The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Group operating in China. They were equipped with the North American P-51C Mustang as well as the F-6C, a reconnaissance version fitted with cameras. The F-6C carried the full armament of the standard P-51B/C, four .50 caliber machine guns and bomb racks. This is 43-25185, wearing the 118th’s distinctive lightning bolt markings.
Another photo of 43-25185 from a slightly different angle. Note the dirt on the 500-pound bombs beneath the wings. On 20JAN45 Lt. Glenn Geyer was shot down by flak in this aircraft while attacking a Japanese airfield. With the help of the Chinese, he was able to evade capture for three months until he could return to his unit.
A shot of 118th aircraft at Laohwangping. The unit painted on the lightning bolt markings in October 1944, and soon added the yellow borders to make them more prominent. Note the variation in the propeller spinners. Two of the aircraft wear the overall dark green camouflage commonly seen on Chinese Air Force aircraft.
A close-up of the nose of an overall dark green Mustang. Note that the gear legs and inside of the gear doors also appear to be painted, the wheel wells likely are as well. The pilot posing in this photograph has been identified as Lt. LeRoy Price.
Another view of the same aircraft seen in the previous photo, this time with Lt. Fred Poats. While there is a tendency when looking at photographs to associate the pilot with the aircraft, sometimes the pilots took turns posing with their friends, passing the camera around.
Lt. Poat’s assigned aircraft was named “Lady Marion”, seen here being guarded by a Chinese soldier. She was a P-51C-10-NT, serial number 44-11102.
Another view of “Lady Marion”. Note the absence of the yellow trim on the lightning bolt markings. Just aft of the lettering can be seen the outline where a pin-up had been laminated to the fuselage but has been blown off. A new “Lady Marion” has replaced her on the port landing gear cover.
Another Chinese infantryman providing security for a 118th TRS Mustang. This aircraft also lacks the yellow trim to the fuselage markings, but sports a yellow-black-yellow spinner.
A Chinese civilian crosses the airfield with an oxcart. The Chinese personnel seen in these photos would make an interesting and unusual figure set for modelers.
A 118th TRS Mustang comes in for a landing, carrying two 75 gallon drop tanks finished in Neutral Gray. The Mustangs in China were equipped with the HF/DF loops on the spines, and did not have access to the Malcolm hoods commonly seen on Mustangs based in England.
Part II here: