• The RNZAF operated 30 aircraft (NZ2401-2430) which were the first of 370 replacements for the F4U-1a/d aircraft, intended for use in the fighter/ground attack role. With the end of the war the number of aircraft required was reduced, and only these aircraft which had been delivered were accepted, the remainder of the order being cancelled. The P-51D-30NT were built at the Dallas TX plant for the USAF. The aircraft arrived in August - September 1945 and were immediately placed still cocooned in storage at Ardmore. In 1951 they were activated for use, as the government contemplated sending a squadron as part of its commitment to the UN in Korea. NZ2406 made the first flight from Ardmore on August 19, 1951 before joining the Central Flying School at Wigram. The Korean squadron did not eventuate, and the aircraft were issued to the four Territorial Air Force squadrons.

    The TAF had been reformed in 1948 and initially used Tiger Moths and Harvards. From June 1952 the squadrons were each allocated five Mustangs and three Harvards. The squadron aircraft were identified by a chequerboard pattern on either side of the fuselage roundel - 1 (Auckland) Squadron blue and white, 2 (Wellington) Squadron black and yellow, 3 (Canterbury) Squadron red and black, and 4 (Otago) Squadron blue and yellow. The colours correspond to the colours of the provincial rugby teams. The aircraft were used at weekends and during annual camps. It should be noted that at Camps the aircraft operated as a pool - two of 4 (Otago) Squadron's aircraft were written off by 1 (Auckland) Squadron pilots The withdrawal of the Mustangs was announced in May 1955. They were withdrawn due to deterioration of the airframes (officially because of 'undercarriage' problems), although the highest use aircraft had only done in the order of 480 hours. Six aircraft had crashed in the eight months prior to the announcement. The TAF squadrons were also withdrawn on July 31, 1957

    In service a total 10 aircraft had been destroyed or written off in accidents. Two had become instructional airframes (NZ2401/INST162 and NZ2405/INST164). One had been damaged prior to assembly and was reduced to spares without being used. The remainder were flown into storage at Woodbourne apart from four aircraft which continued to be operated by 42 SQN as drogue-tugs until 1957. The last official RNZAF P-51 flight was made by NZ2423 on May 30,1957. The 17 surviving aircraft were sold for scrap in 1958. Having been declared surplus (sr.293/57), a Government Stores Board tender was issued (No5296) on April 9. This closed on April 28, and most of the aircraft were sold on May 2.
    Right click as usual

    Refuelling Mustang NZ2406 At RNZAF Station Ohakea

     From Front NZ2417 NZ2409 NZ2412


  • Thanks for this thread Duggy.
    For anyone who might be interested, one of these aircraft (NZ2423) was saved from the scrap heap as part of the John Smith treasure trove and is now undergoing restoration to flying condition. The owner/restorer is sharing photos showing all sorts of interesting little details (e.g. hand written production notes by factory workers), many of which can be found in the thread I'll link below.

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