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Thread: Help ID P-51B parts

  1. #1
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    Help ID P-51B parts

    My father Lt. David A. Donovan was shot down in his P-51B "Mary Joyce" on June 8, 1944. I live in the U.S. and I have been in contact with a young man living in Libourne France with an interest in WWII aviation. He has done much research and has found witnesses from Chalais France that helped my father evade capture. He has been to the crash site and found relics from the plane. Here are some photos of the pieces.
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    Last edited by JerseyJack; 27th April 2012 at 23:49.

  2. #2
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    I'm very happy to hear your father survived the downing of his plane and was able to evade capture. I can't tell from the picture but one piece looks similar to a magazine from a Colt 1911A1 pistol, which you father may have been carrying at the time. It might even have been an extra magazine stored onboard, not the one in his pistol, if he was carrying one. I would think that if he had a 1911A1 with him at the time it would have been in a shoulder holster that many aviators used or possibly a conventional belt holster, but I would think that he would have kept that with him at all times.

    Here is a picture of a G.I. issue Colt .45 M1911A1 magazine. Keep in mind that these were made by several different companies and subcontractors so the size and pattern of holes on the side varied over time and from one manufacturer to another. Many of these magazines were made by companies that made shavers and other household items.

    Ask your friend to find some good pictures of one of these magazines and compare the curvature and size to a known example and you may be able to exclude this possibility. Let me know if you need better pictures or details and I can provide them. Good luck in your search.

    Attached Images Attached Images  

  3. #3
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    DC, thank you for responding. I didn't think about the mag to his .45. I actually have his .45. I have a better photo of the relics but can't upload them for some reason. The relic does look like a magazine. The holes are similar but it has that angle that I don't think is on a .45 magazine.

  4. #4
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    If you have his pistol, I'm sure it is priceless to you. Make sure it is kept well lubed, DON'T SHOOT IT, and don't store it in an original leather holster if you have it, it will cause pitting and will damage the finish. Is it an actual Colt or is it manufactured by one of the other companies that were producing these for the government? (US&S, Ithaca, Remington Rand.)

  5. #5
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    My father keep it in the lather shoulder harness in his underwear drawer for years. After he pasted my mom gave me all his WWII stuff. When I got the .45 which is a Remington by the way. I don't keep it in the leather harness because the harness was in poor condition. I do keep it lubed but I did fire it a few times but haven't again in years. What have I done to it by firing it?
    Last edited by JerseyJack; 28th April 2012 at 00:32.

  6. #6
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    Remington Rand pistols are my favorite, as it is the first model I ever shot as a young boy.

    Remington Rand made more M1911A1 pistols than any of the 5 companies that produced them, including Colt, and they also made some of best examples of the type. When they were awarded the contract in 1942 they had never built firearms before. They converted one of their old typewriter manufacturing facilities in Syracuse, N.Y. to pistol production and other manufacturers were shown this facility and the early pistols as examples of how to correctly manufacture and assemble these weapons. By the end of WWII they were producing the M1911A1 at a lower cost per unit than anyone and turned out over 875,000 of them. Colt only produced a little over 600,000, Ithaca produced a little over 300,000, Union Switch & Signal produced about 55,000, and Singer produced only 500.

    Does your pistol say "Remington Rand" or "Remington UMC"? Remington Rand is the typewriter manufacturer and is not the same as Remington UMC (Universal Metallic Cartridge) or the company that uses the name Remington today. Remington UMC only made the M1911 model used in WWI and stopped production long before WWII. Remington Rand only produced the M1911A1 from 1942 to 1945 and never made the earlier M1911 model. Pistols can be mixed up in the field or in Arsenal rebuilds where they may have a mixture of parts from different manufacturers. Many of the earlier M1911 frames ended up with new slides and barrels and other small parts and were used in WWII, so identification can be tricky sometimes.

    Was this pistol issued to your father and do you have any papers that show the serial number? That would be a rare find and would add to your father's story. Many men snuck weapons home and then later were afraid they'd be arrested and prosecuted because of the "United States Property" that is stamped on the right side of the slide. That's why you see many parts & pistols today that have had that stamp and the serial number scratched or ground off in a crude attempt to cover their tracks. No one has ever been prosecuted for owning these pistols and the Government stopped looking for them more than half a century ago. It is illegal however to own any firearm that has had the serial number altered or removed. If it never had a serial number and you can prove it, it's okay but altered or removed is really bad news.

    Regarding your shooting the pistol, don't worry we all shot them before we realized what treasures they really are. Just make sure the barrel is properly cleaned because the old G.I. issue .45 ball ammo that many of us used has highly corrosive powder that will etch and scar the rifling in the barrel if not cleaned out immediately after shooting. Also these old pistols don't have fully tempered slides and it only takes one round to crack or shatter your priceless connection to your father. You can buy a Springfield 1911A1 replica for about $500 and shoot it all day long with modern ammo with no worries. Your father's pistol is irreplaceable.

    Send me a PM if I can help with any questions regarding the identification of all the stampings and markings on the pistol, etc. I'm sure your Dad was a hero to you, he's a hero to me now too.

  7. #7
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    The round piece of metal in your picture might be an access panel cover, but haven’t identified it yet.

    Your father’s aircraft was P-51B #43-6875 which was built at North American’s Inglewood, CA. factory. The first P-51B was completed and flown in May of 1943 and the first operational unit equipped with the B model was the 354th Fighter Group in October 1943. The P-51B and P-51C were essentially the same aircraft with the B model being built in California and the C model built at NAA’s Dallas, TX. factory.

    I see your father’s plane has his name and the name of his crew chief painted just forward of the canopy but I can’t make out the crew chiefs name, can you read it on the photo? Also there are markings for one and a half aircraft kills and many bombing missions. Were the aircraft kills your father’s? I suspect they were though some of the bombing missions were probably flown by other pilots due to the high number shown on the fuselage.

    Prior to your father this aircraft was flown by Lt. Thomas H. Warth of the 358th fighter Squadron (Coded YF-A) and carried the name “Helen II”. It was damaged after a belly landing at Steeple Morden (Station 122) on April 23rd, 1944. After repairs it was assigned to your father, coded YF-K and named “Mary-Joyce”.

    Here is a USAAF picture of #43-6875 after Lt. Warth’s belly landing at Steeple Morden on 4/23/44. Did your father tell you much about this event and how he was shot down, and more importantly how he got out and survived? Did he come down under canopy or did he crash land?
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    Last edited by DC Page; 1st May 2012 at 20:33. Reason: Corrected info for #43-6875

  8. #8
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    Actually my father's plane was 43-6879. He may have had 43-6875 for a while but I have a photo of Lt. Ken Upchurch and on the back of the photo it says May 13 "Yuppies Angel" is no more, "Mary Joyce" has taken over.
    My dad's crew chief was Sgt. Ziesmen.

    My dad did tell me the story of how he was shot down and how he bailed out. I always loved to hear the story as a young boy growing up. But ya know he didn't talk about it too much. The 1 1/2 kills you can see on the plane got upgraded to 2 aerial kills. As to how he got shot down, he was hit by flak while strafing a train over Chalais France. Pierre spoke to a witness who was only 14 years old that day and he said the flak guns were on the roof of Chateau de Chalais out of site from the group attacking that day. My dad thought the flak came from the train. Pierre also found Jacques who was also 14 years old and he helped my dad hide from the Germans that were heading his way. Jacques never new my dad's name and he spent many years searching for this American pilot who came down a few farm fields away from him. I owe it all to Pierre to bring Jacques and myself together even though only by email. Pierre also uncovered my dad's hand written notes. In these notes I found out he witnessed some very horrible things that the Germans did to the French people. On June 11, 1944 my dad was with a maques in Mussidan France and witnessed the massacre of 52 French citizens from the town. It was in reprisal for heavy loses they suffered the day before.
    I think this is an awesome story and I want to get it out there and also keep it in my family forever. My first born son is named after his "Pop". David Aloysius Donovan.
    Last edited by JerseyJack; 29th April 2012 at 04:14.

  9. #9
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    Lovely thread. The round part should have a number on it - post it here and I will tell you where it was from on the airframe. Likely a wing access panel!

  10. #10
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    The number on the piece is 10-14282 also letters ANA we think stands for North American. Pierre has better photos showing the pieces on this site.
    Thank you very much.
    http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-8...9380-2015.html
    Last edited by JerseyJack; 29th April 2012 at 12:27.

  11. #11
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    After the relics were cleaned a little better, more numbers are becoming clearer.
    102-14037 or 104-14037 and ANA C84.

  12. #12
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    More likely to be 102-14037 which is part of the Skin Assembly on the Wing (station75.00 to 190.50 lower front).

    Can't see a 104-14037 in the mustang parts catologue (only had a quick scan).
    Jason Webb
    www.361fg.com

  13. #13
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    I think I've got some bits with 103-, 104- and 106- variously; I did wonder whether they related to the different mks of p51, as they are all armour plate.
    " A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest"

  14. #14
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    All fascinating stuff!

    However, I am not convinced at all that the item identified as possibly part of the magazine from a Colt is actually that at all. It looks to me very much like a piece of alloy airframe structure with rivet holes. I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
    http://andysaunders.tumblr.com/


    German Embassy on WW1 commemorations: 'We would prefer not to have any celebrations, having lost.' Well, yes.

  15. #15
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    Tangmere,
    We realized the part mentioned was not from a G.I. magazine after viewing better pics, the first one wasn't very clear. Those discussions weren't on this forum. It is very definitely aircraft aluminum as you suspect. Also Lt. Donovan's aircraft was #43-6879, not 6875 as I first thought. There is some conflicting information out there that needs further clarification or correction regarding #43-6875

    knifeedgeturn,
    The P-51B parts would have the prefix 102 and 104. The prefix 103 and 111 are P-51C, and 109, 111, 122, and 124 would be found on a D model. Of course individual parts can be swapped but in this case the crash happened before the D model arrived in Europe. In fact this crash happened the day after the USAAF ordered 4000 of the P-51D.

  16. #16
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    Hello all !

    I’m Pierre and it’s me who have found these P-51B parts. You can see more informations and photos about the crash here: http://usaaf.forumactif.com/t1030-li...ons-08-06-2012
    I want to thank you for your help and the identification of these relics.
    I think also that the round piece of metal might be an access panel cover but I didn’t find from here in the plane. I thought it was coming from the engine but apparently not. The piece which looks similar to a magazine from a Colt 1911A1 pistol is a part from the plane it measures 15 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide.

    Few weeks ago, witnesses gave me new parts from the plane. We can see a part from the engine I think but I’m not sure then two cal.50 bullets from the plane and german bullets : two 8mm bullets from Lebel and one 7,65mm maybe from a C96 pistol :











    I found also a new piece but I’m not sure if it came from the P-51B … I think it’s a part from the pilot’s seat but there are things that we don’t see on the scan like a wire which enter the tube. I didn’t take this piece but I can return recover it :











    Thanks again for your help
    Best regards,
    Pierre
    PS : Sorry for my bad english

  17. #17
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    The above part is from the throttle linkage support mechanism at the back of the Merlin engine

  18. #18
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    Thank you very much Rocketeer !
    I found a little marking on the piece "615 061" and also a little triangle above.

    Can you show me where was the piece exactly because I searched but I didn't find it on these diagrams ...







    Thanks in advance !
    Pierre

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerseyJack View Post
    I did fire it a few times but haven't again in years. What have I done to it by firing it?
    Nothing, except ensured it still works. Just make sure you clean & lube it after a day at the range.
    If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me: It's all balls. RJM.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for joining in Pierre.

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