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The South African Airforce Museum Mustang

The South African F-51D Mustang

The Mustang and the SAAF did not meet for the first time in Korea. Early models of this British initiated, American built fighter, served with 5 Squadron in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War.The SAAf used the Mustang from 24 September 1944 when P-51B/C Mustang Is replaced Kittyhawks in 5 Sqn during the Italian campaign. P-51K Mustang IVa's, plus a few P-51D Mustang IV's were introduced later and 5 Sqn used the type extensively until is was disbanded in October 1945.

When the South African Government comitted a squadron to the United Nations forces in Korea, 2 Squadron was selected to join the fray with Spitfires. This decision was rescindered, and it was decided to operate an aircraft which was already in the theatre, and for which full logistic support was already established. 2 Squadron joined the 18th Fighter-bomber Wing, flying Mustangs and later on F-86 Sabres.

The SAAF Museum has been attempting to aquire examlples of important aircraft flown by the SAAF during its history, and one of the ex-Dominican F-51Ds was located in Florida, USA, in 1986 where the remaining aircraft had gone after resale. FAS1917 (c/n 122-38661_ was an F-51D-20-NA originally built as s/n 44-72202 and delivered to the USAAF on 9 January 1944. In 1945 it was delivered to the 8th Air Force in the United Kingdom but its unlikely to have seen combat.
In March it was delivered to Flygvapnet (The Swedish Air Force) where it received the identity Fv. Nr.26112 and was operated by F16 Wing based at Uppsala. A total of 161 Mustangs were delivered to Sweden.
On 31 October 1952 it was one of 42 Mustangs sold to Dominica and was accepted by the F.A.D on 1 January 1953. The aircraft saw considerable action against rebels who opposed the dictatorship of President Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo's son Ramfis was forbidden to become an operational pilot with the airforce. However in a flamboyant gesture of appeasement by Trujillo, the fighter squadron operating both F-51Ds and F-47 Thunderbolts was redesignated Esquadron de Caza Ramfis and later Grupo de Caza Ramfis. The Mustangs were periodically updated and overhauled by Trans Florida Aviation of Sarasota, California (which was later renamed Cavalier Aircraft Corp).
Trujillo was assassinated on 31 May 1961, but in the years to come, unrest in Dominica continued, culminating in the Civil War of 1965, in which Mustangs played an active part. A further upgrade programme took place in 1967/68 by Cavalier Aircraft but htey remained essentially stock aircraft. Surviving longer than any other operational Mustangs, they were finally replaced by Cessna A-37Bs and the twelve survivors were sold to the USA

The SAAF Museum brought a Mustang in the USA in 1987, and when it was shipped to Cape Town where it arrived 14 November 1987. It was found to be corroded, and stripping commenced as soon as the crated aircraft arrived at Lanseria (the SAAF Museum base at that time). Bad luck, missing parts, stretched cables and lack of funds, have made its restoration a long and laborious task, but after 12 years the labour of love is complete and flying. It first took to the skies on 13th of October 1998

The Museum Mustang bears the number 325. It is the third time a Mustang bears this number. The first 325 - named "PAPPASAN" - crashed in Korea, and instead of writing the aircraft off , the SAAF ground personnel rebuilt the aircraft from components salvaged from various wrecks. The resulting hybrid was again numbered 325, (PAPPASAN II) and was evidently the fastest Mustang in Korea.