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View Full Version : Last Fight of the P-51 Mustang (anyone have more info?)



[WDW]Megaraptor
03-29-2012, 08:39 PM
I'd heard of this incident before, but I'm curious to know more.

As you may know, the Dominican Republic used the P-51 Mustang as a frontline fighter up until 1984. The aircraft saw action during various coups and coup attempts in the early 1960s. They did not see combat again until 1983, when this incident occurred:

source (http://www.hitechcreations.com/ahhelp/models/p51d.html)

The last operator of the P-51D was the Dominican Republic who did not retire it from service until 1984 - 40 years after its operational debut. The final combat operation took place in 1983 when a Cuban intelligence ship refused to leave Dominican waters and the Mustangs strafed it. In retaliation, Cuba sent MiG-21s to attack the Dominican airfield. Knowing the better part of valor, the Mustang pilots did not try to fight off the MiGs. As one Dominican pilot recalled, "We went inside and hid until they went away."



As a result of this incident, the Fuerza Aérea Dominicana finally retired the P-51 the next year and replaced the type with the A-37 Dragonfly.

source 2 (http://www.acig.info/CMS/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=87&Itemid=47)

After several Cuban MiGs humiliated the FAD, playing and taunting with the old Mustangs off the Dominican coast, the government requested US assistance. The A-37B Dragonfly attack jet was the only model cleared for the FAD, and suitable fighters, such as the supersonic F-5E Tiger II was not offered. However, the Dragonfly would go on to replace the tired Mustangs in the COIN and light attack role, with eight aircraft delivered. The Dominican Dragonflies had its first operational intercept in 1985, when one shot down a Beechcraft D-18 during an anti-narcotic operation.

http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o265/WDW_Megaraptor/FAD-1912pilotGralBonilla1983_a.jpg
Dominican P-51s, c. 1984.
More pictures can be found here: http://www.swissmustangs.ch/20214/20322.html

So my two questions are:

1) Does anyone have any more information about this incident, like when and where it occurred? The first source is unclear on whether MiG-21s chased the Mustangs back to base or whether they actually attacked a Dominican airfield, which would have been a major provocation.
2) Did this event and apparently heightened Cuban intelligence activity have any relation to Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada?

[WDW]Megaraptor
03-30-2012, 12:11 AM
From the May 1999 issue of Aeroplane Magazine (article had the same picture I posted above):



The last military operator of the Mustang was the Fuerza Aerea Dominicana, who proudly flew their aircraft until 1984. In this view, Coronel Rafael Diaz EI Diablo Rojo Bonilla pilots FAD 1912, with FAD 1916 flying wing. The FAD Mustangs participated in the last P·51 military operation when , in 1983, they strafed a Cuban intelligence-gathering ship that refused to vacate Dominican waters. Retribution was not long in coming, and a force of Cuban MiG-21s beat up the main Dominican P-51 base. The Mustangs did not rise for a final glorious interception. "We went inside and hid until they went away," recalled one FAD pilot. Mustang FAD 1916 is the aircraft recently acquired by the Flying Heritage Collection, and is now with West Pac Restorations at Rialto, Californ ia, It is a significan t machine because, as USAAF s/n 44-72364 , it flew with the 8th Air Force's 353rd FG, 352nd FS, as Upupa Epops and scored several confirmed victories against the Luftwaffe. FAD 1912 is currently flying in the USA.

Looks like the 1985 book "North American F-51 Mustangs in Latin American Air Force Service (http://www.amazon.com/North-American-Mustangs-Latin-Service/dp/0942548337/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333080901&sr=8-1)" might have some info, but I don't have access to it.

Tropical_ulcer
04-10-2012, 09:03 AM
didnt knew about that incident,and the latinamerican left talks about "usa imperialism".....

btw as far as I know the last conlfict those planes where used was the honduran-salvadorean war of the 60's also knows as the "football war"

JCR
04-10-2012, 09:06 AM
didnt knew about that incident,and the latinamerican left talks about "usa imperialism".....

btw as far as I know the last conlfict those planes where used was the honduran-salvadorean war of the 60's also knows as the "football war"

Trust the american right to bring politics into every single thread.
Lefties are bad hurr durr....

When Honduras tried to sieze Belize in 1972, the main aircraft of the Honduran air force was the P-51 as well, but there were no hostilities.
But I guess latin american service meant regular anti-guerilla operations, so probably the Mustang was in combat well into the 70s.

wicked_hind
04-10-2012, 09:43 AM
There might be information on www.laahs.net

Royal
04-10-2012, 10:33 AM
When Honduras tried to sieze Belize in 1972, the main aircraft of the Honduran air force was the P-51 as well, but there were no hostilities.

It was Guatamala not Honduras.

809 NAS was dispactched to Belize at the time. Strangely the Guatamalans didn't want to go up against Bucanneers in their P51s.

A Harrier flight was based in Belize from '76 to '93 for the same reason.

JCR
04-10-2012, 10:38 AM
It was Guatamala not Honduras.

809 NAS was dispactched to Belize at the time. Strangely the Guatamalans didn't want to go up against Bucanneers in their P51s.

A Harrier flight was based in Belize from '76 to '93 for the same reason.

Actually a Buc at low speed would've been at a disadvantage against a Mustang as it had no air to air weapons.
According to a book I read the RN was pretty much at a loss about what to do against Mustangs air to air without any cannon armed aircraft, so the plan would've been for Ark Royal's aircraft to simply bomb them on the ground.

A MiG-21 of course had a cannon so the Cubans wouldn't have had that problem.

baboon6
04-10-2012, 10:48 AM
It was Guatamala not Honduras.

809 NAS was dispactched to Belize at the time. Strangely the Guatamalans didn't want to go up against Bucanneers in their P51s.

A Harrier flight was based in Belize from '76 to '93 for the same reason.

I recently read the book Phoenix Squadron by Rowland White which details the 1972 Belize crisis and Ark Royal's part in it (as well as being a great account of what is was like to serve on and fly from Ark Royal in the '70s). It actually wouldn't have been as easy as people think for 809's Buccaneers and 892's Phantoms to shoot down the P-51s. None of the FAA's aircraft had guns (RAF Phantoms were wired for SUU-23 gun pods but not RN ones); Sidewinders wouldn't have had a nice heat source like a jet pipe to lock on to; and it was thought that radar-guided missiles wouldn't have been able to lock-on that easily too. So it was decided that if it came to it the Phantoms (who had the air-to-air mission) would take them on with unguided rockets. These were inherently inaccurate weapons and 892 had never practiced air-to-air firing with them. It was hoped that firing a big salvo at fairly close range would result in a hit.

[WDW]Megaraptor
04-10-2012, 10:51 AM
According to a book I read the RN was pretty much at a loss about what to do against Mustangs air to air without any cannon armed aircraft.

No Phantoms?

JCR
04-10-2012, 10:53 AM
Megaraptor;6122203']No Phantoms?

baboon allready answered it.
The RAF had the same problem in the 60s with Borneo and the Indonesians and dusted off a few Spitfires to test jet vs prop tactics.

Corrupt
04-10-2012, 11:21 AM
The RAF had the same problem in the 60s with Borneo and the Indonesians and dusted off a few Spitfires to test jet vs prop tactics.

Didn't they find out that while the Lightning crews always had the option to light up and **** off, in a turning fight the Spit would get a few rounds into its attackers?

baboon6
04-10-2012, 11:29 AM
Didn't they find out that while the Lightning crews always had the option to light up and **** off, in a turning fight the Spit would get a few rounds into its attackers?

Yes the consensus was "don't get into a turning fight".

[WDW]Megaraptor
04-10-2012, 11:33 AM
Yes the consensus was "don't get into a turning fight".

At the same time, if the FAA avoided a turning fight there's not much that the Guatemalans could have done.

It's not like they were going to catch F-4s with a P-51. The FAA could have virtually just ignored the fighters and bombed whatever it wanted.

baboon6
04-10-2012, 11:40 AM
Megaraptor;6122261']At the same time, if the FAA avoided a turning fight there's not much that the Guatemalans could have done.

It's not like they were going to catch F-4s with a P-51. The FAA could have virtually just ignored the fighters and bombed whatever it wanted.

Yes but the P-51s had to be neutralised in some way otherwise they could still bomb and strafe British troops. Bombing their airfields would probably have been the best way but it was doubtful whether permission for cross-border raids would have been given; of course this might have changed if the "balloon had gone up". The only AA weapons the troops in situ had were .50 Brownings. The advance party of a RAF Regt Tigercat SAM squadron had arrived by the time the crisis ended and later IIRC 40mm Bofors guns were sent.

Royal
04-10-2012, 12:54 PM
but it was doubtful whether permission for cross-border raids would have been given

Why? SF and some line infantry crossed the border with Indonesia with monotonous regularity. The SOAF (the RAF in another name) attacked targets in Yemen during the Dhofar war, and there were certainly SF bimbling around the border in Belize.

baboon6
04-11-2012, 12:18 PM
Why? SF and some line infantry crossed the border with Indonesia with monotonous regularity. The SOAF (the RAF in another name) attacked targets in Yemen during the Dhofar war, and there were certainly SF bimbling around the border in Belize.

Good point. That's just what it said in the book though. As I wrote above it's very possible this thinking could have changed if a war actually happened.