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North American A-36

Old 25th Aug 2021, 07:16
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North American A-36

Trying to nail down the Apache and Invader tags given to the aircraft. The USAF museum intimates Apache as being official and states Invader was an unofficial name. Some sources I've seen say neither name was official, it was a Mustang.

Also, was the A-36 developed, as some say, because the USAAC had no funds for fighter development, but did for attack aircraft, and saw this as a subterfuge means of gaining the aircraft.

Unable to find an official source, so ask the experts here, and can can they site something with gravitas. Thanks all.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 09:03
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The Invader was the A-26 not the A-36 and was re-designated B-26 after the last B-26 Marauder was retired, probably in 1947 with the creation of the USAF. .
Fighters were designated 'P' (for 'Pursuit') as in 'P-36' whilst the Mustang was the P-51.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 09:14
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Wikipedia is subject to the usual caveats, and hedges its bets a bit, but it does contain the following quote from Roger Freeman's "Mustang at War" book:

During this operation [the Sicilian campaign], the 27th FBG circulated a petition to adopt the name "Invader" for their rugged little bomber, receiving unofficial recognition of the more fitting name.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 09:40
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Sure there was some chatter about this when N251A was bought over to Flying Legends at Duxford one summer a decade or two back. Pretty sure it was agreed to be an A-36 Apache. Rattling around Woking's pothole infested roads on a bus at the mo (complete with screaming kids...) so not really in a position to research, but didn't the A-36 have dive brakes fitted which set it apart from the P-51A...?
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 11:00
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Originally Posted by treadigraph View Post
but didn't the A-36 have dive brakes fitted which set it apart from the P-51A...?


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Old 25th Aug 2021, 13:13
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Cheers Dave, brain not entirely stultified then despite the screaming brats on the bus!

Don't think Steve Hinton or whoever it was that flew her at Duxford demonstrated the dive bombing capabilities!

Only one of the handful of survivors I have ever been lucky enough to see!
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 17:21
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Oh God... on the bus back and the same family are on it. Three year olds really do repeatedly shout "are we nearly there yet?" So... who's got a fully armed A-36 Apache? Just behind the driver's seat is your aiming point...
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 21:15
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There is an article on this very subject in the June 2021 edition of Aeroplane magazine to which I commend you.
The conclusion was that the Apache name was only used from the 1970s onwards. The official name for the A-36A was always Mustang.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 07:03
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Originally Posted by EGTE View Post
There is an article on this very subject in the June 2021 edition of Aeroplane magazine to which I commend you.
The conclusion was that the Apache name was only used from the 1970s onwards. The official name for the A-36A was always Mustang.
Here's a somewhat different version of events, suggesting that the name Apache was in use during WWII, but was never official:

Certainly there is much discussion and research gone into the Mustang, Apache and Invader names and their use relating to various variants of the P-51/A-36 family of airframes. Essentially, Apache was a NAA internal marketing name being considered as the name for the P-51/A-36 family of aircraft for sale to the USAAF. The RAF had selected the name Mustang for their aircraft some time earlier and to avoid confusion NAA dropped the use of Apache before it was ever considered for adoption. However the name did show up as result of early marketing material produced by NAA when they were trying to generate interest in the USA with the USAAF. The RAF use of the name Mustang stuck. Again, due to mis-communication between various parties the names Apache and Invader did pop up in various official documentation - as an example I have a copy of a US War Office issued aircraft recognition manual produced in early 1944, that shows a RAF Mustang Mk.I type aircraft silhouette, with aircraft name shown as Mustang, with an annotation about dive bomber variant also being known as 'Invader'. Presented with the documented evidence that the A-36 was never offfically named Apache in USAAF service, the USAF Museum has amended the story board in front of the A-36 on display in their collection to remove use of the Apache name, other than peripheral mention in the text regarding the confusion over the name. The official wartime USAAF/War Office list of aircraft types, designations and approved names, did include Mustang for the P-51/A-36 family, but did not include Apache or Invader.
North American A-36 Apache
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 08:51
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My father's 1943 RAAF allied recognition booklet has Apache. Doesn't mean it's correct though....lotta errors in it.







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Old 26th Aug 2021, 11:05
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My take on this issue is strongly influenced by the well-respected aviation author William (Bill) Green's book 'Famous Fighters of the Second World War' in which the following paragraphs appear on the Mustang's development:

"After conducting extremely successful trials with the two XP-51s the USAAF began to evince a little interest in the North American fighter, ordering 150 P-51s under the name Apache, armed with four 20mm cannon and equivalent to the RAF Mustang 1A."

and

"The time was then November 1942, and it was to be a year before the first group of P-51B Mustangs (this name having also been adopted by the USAAF in preference to the Apache) were to be available for combat. In the meantime a new version of the P-51A had been evolved specifically for dive bombing in the spring of 1942, fitted with wing mounted airbrakes, a 1,325hp Allison V-1710-87 engine and designated A-36A............The dive bombing equipment of the A-36A increased gross weight to 10,700lbs and reduced maximum speed to 356 mph, and the type was only moderately successful. The dive brakes proved unsuccessful and were eventually wired shut......One A-36A (EW998)* was supplied to the RAF in March 1943 for experimental purposes."

Over the the years, extensive other readings have led me to understand that, whereas the P-51s (ie fighter role) were called Mustangs, the A-36A (ie close support role) retained the the original USAAF name of Apache, as a means of differentiating their different roles, which seems a sensible move and would probably have benefits in the logistical supply chain.

*Presumably the one in the picture above, clearly showing the dive brakes deployed.




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Old 26th Aug 2021, 13:19
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Preliminary IPC for the A-36A, presumably after North American had given up their efforts to call it Apache:


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Old 26th Aug 2021, 13:35
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Read

Straight Down!: The North American A-36 Dive-Bomber in Action

by Peter C Smith

It's all there
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 15:53
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Obviously we'll all go out and buy it straight away.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 17:53
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exMudmover, why don't you just tell us what the book has to say with respect to the questions asked? Then we may decide if we want to spring the $60 for a personal copy.
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Old 27th Aug 2021, 08:10
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
..................
Also, was the A-36 developed, as some say, because the USAAC had no funds for fighter development, but did for attack aircraft, and saw this as a subterfuge means of gaining the aircraft..
I've a later book on dive bombing by Peter C Smith where A-36 procurement is mentioned as follows -

"The US Army half-heartedly toyed with their version of the Dauntless, the A-24 Banshee, using a few in the Dutch East Indies..before turning to the 500 made over P-51 Mustang fighters which, fitted with slatted dive brakes from the V-72 Vengance, became the A-36 Apache dive bomber and operated with great success in the Mediterranean in 1943-44"

A-36 never used in Europe - reason unknown...


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Old 27th Aug 2021, 11:54
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A-36 never used in Europe - reason unknown...
I understand what you are saying, but the A-36 was used extensively in Italy which is part of Europe. It's other areas of operation were North Africa and the China-Burma-India theater
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Old 31st Aug 2021, 06:41
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Originally Posted by XXmet View Post
Got one whole and complete at the USAF museum in Dayton, but you probably knew that.
As alluded to in post #9.
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Old 31st Aug 2021, 20:23
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Robert Grinsell, who has authored a number of books on the P-51 family, states that the only aircraft to carry the "Apache" name were the two XP-51's given to the USAAC by the British. The time line of events fits his assertion, the two XP-51 aircraft for the Air Corp were inserted into the contract on 20th September while the letter from the British naming the aircraft "Mustang" is dated 12th December. I wonder if the name "Apache" was a passing tribute to the American Indian George Mountain Bear whose task was to "keep the prototype clean as possible and waxed in order to pick up those few vital miles per hour" - statement by the prototype test pilot Vance Breese
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