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World War Two: North American P51-D Mustang

Flown by many New Zealand pilots during the 1950's as part of the New Zealand Territorial Air Force, the P-51 Mustang is considered by many to be the finest World War Two piston engined fighter aircraft.


Originally developed to British specifications and fitted with an Allison V-12 power plant, the aircraft really came into its own when later fitted with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

P51Designed to be a long range bomber escort, it was the first allied fighter to be able to escort American bombers all the way to Berlin and back. Herman Goering, head of the Luftwaffe commented that he knew the Germans had lost the war the day he first saw Mustangs over Berlin.

This aircraft, now registered as ZK-TAF, was originally built at Inglewood, CA and delivered to the USAF on July 3, 1945. After a period of service with both the USAF and Royal Canadian Air Force it became a civilian aircraft in 1959.

After a succession of North American owners the aircraft was original broght to New Zealand by Sir Tim Wallis in 1984, and first flew here in 1985. Eventually the aircraft passed through the hands of the NZ Historic Aircraft Trust, and finally to current owner Graham Bethell in 1996.

gfsThe aircraft's colour scheme (as shown above) is that of NZ2415, the aircraft of Squadron Leader Ray Archibald, the Commanding Officer of 3 (Canterbury) Squadron of the New Zealand Territorial Air Force.

The photograph at left shows how the aircraft was given a new (temporary) colour scheme for Classic Fighters 2005 airshow - that of an RAF P-51 that operated in South East England and Europe in 1944-45.





Low, fast and close flybys featuring P51 footage.


Classic aircraft footage including video of two P51-D Mustangs.


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