Another Rare Warbird Restoration

From the Usual USAF Source

Last Braves of the Tribe: A World War II-era A-36A Apache—an ultra-rare dive-bomber variant of the P-51A Mustang—earlier this month flew for the first time from New Smyrna Beach Airport, south of Daytona Beach, Fla., after extensive restoration and rebuild. This airplane, serial number 42-83738, is one of only two flying examples of the type, and one of only three intact A-36s known to exist worldwide, according to American Aero Services’ A-36 webpage. The company rebuilt the aircraft for the Collings Foundation. Due to its rarity, restorers were forced to fabricate many components since several parts, including the aircraft’s unique landing gear, air scoop, and canopy were swapped for more common P-51 parts in the 1960s, noted company officials. Unlike the P-51 fighter, the A-36 was designed for close air support by incorporating dive brakes and an Allison engine specifically tuned for low-altitude performance, according to the Collings Foundation’s Apache webpage. The aircraft took to the skies June 13.

Ah, I see we’re rewriting history… “an Allison engine specifically tuned for low-altitude performance” is shorthand for “doesn’t perform as well as a Merlin.”  The Brits wouldn’t use the A-36/P-51 with that Allison engine as a fighter and the USAAC wouldn’t, either… or at least  not until the aircraft was re-designed/refitted with Rolls-Royce (Packard, under license) power.

Nits aside, it’s good to see this aircraft back in the air.


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3 responses to “Another Rare Warbird Restoration

  1. Bill Brandt

    I think the original Mustang – given to the Brits – was relagated to low altitute support because the Allison wasn’t suited to high altitude – prompting some guy in an experimental frame of mind to try a Merlin – the rest is history.

    I thought I knew a lot of aircraft models until running into you guys – never had heard of this varient before.

  2. Comjam

    Bill, the early Mustangs, including the A-36 variant, are so exceedingly rare that the late Gerry Beck, P-51 restorer/rebuilder extraordinaire, essentially hand-built his Mustang prototype model as a one-ff Experimental category aircraft. It’s beautiful.

  3. Bill Brandt

    Comjam – given that there are only 100 or so left flying then it’s the rarest of the rare! Somewhere I had a book of rare color aviation photographs of the European theater in WW2.

    I fear I have loaned it out, never to be seen again. Or it is hidden behind the bookshelf.

    The photos are just snapshots from servicemen who used (then) rare and expensive color film.

    But among the photos I have never forgotten was an American AAF Spitfire squadron and immediate post war – a line of Mustangs on a grassy field being burned by German civilians. They were just deemed not economically viable to taking back to the states.

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