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United States' North American P-51 Mustang, Apache fighter

Photos

North American P-51 Mustang fighter:
United States' North American P-51 Mustang fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
North American P-51 Mustang fighter:
United States' North American P-51 Mustang fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
North American P-51 Mustang fighter:
United States' North American P-51 Mustang fighter
North American P-51 Mustang fighter:
United States' North American P-51 Mustang fighter
North American P-51 Mustang fighter:
United States' North American P-51 Mustang fighter

Design

The North American P-51 Mustang was originally designed in 1940 to meet a specification given by the British. Originally the British Purchasing Commission wanted North American to build P-40s for the Royal Air Force (RAF). However, the president of North American, J. H. "Dutch" Kindelberger, wanted North American to produce a better plane. The British accepted the proposal under the proviso that a prototype be done within 120 days. Within 117 days North American had a prototype prepared by Raymond Rice and Edgar Schmued. It had to borrow the landing gear from an AT-6 and it didn't have an engine.

Engine

The original P-51 had an Allison engine which didn't perform well at high altitudes.

The RAF gave Rolls-Royce four Mustangs to have the Merlin 61 engine installed in for testing. This eventually led to Packard building the Merlin under licence.

Wings

Part of the reason for the Mustang's high performance was the low drag laminar flow wing.

Perfect Plane

The Mustang was declared "the most aerodynamically perfect pursuit plane in existence" by the 1944 Truman Senate War Investigating Committee.

Speed and Range Comparison

Speed and Range Comparison

Prototype

The British placed an order and within 117 / 122 days the Mustang was designed, built, and test flown. They ordered 620 Mustang Mk Is with the first being delivered to Britain in October 1941. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) approved the order as long as they received two test models.

The NA-73 first flew in October 1940 / October 26, 1940.

The XP-51 first flew in May 1941. The XP-51B first flew on November 30, 1942. The XP-51D first flew on November 17, 1943. The XP-51F first flew in February 1944. The XP-51G first flew in August 1944. The XP-51J first flew in April 1945.

Production

Production Comparison

Production Comparison

Variants

  • North American NA-73, North American NA-73X: First prototype.
  • North American XP-51: Two prototypes taken from Great Britian's A-36 order and evaluated by the United States Air Force and were not adopted.
  • North American XP-51B / North American XP-78: Had Packard V-1650-3 Merlin engine. Had ventral intercooler intake.
  • North American XP-51F: Prototype. Was to be light weight. Some parts were replaced by plastic. Wheels were smaller. Two of the machine guns were removed. The Fuselage fuel tank was removed. A light three blade propeller was used. Saved about 1,425 lb / 1,500 lb / 680 kg. Speed increased by 25 mph / 40 kph. Flight stability stopped further work.
  • North American XP-51G: Prototype. Was to be light weight. Powered by Merlin 14SM (1,910 HP). Top speed 472 mph.
  • North American XP-51J: Prototype. Was to be light weight. Powered by Allison V-1710-119 (1,700 HP).
  • North American Mustang X: Was Mustang Is converted to have Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Had bulbous nose intake.
  • North American NA-73: Prototype. Had an Allison V-1710-F3F engine (1,100 HP).
  • North American Mustang Mk I: Supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF). First flew on May 1, 1941.
  • North American Mustang Mk IA: Supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF). Had cannons for armament. Originally called Apache by the United States Army Air Force.
  • North American Mustang Mk II: Supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF).
  • North American A-36A: Ground attack. Had wing bomb shackles. Had four 20 mm cannons in the wings.
  • North American P-51A / North American Mustang Mk II: Used a Allison V-1710-81 engine (1,200 HP). First deliveries occurred in spring 1943.
  • North American P-51B / North American Mustang Mk III: Additional fuselage fuel tank. Had Merlin engine (built by Packard) installed.
  • North American P-51C / North American Mustang Mk III:
  • North American P-51D / North American Mustang Mk IV: Tear drop canopy.
  • North American P-51H: Top speed was 472 mph / 760 kph / 487 mph / 784 kph
  • North American P-51K: Used Aeroproducts propeller.
  • North American P-51L: Used direct fuel injected V-1650-11 (2,270 HP). None of the 1,700 ordered were built as war ended.
  • North American P-51M: Identical to P-51H but was to be built in different factory. One delivered. Used a V-1650-9A Merlin engine (2,220 HP).
  • North American F-6A: Photo reconnaissance conversion. Converted from 57 Mustang Mk IAs that were diverted from British orders right after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • North American F-6B: Photo reconnaissance conversion. Converted from 35 P-51As. Also 91 converted from P-51B.

Produced by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (Australia):

  • Mk. XX: Fighter bomber. Designed from P-51D. First flew in May 1945.
  • Mk. XXI: Fighter bomber.
  • Mk. XXII: Reconnaissance.
  • Mk. XXIII: Reconnaissance. Had Rolls-Royce Merlin 70 engine.

Usage

In addition to the United States, eleven other Allied air forces flew the P-51.

  • P-51, P-51A, A-36: Britain, Canada, United States
  • P-51B, P-51C: Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, South Africa, Sweden, United States
  • P-51D, P-51K: Australia, Britain, China, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, United States
  • P-51H: United States
  • Britain and Commonwealth Mustang IV: 875 P-51Ds and P-51Ks.

United States' Initial Use

The USAAC initially ordered 50 aircraft to be used for reconnaissance. Later 500 A-36As were ordered as dive bombers.

Missions

There were 213,873 missions flown in Europe by the P-51 Mustangs.

Enemy Planes Destroyed

The P-51 Mustangs shot down 4,950 enemy aircraft and destroyed 4,131 on the ground.

Aces

There were 281 Allied aces that flew P-51s.

Shot Down Jets

Lieutenant Urban L. Drew shot down two Me 262 jets in October 1944.

Korean War

Mustangs saw combat in the Korean War.

Specifications

  North American P-51 Mustang
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 1: Allison
1: Allison V-1710-39
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,150
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 37'
11.28 m
Length 32' 2", 32' 3"
9.83 m
Height 8' 8", 12' 2"
3.71 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 6,550 lb
2,971 kg
Loaded 7,700 lb, 8,800 lb
3,992 kg
Performance  
Speed 400 mph
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m
387 mph
622 kph
Cruising speed 307 mph
494 kph
Climb 2,600'/minute
792 m/minute
Service ceiling 31,350'
9,555 m
Range 450 miles
724 km
Range with drop tanks 1,250 miles
2,010 km
Armament  
  North American P-51 Mustang Mk I
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
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Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
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Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.5" MG
Wings 2: 0.5" MG
4: 0.3" MG
  North American P-51 Mustang Mk IA
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Wings 4: 20 mm

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, General Editor Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  7. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site