The P-51 Mustang was probably the best fighter-bomber of US Air Force and the Wings of Glory Airplane Packs feature the models flown by three American WW2 pilots: John Landers, Williams Saks and Spurgeon Ellington. In this article we will learn something about these pilots and their military careers - see here the first part of the P-51D Mustang preview.

John Landers

John Landers was one of the very few fighter pilots in World War II to achieve “ace” status in both the Pacific and European Theatres. Colonel John Landers is remembered as a skilled pilot and capable combat commander.

Landers served with the 49th Fighter Group in the Pacific Theatre flying P40’s and achieved 6 victories against the Japanese. He evaded capture in December 1942, after being shot down and bailing out of his fighter plane near Dobodura, New Guinea. He returned home in early 1943, a battle hardened ace.

Jonh Landers and his aircraft with all his victories marked on the fuselage!

John Landers and his aircraft with all his victories marked on the fuselage!

In 1944, he was sent to Europe, where he joined the 55th Fighter Group (38th Fighter Squadron) based in Duxford, England, where he got a few more kills in the “fork tailed devil” as it was known to the Luftwaffe pilots. Five more victories were credited during this tour, bringing his total to 11. Landers would later become Commanding Officer of the 38th Squadron in mid 1944.

Posted to the 8th Air Force in Europe, he flew in the 55th and in the 357th and in the 78th as commander, a significant post for the veteran aviator. Flying P-38’s and P-51’s, he named them all “Big Beautiful Doll”.

When the war ended, Colonel Landers commanded the 361st Fighter Group and had amassed 14.5 kills, 6 in the Pacific and 8.5 in Europe, plus one probable, and 20 aircraft destroyed on the ground. Landers was one of the few pilots to score victories in three different aircraft, the P-40, P-38, and P-51.

His impressive scoreboard and nose art adorned many airframes during his career. His P-51 “Big Beautiful Doll” was one of the most colorfully painted Mustangs of that era.

Spurgeon Ellington

First Lieutenant Spurgeon N. Ellington was born 17 October 1919 in North Carolina and died after WW2 in Georgia. In civilian life, Lt. Ellington was an elementary school teacher.

Spurgeon Ellington on his P-51D Mustang, ready to fight!

Spurgeon Ellington on his P-51D Mustang.

He entered the military out of Fort Bragg, NC in 1942, and was trained as a pilot at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Lt. Ellington flew with the 332nd Fighter Group, 99th Fighter Squadron piloting its P-51D Mustang in the European skies.

Ellington was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery as a pilot in 1944.

He was killed with another pilot, Lt. Richard Hall, in a plane crash during a training exercise at Crystal Lake in Georgia in 1945.

In 1943, Lt. Ellington married Marie Antoinette Hawkins, but they divorced after 7 months. (Marie Antoinette ultimately became the wife of the famous singer, Nat "King" Cole.)

William Saks

The P-51D Mustang of 506th with the famous Enchantress on the fuselage.

The P-51D Mustang of 506th with the famous Enchantress on the fuselage.

Second Lieutenant William Saks is probably more famous for the decoration on his aircraft, "The Enchantress," than for his war victories.

He flew in the 457th Fighter Squadron of the 506th FG in the Pacific Theatre and was lost in his P-51D Mustang on 1 June 1945, when he failed to return to Iwo Jima due to very bad weather conditions.

The 506th operated from Iwo Jima in the summer of 1945, providing long range escort coverage for the B-29 raids reaching deep into Japan. These missions stretched the Mustang’s range limit, and resulted in some of the longest escort missions of the war.

Information sources: Hood County Genealogical Society, Nuthampstead Airfield Museum, Model Aces,, Find a Grave, Wake Forest University, 506th Fighter Group, HyperScale, Digital Forsyth.

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