This film shows the A-36 (a P-51 Mustang variant) being used as a ground support and strike aircraft on the Italian front in WWII. The North American A-36 Apache (listed in some sources as "Invader", but also called Mustang) was the ground-attack/dive bomber version of the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, from which it could be distinguished by the presence of rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wings. A total of 500 A-36 dive bombers served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theater during World War II before being withdrawn from operational use in 1944.
This Film Communique from WWII, "A Day with the A-36s" shows North American A-36 Invaders operating in Italy, performing ground strike missions against German targets in Southern Italy including roads leading to Mt. Etna.The North American A-36 Apache (sometimes also called the "Invader", but also called Mustang) was the ground-attack/dive bomber version of the North American P-51 Mustang, from which it could be distinguished by the presence of rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wings. A total of 500 A-36 dive bombers served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theater during World War II before being withdrawn from operational use in 1944.
The A-36A-1-NA first joined the 27th Fighter Bomber Group composed of four squadrons based at Rasel Ma in French Morocco in April 1943 during the campaign in North Africa. The A-36A proved to be a potent weapon; it could be put into a vertical dive at 12,000 ft (3,658 m)with deployed dive brakes, thus, limiting the dive speed to 390 mph (628 km/h). Pilots soon recognized that extending the dive brakes after "peel-off" led to some unequal extension of the brakes due to varying hydraulic pressure, setting up an invariable slight roll which impeded aiming. Proper technique soon cured this anomaly and, subsequently, pilots achieved extremely consistent results. Depending on the target and defenses, the bomb release took place between 2,000 ft and 4,000 ft (610 and 1,219 m), followed by an immediate sharp "pull up."
By late May 1943, 300 A-36As had been deployed to the Mediterranean Theater, with many of the first batch sent to the 27th to re-build the group following losses as well as completing the final transition to an all-A-36A unit. Both groups were actively involved in air support during the Sicilian campaign, becoming especially adept at "mopping" up enemy gun positions and other strong points as the Allies advanced. During this operation, the 27th Group circulated a petition to adopt the name "Invader" for their rugged little bomber, receiving unofficial recognition of the more fitting name.
Besides dive bombing, the A-36A racked up aerial victories, totaling 84 enemy aircraft downed and creating an "ace", Lieutenant Michael T. Russo from the 27th Fighter Bomber Group (ultimately, the only ace using the Allison-engined Mustang). As fighting intensified in all theaters where the A-36A operated, the dive bomber began to suffer an alarming loss rate with 177 falling to enemy action. The main reason for the attrition was the hazardous missions that placed the A-36A "on the deck" facing murderous ground fire. German defenses in southern Italy included placing cables across hill tops to snare the attacking A-36As.] Despite establishing a "reputation for reliability and performance, "the one "Achilles' heel" of the A-36A (and the entire Mustang series) remained its vulnerable cooling system leading to many of the losses.By June 1944, A-36As in Europe were replaced by Curtiss P-40s and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.
The A-36A also flew missions in the CBI throughout 1943–1944 with indifferent results. The A-36A remained in service in small numbers throughout the remaining year of the war, some being retained in the US as training aircraft.
This film also contain a confidential release of German Newsreels showing Germany might and intention for world domination.
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