Wednesday, August 24, 2011

North American P-51 Mustang

North American P-51 Mustang was one of the most renowned and undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically pleasing fighter designs of the Second World War. It served well its pilots of many nationalities even many years after it had been conceived. Its total production figure amounted to nearly 16,000 aircraft. The four basic models - B/C/D/K - presented in this publication, accounted for 4,950 out of 10,720 air victories the USAAF was credited with, and 4,131 out of 8,160 ground victories. Many vintage P-51s are still airworthy today, and every major aviation museum has ambitions to own one. Ordered by the British following a contract signed on 23rd May 1940, Mustang came to life after barely 102 days, when still engineless airframe was put up on the wheels (borrowed from the Harvard). The aircraft was first flown on 26th October. A year later it was coupled to a new powerplant, Rolls-Royce/Packard Merlin, which replaced the older Allison V-1710. The re-engined Mustang, produced as P-51 B at Inglewood plant, and as P-51C at Dallas, surpassed all expectations. P-51D - the upgunned, improved 'bubbletop' model - and P-51 K, its Texan variant, only further confirmed that Mustang was the ultimate in piston-engined fighters.