Updates as time permits: Information and photographs of P-51 Mustangs in service with various Air Forces in Europe that also operated this type (besides the Swiss Air Force), i.e. the Royal Air Force (RAF), the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air), the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapen) and the Italian Air Force (AMI).
While the RAF had already received its Mustangs under Lend-Lease agreements during World War II, the other countries received their Mustangs under the M.D.A.P. (Military Defense Aid Programme) rules, most of those aircraft being veterans from various units of the 8th and 9th USAAF that saw action during World War II.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) operated various versions of the Mustang design from 1942 well into 1947.
Mustang I AG639 XV-E of No. 2 Sqdn, ca. 1942.
Mustang I AG550 XV-U of No. 2 Sqdn taxying for another mission.
A Mustang II (USAAF designation P-51A) destined for the RAF being crated and readied for shipment at the NAA plant Inglewood, CA. This sub-type, of which only 50 were procured for the RAF, had 20 mm cannons installed in the wings. The 50 aircraft delivered under Lend-Lease contracts were replacements for those Mustang I's repossessed by the USAAF for own use after conversion to F-6A recon ships.
A Mustang I on patrol during D-Day on 6th June 1944 - note the hastily applied black & white stripes on fuselage and wings.
Merlin-engined Mustangs - Mustang III
Both in the ETO and MTO, the Merlin-engined Mustang variants were employed in amultitude of operation profiles, such as ground-attack, shipping strike-support, fighter-escort, 'anti-diver' patrols (against V-1's).
The following Squadrons that flew Merlin engined Mustangs :
Nos. 3 (RAAF), 19, 64, 65, 66, 93, 94, 112, 118, 122, 126, 129, 165, 234, 237, 241 249, 250, 260, 268, 303, 306, 309, 315, 316, 345, 430, 441, 442, and 516 Sqdns plus No. 541 Sqdn Coastal Command
The second RAF unit to convert to the Mustang III was No. 19 Sqdn, which received their new fighters in January 1944 and operated them until April 1945, when they were replaced by Mustang IV's. The first unit to receive the new Mustangs was No. 65 Sqdn in December 1943, i.e. at the same time as the first USAAF unit received theirs, this being the 354th FG.
Perfect formation of a flight of No. 19 Sqdn Mustang III's.
Another view of two No. 19 Sqdn Mustang III's. Note that the RAF Mustangs carried the same recognition bands like the P-51's operated by the 8th and 9th USAAF. Also remarkable are the differences in the camouflage pattern on the wings !
A No. 19 Sqdn Mustang during engine maintenance, Summer 1944.
Polish Mustang Squadrons
Many Polish squadrons within the RAF operated the Mustangs from 1944 until 1947. These were Nos. 303, 306, 309, 315 and 316 Sqdns. Their Squadron codes were:
No. 303 Sqdn = RF (changed to PD in 1945)
No. 306 Sqdn = UZ
No. 309 Sqdn = WC
No. 315 Sqdn = PK
No. 316 Sqdn = SZ
RAF Mustang III's of No. 309 Sqdn (Polish) during a mission. Both the P-51B and P-51C versions were designated Mustang III in RAF service. Nearest aircraft, coded WC-X, serial FZ124, was built as P-51B-5-NA 43-6465.
Another view of the same formation, showing some details of FZ124.
This Mustang III coded PK-O from No. 315 Sqdn (Polish) is prepared for another mission. This unit was attached to No. 122 Wing and was based at RAF Brenzett, and Advanced Landing Ground in Kent, UK, to fly "anti-diver-patrols", i.e. chasing V-1 rockets.
Another No. 315 Sqdn Mustang III, coded PK-E.
A proud Polish pilot of No. 315 Sqdn posing with his mount - note the mission markings on the cowlings (each bomb symbol stands for a mission) plus at least three victory markings to the right of the Squadron emblem.
Representing another Polish Mustang Squadron, this is Mustang III UZ-W, serial FZ149, built as P-51B-5-NA 43-6530, of No. 306 Sqdn (Polish).
Mustangs III's of No. 316 Sqdn (Polish) on their hardstands at Andrews Field in 1945. Note the British modification to the ram-air intakes !
Mustang III's of No. 316 Sqdn taxying to take-off at Andrews Field, 1945. The Squadron code for this unit was SZ (see profile below).
Profile of a No. 316 Sqdn (Polish) Mustang III, FB354 coded SZ-P
Other RAF Mustang III Squadrons
No. 441 Sqdn (RCAF) received Mustang III's after VE-Day; seen here is a rare unpainted example, i.e. HB876 coded 9G-L - built as P-51C-5-NT with serial 42-103765.
Merlin-engined Mustangs - Mustang IV & IVA
A fine in-flight study of Mustang IVA (British designation for the P-51K version), serial KH828. Built as P-51K-5-NT, serial 44-11736, this aircraft was delivered to the RAF under Lend -lease contracts. It saw service with No. 5 Sqdn (SAAF) and was s.o.c. 14th March 1946.
KM255, a Mustang IVA, built as P-51K-10-NT 44-12378, seen here with No. 65 Sqdn, coded YT-A. Note the Aeroproducts propeller.
Another Mustang IVA, this here is KM348 AK-V of No. 213 Sqdn. It was built at Dallas as P-51K-15-NT 44-12589.
Liberated France began receiving F-6C and F-6D Mustangs (recon versions) for Groupe Reconnaissance GR II/33 during March 1945.
Late produced F-6C-10-NT 44-10894 coded R7-E shortly after delivery to the Free French Air Force.
F-6C 43-7045 with Malcolm hood, flanked by a F-6D (left) and a F-6K (right).
French Air Force F-6D-10-NA 44-14743 R7-K of GR II/33 on patrol.
Two French Mustangs on the ramp - the aircraft at left is an unique two-seat conversion - the canopy could be opened at the rear end to facilitate entry for the passenger !
Color shot of the two-seat conversion seen in the previous photo.
Interesting photograph of a French P-51D-20-NA 44-72038 coded X - proof that France operated stock P-51D's alongside F-6 conversions.
Beautiful in-flight photograph of three aircraft - nearest is 44-72846, next is 44-72038, with 44-72157 behind.
Family-day at a French Mustang base, most probably in the Haute-Savoy region.
Fv26001 - a P-51B-5-NA. This aircraft, USAAF serial 43-6365, served with the 354th FG 355th FS, coded GQ-J and nicknamed "Z Hub" - it was interned in Sweden on 13th May 1944 when it landed in Sweden due to fuel-exhaustion. It was soon put into service with the Swedish AF, but had to be retired due to age and lack of spares on 19th November 1952 (Lars E. Lundin collection).
Typical example of a Swedish AF Mustang bought from USAAF surplus stocks in Germany. This is former P-51D-20-NA 44-63675 that had seen service with the 370th FG 402nd FS, coded E6-D and nicknamed 'Sierra Sue II' - in Sweden it became Fv26152 'yellow K' of F4 - the aircraft later was sold to Nicaragua but survived to be restored.
Line-up of Swedish J26's of F16; the nearest aircraft is # 26049 "Yellow T", formerly P-51D-20-NA 44-63552, this aircraft was delivered to Sweden in April 1945 and after ten years of service there it was sold to Nicaragua in January 1955 where it adopted the new identity GN81 of the FAN (Fuerza Aerea Nicaragua); subsequent history of this aircraft is not exactly know, but it was at some time withdrawn from use and eventually scrapped (Lars E. Lundin collection).
...now that's close !!!
Some 173 Mustangs were in total assigned to the AMI under MDAP.
An initial batch of 50 aircraft plus one two-seat conversion was issued in September 1947, with the first two aircraft (MM4234 & MM4235) arriving at Napoli Campodichino in the same month.
The first Italian Mustangs at Campodichino, October 1947.
All aircraft from this batch were no-longer used examples in storage at USAAF surplus depots in Germany – veterans from various units of the 8th and 9th USAAF. The remainder of this batch was delivered in the following months, the last examples arriving in Italy only by the end of 1948. Like the Swiss, the Italians also had to collect a number of aircraft at Oberpfaffenhofen by themselves during Falll 1948 because of the Berlin Airlift; rumors have it that the Swiss accused the Italians of ‘stealing’ parts overnight from refurbished aircraft when they sat ready for next day’s ferry-flight, and vice-versa.
The first batch of 50 aircraft was allocated the serials MM4234 to MM4283 inclusive, the serial of the two-seat aircraft is not known.
The next batch to be allocated to the Italian Air Force in February 1949 contained 20 aircraft, again to be taken from storage in Germany. Serial assignment continued with MM4286 to 4305 inclusive.
All aircraft of the above ‘early’ deliveries were of the versions P-51D-20-NA (32 aircraft) or P-51D-25-NA (38 aircraft).
Subsequent assignments of total 100 aircraft, delayed by the beginning of the Korean War, were as follows: 12 aircraft in September 1950, 27 in October 1950, 25 in November 1950, 29 in December 1950 and a final batch of seven aircraft in January 1951. Serials allocated were MM4306 to MM4405 inclusive; the serials MM4406 to MM4408 were assigned to three rebuilt Mustangs (from heavily damaged airframes), whilst two out-of-sequence serials, MM4431 and MM4432, were late arrivals.
These 100 aircraft were taken from storage in the U.S. and arrived by ship at Bridinsi harbor. These aircraft were of P-51D-25-NA type (56 aircraft), and P-51D-25-NT type (44 aircraft).
P-51D-25-NA 44-73424 being unloaded at Brindisi harbour, Fall 1950. Note the drop-tanks attached to this aircraft.
From the first delivery-batch, most of the Mustangs were used in their early life for various performance tests and at the Scuola di Volo (Flying School) at Lecce and Elmas. As additional Mustangs arrived, they equipped No. 2°, 3°, 4°, 5°, 6° and 51° Stormi; 4° Stormo also received rebuilt Mustangs for target-towing duties. Towards the end of the Mustang’s service-life in Italy, i.e. when this type gradually was being replaced by jet-fighter aircraft, some aircraft were assigned to regional liaison units. During summer 1958, the Mustangs eventually were withdrawn from service, the last retired example being sent to the Museo Storico AMI (Air Force Museum). A few aircraft, most probably eight, that had served with the ‘Squadriglia Caccia Aviazione Somalia’ based at Mogadiscu (Somalia was an Italian colony until 1960) were handed over to the newly formed Somalian Air Force after the P-51’s were struck off charge; but photos and further information are still elusive (see profile below).
Newly delivered F-51D-25-NA in Italy
Line-up of Mustangs from 6° Stormo.
MM4388 coded S-3-72, ca. 1953.
Formation of Italian F-51 Mustangs, ca. 1953; second ship again is MM4388 coded S-3-72.
F-51 Mustang MM4323 "ZR-11"
Walkaround gallery of the preserved F-51D at the Museum in Vigna di Valle near Rome ! click here
Between 1950 and 1960, Somalia was under Italian administration. The Italians run the "Corpo di Sicurezza della Somalia", which also operated a number of F-51D Mustangs. Eight of these were handed over to Somalia, together with six C-47/Dakotas and six Beech C-45s, when the country was released into independence, and they formed the core of the future Somali Air Corps, remaining in service until 1968. The exact look of Somali F-51D Mustangs is still somewhat of mystery, with almost no references being available. The artwork here was prepared with help of information from Mr. Gianfranco Lanini and a decal sheet released in Portugal, years ago. In addition to national markings - worn in six places - and the large black code "2", applied on rear fuselage, the aircraft should have had a part of its original serial applied somewhere on the fin. (Artwork by Tom Cooper, based on information from Mr. Gianfranco Lanini - via acig.org)
© Martin Kyburz / Swiss Mustangs 2003 - 2009