North-American P51 Mustang


Chute! You're faded
"Chute! You're faded", a P-51D from the 339th Fighter Group.
As Great-Britain was requesting North American Aviation to build Curtiss P-40s under licence, the design team instead suggested to create a better plane for Britain's needs. This new design was from the start aerodynamically pure, fitted with laminar flow wings for high-speed performance, and a radiator scoop offering a ramjet effect. One element was still lacking for the plane to be a complete success: a better high altitude engine. After switching to the British-designed Merlin engine, and with an incredible range allowing the P-51D to escort bombers from Britain to Berlin and back, the Mustang would become the most important allied fighter of World War 2.

Development

Allison-powered Mustangs

Betty Jean
"Betty Jean", a cannon-armed P-51 at Anzio (Italy) in April 1944.

1,570 Allison-powered Mustangs have been built, of which 764 were delivered to the RAF, and 10 to USSR for evaluation.

Merlin-powered Mustangs

North American P-51B Mustang North American P-51B Mustang
Engine Packard Merlin V-1650-3 liquid-cooled V12 1,380 hp (WEP: 1,600 hp)
Weight at take-off: 4,082 kg (9,000 lb) clean.
Armament Four 12.7 mm (.50 cal) wing-mounted machine guns
Performance Max speed: 708 km/h (440 mph) Ceiling: 12,800 m (42,000 ft)
North American P-51D Mustang North American P-51D Mustang
Engine Packard Merlin V-1650-7 liquid-cooled V12 1,490 hp (WEP: 1,720 hp)
Weight at take-off: 4,286 kg (9,450 lb) clean.
Armament Six 12.7 mm (.50 cal) wing-mounted machine guns
Performance Max speed: 703 km/h (437 mph) Ceiling: 12,800 m (42,000 ft)

Stof's notes about this plane in iMOL's WarBirds

The opinions expressed below are only my own, and nothing more...
It's the perfect plane for Boom & Zoom tactics: diving at high speed on your opponent, firing with all your guns, then using the speed to quickly climb out of reach of the enemy plane... then back again until your opponent is out of the sky. Very efficient against slow and fragile planes like the Zero.

Strong points:

Weak points:


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Copyright ©: Christophe "stof" Arribat - last update:
(Plane photos from Squadron/Signal "P-51 in action")