Lope's Hope the 3rd | P-51C Mustang
Lope’s Hope the 3rd is one of two warbirds currently under restoration by AirCorps Aviation for the Texas Flying Legends Museum. AirCorps has been generous enough to provide the following images and research.
The original Lope’s Hope the 3rd flew in the 23rd Fighter Group, descendant of the famous Flying Tigers volunteer group, in the China-Burma-India Theater. Lt.Donald Lopez flew the P-51C in the 75th Squadron, 23rd Fighter Group of the 14th Air Force. Lt.Lopez had 5 victories in China and went on to become a test pilot during the jet age and deputy director of the Air and Space Museum. His work with the National Air and Space Museum was instrumental.
The history of this P-51C-5-NT serial number 42-103585 was difficult to track down as the standard serial number, found on the tail of every aircraft, was marked differently due to the use of the plane in China. In the 23rd Fighter Group each squadron was given a block number 150-199 (200 depending on source) to identify their aircraft. Donald Lopez used 194 on his P-40N’s and the P-51C, Lope’s Hope the 3rd. His granddaughter, Laura Lopez had her grandpa’s logbooks which provided the pivotal information to track down the history of the plane.
The air frame used for this restoration belonged to a P-51C-10NT, serial number 43-24907, that never saw combat but instead remained in the United States for training purposes. Those behind the restoration of this beautiful aircraft wanted to honor Donald Lopez for all of his contributions to aviation.
As the restoration goes on more information and images will be put up here on the museum’s site. Be sure to go to the AirCorps Aviation project page on Lope’s Hope the 3rd to see what’s already happened in the restoration of this great piece of history.
The photo of Donald Lopez was made public courtesy of Laura Lopez and the Lopez family collection.