The North American P-51 Mustang
P-51 Who?   Case # 53
44-74923     N5438V     Closed
Solved by: Martin Kyburz, Jim Church, William Yoak, DP
P-51 Who 53
Case#: 53
Date: Jun 15 2000
By: Floyd Fowles
Photo: unknown place/date
Status: Closed
Serial: 44-74923
Registry: N5438V
P-51 Who? Viewer Responses
06/15/2000 13:15

HELP! we have some conflicting reports.

Is this P-51 N5438V 44-74923? or 44-73518 before the registration was changed from N5438V to N5483V ??? I don't show 44-73518 ever listed as N5438V, but stranger things have occured in P-51 ownership.
Check out case #29. Picture in '63 on an airport at or near Merced, CA where this P-51 was based for a few years. The timeline checks out for case #29 to be 44-74923. Confirmation of another known photo of the same time by TJ Johansen exists. Also 44-73518 was based in Kansas from '63-'73.

View case #29 and case #53 side by side and there are definite similarities. (not 100% proof though) that they are the same P-51. I would like to find out for sure. Help if you can. Here's what we think we know.

Year 44-73518 44-74923
1963 N5483V (Edward isher) KS N5438V (JJ Wolohan)CA
1966same (Walter Fountain) CA
1969sameto El Salvador as FAS 410
adopted id 44-11353 on return
73-77 info missing
Gary Levitz "Precious Metal"
'76 sold to Whittington
1976"Miss Florida III" (Whittington)76' N132 (Don Anderson)Alderson?
1978 (Don Whittington)
racer 09 Precious Metal
1981 same(John Sandberg) TX,
race #28 Tipsy Too
1984same 84-94: N345 (Gary Levitz) TX
Race #38 Miss Ashley
1990ditched at sea, TX same
today restoration sold, rep. in Europe
Martin Kyburz
06/27/2000 03:52
This is P-51D-30-NA 44-74923 N5438V (its first civilian registration) sometime before delivery to Salvadorean AF as FAS-410. Subsequent history see survivor-list on this website.
Best wishes
Jim Church
07/01/2000 17:31
Case #53 shows the same Mustang featured in cases 29 and 36. It is N5438V, s/n 44-74923. Later owned and raced by the John Sandberg as N100DD 'Tipsy Too,' and still later by Gary Levtiz as 'Miss Ashley,' N345. Other registrations carried include N132 and N6395. It has since been sold to a new owner in Sweden.
William D. Yoak
07/04/2000 12:17
It looks like this Mustang was one of a pair of two owned by Eddie Fischer of Kansas City until around '74.
He sold one to the late Ken Burnstine and the other to the late Gary Levitz in 1974.The registration no. on the bottom of the left wing (in photo) looks to be N5438V. The aircraft that Levitz purchased was to become "Precious Metal" (race #81) and then race #09 after it was purchased by Don Whittington. However, the "n" number used on Precious Metal was N5483V. My guess is that case #53 is one of these two aircraft. Perhaps, Fischer wanted similar appearing registration numbers if this is the case.
The aircraft that Burnstine purchased in '74 was extensively modified for unlimited air racing immediately following his acquisition of the other of Fischer's two Mustangs.This was "Miss Foxy Lady" (Race #34) and carried the registration no. of N07QF under Burnstine's ownership. It was to become "Somthing Else" (Race #6) when John Crocker acquired it following the time Burnstine lost his life in "Miss Suzi Q"--his stock Mustang.
If I am in error about this case, I must point out one feature of the the registration number of N538V. It follows a pattern of several "N" numbers that have been assigned to many Mustangs over the years. I have notice that several numbers have been along the line of N54##V. For example,there was a N5482V owned by the late Mike Loening. Another is "Dago Red" which had the Number N5410V. These numbers were probably assigned in blocks to one of the companies that had several mustangs to civilianize in the "heyday" of when P-51's were relatively affordable.Some of the companies included Cavalier (of course),On-Mark Engineering, and Trans-Florida Aviation.

Upon looking at more sources which include your Survivor's List, I have narrowed the aircraft down to N5483V. The aircraft was in fact one of the two owned by Eddie Fischer. This was the one that was purchased by Gary Levitz in 1974 or '75. It was not the one purchased by Ken Burnstine as I originally thought was possible.
As previously noted, N5438V (as in Case# 53 Photo) was to become "Precious Metal" (race #81) under Levitz' ownership. However, Levitz had the "n"-number changed to N5483V for whatever reason. The aircraft still retains this registration and was raced for several years subsequent to Levitz' sale of the aircraft to Don Whittington.Whittington was a strong contender since the time he first raced it as race# 09. Apparently this Mustang is either in storage or undergoing a restoration by Whitington since it suffered damage at Reno during it's last race a few years back. This aircraft was to become even more extensively modified when it was configured to receive the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine with contra-rotating propellers as the World Jet racer.
Bill Eaton
11/23/2000 15:36
I see the name 'Fountain' in the owner listing. This might support my comment in response to Case 29 of the possibility that Bud Fountain owned this airplane.
Dick Phillips
02/02/2001 00:00
#53 is 44-73923, photo taken at Merced Ca 1964.
38V became N132, N100DD, N345 and is now N6395, owned by the Sodenal Group, Berne Switzerland since 1996.
Brad Haskin
02/09/2001 04:52
N5483V was bought by Gary Levitz in the winter of 1974 from Eddie Fisher....about the same time that Burnstine was buying the other airframe. Levitz hired Ralph Payne to completely tear down the plane and rebuild it as a racer. According to Payne, the plane hadn't been flown in many years when they brought it out to Scottsdale, AZ. Payne built 5483V up for Levitz about the time Leroy Penhall was making the "sister ship" into N70QF "Miss Foxy Lady" for Burnstine.

Payne rebuilt 5483V in stages, including several "internal" wing mods and such. It was "stock on the outside" at Mojave '75. Clipped wings and a racing canopy at Reno '75. An H-tail and wing fillets at Mojave '76. (Plans included removing the doghouse and installing NACA ducts on the fuselage side, with the radiator exhaust exiting in the low-pressure area behind the canopy, but the racer was sold before those mods could be done)

Don Whittington bought it in June or July of '76, and raced it at Reno in '76 as "Miss Florida III" (though it still said "Precious Metal" on the cowling). Whittington changed the name back to "Precious Metal" in '77 and continued to race it with a fair amount of success until '83. At this point the airplane was "stashed", completely barren of markings and didn't surface again until about '87.

This airplane was NOT modified to accept a Rolls Griffon As I understand it, Whittington built up the "new" Griffon powered "Precious Metal" after he got out of "camp". He literally unbolted the tail section (just aft of the doghouse) of N5483V and bolted it onto the "new" fuselage. I have no record where the "front" half of the fuselage came from. Possibly built up from parts. It raced at Reno '88 in this configuration, but crashed when the prop governor blew.

After the wreck it was trucked back to Florida, the tail section (with the H-tail) was again unbolted and set aside. Whittington took the "new" Griffon fuselage and bolted a stock tail unit onto it in '89. Meanwhile, another stock tail unit had been installed on the "old" fuselage that used to be 5483V. This is the airframe that Whittington ditched in Galveston Bay in '90. I believe it's still at Darrell Skurich's place in Fort Collins, CO being stored or rebuilt.

Whittington race the "new" Griffon bird with the stock tail feathers at Phoenix in '95, with the registration number changed to N6WJ. But the same plane showed up at Reno '95 with the "old" N5483V tail section (with the H-tail) bolted on to it again.

Everyone confused? Good. I think that's what Don Whittington had in mind.

I might also add another footnote of the N5483V story.

After Levitz bought it, the first race he entered it into was Mojave '75. On the entry form, he made a mistake and wrote down the registration number of another Mustang he used to own, N5478V (which another pilot had wrecked in the mid-60's. The guy was ferrying it for Gary, and cartwheeled it into a hangar on takeoff.) Anyhow, because N5478V was on the entry form instead of N5483V, both Air Classics and Racing Planes and Air Races reported for many years that it was N5478V.

Just a sidenote further adding to the mystery of the plane.
03/31/2001 12:00
After going over all the above information, it is our conclusion that the P-51 in the top picture is N5438V, 44-74923. Thanks to everyone's input on this one!
Werner van der Zel (Early Birds)
04/29/2008 08:26
Dear Sirs
This P-51 ex Miss Ashley 1 is in rebuild at the moment at Lelystad airport in Holland.
She came in the red colours Miss Asley 1 and will be rebuild and complete overhauld to represend the P-51 "Trusty Rusty" flown by capt.Robert B.Winks,stationed at Leiston airfield,U.K.1944/45
Please have a look for oure website by click the link
below,see "planes" P-51
Thank you,
sincerely Werner van der Zel (mechanic)
Ed Hamil
02/08/2016 11:28
I worked at Eddie Fischer Flying Service from 1971-1974 at Fairfax Airport in Kansas City, KS. This airport is now non-existent and is in fact a GM Automotive Assembly Plant. Eddie Fischer hired me to wash and degrease the planes on the ramp and wax on both of his P51's that he kept in his hanger. Eddie and all the other pilots and mechanics used to call me "Little Eddie" (I earned my Private Pilots License while working for him in high school @ $1.75 hr. Eddie would run up both P51's frequently and his partner, Ron Reynolds a TWA 747 Captain based out of NYC would come in occasionally to fly one or the other P51's and actually took me flying in the rear seat that was in one of them that was in polished aluminum. Eddie had several mechanics at the time that may have log books on repairs that will totally solve the registration numbers. One was named Charlie Lord and the other was Gerald (Jerry)(last name escapes me). Who took me and my date on my H.S. Senior Prom in a Cessna 401 over the Kansas City skyline that he flew for a person name Gottlieb. Eddie was a great guy and would be pleased at the interest in his "babies". My flight instructor was Ronald Simmons (Ron), who taught me to fly for free provided I ALWAYS keep his Red colored MG car waxed at all times! Thank you for allowing me to share my early aviation memories! Great times!
Case Closed!
P-51 Mustang

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