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North American P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang in flight

P-51 Mustang in flight

Role Long-range fighter[1]
Crew 1
First flight October 26, 1940
Entered service January 1942
Manufacturer North American Aviation
Produced 15,875
Length 32ft 2.5in 9.81m
Wingspan 37ft 0.5in 11.29m
Height 13ft 8in 4.1m
Wing area S = 233 ft2
Empty 7,125lb 3,230kg
Maximum takeoff 11,600lb 5,206kg
Engine 1 × Packard V-1650
Power (each) 1,520hp 1541.08 met hp
Maximum speed 437mph (at 25,000ft) 703km/h (at 7,620m)
Cruising speed 395mph (at 10,000ft) 635km/h (at 3,048m)
Range (Combat) 950 miles (combat) 1529km
Ceiling 41,900ft 12.770m
Rate of climb 3,475ft/min 1,060m/min

The North American P-51 Mustang was used in WWII by the Allies. It was mainly used as a bomber escort over Germany, but also saw action in the Pacific War. They were designed to have increased range to better suit them for these escorting duties. The P-51 became the USAF's flagship fighter in World War II.

Most of the P-51's wartime escorting trips were over Germany defending the B-17s from attack. It also saw combat in the Pacific theater against Japan. The P-51 was used in the Korean War as well, where it was renamed from P-51 (Pursuit, the former designation) to F-51 (Fighter, the modern one). It was one of the last propeller fighters to be used, being replaced by jets in later years.

Although more expensive to build, the P-51 was very durable and difficult to take down. The Japanese in World War II had trouble matching this plane, and instead built their planes to be built quickly in order to swarm the enemy. This tactic worked as long as the pilots didn't panic. The P-51 was also the first USAF Air Dominance Fighter.

World War II[]

At a conference during World War II, the Allies developed a plan to bomb Germany around the clock. The RAF would bomb by night, and the USAF by day. The USAF needed fighters to defend their bombers against enemy fighter planes. The P-51 Mustang was their answer. It participated in various attacks, like in the Sino-Japanese war in Hong Kong.

800px-XP-51, serial number 41-039

The Mustang prototype.

Many P-51s were fitted with cameras for photo recon duties as the F (Foto) 6.

At least 10 were fitted with a second seat in the rear of the cockpit.


  1. Details are for P-51D. Gunston, Bill. 1988. Pages 132-134.


Gunston, Bill. Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Salamander Books. 1988.


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