In 1957, a small group of ex-service pilots pooled their money to purchase a P-51 Mustang, beginning what is now called the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). With the addition of a pair of F8F Bearcats, the CAF became the founders of the Warbird Movement, an effort to preserve and honor our military history with the rallying cry to “Keep ‘Em Flying!” Now, 55 years later, the CAF is the premier Warbird organization, operating 156 vintage aircraft in Honor of American Military Aviation. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has approximately 9,000 members operating this fleet of historic aircraft, distributed to 70 units located in 28 states. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org or call (432) 563-1000.
This was that plane that launched the Confederate Air Force (now known as the Commemorative Air Force).
Though in storage for six years, this aircraft, now known as USAF F-51D-25NA S/N 42-73843, had not yet finished its tour of duty. In January of 1951, this aircraft was dropped from the USAF inventory and transferred to Canada under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. It was officially accepted by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 11 January 1951, and was placed in Stored Reserve in Trenton, Ontario. A month later, on 26 February, this aircraft was once again flying, now with the No. 416 “LYNX” Squadron (Regular) of the RCAF, based in Uplands, Ontario.
It served with this regular unit for little more than a year before transfer to the No. 10 Technical Services Unit in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 28 March 1952. Here it stayed until assigned to the No. 420 “SNOWY OWLS” Squadron (Auxiliary) of the RCAF in London, Ontario. Its tenure with this unit lasted until 19 July 1956, when the aircraft was listed as awaiting disposal and placed into storage. It was then bought by a private company in the United States, and ended back in San Antonio, Texas, now as the property of Stinson Field Aircraft.
It was in 1957 that the aircraft was acquired by the founding members of the CAF including Lloyd P. Nolen himself. This airplane is not only historically significant, but it is thoroughly engrained in the CAF’s heritage as well. The Dixie Wing was selected to become the new home for the P-51 “Red Nose” by the CAF General Staff in November of 2002.
|Registration Number||Date of Manufacture|
|North American P-51 “Mustang”||37 feet .5 inches|
|Overall length:||Empty weight:|
|32 feet 9 inches||7125 pounds|
|Gross weight:||Fuel capacity:|
|12,100 pounds||1300 miles|
|Oil capacity||Engine type:|
|Single 1695 hp Packard Merlin V1650-7 V12 piston engine|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|Hamilton 4 blade||437 mph|
|Rate of Climb||Cruise Speed|
|Service Ceiling||Number of Crew|
|Six 12.7 mm wing mounted machine guns||Two 1000 lb bombs or Six Rockets|
|Number Built||Number Surviving|
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