North American P-51D Mustang "Wee Willy II", at the Planes of Fame Air Show,Chino CA.
North American P-51D Mustang, "Wee Willy II" has been owned by Steve Hinton since September 1985. This Mustang has adopted the identity of the Red Baron RB-51 racer, once the fastest piston powered aircraft in the world. Its original serial was 44-84961, but it carries 413334 on its tail. The Air Force disposed of it at McClellan Air Force Base, California in 1958. It was purchased by Capitol Airways of Nashville, Tennessee and registered as N7715C. In July 1964 it was acquired by Charles Willis Jr., Frank Lynitt, and Charles Hall of Seattle, Washington. They raced it as #5, first named "Red Baron", then "Miss RJ". Gunther Balz of Kalamazoo, Michigan bought it in July 1971 and changed its name to "Roto-Finish", keeping race number 5. John Sliker of Wadley, Georgia picked it up in October 1973, but sold it to Ed Browning of Brownings Incorporated in Idaho Falls the following February. Brownings Inc. installed a Rolls Royce Griffon engine with contra-rotating propellers and called it the "Red Baron" RB-51.
It first flew with the Griffon engine on March 6, 1975. It set the world's piston engined speed record of 499.018 miles per hour on August 14, 1979. It crashed with Steve Hinton at the controls at the Reno Air Races that September. Hinton survived the crash. Richard Ransofer of Grapevine, Texas acquired the wreckage in 1980. Steve Hinton and Fighter Rebuilders at Chino transferred the dataplate and probably a small section of the fuselage of the "Red Baron" wreck to P-51D, 44-73053 to reconstruct "Wee Willy II". It first flew after reconstruction in September 1985. Some of the hulk of the RB-51 was acquired by Terry and Bill Rogers of Sherman, Texas in 1989 to be used in another Griffon powered race conversion, but Rogers' efforts were diverted into the rebuilding of Vendetta into Miss Ashley II.
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