It has been some years since a new CAC Mustang restoration has taken to the skies in Australia. There were previously 6 CAC Mustangs and a single North American P51D flying in Australia, however a number of these are undergoing rebuild or deep maintenance.
A new entrant to the CAC Mustang fleet was the recently completed restoration of RAAF A68-199, a CA-18 PR.22 construction No 1524. This Mustang has been under rebuild with owner Peter Gill since he purchased the aircraft from Graham Hosking in 2012. The project has been under the control of Engineer Peter Robinson and has involved many thousands of man hours of effort to strip the aircraft down to its basic structure and repair and replace as necessary any components as well as overhaul and refit the Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engine and Hamilton Standard propeller.
Last year, the culmination of the years of hard work came to fruition on Friday December 16th 2016 with the first flight of A68-199 in the capable hands of pilot Nick Caudwell with Engineer Peter Robinson in the newly installed second seat (a common and relatively easy conversion on the Mustang). The first flight lasted 20 minutes and went without incident.
A68-199 now operates out of her base at Tyabb airfield in Victoria along with the previously restored A68-105 VH-JUC of Judy Pay. Warbirds Online looks forward to seeing this latest Australian Mustang at future displays and airshows. We wish Peter Gill and all those connected with this beautiful Mustang all the success possible.
As to the future, there are still a few CAC Mustang identities with the potential to swell the flying numbers even higher. However these projects are very long term and it may be some time before we see another new CAC Mustang restoration fly again.
CAC Mustang CA-18 PR.22 1524 A68-199 History
This aircraft was constructed as the second last CAC built Mustang and was delivered by CAC to the RAAF’s No 1 Air Depot (1AD) on the 12th of July 1951 and was immediately placed into storage at the RAAF facility at Tocumwal NSW. On 28th of January 1953 the aircraft was reactivated and issued to No 23 (City of Brisbane) RAAF Citizen Air Force squadron and operated for 10 months until returned to storage at 1 AD on 3rd November 1953 where it remained until finally disposed of by tender on 23rd April 1958 to Fawcett Aviation at Bankstown NSW where it operated in the target towing role under contract to the Department of Defence registered as VH-BOZ from the 9th of November 1960 until 12th November 1970 when it was retired. The Mustang was then involved in a controversial incident in 1979 when it was sold along with an Me109 (now with the AWM) to Doug Arnold’s Warbirds of Great Britain however because the Me109 did not have an export permit it and the Mustang were impounded and an ensuing long court case saw the Mustang return to the ownership of the RAAF following storage at RAAF Regents Park and Dubbo Stores Depots from 1979 until 1992. One incident that involved the Mustang was on the 6th of June 1976 when the aircraft belly landed at Bankstown and A68-199 was rapidly repaired and resumed duties.
On 15th February 1992 the aircraft was placed on display at the Fighterworld Museum at RAAF Williamtown on loan from the RAAF Museum where it remained until December 1997 when it was returned to Point Cook and placed into storage yet again. In 2002 the Mustang was exchanged with well-known Warbird identity Graham Hosking of Tyabb, in an arrangement that saw the RAAF museum gain two World War I replicas, an Avro 504K and SE5a. The Mustang was transported to Tyabb and remained with Graham Hosking until 2012 when it was sold to Peter Gill and restored.
© John Parker 2017
Our thanks to Matt Savage of Mach One Photography for supplying the photos for this article.