Photo: Peter Bellingham

 

CAC CA-18 Mk21 Mustang VH-AUB

CAC CA-18 Mk21 Mustang, A68-107 / VH-AUB is one of Australia’s most famous and oldest Warbirds, having been restored and registered by Pay’s and put on the Australian register in 1980. The aircraft was previously in private hands from 1958 to 1966 with Titus Oates.

 

History

One of the finest American fighter aircraft of World War II, the North American Mustang owed its origin to a Royal Air Force (RAF) specification for a single-seat fighter to replace the Curtiss P-40. 

The original 1,150 hp Allison engine lacked performance at high altitude, and the RAF employed the early Mustangs on low-level armed tactical reconnaissance sorties. Meantime, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) ordered a limited number of P-51s and P-51As to operate in the dive-bomber role. 

However, once the basic P-51 design was mated with the proven Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the aircraft became an enormous success. Through P-51B, C and D models, the Mustang was just as capable at long-range escort as short ground-attack sorties. 

In 1943, the Australian government arranged for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to manufacture the Mustang P-51D under licence from North American Aviation. 

The first 80 Mustang 20s (A68-1/80) were delivered with Packard Merlin V-1650-3 engines, under the CA-17 designation. A second contract for improved Mustangs known as CA-18 were built as Mustang 21s with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. 

Produced too late for World War II, RAAF Mustangs were assigned to Japan for occupation duties and, early in 1946, Nos 76, 77 and 82 Squadrons flew into Iwakuni. In 1949 Nos 76 and 82 Squadrons withdrew to Australian and the Mustangs of No 77 Squadron remained to take part in the Korean War from June 1950 until April 1951, when they were replaced by Gloster Meteors. 

In Australia, Mustangs were withdrawn from service in 1959. 

Photo: Peter Bellingham

Ross Pay at the controls of VH-AUB.

Mustang VH-AUB in its 1958 colour scheme.

Pay’s Mustang (VH-AUB) was registered to the RAAF in 1947 and served for 11 years. VH-AUB was painted red after 1958, and was rarely flown until it was dismantled in 1966 and transported to an outback station in Queensland. In 1978 VH-AUB was acquired by Col Pay and became his pride and joy. Restoration began and the aircraft was repainted to its original RAAF colour scheme. VH-AUB remains a prized possession in the Pay’s warbird fleet.