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|The Aircraft :|
|Mustang||The ubiquitous North American P-51 Mustang, which many consider to be the best all-around fighter of WW II, owes its origins to the British Air Ministry. Following Britains entry into WW II in 1939, the RAF was interested in purchasing additional fighter aircraft from American sources, particularly the Curtiss P-40. Curtiss, which was busy, was unable to guarantee timely delivery so the British approached North American Aviation as a possible second source for the P-40. North American chose to propose its own fighter design which would use the same Allison engine as the P-40. Utilizing new laminar flow wings, the North American fighter was expected to have performance better than the P-40. Developed in record time the new aircraft was designated as a Mustang I by the Brits, whereas the USAAF ordered two for evaluation which were designated XP-51 Apaches. Intrigued with the possibility of using this aircraft also as a dive bomber, North American proposed this to the USAAF which decided to order 500 of the P-51 aircraft to be modified for dive bombing use. Designated as the A-36 Invader, this version of the Mustang utilized dive flaps, and bomb racks under each wing. Some reinforcing of the structural members was also required because of the G-forces to be encountered in dive bombing. A-36s entered combat service with the USAAF prior to any P-51s. In early 1943 the 86th and 27th Fighter Bomber Groups of the 12th Air Force began flying A-36s out of Northern Africa. Despite some early problems with instability caused by the dive flaps, the A-36 was effective in light bombing and strafing roles. It was not, however, capable of dog fighting with German fighters, especially at higher altitudes. Despite these drawbacks one USAAF pilot, Captain Michael T. Russo, who served with the 16th Bomb Squadron of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group, was credited with five confirmed aerial victories in the A-36, thereby becoming the first mustang ace.|
See our aviation history timeline for all today's historical aviation events - air victories, aircraft losses and pilot details.
|RECENT UPDATES TO OUR AVIATION HISTORY DATABASES|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Whitley P4981 : Aircrew updated|
|Pilot Officer Geoffrey Charles Smith added to aircrew database :|
Killed on 4th July 1943 when his Stirling BK718 WP-M of No.90 Sqn was shot down and crashed near Cologne. He is buried in Overloon War Cemetery.
|New victory claim added : Me109 claimed on 5th September 1940 by Flight Lieutenant A. C. Rabagliati of No.46 Sqn RAF|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Hampden P4405 : Airframe notes updated (added 10-02-1941 : Hampden crashed into Bluestone plantation in Norfolk after calling for assistance.)|
|Warrant Officer Dennis Baker added to aircrew database :|
Originally a Halton Brat, Dennis qualified as a Flight Engineer serving with 75 Sqn on Stirlings. Shot down on his third operation returning from Frankfurt on 3rd December 1942, he was held as a PoW for nearly three years in camps including Stalag Luft I, Lutz VI and 357.
|Campbell added to aircrew database.|
|JGr101 added to the squadrons database.|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Flying Fortress 42-30037 : Squadrons updated (added 384th Bomb Group)|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Hampden P4299 :|
|Updates made to Airframes database for : Wellington R1646 :|
|SEARCH OUR AVIATION HISTORY DATABASES|
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