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P-51 Mustangs of WWII USAAF Ace|
Major George Preddy
Major George Preddy was one of the highest scoring American fighter pilot aces of World War II. Like several other American aces from the war Preddy initially saw action flying P-40E Warhawks in New Guinea and Northern Australia during 1942.
While stationed near Darwin (capital city of Northern Territory, Australia) he was seriously injured in a flying accident. After convalescing in southern Australia, and then returning to the States, Preddy went on to serve with the Eighth Air Force in the European Theatre Operations.
This article mainly focuses on the P-51 Mustangs flown by George Preddy. As luck would not have it, most of this article was researched and written prior to Three Guys Replica releasing their two George Preddy decal sets in early 1998 ("Tarheel Ace" Part 1 GS-48002 and Part 2 GS-48003). "Murphy's Law of Modelling" strikes again! However to look on the bright side of fate, the fresh information fills in several gaps and grey areas in my research as well as raising a couple of new questions. The end result is hopefully a more accurate and interesting article for you the reader to digest.
George Preddy, a resident of Greensboro, North Carolina is officially accredited with 26.83 enemy air-to-air kills ranking him as the top P-51 Mustang ace of World War II and sixth on the list of all-time highest scoring American aces. He is also credited with 5 air-to-ground enemy kills.
Many readers will be familiar with the superb long-range escort and fighter capabilities of the P-51, little wonder it was the favourite aircraft of many USAAF aces including Preddy. Three Mustangs carried variations of the "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" name, reportedly his favourite saying when playing the dice game of "Craps" and drinking with other servicemen.
Unfortunately Preddy did not survive the war. Ironically he was killed in action on Christmas Day 1944, not at the hands of an enemy pilot but as a result of "friendly" ground-fire. On that fateful day Preddy had shot down 2 German fighters and was pursuing another at low-level (some readings state these were Bf 109s while others report Fw 190s). Noah and Sox, authors of the "definitive" George Preddy story, list the 2 kills as Bf 109s in their kill-by-kill list (REF. A - Appendix A).
To cut a long and somewhat controversial story short, the crew of a US Army M16 quad-fifty halftrack allowed the German fighter to pass, trained it guns on the next aircraft and opened fire. Unfortunately the pursuing aircraft was Preddy's and he was brought down and died shortly after. The separate reports from Preddy's wingman, Lt. Cartee, and the Army personnel involved in this tragic incident provided wildly conflicting viewpoints (REF. A.).
George Preddy was assigned three P-51 Mustangs while with the famous "Blue Nosers" of the 352nd FG; one B and two Ds. All three carried variations of the "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" name. Preddy's first documented aircraft to carry "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" was not a P-51 but a P-47D Razorback serial no. 42-8500. It was finished in Olive Drab over Neutral Grey plus white ETO identification bands on the engine cowl, tail and stabilisers. Aircraft codes of HO P were also white.
I managed to find a rare photo of this aircraft showing two small membership symbols of the "Gold Fish" and "Caterpillar" plus three kill markings on the port side (REF. A pg 67). The markings were applied following Preddy's ditching of another P-47 and his rescue from the English Channel on 29 January 1944. Details of 42-8500 are rather vague and photos relatively few, however there have been a few line drawings published to help modellers (REF. A pg 67 and REF. H decal option A).
"CRIPES A'MIGHTY 2ND"
Preddy's next aircraft was his first Mustang, a B serial no. 42-106451. Like the described P-47, few photos of this aircraft exist. What photos there are give limited views of the port and starboard fuselages. It is known that the aircraft was finished in natural-metal, had standard framed canopy, medium blue nose, aircraft codes were HO P.
Three Guys Replica suggests the codes and kill markings could have been either black or dark blue, both versions are provided and it is up to modeller to choose which version they will use (REF. G decal option C).
Unfortunately I could not find a photo showing the "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" name-art on the port nose., neither could Three Guys Replica. Their version of the stylised "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" name-art is based on other examples of name-art applied to 352nd FG Mustangs around the same time. The "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" decal is very similar in style to the name-art of "Princess Elizabeth", the P-51B of First Lt. William Whisner's P-51B from 487th FS, 352nd FG circa May 1944 (REF. D decal option 5). Having said all that, Noah and Sox (REF. A pg 190) state 42-104451 was in fact named "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 2nd" (REF. A pg 190) which contradicts Three Guys Replica's markings/illustration showing the name as "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" !
"CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3RD"
Preddy's second P-51 serial no. 44-13321 was one of the first bubbletop Ds delivered to the 352nd FG and carried the name "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd". 44-13321 is one of the most recognisable P-51s of the war as it was photographed at several publicity photo sessions of Preddy with his groundcrew staged after his famous six 109 kills in one day on 6th August 1944.
Colour paintings and black & white photos of 44-13321 suggest the colour of the nose to be a light shade of medium blue, (much lighter than the standard dark blue worn by most of the "Blue-Nose" Mustangs of the 352nd FG in late 1944/early 1945). The light shade of medium blue appears to have been applied to several other well-known P-51s of the 352nd FG, eg. Heller's camouflaged B appropriately named "HELL-ER-BUST (REF. D decal option 3).
"CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" was an "early" P-51D, easily identified by the lack of the fin-fillet at the fuselage/tail join, and wore an overall natural-metal finish. With Allied air superiority achieved in 1944 camouflage became a minor issue for pilots and many fighter aircraft were stripped of their camouflage schemes or left in their natural-metal delivery finish. Modellers should use any of the Hasegawa P-51D/K kits as the base for "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd", and any other "early" D, as the fuselage parts have been specifically tooled for easy removal of the fin fillet plastic.
Wing and fuselage wrap-around invasion stripes (three white and two black) were typical of the recognition stripes carried by most Allied aircraft operating over Europe during and after the D-Day landings. According to Three Guys Replica, the upper surface stripes and black horizontal tail stripe were removed shortly before 18 July 1944 (REF. H decal option B details the altered markings).
The "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" name-art on the port nose was rendered in a rather unusual two tone method. On the blue part of the nose the name is in white block letters shadowed in black (or red). As the name spills over onto the unpainted natural-metal it is reversed, ie. black block letters shadowed in white (could also have had red outline).
The style of kill markings applied were white Balkan crosses, these were strung along the port engine cowling on top of the blue background colour of the nose. The final appearance of "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" on 7 August 1944 displayed 31 kills (21 crosses on top and 10 crosses below). Other documented scores appearing on "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" were on 19 July 1944 - 21 kills, 24 July 1944 - 23 kills, and 4 August - 24 kills (21 crosses on top and 3 crosses below) (REF. A pg 191).
Markings for "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" can be obtained from several decal sources; AeroMaster (AMD48-71), SuperScale (SS48-19), Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Special Edition "D-Day" P-51D Mustang kit released in 1994, and Three Guys Replica (the earlier wrap-around striped version is on 48002 while the later modified striped version is on 48003). All provide nose-art, kill markings, pilot name and aircraft codes. For my money the AeroMaster and Three Guys Replica decals are the best of the bunch (Three Guys Replica provides two complete sets of markings including the different number of kill markings).
As for the D-Day invasion stripes, some modellers prefer decals while others hand-paint or spray the stripes - each to their own. SuperScale sheet no. 48-505 and the Hasegawa "D-Day" kit provide wrap-around invasion stripe decals.
After viewing several photos of "CRIPES A'MIGHTY 3rd" I would like to pose an interesting question; "how many machine guns did it carry ?". Some sources claim several USAAF aces chose to carry only four of the six machine guns in their P-51Ds, electing to remove the two inner wing mounted guns. The photo of 44-13321 on page 75 of Osprey's "Mustang Aces Of the Eighth Air Force" (REF. B) clearly shows the port inner port wing machine gun to be empty, however this could have been part of routine maintenance procedures.
When Preddy completed his tour and rotated back to the States for a well earned rest 44-13321 continued in service with the 352nd FG under the guise of other names; "The Margarets" of Capt. H.M. Stewart and "Sexshunate" (pronounced "Section 8") of Capt. Marion J. Nutter. Lt. Ray Littge and Lt. Warren Padden also flew the aircraft. 44-13321's last mission was on 16th April 1945 when it was lost with Lt. Padden (killed in action).
A total of 18.5 aerial and 9 ground victories were tallied in 44-13321, including 4 by Col. John Meyer on 10 September 1944. More aerial victories were scored by pilots flying this aircraft than in any other Mustang serving in WWII.
As it was not uncommon for pilots to use other aircraft for the odd mission, Preddy reportedly flew Captain Ralph Hamilton's P-51B "Frances B TOO" over Normandy on D-Day (REF B pg 74). At the time Hamilton was not impressed to see his immaculately camouflaged aircraft covered in wrap-around D-day stripes. To my knowledge, decals depicting "Frances B TOO" are not available in either kit or after-market decal sets.
PREDDY'S FOURTH (AND LAST) "CRIPES A'MIGHTY"
Unlike several other high-scoring USAAF aces of the last year of the war, Preddy returned to the ETO for a second tour with the 352nd FG as Commanding Officer of the 328th FS.
His second and last P-51D serial no. 44-14906 was simply called "CRIPES A'MIGHTY". He flew it for only a few months, from October until his death on Christmas Day 1944. "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" was a "late" P-51D and carried the prominent fin-fillet modification. Use any of the D kits from Tamiya, Hasegawa and Fujimi to model this aircraft.
Like its predecessor, "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" wore an overall natural-metal finish. By late July 1944 the D-Day stripes were being removed from many Allied aircraft, however some stripes were retained and continued to be worn as ETO recognition bands in late 1944/early 1945. "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" wore two black recognition stripes on the lower fuselage. The single black stripes on the upper and lower stabilisers were added when the unit moved to Belgium in December 1944 (REF. G decal option E).
Again there are several decal sources for the "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" markings. AeroMaster provide two sources; sheet no. 48-130C "Blue Nose Birds of Bodney" and SP4803 "USAS/USAAF/USAF Top Guns" version #2 of the double decal package (version #1 had inaccurate nose-art markings for "CRIPE A'MIGHTY"). SuperScale also has "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" on sheet no. 48-536. Three Guys Replica includes two sets of markings for this aircraft (48002 has markings worn during December 1944 while 48003 has markings worn during October 1944).
The nose and propeller spinner parts were painted dark blue, a shade much darker than the described medium blue on "Cripes A'Mighty 3rd". The entire rudder was painted red.
Preddy's kill markings are very prominent on the port fuselage being represented by small black German swastikas applied under the canopy. With so many crosses they appear to be applied in a haphazard fashion.
AeroMaster's and Three Guys Replica's instructions are very specific about the unusual markings applied around the gun barrels on the wings during December 1944. Scrap-view diagrams show the area just behind the gun barrels were white with small red teardrop-like markings around each gun barrel fairing (Three Guys Replica provide the tear-drops as decals).
There are other unusual markings unique to this aircraft; the Barber's Pole symbol on the starboard side of the nose; the thin red stripes on the white fuselage mast; the white hash marks under the engine exhaust stubs; Preddy's name in yellow on a red background found on the left side of the canopy frame; and the small red & white tabs on the flying surfaces.
Modellers should note the P (P underlined) in the PE P aircraft code indicates these codes were carried by a previous squadron aircraft. Like so many other American aces and fighter pilots, Preddy retained his own personal codes of P (naturally P for Preddy) from aircraft to aircraft.
George Preddy's younger brother Bill literally followed in his older brother's footsteps. He also became a fighter pilot and was assigned to the 339th FG. Unfortunately Bill was killed in action near Prague flying a P-51K on 17 April 1945. TGR 48003 has the markings for Bill's P-51K serial number 44-11623 with aircraft codes D7 A and name-art of "Rusty".
So far in this article I've talked little about various 48th scale models available for you to build Preddy's aircraft using the decals described. This is a deliberate ploy as I wanted to focus mainly on the schemes and markings. By stating personal opinions about the quality of various kits would quickly lead me to recommend certain kit over others - each to their own preferences.
Now to contradict all that I would SUGGEST you use the Tamiya P-51B/Mk. IIIs and Accurate Miniatures' P-51-B for Preddy's "CRIPES A'MIGHTY"/"Cripes A'Mighty 2nd". For the "early" P-51D "Cripes A'Mighty 3rd" use the Hasegawa P-51D/Ks as it is the only kit tooled for easy removal of the fin-fillet (if you prefer the Tamiya P-51D then remove the fin fillet and re-profile the rear fuselage). For Preddy's "late" P-51D "CRIPES A'MIGHT" use the Tamiya P-51D/F-51Ds or Hasegawa P-51D/Ks, the venerable Fujimi and Monogram kits make good "shelf-sitters" as they are both starting to show their ages.
This article has a long stop-start history. The original idea for writing this article started with my purchase of AeroMaster's decal set no. 48-130C "Blue Nose Birds of Bodney" way back in early 1995 (even 3 years later I fully intend to model all five aircraft on this set as they are all very colourful aircraft flown by aces of the 352nd FG). The striking "CRIPES A'MIGHTY" scheme prompted me to find out more about the pilot who flew the aircraft. Several years later, and numerous other modelling projects in between, you are reading the results of my research.
Many thanks to AeroMaster, SuperScale and Three Guys Replica for going to the trouble of producing high quality decals for modellers. Without them, and other decal manufacturers, aircraft modelling would be rather boring !
I also appreciate the help from fellow Adelaide modellers Mike Reardon and Dudley Hocking for providing reference materials from their personal libraries.
A. "George Preddy Top Mustang Ace", J. Noah & S. Sox, 1991.
B. "Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force" (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces #1), J. Scutts, 1994.
C. "Aces of the 8th Pt. 1 - 48-071", AeroMaster Decals, 1994.
D. "Blue Nose Birds of Bodney - 48-130C", AeroMaster Decals, 1995.
E. "USAS/USAAF/USAF Top Guns - SP48-03", AeroMaster Decals, 1994 ?
F. "P-51D Aces - SS48-536", SuperScale, 1996 ?
G. "Tarheel Ace Pt. 1 - GS-48002", Three Guys Replica, 1998.
H. "Tarheel Ace Pt. 2 - GS-48003", Three Guys Replica, 1998.
Article Text Copyright © 1998 by John Kerr