally designated as the best overall fighter aircraft design from World War 2, initially was only intended as a stop-gap solution for the Swiss Air Force in order to maintain a capable defence force during a time when obsolete Bf-109E's and Swiss built D-3801 Morane fighters were due to be withdrawn from use, but the license production of the British designed DeHavilland DH-100 Vampire and DH-112 Venom jets was not in full swing yet.
Purchased in 1948 for a price of US$ 4'000.00 each, the 130 P-51 Mustangs (mainly D-20 and D-25 models) represented an ideal solution at low costs - initially the Mustang should only have served for 3 years in Switzerland, i.e. only until sufficient jets were available to equip all frontline units. This was not to be - the Mustang survived 10 years of continuous service in the fighter and later fighter-bomber rôle - and only technical reasons, i.e. high time airframes and an increasing amount of engine troubles finally led to the retirement in April 1958 - much to the regret of the pilots. They simply loved the P-51's - the last piston engined fighter within the Swiss Air Force's front-line units.
North American P-51D-25-NA J-2113 on display at the Swiss Air Force Museum, Dübendorf Airfield near Zürich (Swiss AF Museum).
As of 10th December 2004, the above P-51D is the only one of its kind left in Switzerland, because after almost 15 years of gracing Switzerland's skies and attending numerous airshow both in Switzerland and various neighbouring countries, our beloved "Double Trouble Two" has been sold to a new owner, reportedly Jerry Yagen of the Fighter Factory in Suffolk, Virginia.
I am convinced that this aircraft has found a good new home and I wish for it and its future pilots blue skies, tail wind and many happy landings !
The only airworthy Mustang in Switzerland for over 14 years; P-51D-20-NA 44-72483 N51EA "Double Trouble Two" in the colours of the 353rd Fighter Group . It was owned by Max Vogelsang (photo: Urs Harnisch). Also check the Walkaround page by clicking here.
The photographs below were kindly provided by Milan Rohrer and show the dismantling and crating of "Double Trouble Two":
Dismantling begins - cowlings are off as well as a few panels. (photo: Milan Rohrer - www.jetshow.ch)
Left: Another view of the dismantling process - on the right is D-3801 "Morane" J-143
Right: Last sight of "Double Trouble Two": Loaded and secured in a container, shortly before its journey back to the U.S. Visible are the Hamilton-Standard propeller, the radiator intake, behind it the fuselage minus empennage, in the middle the wing and at right the tail-plane. (photo Milan Rohrer - www.jetshow.ch)
The only P-51 Mustang ever to have received Swiss civil registration so far, was this beauty. P-51D-25-NT 44-73027, was a RCAF veteran that had seen many owners in the USA and later France before arriving in Switzerland. Here it received Swiss registration HB-RCW in July 1998, but sadly it crashed on September 3rd, 1998 in the Swiss Mountains on a ferry flight over the Alps to attend an Air Show in southern Switzerland. The pilot (a very experienced professional pilot [chief pilot of Swiss Air Ambulance] and famous aerobatics pilot), and his son [also a certified pilot] were killed instantly and the a/c was totally destroyed. Cause has been determined as follows: due to bad weather, coupled with fading daylight (thus causing time-pressure), the conditions caused disorientation plus deviation from flight path, and while trying to do a 180° turn in a pocket valley, they went into a high speed stall and hit ground.
The pilot had done many great performances in the other Swiss based P-51D ('Double Trouble Two, N51EA) but this was his first flight in HB-RCW...
The full accident report (in pdf format) is available from the webmaster upon request by e-mail.
The above described aircraft seen here during happier days and still registered F-AZJM (Christian Béchir).
This is N251L, a two-seat conversion done by Israeli Aircraft Industries to specifications given by its owner, William Lear, the designer of the famous Lear Jet. It was stationed at Geneva Airport [GVA] during the early 60's. Apart from being the first "civil" Mustang in Switzerland, this is somewhat of a mistery aircraft as to its true identity / former military serial. This aircraft later crashed in Iceland on 6th June 1963, killing the French ferry pilot. (photo via Dick Phillips).
Anyone who has photographs of this particular aircraft while stationed at Geneva-Airport [GVA] and / or information to it is kindly requested to contact me.
This photograph has kindly been provided by Willy Henderickx from Belgium. It shows N251L at Geneva. The quality of the picture is on the low side as it is a scan from a 1971 issue of a long defunct magazine. Note the absence of the wingtip-tanks in this photograph.
Finally a color photo of N251L ! Seen here hangared at Geneva Airport.
And yet another great view of N251L, seen here at Altenrhein airfield.
"Moose / Candyman" - 44-73149
The second Mustang to take up temporary residence in Switzerland, again Geneva, is this famous example. P-51D-25-NA 44-73149, a former Reno-racer was imported by British businessman Stephen Grey working out of Geneva. Initially carrying a red/white colour-scheme (see below), it soon received this striking paint-job representing an aircraft of the 357th Fighter Group with the nickname "Moose / Candyman". This aircraft arrived in Geneva during 1980 and is seen here at Bern in 1981. After a few years, this Mustang migrated to its new home at Duxford, England, from where it attended numerous Airshows all over Europe and still does.
44-73149 seen here shortly after arrival in Geneva during summer 1980.
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© Martin Kyburz / Swiss Mustangs 2003 - 2018