By Nigel Hitchman & James Kightly
Queensland, Australia-based two-seat Mustang VH-MFT is heading to Archerfield airport this weekend (26-7 August 2023) to be dismantled for shipping to the UK, where it will be re-assembled and repainted in a new scheme before joining the Air Leasing / Ultimate Warbirds pleasure flying fleet. Platinum Fighter Sales brokered the transaction.
This Mustang identity was originally built in Melbourne, Australia under license by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) as CA-18 Mk.21, construction number 1435, with the serial A68-110. Delivered in 1948, it spent most of its RAAF life in store, before being ‘sold for scrap’ in 1957.
Decades later, the identity reappeared for a composite restoration project via Fort Lauderdale Florida, according to Geoff Goodall’s research, and was shipped to Australia, arriving at Caboolture, Queensland in May 1995. In 1997 it was registered as VH-MFT and restored to airworthy, the first flight being on 24 January 2002 from its home base at Caboolture, configured with full dual controls for the passenger seat. Operating for the following two decades as a joy-flying machine, it was sold in 2020, and recently sold again.
The colors it has worn since restoration are of a more active veteran Dallas, Texas, North American Aviation built P-51D-25-NT Mustang 44-84502 (a ‘Mustang Mk.IV’ in British Commonwealth use) and given the RAAF serial A68-769. This aircraft served with 82 Squadron RAAF in postwar Japan, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. It was the personal mount of the squadron commanding officer, Squadron Leader Frank Schaaf while the unit supported the post-war in Japan, and later flew several combat missions over Korea with 77 Squadron RAAF.
Unusually for a post-war RAAF Mustang, A68-769 carried a golden Pegasus on a light blue circle nose art in honor of 82 Squadron’s motif, and the name ‘Mabel II’ under the canopy, Mabel being Schaaf’s wife. ‘Snifter’ was a newspaper cartoon dog, a favorite of wartime Australian service personnel.
The Mustang was returned to Australia in 1949 and issued to 78 Wing, Williamtown, NSW, before being ‘converted to components’ in 1951-52. The growing popularity of warbird pleasure flying in the UK is a factor in this aircraft making the move from one hemisphere to the next, no doubt to the delight of the future passengers.