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Very Long Range P-51 Mustang Units of the Pacific War
The pilots called themselves the 'Tokyo Club'. It was a simple task to become a member. All you had to do was strap yourself into a heavily loaded P-51 Mustang, take off from Iwo Jima (a postage-stamp sized volcanic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean), fly 650 miles north over the sea - often through monsoon storms - in your single-engined aircraft to Japan, attack a heavily defended target in the vicinity of the enemy's capital city and then turn around and fly home while fretting over your shrinking fuel supply and perhaps battle damage as well. If your gas held out and you were not blown off-course on your return trip, you landed back at 'Iwo' after an eight-hour flight. Do it once and you earned membership in the club. Do it 15 times and you earned a trip home. But make one mistake or have one touch of bad luck, and you had a very good chance of ending up dead.
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September 26, 2006
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