Two P-51D-15-NA Mustangs of the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, sit in alphabetical order within their blast pen at Station # 357 Duxford.
In the foreground is 44-15469 MX-J “Bucephalus” of Lt. William E Hydorn and named after the famous war horse of Alexander the Great. The photo is obviously taken before 9th February 1945 as on that day, Lt. Hydorn managed to shoot down an Me262 air-air, and the victory marking is not yet applied. In the background is 44-15574 MX-I of Lt. Wayne F Bechtelheimer who did not name his Mustang.
The man painting the nose-art onto “Bucephalus” was responsible for doing the nose-art a huge number of 78th aircraft from the unit throughout the war. Thought to have been a sign-writer prior to the war, he had very distinctive lettering style and quality of workmanship. He painted the now iconic P-51D 'Big Beautiful Doll' nose-art that was flown famously by Col. John Landers, but others include 'Frances Dell', 'Eileen', 'Sweet & Lovely', 'Spokane Chief', 'Sherman Was Right !', 'Sabotage Jr', 'Barbara Ann', 'Percey', 'The Green Hornet', 'Flagari', 'Darkie', 'Bad Medicine', 'Isabel', 'Screaming Demon', 'Contrary Mary'....to name but a few!
This might be the only photo that exists of this wonderful artist actually applying his trade on yet another 78th FG aircraft, but sadly, no-one currently alive from group can remember who he was, and find that extremely sad!