Mustang replacing crashed Spitfire

Published: Mon 7 Dec 2009 02:49 PM
Mustang replacing crashed Spitfire in Lakefront Air Show
ROTORUA 07.12.09: An American P51 Mustang fighter aircraft has been secured for Saturday’s Let’s GO Rotorua Air Show to replace the Spitfire which crashed at Ardmore airport last week.
Events and Venues Rotorua general manager Peter Mcleod said he was thrilled to be able to announce the Mustang’s appearance. He said it was a very worthy replacement for the Spitfire in the air show as it was the outstanding American built fighter of WWII.
“The P51 Mustang made a similarly crucial contribution to the war’s outcome as the Spitfire did over Britain but it in a substantially different way and over a greater theatre of conflict.
“While the Spitfire was the backbone of Great Britain’s defence from German air attack, the Mustang took the counter offensive to Germany, providing escort protection to bombers blitzing enemy territory.”
Although recognised as an American aircraft the origination of the Mustang is English. Great Britain originally purchased the American fighter as British aircraft factories were operating at full production capacity.
The Mustang was commissioned to fulfill the need for a fighter that could fly higher, faster, carry more arms and be more manoeuverable than any fighter in service at that time. It first flew in Oct 1940 and entered RAF service in 1942, the same year the US Air Force placed its first orders for the fighter.
Designed and built by North American Aviation nearly 18,000 Mustangs were built. The first two models were powered by American Allison engines but later more successful models had Rolls Royce Merlin engines like the Spitfire. The Mustang’s 487 mph top speed and 325 mph cruising speed were faster than the Spitfire. It could operate to a 41,900 feet ceiling and, most importantly, had a range of 2055 miles with its additional drop tank
During WWII Mustangs were credited with downing 5,000 enemy aircraft and they also saw service in the Korean War
In all 31 nations flew the Mustang, including New Zealand. Just before WWII ended the RNZAF ordered 320 of the planes but only 30 were delivered in 1945, remaining in their packing cases until 1950 when they were assembled for the Territorial Air Force. When the Territorial Air Force was disbanded in 1957, the Mustangs were sold for scrap.
The Let’s GO Rotorua Lakefront Airshow and carnival is a free family event being presented by Rotorua District Council with support from the Rotorua Trust, The Daily Post and MediaWorks.
The air show starts at 11am on Saturday (12 December) and celebrates the start of Rotorua’s new direct trans-Tasman air service, concluding with the arrival of the first Air New Zealand A320 flight from Sydney at 2.35pm.

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