At the request of the AAF, North American has been producing its P-51 Mustang in a fighting dive bomber model that can descend at 450 mph with its four hydraulic dive brakes, one above and below each wing, extended.
Following their trial by the British, who took delivery on large numbers of them early in the war, P-51s were later ordered in quantity by our Army. Whether the air forces have placed continuing orders for the converted model, known as the A-36, is not known. Those already delivered are just going into action, so no performance reports are available.
The A-36, designed for combat, low-level ground attacks, and dive bombing, resembles the P-51 except for the hyrdaulic diving flaps and wing racks for bombs or auxiliary gas tanks. It will carry one ton of bombs or ammunition, but the Army does not say how far or exactly how fast. Announced straightaway speed is in excess of 400 mph and ceiling 30,000 ft. Rate of climb is given as over half-a-mile a minute. Two 50-cal machine guns in the nose fire through the three-blade propeller, and two more are mounted in each of the wings. North American is adapting the P-51 for Merlin engines but all A-36s delivered so far have been equipped with 12-cyl Allisons.
This news clip with photo was originally published in the May, 1943, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 42, no 5, p 331.