FEW P-51 PILOT
At first glance as you walk up to the
aircraft it looks like a P-51 with the exception as you get closer it starts
showing its 2/3 scale status. Every detail possible of the P-51D has been
incorporated into this aircraft such as air intakes, louvers, heat shields
around exhaust, P-51D canopy, instrument panel, switch console, trim and
throttle console, retractable tail wheel and doors and as can be seen in the
pictures fully scaled main gear door system. This aircraft was even
fitted with an emergency gear blow down system.
The engine is a new 8 cyl. GM350
HO ZZ3 reworked by Sunset Engine Development of Oregon, engine was completely
disassembled and inspected, oil passages cleaned out and enlarged where
necessary. It was then reworked and fitted with dry sump oil system for
inverted flight. The engine has been fitted with dual ignition systems
and Airflow Performance Inc. fuel injection. The propeller drive and reduction unit was
made by Firewall Forward of Calgary and has proven to be an exceptionally good
design and is geared to reduce the propeller RPM down to the Merlin engine
prop RPM in the original Mustang. During Sunset Engine's inspection and
rework the engine was tested on a dynamometer at 350 HP. The engine is
water/glycol cooled with radiator located in the belly of the aircraft as in
the original also oil cooler in same location with temperature controlled by
electronic servo control of belly scoop door. The fully enclosed
retractable landing gear is actuated by electric hyd. power pack.
The propeller is an MT constant speed
88" diameter 4-blade composite construction with ss leading edges, blade
shape is the same as original P-51.
Entering the cockpit is done in the
same manner as original P-51 by stepping on main gear wheel and climb onto
leading edge of wing then step into cockpit. Once seated the instrument
panel and cockpit lay out looks authentic WW II era including avionics.
Starting the engine requires aircraft
Master switch on, with the option of
turning on emergency battery as well for extra cranking power, one fuel
pump on. Engage starter after several blades go by turn on
ignition switches, the engine roars to life sounding much like a Merlin.
The engine oil pressure, temperature
and fuel pressure are read in an original military tri-gauge on right head lower
side of panel, there is a separate radiator coolant temp gauge and
coolant pressure gauge, RPM and manifold pressure gauge. Volt/amp meter,
other engine monitoring instrument JPS EDM-800 engine analyzer EGT/CHT
temp, air intake temperature, cowl interior temperature and voltage, a Lamba
Sensor to measure oxygen level in exhaust gases.
To taxi, stick is moved forward
to unlock tail wheel, steering is with differential braking.
Run up is conventional with each
ignition system check, prop cycled, mixture checked, temperatures and
pressures checked, radiator scoop opened for take off and climb. Both
ignition switches on, both fuel pumps on, flaps are optional for take off.
Take off run is fast and short, aircraft accelerates very fast to 75 MPH for
lift off, gear is retracted, aircraft has an exceptional rate of climb at 100
MPH, climb rate exceed 2000 ft./min. Leveling off, power is reduced to
25" and 3200 RPM, radiator scoop is closed, cruise speed quickly builds
to 200 MPH indicated.
Aircraft control response is
positive and light, stability is excellent, when trimmed out it's hands
off. Trim tabs are provided for all axis. Roll rate exceeds that
of any other general aviation aircraft I have ever flown. During cruise
all temperatures and pressures are in the green with no system operating
on the edge of acceptable margins, fuel consumption varies from 12 gal./hr. at
low cruise to 20 gal./hr at high speed cruise setting. During cruise one
fuel pump is shut off. Leaning is accomplished by monitoring the JPI
engine analyzer for exhaust gas temp and a Lamba Sensor which measure oxygen
content in the combustion mixture and is very accurate in determining correct
The avionics are few and
functional. A Becker AR4201 with 720 channels, 10 preselect frequencies,
built-in intercom. The Transponder is a RT-667.
Visibility is superb as would be
expected from a fighter plane cockpit, visibility is good forward through the
1/2 inch thick front panel and through the 3/8 inch thick forward angled
Slowing down doesn't happen as fast as
it accelerates, flaps can be deployed to 20 degrees at 140 MPH, this helps
slow down to circuit speed, gear lowered also helps check the speed.
speed is comfortable at 120 MPH, approach speed at 90 MPH and full 40% flap and
touches down at 70
MPH. The aircraft lands in a two point attitude main gear only.
This is a natural, comfortable and easy attitude to land in. Directional
control is very positive during the roll out, when speed bleeds off the tail
wheel make contact with the runway and is held there with back pressure on the
stick which automatically locks the tail wheel. To unlock the tail wheel
the stick is moved forward then directional control is made with differential
The radiator scoop is opened to ensure
a quicker cool down of radiator and oil cooler. A normal aircraft shut
down procedure is used.
This aircraft was built as a 2-place
with dual controls and a P-51 TF canopy so both D and TF model canopies are
This is an aircraft you have to see to
appreciate all of the features incorporated in a truly scale P-51.