North American P-51D Racer

North American P-51D Racer at the New England Air Museum


Type:   Racer
Crew:   1
First Flight:   
Length:   32' 3”
Height:   13' 4”
Wingspan:   37'
Rotor Diameter:   
Empty Weight:   7,635 lbs.
Gross Weight:   
Cruise Speed:   360 mph
Maximum Speed:   
Service Ceiling:   
Powerplant:   Packard V-1650-7
Year:   1945
Serial No.:   
Registration:   N13Y
Location:   Civil Hangar

This P-51D was built January 26, 1945 and assigned to the 340th Base Utility Squadron. After the end of World War II it designated as unneeded war materials and sold July 1, 1946 to W.W. Edmondson of Lynchburg, VA. It was registered as NC69406 as an experimental aircraft to be used for exhibition flying or racing. It was re-registered in December, 1946 as N13Y, the designation it would carry for most of its career. Later in December, it was sold to DiPonti Aviation in Minneapolis, MN, who then sold it to Anson Johnson, a pilot for National Airlines, who intended to race it.

Johnson began racing this aircraft in 1947 in the Kendall Trophy Race but did not finish. Johnson began modifying the P-51D by upgrading the engine, adding a new propeller, removing excess weight and shortening the wings.

Johnson entered the 1948 Cleveland Air Races Thompson Trophy against a strong field and by using a strategy of endurance rather that outright speed became the surprise winner.

For 1949, Johnson with the help of another engineer, modified the P-51D even further which resulted in one the the sleekest and cleanest Mustangs ever produced. He raced in that year's Thompson Trophy against a very tough field but withdrew with smoke coming into the cockpit.

With its racing career over, Johnson turned to the world speed record. Unfortunately during his run, the timing equipment failed and we will never know just how fast N13Y flew.

In 1959, Johnson sold the plane. It passed through several owners finally being purchased by the New England Air Museum in 1972. Now with its restoration complete, it takes its place along with other racers in the Museum's collection.

You can take a virtual tour of the P-51D's cockpit here.

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