The P-51 Mustang became famous during WWII. It was a high performance "WarBird" that allowed the Allied Forces to dominate the air war and ultimately, win World War II.
Blow is information on the history of the P-51 Mustang and links to P-51 articles and websites.
P-51 Mustang Historical Snapshot
A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, North American Aviation’s P-51 Mustang was the first U.S. built fighter airplane to push its nose over Europe after the fall of France. Mustangs met and conquered every German plane from the early Junkers to the sleek, twin-jet Messerschmitt 262s.
Although first designed for the British as a medium-altitude fighter, the Mustang excelled in hedge-hopping strafing runs and long-range escort duty. It made a name for itself by blasting trains, ships and enemy installations in Western Europe and by devastating Axis defenses before the Allied invasion of Italy.
The Mustang was the first single-engine plane based in Britain to penetrate Germany, first to reach Berlin, first to go with the heavy bombers over the Ploiesti oil fields in Romania, and first to make a major-scale, all-fighter sweep specifically to hunt down the dwindling Luftwaffe.
One of the highest honors accorded to the Mustang was its rating in 1944 by the Truman Senate War Investigating Committee as “the most aerodynamically perfect pursuit plane in existence.” The North American prototype, NA-73X, was first flown on Oct. 26, 1940. At least eight versions of the Mustang were produced.
P-51 Mustang Engine
The Mustang was originally designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which, in its earlier variants, had limited high-altitude performance. It was first flown operationally by the RAF as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber (Mustang Mk I). The replacement of the Allison with a Rolls-Royce Merlin resulted in the P-51B/C (Mustang Mk III) model and transformed the Mustang's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, allowing the aircraft to compete with the Luftwaffe's fighters. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 two-stage two-speed supercharged engine and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning machine guns.
P-51 Mustang Military History
From late 1943, P-51Bs and Cs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF's Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also used by Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean, Italian and Pacific theaters. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed to have destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft.
At the start of the Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters, including the F-86, took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After the Korean War, Mustangs became popular civilian Warbird and air racing aircraft.
P-51 Informational Links
The Aviation History Online Museum - In late 1939, with the likelihood of full scale war in Europe a major concern, the British Royal Air Force was looking seriously at methods of quickly increasing its fighter strength. In April 1940, the British Air Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation with the intent of having them build Curtiss P-40's for the RAF. Since the P-40 design went back to 1933, James H. "Dutch" Kendelberger, the president of North American offered to build an entirely new advanced fighter using the same Allison V-1710-39 engine used on the P-40. It was said that "Dutch" got his inspiration for the P-51 after a 1938 tour of aircraft industries in Great Britain and Germany - Read More
AcePilots.com P-51 Mustang Page By Stephan Sherman - North American Aviation originally designed the Mustang in response to a British specification. They agreed to produce the first prototype only 4 months after signing the contract in April 1940.
By the end of 1941 North American had delivered the first Mustang to England for test flights. These first Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1710 engine, a good engine, but one which didn't operate well at high altitudes. Contact: Stephen Sherman
P-51 Mustang Airplane Videos
P-51 Mustang Airplane Technical Specifications
|First flight (XP-51)||May 20, 1941|
|Wing area||233 square feet|
|Horizontal stabilizer span||13 feet|
|Height||8 feet 8 inches|
|Power plant||Packard V-1650 "Merlin" 1,695-hp V-12|
|Speed||425 mph indicated (490 mph in P-51H)|
|Landing gear||Hydraulically operated retractable main gear and tail wheel|
|Propeller||Hamilton Standard, four-blade, hydraulic, constant speed, 11 feet 2 inches, non-feathering|
|Radar||Warning radar in tail to signal approach of other craft from rear (later models)|
|Armament||(Various models) 10 “zero rail” rockets under wings; six .50-caliber machine guns; bomb racks for up to 1,000 pounds of stores or extra fuel tanks under the wings|