Author Topic: P-51H Mustang, RAAF, Operation Coronet, 1946  (Read 209 times)

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
P-51H Mustang, RAAF, Operation Coronet, 1946
« on: September 09, 2018, 12:53:19 PM »
P-51H Mustang, RAAF, Operation Coronet, 1946

The P-51H (NA-126) was the final production Mustang, embodying the experience gained in the development of the XP-51F and XP-51G aircraft. This aircraft, with minor differences as the NA-129, came too late to participate in World War II, but it brought the development of the Mustang to a peak as one of the fastest production piston-engine fighters to see service.

The P-51H used the new V-1650-9 engine, a version of the Merlin that included Simmons automatic supercharger boost control with water injection, allowing War Emergency Power as high as 2,218 hp (1,500 kW). Differences between the P-51D included lengthening the fuselage and increasing the height of the tailfin, which reduced the tendency to yaw. The canopy resembled the P-51D style, over a raised pilot's position. Service access to the guns and ammunition was also improved. With a new airframe several hundred pounds lighter, extra power, and a more streamlined radiator, the P-51H was faster than the P-51D, able to reach 472 mph (760 km/h; 410 kn) at 21,200 ft (6,500 m).

The P-51H was designed to complement the P-47N as the primary aircraft for the invasion of Japan, with 2,000 ordered to be manufactured at Inglewood. Production was just ramping up with 555 delivered when the war ended.

Additional orders, already on the books, were cancelled. With the cutback in production, the variants of the P-51H with different versions of the Merlin engine were produced in either limited numbers or terminated. These included the P-51L, similar to the P-51H but utilising the 2,270 hp (1,690 kW) V-1650-11 engine, which was never built; and its Dallas-built version, the P-51M, or NA-124, which utilised the V-1650-9A engine lacking water injection and therefore rated for lower maximum power, of which one was built out of the original 1629 ordered, serial number 45-11743.

Although some P-51Hs were issued to operational units, none saw combat in World War II, and in postwar service, most were issued to reserve units. One aircraft was provided to the RAF for testing and evaluation. Serial number 44-64192 was designated BuNo 09064 and used by the U.S. Navy to test transonic aerofoil designs and then returned to the Air National Guard in 1952. The P-51H was not used for combat in the Korean War despite its improved handling characteristics, since the P-51D was available in much larger numbers and was a proven commodity.

Many of the aerodynamic advances of the P-51 (including the laminar flow wing) were carried over to North American's next generation of jet-powered fighters, the Navy FJ-1 Fury and Air Force F-86 Sabre. The wings, empennage and canopy of the first straight-winged variant of the Fury (the FJ-1) and the unbuilt preliminary prototypes of the P-86/F-86 strongly resembled those of the Mustang before the aircraft were modified with swept-wing designs.

Australian Production of the P-51

In November 1944 the Australian government decided to order Australian-built Mustangs, to replace its Curtiss Kittyhawks and CAC Boomerangs in the South West Pacific theatre. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) factory at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne was the only non-U.S. production line for the P-51.

In 1944, 100 P-51Ds were shipped from the U.S. in kit form to inaugurate production. From February 1945, CAC assembled 80 of these under the designation CA-17 Mustang Mark 20, with the first Australian-built aircraft flying on the 29 April 1945 and the first aircraft was handed over to the RAAF on 31 May 1945. The remaining 20 were kept unassembled as spare parts. In addition, 84 P-51Ks were also shipped directly to the RAAF from the USA.

In late 1946, CAC was given another contract to build 170 (reduced to 120) more P-51Ds on its own; these, designated CA-18 Mustang Mark 21, Mark 22 or Mark 23, were manufactured entirely in-house, with only a few components being sourced from overseas. The 21 and 22 used the American-built Packard V-1650-3 or V-1650-7. The Mark 23s, which followed the 21s, were powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 or Merlin 70 engines. The first 26 were built as Mark 21s, followed by 66 Mark 23s; the first 14 Mark 21s were converted to fighter-reconnaissance aircraft, with two F24 cameras in both vertical and oblique positions in the rear fuselage, above and behind the radiator fairing; the designation of these modified Mustangs was changed from Mark 21 to Mark 22. An additional 14 purpose-built Mark 22s, built after the Mark 23s, and powered by either Packard V-1650-7s or Merlin 68s, completed the production run of P-51D/Ks. All of the CA-17s and CA-18s, plus the 84 P-51Ks, used Australian serial numbers prefixed by A68.

In October 1945, CAC began to also produce a limited run of P-51Hs, which it also held the license for.  Intended primarily as Reconnaissance machines, they were equipped with two cameras in the rear fuselage a vertical and an oblique one, which could be fixed to point out either the port or starboard side of the rear fuselage behind and below the cockpit.

When Operation Coronet the invasion of the Japanese island of Honshu, the RAAF was requested to contribute aircraft to the invading force.  The RAAF responded by allocating three squadrons two fighters (77 and 76 Squadrons) equipped with P-51D/Ks and one reconnaissance (87 Squadron) equipped with P-51Hs.  The USAAF was delighted to have them come onboard, operating from initially Okinawa and later Kyushu, they ranged far and wide over the Japanese home islands. 

In October 1953, six Mustangs, including A68-1, the first Australian built CA-17 Mk 20, were allotted to the Long Range Weapons Development Establishment at Maralinga, South Australia, for use in experiments to gauge the effects of low-yield nuclear atomic bombs. The Mustangs were placed on a dummy airfield about 0.62 mi (1 km) from the blast tower on which two low-yield bombs were detonated. The Mustangs survived intact. In 1967, A68-1 was bought by a U.S. syndicate, for restoration to flight status and is currently owned by Troy Sanders.







The Model

The model is a High Planes kit, with markings from EvilBay.  It has been brushpainted with the invasion stripes intended to be used during Operation Coronet for recognition purposes.  You will note the way the stripes have been painted, representing the hand painted stripes which would have been used in real life.

Offline finsrin

  • The Dr Frankenstein of the modelling world...when not hiding from SBA
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Re: P-51H Mustang, RAAF, Operation Coronet, 1946
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2018, 04:27:26 PM »
Good history write-up.  Can see being painted this way.  First impression is "D" but "H" is evident.  With that performance, sure would have done well in recon roll.