Mustang pilots in the Second World War did not enjoy the luxury of going through what today is called pilot training and transition prior to flying their assigned P-51s in combat. Instead, they were forced to go ‘solo’ after they earned their wings. Most P-51 pilots trained on biplane Stearman PT-17 Kaydet primary trainers and the monoplane North American AT-6 Texan advanced trainers before they moved on to their P-51s. Some of these future Mustang pilots flew single-engine Bell P-39 Airacobras or Curtiss P-40 Warhawks during combat training before they were assigned to their P-51s.
Case in point: After earning his wings, then Flight Officer Charles E. ‘Chuck’ Yeager was at first assigned to the 363rd Fighter Squadron of the 357th Fighter Group at Tonopah, Nevada, in March 1943 flying P-39s to train for combat. His group moved to Santa Rosa, California, in June, then to Oroville, California, in August, and then to Casper, Wyoming, in September, where he continued to fly combat training missions before moving on to RAF Leiston – an 8th Air Force base on the east coast of Great Britain in December 1943. He met his future wife, Glennis Faye Dickhouse, earlier while in Oroville, swapped photographs and they agreed to write to each other. He was first assigned to a P-51B-5-NA (43-6763), his first Mustang, which he quickly named ‘Glamorus Glen’ (note: the nose-art artist had misspelled the word glamorous) before he flew his first combat mission in February 1944.
P-51 pilots were apprentices when they first flew their Mustangs. While some adapted quickly to their P-51s, others did not and those who could not handle their Mustangs paid the ultimate price even before they entered combat. It was not until 30 June 1944 that the USAAF first approved a contract to produce two TP-51D two-seat, dual-control Mustang airplanes, followed with an order for a further eight on 21 September 1944. These ten tandem-seat TP-51Ds were the only factory-built, two-seat Mustangs produced by NAA.
North American TP-51D and TF-51D Mustangs
NAA Charge Number NA-124
Original Date: 14 April 1944
The TP-51D was the in-tandem, two-seat, dual-control Mustang that was first created to serve as pilot training and transition aircraft for future Mustang fighter pilots in the Second World War. They were employed as Very Important Person or VIP transports, hacks (taxis) and as observation aircraft for battlefield commanders.
The first known single- to two-seat modification of a Mustang was P-51B-5-NA (43-6877) for the immediate purpose of letting General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, take an inspection flight over the beachheads shortly after D-Day: 6 June 1944. This non-factory, in-the-field modification worked perfectly and the USAAF ordered ten factory-built, two-seat TP-51D airplanes. However, the end of the war curtailed further production of the type.
To create the TP-51D, a second seat was installed into the space where the eighty-five-gallon fuselage fuel tank once sat behind the pilot and displaced some of the radio equipment to a location further aft in the fuselage. All of these two-seat TP-51D airplanes were fitted with full controls for the occupant of the aft seat that was usually occupied by the instructor. The tandem-seat Mustangs were manufactured at NAA’s Dallas, Texas, production facility under NAA Charge Number NA-124. The surviving TP-51D-25-NTs became TF-51D-25-NTs after 11 June 1948.
13-1: TP-51D Production
TP-51D-25-NT, 44-84610 and 44-84611 (2)
TP-51D-25-NT, 45-11443 to 45-11450 (8)
TEMCO Aircraft Corporation Mustangs
In 1951, the soon-to-be TEMCO Aircraft Corporation of Dallas, Texas, was awarded a contract to convert fifteen single-seat F-51D Mustangs into TF-51D two-seat Mustangs for sales to friendly air forces in Central and South America. Known only as TEMCO until its reorganisation in 1952, the TEMCO Aircraft Corporation bought fifteen surplus F-51D-25-NT Mustangs from the US Government. The TEMCO Aircraft Corporation’s TF-51D airplanes were very similar to NAA-built TF-51D-25-NT airplanes, but featured a reshaped and slightly enlarged bubble canopy to afford the back-seat passenger/observer more headroom.
TEMCO TF-51D Production
TF-51D, 44-84654 to 44-84658 (5)
TF-51D, 44-84660 (1)
TF-51D, 44-84662 and 44-84663 (2)
TF-51D, 44-84665 to 44-84670 (6)
TF-51D, 44-84676 (1)
Cavalier Aircraft Corporation Mustangs
The late newspaper publisher David B. Lindsay Jr. (1922-2009) formed Trans Florida Aviation, Inc., in 1957 with the plan of transforming surplus P-51D Mustangs into executive business aircraft. These aircraft were at first called the Trans-Florida Executive Mustang, but were soon renamed the Trans-Florida Cavalier Mustang. The first example of an Executive Mustang was built in 1958, and over the next several years, only a small number of aircraft were built and sold.
This beautiful night shot of a TF-51D-25-NT (44-84945) at Oakland Airport, California, on 23 April 1949 is unusual and breathtaking. This airplane began life as a P-51D-25-NT and once belonged to the 347th Combat Crew Training Squadron at Key Field in Mississippi. It made a forced landing due to a mechanical failure on 20 October 1945 about two and a half miles northeast of Waynesboro, Mississippi, while flown by Robert M. Fetch. It was repaired and subsequently field modified to serve as a TF-51D-25-NT. It was modified again to RF-51D-25-NT and served with the 18th FBG, 67th FBS, and was flown by Maj. Richard E. Steckel in the Korean War. Major Steckel and the airplane were lost in action on 15 May 1952 north of Pyongyang due to enemy fire. (Photograph by William T. Larkins)
To manufacture the Executive Mustang, Trans Florida Aviation procured a number of military surplus P-51D airplanes. The airframes were completely disassembled, the military equipment removed and then remanufactured with a second seat, new avionics, leather interiors, luggage compartments and painted in non-military custom paint schemes. The rebuilt airplanes were renamed Cavalier 2000 in 1961 referring to the 2,000-statute mile range. Five different Cavalier models were offered for sale, differing in fuel capacity, with the model number indicating the approximate range of the airplane: the Cavalier 750, 1200, 1500, 2000 and 2500. Over the course of the following ten years, around twenty of these airplanes were manufactured. Several Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approved modifications to the Cavalier design would be made during that time, including canopy frame-mounted fresh air vents, ninety-six-US gallon wingtip fuel tanks, fuselage baggage door, gun/ammo bay fuel tanks in either wing and a 14-in. taller vertical tail. During 1964-1965, Trans Florida completed an Inspect, Repair as Necessary (IRAN) inspection of over thirty F-51Ds of the Dominican Air Force (FAD) in Sarasota, Florida, with the intention of buying them.
Cavalier F-51D and TF-51D
In 1967, Trans Florida was renamed Cavalier Aircraft Corporation. During that year, Cavalier was contacted by the US Department of Defense to create militarised F-51D airplanes for export. These military aircraft incorporated most of the improved features of the civilian Cavaliers, but were optimised as ground attack fighters. These aircraft were called Cavalier F-51D Mustangs: nine single-seat F-51D and two dual-control TF-51D airplanes were built. The airplanes were given new USAF serial numbers. Nine of these aircraft (including the two TF-51Ds) were presented to Bolivia under a programme called Peace Condor. The two others, with wingtip fuel tanks, were bought by the US Army for use as chase aircraft. One example is on display at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB, Florida.
The single- and two-seat Cavalier F-51D Mark II and T-Mark II (or Mk.2, T-Mk.2) used the improved 1,720 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 724A engine spinning a four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller at a top speed of 440 mph at 20,000 feet in level attitude flight. (Author’s collection)
In-flight study of one of the two US Army F-51D airplanes
c. 1958. (Photograph courtesy of US Army)
US Army F-51D Mustangs were exclusively used as chase planes during flight tests of US Army helicopters such as the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne. (Photograph courtesy of US Army)
Cover of the flight manual for US Army F-51D pilots. (Courtesy of US Government Printing Office)
Cavalier Mustang II
Cavalier developed an outgrowth of the F-51D in 1967 that was designed for close air support and counter-insurgency operations which it named the Cavalier Mustang II. The Mustang II featured improved avionics, structural strengthening of the wing to allow more external weapons carriage on four additional hardpoints and an improved Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650-724A engine.
Two batches of Mustang II airplanes were built. The first batch was produced in 1968 for El Salvador, and Indonesia received the second batch during 1972 and 1973. The five Mustang IIs (including one TF-51D) built for El Salvador featured wingtip fuel tanks for increased combat range. Five Mustang IIs and a single TF-51D that were built for Indonesia did not have the wingtip tanks to restrict their range by order of the US State Department. Two Cavalier Mustang II airplanes were purchased by the US Army to serve as chase aircraft for the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne attack helicopter test programme.
Cavalier Turbo Mustang III
Cavalier mated a 1,740-shaft-horsepower Rolls-Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine onto one of its own F-51D Mustang II airframes. This airplane, a former F-51D-20-NA (44-63775), was at first modified to a Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, then to the Turbo Mustang III. The privately funded Cavalier Turbo Mustang III was built and initially flight tested in 1968 and was offered as a CAS/COIN platform like its Mustang II predecessor. The Turbo Mustang III airplane showed improved performance, increased payload and lower operating costs over the Merlin-powered Mustang II. However, after two years of selling attempts, no customers came forth from either home or abroad. Thus, the Turbo Mustang III prototype and all of its engineering data was sold to Piper Aircraft Inc. in 1970.
Cavalier F-51D T-Mk.2 (US Army serial number 0-72990). The zero preceding the numbers 72990 denotes that this airplane has been in service for more than ten years. (Photograph courtesy US Army)
Cavalier Turbo Mustang III with a Rolls-Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine (Civil Registration Number N6167U). This previously was a Mustang II airplane to which Cavalier mated the Dart 510 engine with other improvements. (Author’s collection)
Cavalier F-51D Specifications
Length: 34 ft 2 in.
Height: 13 ft 1 in.
Wing span: 41 ft 4 in.
Wing area: 408 sq ft
Propulsive system: one 1,720-shaft-hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 724
Propeller: four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller
Empty weight: 7,500 lb
Gross weight: 12,000 lb
Maximum speed: 440 mph
Maximum range: 2,000 miles
Armament: six .50 calibre browning M2 machine guns and six under-wing hardpoints for a variety of stores
Cavalier Mustang Production
F-51D-T.MK2, 67-14862 to 67-14864 (3)
TF-51D-T.MK2, 67-14865 and 67-14866 (2)
F-51D-MK2, 67-22579 to 67-22581 (3)
TF-51D-T.MK2, 67-22582 (1)
F-51D-T.MK2, 68-15795 and 68-15796 (2); to US Army
F-51D-T.MK2, 72-1536 to 72-1541 (6)
Turbo Mustang III, 44-63536, N201PE (1)
Turbo Mustang III, N202PE, dual control (1)
Piper Aircraft Inc PA-48 Enforcer
After Cavalier Aircraft Corporation owner and founder David Lindsay sold his Turbo Mustang III interests to Piper Aircraft Inc. in 1970, the airplane was equipped with a new engine and renamed Enforcer under Piper Aircraft model number PA-48.
The airplane, now powered by a 2,455-shaft-horsepower Lycoming YT55-L-9A turboprop engine, became known as Piper Enforcer-1 or PE-1. A second PA-48 Enforcer was built by Piper Aircraft (PE-2) in 1971, but featured a two-seat dual-control tandem cockpit arrangement. During a flight test off the coast of Florida, excessive flutter from Piper-modified elevator trim tabs caused it to crash on 12 July 1971. The first Piper-designed and built PA-48 Enforcer (PE-3) made its first test flight on 9 April 1983, followed by the second example (PE-4) on 8 July 1983. The Piper PA-48 Enforcer was a proposed close air support/counter-insurgency (CAS/COIN) airplane that was offered to the USAF in the early 1970s.
Piper built four PA-48 Enforcer airplanes for counter-insurgency duties under the Pave COIN programme all of which were powered by a single 2,455 hp (EHP) Lycoming YT55-L-9 turboprop engine spinning four-bladed propellers. (USAF via NMUSAF)
Phantom view of a Piper PA-48 Enforcer. (Photograph courtesy of Piper Aircraft)
PA-48 Enforcer Specifications
Length: 34 ft 2 in.
Height: 8 ft 9 in.
Wing span: 41 ft 4 in.
Wing area: 245 sq ft
Empty weight: 7,200 lb
Gross weight: 14,000 lb
Propulsive system: one 2,455-shaft-hp Lycoming YT55-L-9A turboprop engine
Maximum speed: 345 mph at 15,000 ft (not to exceed 402 mph)
Cruise speed: 250 mph
Combat radius: 460 miles with two 30-mm gun pods
Service ceiling: 20,000 ft
Rate of climb: 5,000 fpm
Armament: wide variety of weapons on ten under-wing hardpoints (five under either wing)
Turbo Mustang III/PA-48 Enforcer Production
PE-1, N201PE, single seat, formerly a Cavalier Turbo Mustang III
PE-2, N202PE, dual-control
PE-3, N481PE, single seat, located at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
PE-4, N482PE, single seat, located at the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards AFB, California
Two-seat and Special-build Mustang Inventory
44-12817, F-51K-15-NT, converted to F-6K-NT, Cavalier F-51D
44-13257, F-51D-20-NT, Cavalier TF-51D Mustang Counter-insurgency or COIN demonstrator
44-72051, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72086, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72202, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72339, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72364, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72438, F-51D-20-NA, to Dominica
44-72777, F-51D-25-NA, to Indonesia
44-72907, F-51D-25-NA, to Guatemala
44-72990, F-51D-25-NA, former RCAF 9283, third US Army F-51D Mustang
44-73260, F-51D—NA, to Indonesia
44-73267, to Indonesia
44-73350, to El Salvador
44-73411, F-51D-25-NA (RCAF 9886); first Cavalier F-51D Mustang prototype (N550D, crashed during a test flight 07/23/60)
44-73656, to El Salvador
44-74190, to Indonesia
44-74229, to Indonesia
44-74459, to Guatemala
44-74469, to Dominican Republic
44-74831, to Guatemala
44-74854, to Guatemala
44-74910, to Indonesia
44-84611, to Bolivia
FAB510, 44-84655, TEMCO TF-51D, to Bolivia
44-84658, TEMCO TF-51D, to Indonesia
44-84660, TEMCO TF-51D, to Guatemala
44-84850, to Indonesia
44-84857, to El Salvador
45-11447, North American TF-51D-25-NT Mustang, to Indonesia
45-11453, to Bolivia
45-11525, to Indonesia
45-11559, to El Salvador
67-14862, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-14863, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-14864, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-14865, Cavalier TF-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-14866, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-22579, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-22580, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-22581, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
67-22582, Cavalier TF-51D Mustang II, to Bolivia
68-15795, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to US Army
68-15796, Cavalier F-51D Mustang II, to US Army