|North American P-51 Mustang|
P-51 Mustang in flight
|First flight||October 26, 1940|
|Entered service||January 1942|
|Manufacturer||North American Aviation|
|Wing area||S = 233 ft2|
|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|
|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.
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.
- 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.