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North American P-51D Mustang

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Doug Matthews and Classic Fighters of America are the owners and operators of this North American P-51D Mustang “The Rebel” (Serial No. 44-84933) that is available for airshows, flybys and film throughout the USA. “The Rebel” also finished second at the 2008 National Championship Air Races in the Unlimited Class Bronze race at a speed of 350.290 mph.

The P-51 was designed and built by North American Aviation after the British government approached them to build P-40 Warhawks under license. North American believed they could design a better fighter, and the British government gave them 120 days to prove it. 102 days after the order was placed, the first Mustang was completed, flying for the first time on October 26, 1940. The prototype and subsequent P-51A utilized the Allison V-1710 liquid cooled engine. Lacking an effective engine supercharger, the Allison provided insufficient power for the high-altitude environment the P-51 was designed to operate in. By replacing the Allison engine with a Rolls-Royce V-1650 Merlin engine that had a two-stage supercharger, the necessary power and performance was gained. The Merlin engine, which was built in the U.S. under license by the Packard Motor Car Company, was installed in all further P-51 models from the “B” through the “H” versions.

The P-51 was the United States supreme air-superiority fighter in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) during WWII. It served as a fighter-interceptor, Bomber-escort and fighter-bomber. With the powerful Merlin engine and droppable fuel tanks, the Mustang was able to penetrate deep into German territory where no previous Allied fighter had been able to go. The P-51 could escort bombers to all but the deepest targets inside Germany. With a fighter escort, fewer bombers were lost to the Luftwaffe’s fighters. Reichmarschall Hermann Goering, Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe said “ When I saw Mustangs over Berlin. I knew the war was lost.”

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The P-51 was considered by many to be the finest fighter that the U.S. produced and flew in WWII accounted for almost half the enemy aircraft destroyed in Europe by U.S. fighters. The Mustang was equipped with six .50 caliber machine guns and incorporated the advanced K-14 lead computing gun sight. The unmistakable scoop on the underside of the Mustang is the air inlet for the coolant radiator and oil cooler.

During WWII, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated RAF Mustangs and in 1945 received their first shipment of 215 D model and 84 K model RAAF P-51s. Commonwealth Aircraft of Australia also built 200 P-51s under license from NAA. The Mustang was used by RAAF pilots in Korea until April 1951.

P-51D of the 336th Fighter Squadron. (National Archives via the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama_
P-51D of the 336th Fighter Squadron. (National Archives via the United States Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB Alabama_

A combined total of over 15,500 Mustangs were produced. The greatest number of Mustangs were built as the “D” model, with over 8,000 built. Today less than 150 Mustangs remain flyable or restorable to flying condition.

Doug’s Mustang is painted in the scheme of the Mustang flown by Joseph H. Joiner as a Captain in the 336th Fighter Squadron during World War II. Captain Joiner was decorated with the Air Medal (10 Oak Leaf Clusters) and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He flew with the 336th Fighter Squadron in the 8th Air Force’s 4th Fighter Group from May 25, 1944 to February 20, 1945. During this time, Captain Joiner had a total of 4.5 Air Victories and 4 ground victories. At 87 years of age, Captain Joiner was reunited with his aviation history through “The Rebel” on September 20, 2008 at the FINA-CAF AIRSHO in Midland, Texas.

 

“The Rebel” has just completed an extensive rebuild and won Grand Champion World War II at the 2011 Sun ‘n Fun fly-in in Lakeland, FL.

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Home Base: Palm Beach, FL
Operation: Western, Central and Eastern USA
Model: P-51D-25NT
Wing Span:
37′ 0″
Length: 32′ 2″
Height: 13′ 8″
Max Speed: 505 mph
Gross Weight: 10,500 lbs
Power Plant: Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650-7
Horsepower: 1,450
Fuel Capacity: 274 gallons
Armament: 6 x .50 caliber machine guns