I guess you are correct about the Data plate,I did think it strange that a racing P51 would have a fixed tail wheel.....extra drag...I was just quoting what this other person stated after seeing the photo.
If the photo of the plane pointed down just before impact is real I will be very surprised. If you look at other photos of this plane in flight (on the pilots web site, for example) in EVERY photo you can see the pilot's helmet. Even if he had a heart attack and died he would be leaning up against the glass. There is nowhere for him to be. Plus to get this angle the photographer would have to have been far away from the stands with a very powerful telephoto lens. It is perfectly from the side with no blur whatsoever. He probably could not have gotten the other photo of the plane upside down from the same location. I also searched for "Times Valley Union" and did not find any news organization with Tim O'Brien as a photographer.
Although the photo has all the appearances of having been altered, (initially I thought it was) it has been discussed widely on other forums and it is generally accepted as genuine. In other views looking down into the cockpit the pilot's white helmet can be seen. Recent reports are indicating that the pitch-up was in excess of 20G (!). Even if that is grossly exaggerated, it may account for the apparent absence of a pilot in the photo in question. As for the photographer, not everyone with a camera works for a newspaper.
Maybe if they did a search with the newspapers correct name they would get more hits. It's Grass Valley Union not Times Valley Union. And there must be at least dozen posts and blogs out there describing the 1998 "Voodoo" P51 incident where the pilot, Bob Hannah, blacked out after a trim tab failure. As he put it when he came to his head was pinned to floor and it took a lot of effort to get back upright. I'm sure it's probably an exaggeration but in the context of the photo it makes sense.
I would guess that for efficiency they race with an aft C of G, so that the net lift on the tailplane is upwards. That would mean that if trimmed for S&L, loss of a trim tab would result in a sudden and severe nose up trim change. But I am still puzzled why it then rolled on its back before pulling through.
* *Telemetry downloaded from Galloping Ghost revealed an 11g pullup, fuel flow interrupted on the way up, and then the engine restarted when fuel flow resumed at the top of the arc. *The aircraft was making 105 inches of MP (Manifold Pressure) on the way down.
* *Subject: : Galloping Ghost crash
* *Ok... here's the skinny on the accident.... *A P-51 normally has two trim tabs.. one on each elevator... this one had one and other one was fixed in place.. He was warned about the forces being put on that one tab. *It failed.. He had at least a 10G load when the plane pitched up from the loss of the trim tab and he went "nighty night" and probably never woke up.
* *Here's the “theory” of the crash from experienced racers.
* *In 1989 this type of thing happened to another pilot but he lived to tell the story. When flying a P-51 at 450+mph you need to have full nose down trim to keepthe plane level. The elevator trim tab broke off and the aircraft imediately went in to a 10G climb, confirmed by the G-meter. The pilot came to, from the sudden blackout and realized he had slipped through the shoulder harness and was looking at the floor of the airplane. He was able to reach the throttle and pull it back to slow down and was able to recover and land.
* *Photo oneis the airplane taxiing, note the pilots head in the canopy.
* *Fast forward to 2011
* *Photo twois typical oil canning as a result of the tremendous torque these engines put out at high power.
* *Photo three is a photo of GG upside down with a missing elevator trim tab. Note all you see is the back of the pilots head indicating he is being forced down in the cockpit.
* *Photo four is a view of the left side nose down with the tail wheel extended and no view of the pilot. The tail wheel is held up by hydraulics only with no mechanical uplock, thus indicating a high G-force causing it to extend.
* *Photos five and six are from the left side prior to impact, note no view of the pilot and the tail wheel extended.
* *Photo sevenis the debris just after the crash. To the right of center above the crowd it appears to be the wing with the