Last week, while attempting to write, I was
wasting time perusing Youtube when I came across the video above. It made me wonder, “how flexible is my definition of a warbird?”
The aircraft in question is a Titan T-51 Mustang. It is a 3/4th scale replica of a P-51. Like any kit plane, it comes to you in boxes and you put it together. The kit runs just below $55,000 and the manufacturer indicates an average completion cost of under $90,000. I’ll go out on a limb and say, it’s not a warbird; it’s a plane for warbird enthusiasts. I offer the following reasons why I think a warbird enthusiast would enjoy this plane: looks, affordability, and performance.
The plane, while visibly smaller than the beast that is a P-51, looks very much like a P-51D. Like any great warbird, except maybe the T-28/34 or the jets, the engine still severely impedes the view out the front on the ground. In addition to great lines, the gear retract, it has a scoop and sports a bubble canopy just like the real thing. In short, it has the looks, but in a smaller package.
When compared to many other aircraft, including P-51s, purchase and completion prices are very affordable. In fact, since most P-51s sell for millions, this is a steal. Thanks to the available engine options, it’s pretty cheap to fly, too. The engine the manufacturer recommends is the Rotax 912s and, while it is a great engine for light planes, its singing voice pales in comparison to a Merlin; on the other hand, it wins on economical fuel burn by a long shot. In case you don’t like the Rotax engines, it will also take a selection of other engines, such as the 183 hp generating Suzuki H27A 2.7L V6, which increase performance over the 100 hp Rotaxes.
That brings us to performance, the T-51 is rated for +6/-4 Gs. There are a lot of aerobatics that can be done, with the appropriate training, well inside of that envelope. With a big engine, this plane can easily hit its Vne of 197 MPH. I call that performance. On the other end of the spectrum, a low stall speed makes landing rolls and take off runs short, about 300 feet. This plane could easily be operated from a small farm and probably every airport in the country. Even better, it can be built to comply with LSA regulations, which means all you Sport Pilot guys can fly it. You will lose the retractable gear, but gain some flexibility. In my book, that’s a pretty good deal.
So, is it a warbird? In my book, no. Is it a great plane that any warbird enthusiast would love? Yes, by a long shot. So what’s your take on these replicas? Do you see them as warbirds or are they something for enthusiasts of lesser means? Maybe it’s an everyday plane for a Mustang driver? Hit up the comments and let me know.