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A variant of the P-51 Mustang with company designation NA-97, the Apache had a single 1,325 hp Allison V-1710-87 V-12 engine that gave it a maximum speed of 365 mph, a cruising speed of 250 mph, a service ceiling of 25,1000 ft and a range of 550 miles. The high speed of the A-36 required that it incorporate air brakes in the wings to limit its dive speed to 390mph to improve accuracy.
The armament consisted of two .50 machine guns in each wing, two .50 machine guns in lower part of nose, and an external bombload of 1,000 lbs. The Apache had a wing span of 37 ft, a length of 32 ft. 3 in and a height of 12 ft. 2 in. The loaded weight of the Apache was 10,000 lb.
500 examples - 42-83663 (c/n 97-15881) to 42-84162 (c/n 97-16380) - were built, with the 23rd A-36A - 42-83685 (c/n 97-15903) - being passed to the RAF as EW998. EW899 was evaluated as the Mustang Mk I (Dive bomber) but was felt by pilots to offer no major advantages over the standard Mustang Mk I.
A-36As arrived in North Africa in April 1943, commencing operations on 6 June by participating in a fighter bomber assault on Pantellaria. The A-36As spent the following weeks serving with the 27th and 86th Fighter Bomber Groups in Morocco, before joining 12th Air Force for operations in Sicily and Italy. A-36As also served with the 311th Fighter Bomber Group in India, losing 177 aircraft before the type was withdrawn. On the plus side, the type was capable of combatting other aircraft, with 84 aerial victories being credited to A-36 pilots of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group, including Lieutenant Michael T. Russo, the only pilot to become an ace in the Allison powered Mustang.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "A-36 Apache Dive bomber Entry
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 World Aircraft Information Files (World Military Aircraft File 231 Sheet 6:North American P-51 Mustang - Allison engined variants).
- ↑ O'Leary, Michael. Page 306.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 World Aircraft Information Files (World Military Aircraft File 231 Sheet 3:North American P-51 Mustang - The legend begins).
- O'Leary, Michael. USAAF Fighters of WW2. Blandford Press. 1986. ISBN 0-7137-1839-0.
- World Aircraft Information Files Collection.