Chuck Yeager may be short, but he has cast a long, intimidating shadow from the moment he first strapped on an airplane at Luke AFB in 1943. In fact, you’d have to be a cockroach under a rock in Tasmania not to know who he is and what he’s done. Not bad for a West Virginia poor boy who barely finished high school!
The nice thing about airplanes is that they really don’t care how much education you’ve had or how much rank you have shining on your epaulets. They only do what you tell them to do, and Chuck Yeager definitely knew how to speak their language.
As a pilot in the 357th Fighter Group-the first 8th Air Force unit to be equipped with Mustangs-Yeager painted “Glamorous Glen” on his Mustang’s cowl in honor of his girlfriend and soon-to-be wife, Glennis Dickhouse. That first Mustang was a “B” model, and on his seventh mission, he cornered a Bf 109G and scored his first kill. It’s interesting to note that at the time, Yeager wasn’t a commissioned officer but was an FO, a “flying sergeant.” He didn’t become a 2nd lieutenant until many months later. In fact, his career saw him progress from private to brigadier general.
The first swastika kill symbol painted on the side of his fuselage was still drying, when on his very next mission, Yeager found himself in a fur-ball fight with three Fw 190s. In a matter of minutes, he was free falling through space, and his Mustang was a flaming streak in the distance as he parachuted to safety and into yet another chapter of The Yeager Legend. He spent several weeks with the underground, eventually making his way over the Pyrenees mountains into Spain and back to his unit.
Back in England, he launched headlong into the toughest battle of his short career, but it was with Air Force brass-not the Germans. It was firm policy that a pilot who had evaded his way out of occupied territory couldn’t go back into combat. He carried his fight all the way up to Eisenhower and won (naturally).
His first “D”-model P-51 was again named for Glennis (Glamorous Glen II), but it was in a different Mustang (a -10 model) that he became an “ace in a day.” On a single mission, he bagged five Bf 109s. The first two, however, didn’t require a single shot; as Yeager closed on his target’s tail in a twisting dogfight, the Messerschmitt abruptly slammed into one of his comrades, which caused both Germans to bail out. Score two for the 21-year-old Yeager. Before the War’s end, his official total was 11.5 victories, including a Me 262, and the “Glamorous Glen” aircraft series went on to include a Glamorous Glen III.
It took a special kind of woman to live with the hard-driving, no-crap fighter/test pilot that is Chuck Yeager, and Glennis was that woman. They were devoted to each other until her passing in 1990.
Yeager is still living life on his terms. In fact, he’s regularly seen sizzling across the landscape in a modern reincarnation of Glamorous Glen III. The two legends-the Mustang and Chuck Yeager-have never been too far apart.
|Left: the cockpit has many fine details that include the gunsight, an instrument panel with painted gauges, detailed cockpit sides and a seat with the shoulder straps and lap belt in place. The headrest is at the wrong angle, though; it needs to be tilted forward more.
Right: the scale-looking propeller comes with the cuffed blades and rounded tips of the earlier Mustang models. The blades are made of a flexible plastic, so theyre pretty tough.
Interior. The cockpit is fully detailed and has a sliding canopy. The pilot’s seat and gauge cluster are well appointed, but the control stick was glued on backward (the top grip is supposed to tilt forward). Nevertheless, the detail is remarkable considering the size of the model; at 1:35 scale, the seats and gauges are half the size of their equivalents in a typical 1:18 car. That GMP bothered to include separate gunsights, controls and instruments is admirable. Of particular interest are the gun bays. The gun panels are hinged, and the ammo-belt-bay covers are removable; they’re held fast by magnets. When opened, they reveal detailed gun and ammo bays.
|Left: the gun and ammo bays are extremely well detailed and are covered by a hinged hatch (over the guns) and a magnetically secured hatch (over the ammo belts).
Right: he Packard Merlin V-12 is wonderfully detailed and includes everything it needs to look true to scale. It can be removed from the models front area, and part of the airframe comes with it.
Engine bay. The heart of a Mustang is its venerable Merlin V-12 engine, and the GMP replica is nicely detailed. It’s also removable, so you can admire the well-molded exhaust stacks, the supercharger and the oil tank in the engine compartment. All are accessible through removable upper and lower engine cowl that are held in place (like the ammo doors) by magnets. This assembly is a real highlight of the model; it’s no wonder that GMP packages the model with the engine cowl removed so that the Merlin is in full view.
Up front, you’ll find a spinning, cuffed-blade propeller with round tips. The size and shape look about right, as does the bright yellow and red spinner. Interestingly, the blades are molded out of a very flexible plastic. Since the prop is easily the most fragile piece on most model airplanes, this is a particularly thoughtful touch.
|Included in the wheel-well detail are the hydraulic lines and the retractable landing-gear light. The only real problem with the gear is that the tailwheel extends and locks into a position that is too far back to be truly accurate.|
Undercarriage and landing gear. GMP spent considerable time on crafting the landing gear. The main wheels and tailwheel are retractable, and other important details include fully functioning gear doors and spinning tires. Oleo struts on the main gear
compress when the model is placed on its gear; this gives the main gear the correct look when it sits on the “ground.” Inside the gear recess are a retractable landing light and numerous hydraulic hoses. Ironically, with the plane sitting on its gear, you see very little of this detail, and if it’s displayed with the gear up, you’ll see none at all. However, when you pick up the Glen III to show it off to friends, those little surprise details will really make an impression. The only drawback to the gear setup is the angle at which the tailwheel sits when it is extended-it extends too far back.
The visual appeal of this model is outstanding, and collectors who miss this offering will certainly be envious of those who have it. I really like the working details because they add realism, however, the inaccuracy of some of them detracts from the Mustang’s overall scale appearance. The size and heft of the plane and the workmanship displayed are impressive, and although some of the deviations from scale may irk Mustang aficionados, most collectors will be proud to display it.
GMP (Georgia Marketing & Promotions) (800) 536-1637; gmpdiecast.com.