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United States' North American A-36 Apache dive bomber

Photos

  • North American A-36 Apache
  • North American A-36A Apache

 

Design

The British Purchasing Commission asked North American to build a licensed version of the Curtiss H87A (P-40E) in April 1940.1 The President of North American, J. H. "Dutch" Kindelberger, suggested that he could build a new plane around the Allison V-1710 engine.1 This design became the NA-73.1

After the initial order for the planes was placed by the British, the United States took two of the aircraft, named the XP-51, and had them tested at Wright Field in August 1941.1

The United States Army issued a requirement for a XA-32 that became the A-36A, in 1942.1 500 of these were ordered.1

In 1942 the Army diverted from Lend Lease 55 Mustang IAs and these became the P-51.1

Dive Bombing Effectiveness

Many were skeptical of the A-36As ability to dive bomb accurately with a dive speed of 390 mph.1

Nick Name

Initially the A-36s were nicknamed the Apache and then the Invader, but reporters always called them Mustangs.1

Prototype

On October 26, 1940 the NA-73 prototype first flew.1

Production

Great Britain placed an order for 320 A-36s in May 1940.1 This was later increased to 620.1

  • North American A-36A: 148 initially ordered2,3, 5001,4,5
    • Delivered: September 1942 and March 19434,5, October 1942 - March 19431
    • Manufacturer: North American Aviation Inc.1,5
    • Manufacturing location: Inglewood, California1

Variants

  • Mustang I: Two .50 cal machines guns in nose, two .50 cal machine guns and four .30 cal machine guns in the wings.1
  • Mustang IA: Four 20 mm Hispano cannons in the wings.1 Used Allison V-1710-81 engine.1
  • North American A-36A: Dive bomber1, ground attack2,3. Had wing bomb shackles.1,2,3 Had four machine guns1 / 20 mm cannons in the wings.3 There were dive brakes in the wings.1

Usage

United States' Initial Use

The USAAC initially ordered 50 aircraft to be used for reconnaissance.5 Later 500 A-36As were ordered as dive bombers.5

In April 1943 A-36As with the 27th Fighter Bomber Group of the 12th Air Force flew missions against Rasel Ma in French Morocco.1 In June 1943 the same A-36As took part in missions against Pantelleria.1

In India the 311th Fighter Bomber Group of the 10th Air Force were equipped with the A-36As.1

Accomplishments

23,373 combat missions were flown by the A-36As.1 8,014 tons of bombs were dropped.1

 

Specifications

  North American A-36
Type Ground attack4
Crew 14
Armament  
Wings 6: 0.5" MG4
Bombs 2: 1,000 lb4
2: 454 kg4
  North American A-36A
Type Dive bomber1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-871
Cylinders V 121
Cooling Water1
HP 1,3231
Propeller blades 3 constant speed1
Dimensions  
Span 37'1
Length 32' 3"1
Height  
Wing area 233'2 1
Weight  
Empty 6,630 lb1
Loaded 8,370 lb1
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' 366 mph1
Cruising speed 250 mph1
Service ceiling 25,100'1
Range - loaded 550 miles1
Range - max 2,300 miles1
Armament  
Nose 2: .50 cal MG1
Wings 4: .50 cal MG1
Bombs 1,000 lb1

Sources:

  1. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, General Editor Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site