The P-51 Mustang
The P-51 Mustang is one of the most famous aircrafts of World War II. As Field Marshal Herman Goering said "When I saw the Mustang over Berlin I Knew the War was Lost"
The P-51 Mustang was one of the most famous aircraft of World War II. Its outstanding qualities brought it to the forefront of the Allies fighters in the European theatre. One of its many attributes was its ability to escort the B-17 Bomber over long distances and some times right into the heart of Germany. As Field Marshal Herman Goering said at the end of the war “when I saw the Mustang over Berlin I knew the war was lost”.
In 1940 The British Air Purchasing Commission (BAPC) began discussions with the North American Aviation Company (NAA) The British wanted them to build the Curtiss Hawk 87 (Kitty Hawk) but the NAA said that they could design and build a much better fighter. After much arguments the British signed the contract for the prototype that was derived in only 117 days combined every modern aerodynamic structural systems and four 7.7mm Browning machine guns it also had an exceptional internal fuel capacity and low drag.
In April 1942 the Mustang entered service with the RAF as a low-level reconnaissance Aircraft. It was far better then any previous American fighter, but the low rated height of its engine resulted in poor performance above medium altitudes. But this was overcome by fitting a 60-series Merlin Engine and the first Mustang X Flew on October 13 1942. However only a few weeks later the British ordered a different conversion in a massive number of 2,200 with additional intercooler and oil radiator, a large-area four-blade propeller to absorb the power at high altitude and with four 12.7mm machine guns. At this time the US Army Air Corps required the NAA to deliver two Mustangs without charge for evaluation. So successful were the trials that 150 were order as P-51 Apache but with two M-2 Cannons in the nose and six 12.7mm machine. The US later adopted the British name Mustang. By summer of 1943 extremely large-scale production of the P-51B was under way at Inglewood Ca. and the identical C at Dallas TX.
In December of 1943 the combat wing of the 8th Army in England received the Aircraft and now the Allies had a long-range bomber escort and with its drop tanks 108 US gallons which now could reach target 850 miles away, covering every point in Western Europe. And once the tanks had been emptied and dropped the P-51 could out-perform any regular German BF-109 or Fw-190.
One squadron, flying the P-51 Mustangs, flew into history by not losing a single bomber to enemy fighters; they were the fighting 99th or the Tuskegee Airmen. Their aircraft were highly noticeable by their bright red tails.
In 1944 the NAA introduced the P-51D with sliding ‘bubble’ canopy, cut down rear fuselage and increased firepower later bigger bomb-load. And some of the P-51D’s had been issued to the Chinese Air Force along with the K models was impressed into the Peoples Republic Air Force and saw service in the Korean War. Some of the P-51D’s supplied to the Philippine Air Force saw action against insurgent forces in 1947 and remained in service until 1959. In all the P-51’s served in many Allied Air Forces and is possibly the ultimate piston engine combat fighter aircraft of its time.
By the end of 1944 the NAA built the P-51F and G lightweight Mustang from which emerged the final production model the P-51H a few of which saw action against Japan. By the end of the war two twin Mustang had been build the P-51J and the P-82 both to late for service in World War II but he P-82 did see action in the Korea War.
Total Produced: 15,586 including 200 assembled by Commonwealth Aircraft in Australia.
Crew: One, though there were some two seat conversions
Engine: One Vee-12 Liquid-cooled 1750 Allison all Later production models Packard V-1650 and in H models only 2,218hp
Range: V-1750 Model maximum 750 miles in the D and H’s with tanks 2.440 Miles