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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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tricci57

XP-80 Lockheed ..............just after WWII

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The XP-80.  The Lockheed XP-80 was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). 

Designed and built by Lockheed in 1943 and delivered just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying, and two pre-production models did see very limited service in Italy.  The the decision was made to bring it to a battle field for tests and trials, with 2 sent to England and 2 sent to Southern Italy.  I am researching here (in North America) and abroad ( in Italy) of the following:

how the two designated to be tested in Southern Italy go there.........?

how hey got transported from the landing site to the old airfield near Lesina (FG) Italy.

Who? where the test pilots? the crew and the administration?

how long was it at the Lesina site?  was it flown back? was it un-assembled and crated and re-assembled in the USA?

I am a local researcher from Lesina (FG) Italy, and started this research and some of the questions as listed above aren't available from the regular web channels and sites; if anyone has information that they are willing to share so the research can be completed and the members of that service can be honored and remembered by the local historical committee, please do not hesitate to contact me at: tricci57@gmail.com, grazie.

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    • By Tom Griffith
      Well, I see that some of the folks apparently get their history from fairy tale books, and are "commenting" like crazy on the P-51 posts in this forum.

      Back when I was a young man, there was a real chick-flick, called "Love Story."  The theme song to it was sung by Andy Williams, and aside from being on the Top 100 Songs list for a number of weeks, it may have won some awards, too. The title and first line of the song was "Where Do I Begin?".   That's fitting for what follows.  Before I get cookin', please know that about 90% of the stuff that I grew up learning about the P-51 Mustang and its siblings, the A-36A and the F-6, was W-R-O-N-G!  I've had to be educated - many times from folks who knew a lot more about the subject than I even thought I knew, and other times by reading many books and articles.  This has all helped me immensely.  I have also read a number of official USAAF books, as well as USAAF and North American Aviation documents.  Furthermore, I have done some checking with archivists, etc.  I'm working on my Doctorate in Mustangology, you might say!

      ...so here's where I begin:
       
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      NAA called the prototype "NA-73x" and the first samples provided to the RAF (the USAAF latched onto a couple of the samples, too) were called "NA-73."  The first 380 production aircraft that the Brits called "Mustang Mk I" were also NA-73s.  The next batch, 300 aircraft, was designated NA-83 by North American.  Because there were no real differences between the NA-73 and NA-83, the 300 later aircraft too, were called “Mustang Mk I.”  The only difference I’ve ever seen is that the -73s had rounded cross-section exhaust stacks, and the -83s had fish-tail ejector exhaust tips.
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      Not discussed in previous comments, though, was the fact that THIS aircraft came along at a point in history where the official NAA and USAAF name of “Apache”   was given to this “family” of aircraft.  The Brits naturally continued to call it “Mustang.”  In mid-1942, though, both the USAAF and NAA, in a nearly unique situation, officially renamed it “Mustang,” following the RAF name.  As a aside, the A-36A (NAA gave it the production name of “NA-97”).  FYI , NAA gave these “NA-number” designations to all aircraft in chronological order by this simple numbering system, according to the debut of the projects, regardless of whether the aircraft was a B-25 Mitchell or an AT-6/SNJ.  The first B-25 was NA-50, and the first AT-6 was NA-26, for what it’s worth.  Each version of an existing NAA aircraft was given whatever was the “next number in the sequence.”  So, from the NA-73x prototype, the sequence of production aircraft in the Mustang family were:  NA-73, -83, -91, -97, -99, -102, -103, -104, -106, -109, -110, -111, -122, -124, -126 and -129 (for the P-51L-NT, equivalent to the P-51H [which was the NA-126, BTW] which was canceled).  I posted this arcane info only to underscore the fact that the Mustang family was not composed of a series of consecutive “NA-numbers.”  Interspersed in the above number sequence were

      I mention this because the A-36A (no prototype and the only version built – 500 total) has been misnamed “Apache” in probably 90% of all sources, be they books or websites by “experts.”  The official NAA and USAAF name was always – ALWAYS – “Mustang.”  Pilots in the USAAF’s 12th Air Force called it by a name that they themselves came up with: “Invader.”  The pilots went so far as to petition (not sure if it was to both the USAAF and NAA or only one of them) to rename the A-36A to “Invader.”  This was in vain, because Douglas Aircraft had already been given this official name and EVERY aircraft in what I call the “Mustang family” (including the F-6 line – the P-51A photo recon version was the F-6B; the P-51B/C, F-6C; the P-51D, F-6D; the P-51K, F-6K) was “Mustang” … period (or exclamation mark!), end of sentence.  I’ve got a 1944 USAAF book with this info and a scan of an official 1944 US government document on naming of aircraft.  Not enough “proof,” some folks say – well, the two major Mustang books clearly state this fact.  Those books, “Mustang: The Story of the P-51 Fighter” by Robert Gruenhagen and “Mustang Designer: Edgar Schmued and the P-51,” by Ray Wagner.  Gruenhagen was an NAA historian and Wagner was an author of a number of books on aircraft.  Gruenhagen is still alive, although advanced in age and physically ill – a friend, an author in his own right, had been in contact with Bob, as he calls him, and said that his mind was still sharp as the proverbial tack.  Ray Wagner has been dead for a while, AFAIK.  Oh, and an online expert, Joe Baugher clearly states the fact that the A-36A, was called “Mustang.”  Furthermore, having used the Boeing Archives for reference before (Boeing acquired NAA’s surviving documents that came into possession of them when North American Rockwell acquired NAA.  Boeing, in turn, acquired NAR and Boeing now has the documents, photos, etc in their historical archives), I contacted Boeing’s historical archivist via email, asking if he could find references to “Apache” being given to the A-36 in anything from NAA. (BTW, I also have scans of two different pages from “Skywriter,” NAA’s employee newsletter and they both state “A-36 Mustang).  The archivist replied with a clear statement when I told him that I couldn’t find ANYTHING official, that called the A-36A “Apache” and here’s his reply, copied and pasted from the email to me:

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      I can see it coming – someone will say, “I’ve got proof that will trump all of your authors and sources.”  The “proof”?  The National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH has a beautiful A-36A named “Margie H,” on display.  This museum is on my “must visit” list, BTW.  The placard clearly has “North American A-36A APACHE” on it…so, there you go – it’s “Apache.”   I’m going to attempt to attach it to this comment.
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    • By tricci57
      Date: May 16, 2019
      Location: Lesina (Foggia) Italy
      The fifth anniversary of the dedication of the monument dedicated to the 325th Fighter Group, known as the Checkertails. Everyone is welcome to attend.  For more information, please do not hesitate to contact:
      Thomas Ricci at tricci57@gmail.com for details on how to get there and other travel arrangements.
    • By tricci57
      Date: May 16, 2019
      Location: Lesina (Foggia) Italy
      The fifth anniversary of the dedication of the monument dedicated to the 325th Fighter Group, known as the Checkertails. Everyone is welcome to attend.  For more information, please do not hesitate to contact:
      Thomas Ricci at tricci57@gmail.com for details on how to get there and other travel arrangements.


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