“The Rebel,” Doug Matthews’ North American P-51D Mustang, earned the Grand Champion World War II Warbird Award during the EAA Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo at Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in April 2011. Certainly a well-deserved award, this Mustang was the subject of a two-and-a-half-year restoration effort that turned it into a stunning replica of a P-51D flown by World War II 4th Fighter Group veteran Captain Joseph H. Joiner.
No stranger to warbirds, Doug Matthews, a retired U.S. Naval Air Reserve Lieutenant Commander, is a director of the Naval Aviation Legacy Foundation and the sponsor of Classic Fighters of America. With a complement of four pilots, three of whom are qualified for the U.S. Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight program, Classic Fighters of America provides formation training, warbird pilot ratings and jet transition training. The Classic Fighters team also takes part in air shows and air races, brokers aircraft sales and handles aircraft imports and exports. Doug Matthews’ North American P-51D Mustang, Vought F4U-4 Corsair, North American AT-6 Texan and Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star form the nucleus of the Classic Fighters of America warbird fleet.
Manufactured by North American Aviation at Dallas, Texas in 1944 as AF #44-84933N, Matthews’ P-51D Mustang was operated by the Air Force from 1945 until 1957. Sold as surplus for the sum of $2,160 in September 1957 and registered as N287D, the Mustang subsequently went through a number of civilian owners, including one in Canada who purchased it for $1,000 in 1964 and had it registered as CF-RUT. Back in the United States by 1968, the Mustang was re-registered as N201F and went through new owners before finally being obtained by Doug Matthews near the end of 2007 and registered as NL151CF. The aircraft may be the lowest total time with hours of 1923!
After installing a new V-1650-9 Merlin engine in September 2008, Matthews embarked on a complete restoration of the airplane in October 2008. The engine was overhauled by Glenn Wegman at Fighter Enterprises of Indiantown, Florida, while provisions for dummy guns manufactured by Aero Trader in Chino, California and drop tanks were installed by Stallion 51 in Kissimmee, Florida. The airframe itself was completely disassembled down to skin and bolts and then re-assembled by Valley Aircraft in Bakersfield, California. Although the airframe, which had not been restored since 1945, was amazingly corrosion-free, 30% of it was re-skinned. New avionics were installed by Pacific Avionics and the paint job was done by Sky Harbour in Canada.
A real work of art, the paint job included three coats of a special high-build primer, followed by two coats of color and topped with two coats of clear. Since he wanted an authentic-looking World war II Mustang with a red nose, Matthews selected a 4th Fighter Group plane as the model for his restoration. Deciding that he wanted the airplan
|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:|
|21||Single 1695 hp Packard Merlin V1650-9 V12 piston engine|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|Hamilton Standard 4 blades||505 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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