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Leendert 1st June 2020 14:04

Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945
On 1 April 1945 Lt Richard L. "Spider" Smith bailed out over Belgium (Ingelmunster area?) from his P-51 of the 1st Scouting Force. Engine was on fire.
He came down safely and was picked up by Canadian troops.

Serial of this P_51 is unclear. His usual P-51 was 44-13557 (5E-E), but this a/c not involved here as this Mustang had been transferred to 352nd FG after the ground collision in Dec 1944.

Question therefore remains what P-51 Lt Smith was flying that day?

Thanks for any leads.


Ted51abcdk 1st June 2020 23:59

Re: Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945
By matching up several sources, the Cumulative Losses List and the 1SF Unit Inventory List, the most likely match is 44-15617 with no known code letter. However, the date of 1 April 1945 is incorrect. It should be 31 March 1945. This is not a confirmed s/n. Please use it with discretion. Ted51

Leendert 2nd June 2020 12:39

Re: Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945

Thanks. Lt Smith must have been mistaken by a day himself, when he wrote that his jump was on April Fool's Day...


Buckeye30 2nd June 2020 17:10

Re: Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945
Hi Leendert. Is this the article (from his old Bomb Group newsletter, Dick sent it to me in 2000 when I did a picture of 5E-E; he couldn't remember the other Mustang serial or code, probably because it wasn't his assigned plane. He was lucky as he hit the tail. He sent some nice photos of his flying models, he was a great RC enthusiast. He lived in Hemet CA at the time. He flew 35 with the 303BG, 10 as lead pilot .
He retired in 1952 and died in April 2012.
He was very helpfull in describing markings etc.

Leendert 2nd June 2020 21:11

Re: Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945
Indeed, that's the story I had read, with "his" date of 1 April 1945.

Suggested serial 44-15617 brings another question forward. This P-51D is (also?) mentioned in connection with Capt. Wendell W. Beaty of 355th FG who was KIFA on 26 March 1945 near Calais due to bad weather..

On DOD is 29 March 1945, while newspaper clipping on same site has 25 March 1945. Also see with again 26 March 1945 for Capt. Beaty.

This P-51 not in accident lists either.


Alex Smart 3rd June 2020 01:56

Re: Lt Richard "Spider" Smith - P-51 bail out - 1 April 1945
Serial number of " Easy Does It" was 44-13557. This a/c was involved in a ground accident in December '44.
Photo's in "Fighting Scouts of the 8th Air Force" would suggest that the a/c was not a write off. It was in a ground collision with Wheless's a/c 44-13709 " Francis Anne " and chewed its tail off. Smith's a/c seems only to have had propeller damage (?). Following repairs it was transferred to the 352nd FG. From "Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney" it looks like 44-14812 ( earlier "HO-S" ) was "HO-T" until around 03/18/45. Then 44-13557 ahortly after that date became "HO-T".

Later in 1945 Smith bailed from his burning a/c, serial number unknown . Does not look like it could have been 44-15617, it being lost on the 26th March 45..

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