CAC CA-18 Mustang Mk 23 Merlin 66

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In Game Brief
An Australian built version of a P-51D Mustang, this particular Mk 23 came out with Merlin 70 and Merlin 66 engines. The Merlin 66 is the same low altitude version as found in-game on the Spitfire LF Mk IX. Flight characteristics would be similar to that of the P-51D 30 in game but with the engine performance of the Spitfire LF Mk IX.



With the release of the emergency fighter CAC Boomerang in 1942 to counter a possible Japanese invasion, it was recognized that the Boomerang would be lacking in performance and fast fall behind contemporary fighter designs. Investigations began on a replacement, with three avenues explored being to either upgrade the Boomerang’s engine performance, develop an all new local fighter design (which eventuated as the CA-15 project) or to locally build a proven design from a foreign nation. Due to multiple delays in engine acquisition on the CA-15 project it was eventually settled on building P-51D fighters in Australia, with plans commencing in late December 1942, production began in late 1944 of Mustangs delivered in kit form and assembled locally under the designation CA-17. This type was too late to see action in WW2 but participated in the Occupation of Japan after VJ Day.
In late 1946 however CAC obtained a contract to build Mustangs using components all made from scratch in Australia, these were designated the CA-18. Initial Mk 21 models has a Packard V-1650-7, while the later Mk 23 had Merlin 66 and Merlin 70 engines.
The type would see action in the Korean War.



I could certainly use some help in correctly identifying flight data for the Merlin 66. Unless it’s in the operating manual which I don’t have access to, I’m not sure flight data was published for the Mk 23. I have however found references to use of 150 octane fuel in Mustangs with similar engines by the RAF intercepting V-1 flying bombs, I’ll include a link in the Sources.

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 9.83 m (32 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.28 m (27 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 3.71 m (12 ft 2 in)
  • Empty weight: 3,567 kg (7,863 lb)
  • Gross weight: 4,763 kg (10,500 lb)
  • Engine: Rolls Royce Merlin 66
  • Guns: 6 × 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) AN/M2 Browning machine guns
  • Hardpoints: 2 x 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs or 10 x rockets




I wonder if the rockets and bombs in question are the British RP-3’s/AP Rockets and British Bombs or they just use regular American ground ordinances

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That would make it especially interesting!

That’s actually an interesting question about Australian use of weapons in WW2 in general actually. I wonder if RAAF B-24s used American bombs for example. The rockets in the photo below look like HVARs to me, but it seems the RAAF also had napalm bombs for them.

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These are the specifications listed on page 33 of Australia’s Military Aircraft by Ross Gillbett for the Merlin 66 Mustang:


  • 6 x 0.5-inch MGs
  • up to 2000lb of bombs


  • empty 7,000lb
  • loaded 11,600lb


  • wingspan 37ft
  • length 32.3 1/2ft
  • height 8.8ft


  • one Packard Merlin 66 V-1650-7 12-cylinder engine; 1,490hp

Initial climb

  • 30,000feet/13 mins


  • 41,900 feet


  • cruise 395 mph @ 5,000 feet
  • max 437 mph @ 25,000 feet


  • 1,700 miles
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a p-51 with napalm would be interesting, still waiting for them to give the corsairs firebombs since they did carry them, or at least the external fuel tanks they used as firebombs early on

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It’s a good question. Obviously not the same aircraft but as far as I can tell Australia’s Avon Sabres used British 500/1,000 lb bombs and for rockets could use either HVARs or RP-3s (or Matra T10s but that’s besides the point). Therefore it’s not unreasonable to assume a similar thing might have happened with Australia’s Mustangs. In addition there were trials with British Mustangs fitting RP-3s and I imagine Australia would probably have been interested in doing the same. A flight manual would probably give you that information, at least for the rockets.

Actually, scratch all that, I found a picture from the Australian War Memorial:


Like I had wagered, the bomb is definitely fitted with a British-type fin, and those are three different RP-3s (I can identify the SAP and AP rockets, but I’m not sure what the one in the middle is.) ADF serials says Mustang A68-48 is a CA-17, but I don’t see why the same wouldn’t be applicable to the CA-18.


+1. Absolutely. Put it at 5.0, between the Typhoon and Tempest

25,000 feet is really high for a Merlin 66, I wonder if that’s actually for the Merlin 70.

Great find on the photo.

Good question. I’m not entirely sure how reliable this book is. It is quite old.

Middle one looks a lot like a concrete practice round - I guess it’s a display setup, not an actual war-load!!


Has anyone got Southern Cross Mustangs by David Muir? That may provide some specifications.