Designed to meet an RAF requirement for fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, the P-51 Mustang was first flown on October 26th, 1940. This versatile aircraft was capable of escorting bombers on long-range missions, engaging in dogfights, and dropping down to destroy German targets on the ground. At least eight versions of the P-51 were produced, but it was the definitive P-51D that gave the Mustang its classic warbird appearance. Britain and the US both tested the airframe with the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, which gave the aircraft tremendous performance gains. The Truman Senate War Investigating Committee called the Mustang "the most aerodynamically perfect pursuit plane in existence."
Leonard "Kit" Carson was the highest scoring ace of the 357th FG with 18.5 aerial victories and 3.5 ground strafing victories. His first victory came on April 8, 1944 flying one of his four "Nooky Booky" P-51's. Most of Carson's victories came late in WWII flying "Nooky Booky IV". Beginning in April 1944 until the end of WWII the 357th accumulated a total of 595.5 aerial victories and 106.5 aircraft destroyed on the ground. Leonard Carson was selected to teach combat techniques at the combat training school dubbed "Clobber College".