The Mustang Before The P-51 Mustang: North American A-36 Mustang

The Mustang Before The P-51 Mustang: North American A-36 Mustang | World War Wings Videos

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Do you know that there was another Mustang in WWII that was technically different than the Mustang but effectively a Mustang? That was the case for the North American A-36 Mustang, aka the Apache or known by some as The Invader.

Ground-Attack/Dive Bomber Version

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The A-36 was the ground-attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang. One of the significant differences between the two is the rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wings. 

In September 1942, the first A-36 model was completed, flying in October the next month. 

A Solid Aircraft

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The plane would first fly its combat missions in the prelude to the invasion of Sicily. In this engagement, the A-36 showed itself to be a very solid aircraft and despite initial concerns like dive bombing would be dangerous, this didn’t seem to manifest. 

Not only did it prove itself to be a solid dive bomber, but a solid ground attacker as well. 

Unintended Effect

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In ground attack roles, pilots would still use dive brakes, not for mechanical use, but for psychological use. 

Just like the Stuka that had a siren to terrify its targets, the dive brakes of the A-36 have the unintended effect of doing the same. The wind passing over the slotted metal produced a loud whistling sound like the Stuka, earning it another nickname, the Screaming Helldiver. 

Disappearance From the Battlefield

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In late 1944 and early 1945, the A-36 would just disappear from the battlefield due to several factors such as combat losses, general attrition, and the mass production of actual P-51 fighters.  

Also, the initial order of 500 A-36 planes was never added on. This was because the A-36 was only made as a temporary measure until the new fiscal year rolled around, and there would be another set of budget for new fighters. When that money became available, the US Air Force ordered a lot of P-51 Mustangs instead. 

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