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This F-6C photo reconnaissance version of the P-51C was assigned to Lt Edward Kenney, 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron towards the end of the war in Europe. The nose art was believed to have been painted on by Lloyd Hoobery after VE-Day in honour of the forth coming visit to the unit based at Furth in Germany by Bob Hope and Jerry Cologna. Prior to Hoobery's artwork the plane carried a small Vargas pin up under the left windshield courtesy of the previous pilot Robert Hansen and this was left in place.
The two stars were well known by their affectionate nicknames of "Shovelnose" and "Handlebar". When the two entertainers arrived on the base they underwent a mock christening ceremony and were photographed wielding two bottles which, had they actually been cracked on the aircraft nose, would have caused considerable damage to the thin aluminium skin.
Bob Hope was well impressed with the honour bestowed upon him by the naming of the Mustang and wrote about it in his book "So This Is Peace" and also in "I Never Left Home". He jokingly wrote "My attorneys are still trying to contact the pilot Lt L E Kenny. I'd have dealt with him myself, but he was a pretty big guy and I wanted to see Berlin with two eyes."
"Shovelnose and Handlebar" was fitted with the Malcolm hood and carried cameras mounted in the port lower fuselage and in a ventral position so as to be able to undertake low level photo recon missions. It is believed to have been salvaged after damage at the end of June 1945.
Details of mission dates for the aircraft are hard to confirm but it was thought to have been flown by Lt Kenny on 8th February over the German transport network and later when he escorted a surrendering Fw190 forcing it into a belly landing at R-28 (Furth) on 8th May. In total Lt Kenny flew 85 combat missions, many if not all in this aircraft.
No mission listing is currently available for this aircraft
© Ray Bowden 16 December 2019