NA P-51D Mustang


The P-51 Mustang had its origins in the A-36 Invader. Built to meet a British requirement in 1939, it is traditionally said to have been produced in 102 days. The project was quick, but that was because it drew on earlier work - as the Invader was in turn a development of a private development by North American for an attack/fighter aircraft. The Invader also included a number of systems taken from the AT-6 Harvard trainer. Later modified to use a Rolls Royce (Packard) Merlin in place of the original Allison V-1710, the aircraft became outstanding in the fighter role.

The RNZAF operated 30 aircraft (NZ2401-2430) which were the first of 370 replacements for the F4U-1a/d aircraft, intended for use in the fighter/ground attack role. With the end of the war the number of aircraft required was reduced, and only these aircraft which had been delivered were accepted, the remainder of the order being cancelled. The P-51D-30NT were built at the Dallas TX plant for the USAF. The aircraft arrived in August - September 1945 and were immediately placed still cocooned in storage at Ardmore. In 1951 they were activated for use, as the government contemplated sending a squadron as part of its commitment to the UN in Korea. NZ2406 made the first flight from Ardmore on August 19, 1951 before joining the Central Flying School at Wigram. The Korean squadron did not eventuate, and the aircraft were issued to the four Territorial Air Force squadrons.

The TAF had been reformed in 1948 and initially used Tiger Moths and Harvards. From June 1952 the squadrons were each allocated five Mustangs and three Harvards. The squadron aircraft were identified by a chequerboard pattern on either side of the fuselage roundel - 1 (Auckland) Squadron blue and white, 2 (Wellington) Squadron black and yellow, 3 (Canterbury) Squadron red and black, and 4 (Otago) Squadron blue and yellow. The colours correspond to the colours of the provincial rugby teams. The aircraft were used at weekends and during annual camps. It should be noted that at Camps the aircraft operated as a pool - two of 4 (Otago) Squadron's aircraft were written off by 1 (Auckland) Squadron pilots The withdrawal of the Mustangs was announced in May 1955. They were withdrawn due to deterioration of the airframes (officially because of 'undercarriage' problems), although the highest use aircraft had only done in the order of 480 hours. Six aircraft had crashed in the eight months prior to the announcement. The TAF squadrons were also withdrawn on July 31, 1957

In service a total 10 aircraft had been destroyed or written off in accidents. Two had become instructional airframes (NZ2401/INST162 and NZ2405/INST164). One had been damaged prior to assembly and was reduced to spares without being used. The remainder were flown into storage at Woodbourne apart from four aircraft which continued to be operated by 42 SQN as drogue-tugs until 1957. The last official RNZAF P-51 flight was made by NZ2423 on May 30,1957. The 17 surviving aircraft were sold for scrap in 1958. Having been declared surplus (sr.293/57), a Government Stores Board tender was issued (No5296) on April 9. This closed on April 28, and most of the aircraft were sold on May 2. A rough listing of the RNZAF Mustang details can be found here.

Four RNZAF P-51D Mustangs survive:

Three other P-51D's have appeared on the New Zealand scene in the intervening years. These are:

Last Text Update:- 12 August, 2004
Last Picture Update:- 28 March, 2003

Technical Data


G-MSTG / NZ2427

ZK-TAF / as NZ2415

side on underside front quarter cockpit starting up taxying (front view) - Ardmore 1989 taxying (side view) - Ardmore 1989 start up (front view) - Ardmore 1989 hangered - Ardmore 1990 taxying (front view) - airshow 1995 taxying (front view) - airshow 1995 airborne (with Spitfire) - airshow 1995 ?? ?? ??

?? / as NZ2410

RNZAF Museum - Aug, 1993


?? ?? ?? ?? under maintainance - AFC hanger 1998 under maintainance - AFC hanger 1998 ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

Close Up

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wheel bay underside rear fuselage - port rear fuselage - starboard control panel rear view

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