North American TF-51D Mustang 

TF-51 Mustang

War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, New Mexico
Because of its fuel capacity, the P-51 was the long-range
fighter escort of choice for bombing missions over Germany
during the Second World War.  The “Friendly Ghost” (above and below) is a
trainer version with two sets of controls.

From museum signage:  “During WWII (1941-1945) ten TP-51’s were built.  After WWII, in 1951, Temco converted 15 P-51 DNT’s to TF’s.  (The difference in designation of “P” and “F” is the term “Pursuit” was changed to “Fighter” after WWII.  The Beautiful War Eagles’ TF was the fifth one modified by Temco.  The War Eagles’ TF is the only TF or TP still flying.  There have been some field conversions and a few are operational.  This airplane was built as a trainer; however, it was never adopted by the U.S. Air Force on a large scale for this role.  The Bolivians were the most prolific users of the “TP” and “TF” dual control Mustangs.  The War Eagles’ TF was assigned to the Indiana National Guard at Terre Haute.  It was later transferred to the Indonesian Air Force.  The airplane was recovered from a junk yard outside of Jakarta and was subsequently restored to its present condition.  Olivas Aviation of Fabens, Texas rebuilt the wings and Vintage Aircraft LTD of Fort Collins, Colorado refurbished the fuselage."






A single seat Mustang (two photos above) is also on display at
The War Eagles Air Museum
Photograph immediately above and those below

From museum signage:  The prototype of the P-51 flew at Los Angeles Mines Field in October, 1940.  It was so alien to the aircraft of the day it appeared as though it came from another planet.  The airplane was originally built for the British by the North American Co.  The first version of the P-51 had an Allison engine.  The RAF and USAAF soon turned toward giving the “Mustang” more power.  The choice was the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin which powered the “Spitfire”.  The first USAAF prototype with the Merlin engine flew on 30 November 1942.  Soon “Mustangs” were on their way to the fighting front and the first three groups to arrive in England were placed in the hands of the Nineth Air Force.  The manufacturer now concentrated on increasing the range of the P-51 by adding a fuselage tank and two drop tanks.  The first mission with the tanks was flown on 20 February 1944 by the 4th Fighter Group.  This was a major turning point in the war with Germany.  The ability to reach deep into Germany with full internal fuel tanks allowed the P-51 pilots to cope with the Luftwaffe and provide bomber crews with the protection they needed to accomplish their mission with dramatically reduced losses of airplanes and personnel.  The Korean War brought many P-51’S (the models displayed in the museum) out of storage to be retro-fitted for a new war and new pilots.  In Korea the P-51 was largely in a ground support role.  “The Ghost Rider” is the last known “Mustang” survivor of the Korean Conflict.





© Robert Barnes 2018 - 2020