P-51K-10 (serial number 44-12016) rolled off the North American Aviation assembly line in Dallas, Texas, on 18 December 1944 and was then loaded on to a ship on the 15th January 1945 for an assignment in the Far East. It was to take part in the American campaign to retake the Philippine Islands from the Japanese. On arrival in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, the aircraft was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron of the 348th Fighter Group, which then was stationed at the San Marcelino airbase, just north of Manila Bay. Lt. Bert Lee Jr. was assigned to fly the aircraft and was credited with two confirmed victories during the war, which accounts for the two Japanese flags painted below his name on the plane. One was a Japanese A6M “Zero” fighter near Manila and the other a twin-engine “Betty” bomber. A lot of Lt. Lee’s missions in the P-51 were ground support in what was then Indochina.
Lee and his Mustang both survived the war. Following its time in the US Air Force, ‘Fragile but Agile’ then spent time serving with both the Swedish and Israeli military before eventually being restored by pilot and collector Stephen Grey and The Fighter Collection based at Duxford in the UK. In 2009 the Mustang was acquired by another collector and good friend of Stephen’s – Dan Friedkin, based in Houston, Texas.
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