New Jersey Air National Guard Major General Donald J. Strait is who flew the P-51 “Jersey Jerk.” He put his life on the line in forty + mission in the European Theater during World War II. By 1945, wars end, the then, Major Donald J. Strait was credited with 13.5 German air to air combat kills. The model plane in the four following pictures are a representation of this Airmen’s notorious plane.
I built this because I enjoy making sawdust. I have for as long as I can remember. I have ties to the USAF, my dad made it his career, and I graduated from High School at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1976. For ten plus years I have worked with a relative of MG Strait, for most of that time, I did not know that my friend Danielle Strait has such an honorable Grandfather. After one day being educated on this fact, I read historical pieces and an interview prior to his death. It was then, almost a year ago, I decided to build the “Jersey Jerk.”
This has been a process. The INet has many pictures of this notorious plane, many plans for building P-51s. After some thought, I tried a few “toy” plans, deciding to, purchase and build, ToyMakingPlans.com, “WWII Famous Fighters” and “Famous Fighters” patterns. My final product, pictured here, is a derivative of those patterns. The decals are homemade based on an INet picture of Maj Strait and his P-51 in 1945.
It is not hard to criticize my model of this notorious plane. The toy pattern is intended to be child tough, versus, detail specific. However, with a few, editorial changes I believe it is a close approximation. The 1945 version had a red engine cowling with a series of blue diamonds. A few attempts replicating these failed, so I decided to omit the series of diamonds. The tail and the rear stabilizer should not be brown, but at build time the only 1/8” stock I had was walnut and I could not paint over it with the required silver. I am not happy with the silver spray paint I used my application is not very consistent. I am barley satisfied with the decals and the stripping. I am proudest of my base plan edits to fuselage, wing, tail, rear stabilizer and propeller, shaping them in order to model their original aerodynamic properties.
This plane took approximately 45 hours to build. Some of that was in trial and error with shaping, painting, and decals, but in my opinion the final product was worth my time, and I divinely enjoyed making the sawdust.