Wings of the North’s exciting latest restoration project honors Kenneth Dahlberg, David O’Hara and all the men of the 354th Pioneer Mustang Group.
Both men flew the P-51B-10NA Mustang, Shillelagh, as did other members of the 353rd Fighter Squadron. Ken Dahlberg was shot down in this airplane, and escaped capture to return to his squadron. Shillelagh had been assigned to David O’Hara, and was the third Mustang assigned to him that was lost when another pilot was flying it. Shillelagh completed 95 missions over enemy territory, including on D-Day before the loss of the P-51 on August 16, 1944, when Ken Dahlberg was shot down while flying O’Hara’s P-51.
As the restoration proceeds, we will tell Ken and David’s story, and that of Shillelagh.
Contract Number: AC-30479
NAA Construction Number: 104-22989
The nose art was originally a club like Shillelagh, but spelled Shillelaugh. Over the night of June 5, 1944, full D-Day invasion stripes were applied.
At the time that the invasion stripes were ordered removed from the upper surfaces and top half of the fuselage., the Mustang likely received a “freshening up “ of the paint scheme. The nose art name was now spelled Shillelagh, with a spiked club painted forward of the name.
The assigned pilot was 1st Lt David B O’Hara, O-744743. O’Hara flew a total of 84 combat missions from 20 December 1943 to 8 September 1944 with 48 of those missions being flown in 42-106602, FT-P. During O’Hara’s combat time he had a confirmed air to air victory on April 8, 1944. His other claims were 1 destroyed, and 3 damaged on the ground, accounted for on 25 April 1944 and 27 July 1944.1
1 Personal correspondence with Jack Cook, July 16,2021
First Combat Mission: 15 April 1944
42-106602 flew a total of 95 combat missions. During the time period between 15 April, 1944 and 16 August, 1944, when Shillelagh was flying; O’Hara flew 56 combat missions of which 48 were in 42-106602, FT-P
Wings of the North Museum has chosen AirCorps Aviation to restore Shillelagh. The first steps in restoration are to evaluate what is on hand and begin making parts that are not.
The first assembly to be completed for this Mustang is the empennage.
See aviation history and the completed warbird restorations fly at Flying Cloud Field on July 24th and 25th as AirExpo returns after the national shutdown of 2020!
Details and updates available at the Wings of the North FaceBook page:
Or on their website: http://www.wotn.org/
It will be a great airshow and proceeds will help Wings of the North Museum continue their fine work preserving history, honoring our vets, and flying their amazing collection of warbirds.