P-51C Lope’s Hope the 3rd
Lope’s Hope 3rd was a P-51C flown by Lt. Donald Lopez. Donald and Lope’s Hope 3rd served in the China-Burma-India theater with the 14th Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group, 75th Squadron. The 23rd Fighter Group was the descendant of the famous American Volunteer Group or Flying Tigers after the US entered the war. Lt. Lopez had 5 victories in China and went on to become a test pilot in the early years of the jet age. Later he was the deputy director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum until his death in 2008. Donald Lopez was instrumental in the construction and opening of the National Air and Space Museum.
The original wartime Lope’s Hope 3rd was a P51C-5-NT, Army Air Force Serial Number: 42-103585. The serial number information was just acquired this week through the generous contribution of pages from Lt. Lopez’s war time log book by his granddaughter Laura Lopez. Normally a WWII fighter’s serial number is easily determined by just looking at the tail number. Squadrons in almost every theater of operations number planes this way, but not in China. In China the 23rd Fighter Group’s squadrons were assigned a block of numbers for differentiating their aircraft. The 75th squadron’s block was 150- 199 (or to 200 depending on source). Lt. Lopez used 194 on both his P-40N s and on his P-51C , Lope’s Hope 3rd. Without his log book it might have been impossible to figure out his Mustang’s AAF serial number.
Our restoration airframe is a P-51C-10NT Army Air Force Serial Number: 43-24907 , that remained in the continental US during WWII and was used for training purposes during and immediately after the war. The decision to paint her in Lt. Lopez’s color scheme is intended to honor him and his service to his country in WWII and to aviation all his life.
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Starting the P-51C Lope’s Hope 3rd T-Shirt Project
Aircorps Aviation approached me to create a vintage style t-shirt around the Lope’s Hope the 3rd.
This was my first t-shirt project for a client for a military airplane. I was not just excited, I was ecstatic! It’s a dream come true! Especially, I had the chance to create art about the P-51C Mustang, which has the legendary Merlin engine!
Even if I had work to do on other things, I started right away. I did a lot of sketching and picked the right idea to pitch to Aircorps and the rest is history!
Thanks to this experience, I learned how to create better designs in a military context. Which has been my dream for a very long time! It also gave me the chance to be the vintage artist that I always wanted to be. My medium wasn’t only my computer, but my ink brush too!
A quick Summary of My Design Process.
- I scanned my sketches into Adobe Illustrator and started to make the outline of my design. I always like to work on Illustrator, because I’m sure that my work will be precise. It will also give a digital version of any work I create, which is very important!
- I go back and forth between sketching and scanning to fix mistakes. I also work with Aircorps to make sure I’m doing the design they want.
- When done on Illustrator, I ink my design and scan it this time into Photoshop.
- Now, I have a fully textured graphic and its ready to get colored!
- I apply my designs into my t-shirt mockup from pixeden.com.
- Send it all to Aircorps Aviation.
Oshkosh 2018 and first Sale!
The Lope’s Hope 3rd t-shirt was designed for the Oshkosh 2018 airshow. So I had to keep this project secret, for two months, until it was released. I was really happy with the response. I hope I can make an even better shirt for Oshkosh 2019. You won’t know, because it will be a secret too lol.
The Front Version
The Pilot Version
Buy this unique t-shirt at Aircorps Aviation.