The original model, the P-51A, was an effective ground support aircraft, but it wasn't until it was fitted with the very powerful Merlin engine, first appearing on the B and C models, that the aircraft became an effective interceptor. The D model was built with a canopy that gave the pilot 360 degrees of unobstructed vision and is the most famous version of the Mustang. There are many of the D model still flying today. However, there are only 4 of the C model Mustangs left in the whole world that are still in flyable condition.
What is the difference between the B and C models, you may ask? None, other than where they were originally built. The B model was built in Inglewood, California and the C model was built in Dallas, Texas. Other than that they were identical.
This aircraft, donated to the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) in 1988, was assigned to the Minnesota Wing for restoration. After several years and over a half million-dollar investment, the aircraft, "Tuskegee Airmen" flew for the first time in 2001 to honor and to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
This Mustang flew on the air show circuit for three years, creating interest in the story of the Tuskegee Airmen at each stop. Then, in May 2004, it experienced an unavoidable engine failure and crashed near Red Wing, Minnesota. The pilot, Project leader Don Hinz, was credited with using his piloting skills to avoid injuries on the ground and a post-crash fire in the dead-stick situation. Don survived the accident only to succumb to his injuries the next day.
The Minnesota Wing immediately pledged that the CAF Red Tail Project, which received national attention for its educational mission, would continue and that the Mustang would fly again. It took five years of fundraising and hundreds of hours of hands-on work by numerous volunteers working alongside the experienced staff at Tri-State Aviation, but in July, 2009 the Mustang named Tuskegee Airmen took to the skies again. It continues to fly the air show circuit across the United States from spring until fall.