Strikemaster adds Mustang and Harvard to Fleet

01 January 2013

Aviation Safety Management Systems Ltd (ASMS) congratulates Strikemaster Ltd on the addition of the P51 Mustang ZK-TAF and the Harvard ZK-WAR to its fleet of aircraft. Approval to offer Adventure Aviation flights in these aircraft was granted by the Civil Aviation Authority on Monday 24th December 2012. We are proud to have projected managed the amendment process for the addition of these two aircraft.

About the North American P51D Mustang
ZK-TAF. Photo courtesy Graham Bethell.
Although this aircraft is finished in the colours of No.3 Squadron (Canterbury), it was not actually operated by the RNZAF. It was manufactured and delivered to the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1945 and was flown until 1951 whereupon it was transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) where it remained until 1959. After its RCAF service this aircraft went back to the USA where it was “civilianised”. It had several different owners up until 1984 at which point it was imported to New Zealand by Sir Tim Wallis and made its first flight in New Zealand in January 1985. Graham Bethell has owned the aircraft since 1990 and it is well known in the New Zealand airshow circuit.

The Mustang type aircraft became famous during the last few years of WW2 as a long range escort fighter protecting allied bombers in Europe. Its high altitude, superior speed and fire power made it regarded by many as the best fighter aircraft of WW2. In its twilight years the Mustang performed sterling service during the Korean War in the early 1950s.

About the North American Harvard ZK-WAR
ZK-WAR. Photo Rob Neil, Pacific Wings
Magazine
The RNZAF operated 202 Harvards (NZ901-1102) delivered in the period from 1941 to 1944. 53 aircraft were lost through various causes during WWII. The majority of the Harvards were put into storage in 1945, and many were sold for scrap in 1958-59.

Under New Zealand’s Compulsory Military Training Scheme, NZ1092 along with the other MkIII Harvards served with the Territorial Air Force. NZ`1092 served in No.2 Squadron (Ohakea) 07 September 1956-27 March 1957, and with No.1 Squadron (Whenuapai) 27 March 1957-22 August 1957. In 1957 the Territorial Air Force was disbanded and the MkIII Harvards moved to Wigram.

The Harvards continued to be used for training roles in the RNZAF and were finally withdrawn from service in 1977.

NZ1092 was the first Harvard to be sold by the RNZAF (to Trevor Bland ex RNZAF pilot and founder of the NZ Warbirds Association Inc). It was registered as ZK-WAR and became the first warbird of the “Warbirds Association” at Ardmore. It was purchased by its current owner in 2012 and is now operated by Strikemaster Ltd.