Southern Cross Mustangs
The P-51's of Australia and New Zealand
By David Muir

Review by David Harvey

Review Type
First Look
$125 AUD from Red Roo
Contents and Media:
464 pages. See review for contents
Covers all the varieties of P-51's and the schemes used by Australia and NZ including civil schemes.
none that I can tell
Highly Recommended



The P-51 was used by the RAAF and RNZAF during and after WWII followed eventually by the civilian market. The varieties of the types and differences between the Marks of Mustangs can, at times be very complicated for the average modeller to understand. When the civil aircraft are added to the mix the varieties can become an extraordinary mix and variety of colour, types and conversions.

This book started out as a small volume that was to cover just a small area of the P-51, but luckily for us David discovered that he could not stop at that level. To that end the development of the book was stretched out an extra 12+ months than originally expected by Red Roo.

The book

The book is a large, 1.75kg, 464 pages of detail all about the P-51 Mustang variants used by the RAAF, RNZAF and the civil market in the two countries. I received the review copy from Gary Byk of Red Roo Models on the day of the book launch and to say that I was astounded by the size of it is an understatement! Once I started to flick through the pages I was floored by the detail in which David has gone into in compiling this book.

To steal information direct from the Red Roo site - "Southern Cross Mustangs is divided into 17 chapters covering different aspects of the story.

  • BACKGROUND - provides brief overview of the type and its service.
  • MODELS & VARIANTS - examines the differences between and modifications made to the NAA built Mk III (P-51 B/C), Mk IV and IVA (P-51D and K) and the CAC built CA-17 Mk 20 and CA-18 Mk21, Mk 22 and Mk 23.
  • OVERALL SCHEMES - looks at the colours and finishes of the military and civilian liveries.
  • NATIONAL INSIGNIA - charts the evolution of The RAAF and RNZAF insignia.
  • SQUADRON CODES - identifies the style, size and placement of code letters for each unit.
  • SERIALS - explores the background, fonts and placement of the aircraft’s serials.
  • SECONDARY MARKINGS - illustrates the stenciling for each variant and service.
  • OTHER UNIT MARKINGS - describes the designs, logos and badges used by each unit.
  • SPINNER COLOURS - looks at the designs used on spinners in service.
  • PERSONAL MARKINGS - covers nose art, rank pennants and non-regulation markings.
  • INTERNAL FINISHES - describes finishes in the cockpits, wheel wells, engine and gun bays.
  • SHIPPING AND HANDLING - examines the protection methods used before and after delivery.
  • THINGS UNDER WINGS - examines and illustrates all the stores, weapons and equipment hung off the Mustangs in service including US bombs, rockets, fuel tanks, napalm tanks, smoke generators and cine camera tanks; British bombs, smoke generators, CLE and Storepedo containers and rockets and the Australian developed fuel tanks, DDT spray rig, Geletrol rockets and bombs, baggage tanks, fire extinguishing bombs, defoliant tanks, cable layer, target towing equipment, high speed releases for bombs, light series bomb carrier and test/trials equipment.
  • PROFILES - includes 600 profiles in four chapters covering the RAAF Squadrons in the MTO, NAA and CAC built aircraft in Australia, the Pacific, Japan and Korea, the RNZAF aircraft and the civilian operated aircraft of both countries.

The body of the text is supported by eight Appendices:

  • Appendix 1 outlines the history of each unit that operated the type
  • Appendix 2 lists the RAAF Mustang Orders and Instructions for modifications and updates
  • Appendix 3 does the same for the RNZAF modifications and updates
  • Appendix 4 illustrates the RAAF A.5524 painting and marking diagrams
  • Appendix 5 cross references the serials, registrations and names of the civilian Mustangs
  • Appendix 6 cross references the RAAF, RNZAF, ML-KNIL & RAF serials and codes
  • Appendix 7 examines and lists the official colours used in service
  • Appendix 8 provides a list of selected further reading"

    As I have stated above, the book is very thorough and detailed, including such things as:

  • The seven types of tyres used on the WWII and later aircraft,
  • The types of camera ports used on the aircraft,
  • 600 profiles of the colour scheme used on the different aircraft,
  • what colour schemes were used and the differences between the 'accepted' colours and David's interpretation,
  • the list could go on and on.....

Included in the book are numerous images that have come from private collections that have never been seen before. That statement is trotted out quite a bit when it comes to books, but in this case it is well justified. There are numerous B&W as well as colour images of a large variety of aircraft as well as detail shots of the airframes. I even discovered on reading the book that the leading edges of the wings and tail were covered in a thick porous substance in Italy, possibly to protect the edges from damage.

David Muir makes several claims in the book that apparently go against the 'accepted' version of history in relation to the P-51. When he does this he has tried to back them up with images and gives reasons for it rather than just making a statement but it still is left to the reader to make their own decision.



This book is expensive at $125, but as you can see by the contents it is well worth the money. It all comes down to cost versus value. I can't really pile enough credit and superlatives to this book a you may have worked out by now. I am truly amazed at the extent that has been gone to by David. I previously considered the book on the RAAF Mirage to be the top of my book collection but it has been knocked out by this one. The unfortunate thing is that at the price of $125 it will be above what can be afforded by a a great number of people in today's climate.

This book is not just aimed at the modellers but also at the Warbird and Historian market. I feel that it certainly fills this role admirably. To that end I highly recommend this book to all those that have an interest in the P-51 Mustang in the service of the RAAF, RNZAF and civil market. This is a very detailed and, at times, technical book that must be read with a clear mind, a good chair and possibly a drink of choice whilst locked away from any distractions.

Review sample provided by Gary Byk of Red Roo Models and the author, David Muir.

This site is owned by David Harvey

All material is Copyright © 2003-2020 and may only be reproduced for personal use.
Please contact the Editor for permission to use any material on this site for any purpose other than private use.