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P-51 Mustang, U.S. Fighter


Photograph of P-51 Mustang

U.S. Air Force


North American P-51D Mustang


Specifications:


Crew 1
Dimensions 37’0.5” by 32’2.5” by 12’2”
11.29m by 9.82m by 3.71m
Wing area 233 square feet
21.6 square meters
Weight 6300-8600 lbs
2860-3900 kg
Maximum speed       440 mph (708 km/h) at 30,000 feet (9100 meters)
427 mph (687 km/h) at 20,000 feet (6100 meters)
388 mph (624 km/h) at 5000 feet (1500 meters)
Cruise speed 343-244 mph
552-393 km/h
Landing speed 100 mph
161 km/h
Climb rate 48 feet per second
14.6 meters per second
Service ceiling 41,800 feet
12,700 meters
Power plant 1 1620 hp (1208 kW) Packard-Merlin V-1650-3 engine driving a four bladed propeller.
Armament 6 0.50 Browning MG53-2 fixed wing machine guns with 270 or 400 rounds each
External stores 2 1000lb (454 kg) bombs, drop tanks, or rockets
Range 850 miles (1370 km) normal
1650 miles (2660 km) with drop tanks
Fuel 375 gallons (569 gallons with three drop tanks)
1420 liters (2154 liters with three drop tanks)
Production 15,586 of all types to 11/45 at North American Aviation Incorporated, Inglewood CA and Dallas, TX, including:
  1731 P-51A and other early models

1988 P-51B

1750 P-51C

7956 P-51D

1337 P-51K

200 Australian-built (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) P-51D/K equivalents known as Mark 20 through Mark 23, mostly produced postwar

8 P-51H prototypes

555 P-51H
Variants:

The original P-51 had a 1150 hp (857 kW) Allison V-1710-F3R engine and was armed with four 20mm cannon.

The P-51A used a 1200 hp (895 kW) V-1710-81 and was armed with 4 0.50 machine guns.

The P-51B introduced the Packard engine.

The P-51C added two additional wing 0.50 machine guns. but lacked the bubble canopy and fuel capacity of the P-51D.

The P-51K was very similar to the D.

The A-36 Apache was a fighter-bomber version with dive brakes. It saw limited service in Burma.

The P-51H was a lightweight version whose Merlin V-1650-9 engine had a war emergency boosted power of 2218 hp (1654 kW). It could reach a speed of 487 mph (784 km/h) at 15,000 feet (4600m). However, its range was reduced to 1160 miles (1870 km) with drop tanks.

Only the D and H models saw service in the Pacific.


With its great speed, maneuverability, and range, the P-51D Mustang was perhaps the finest fighter of the war. It gained its performance from a revolutionary laminar-flow wing and a Packard-built version of the excellent British Merlin engine. (Early versions of the Mustang, equipped with an Allison engine, were underpowered.) The bubble canopy used on later versions such as the P-51D provided excellent visibility.

The aircraft was designed to meet an urgent April 1940 British requirement and the prototype was developed under a crash program, first flying on 26 October 1940. Employed in the tactical reconnaissance role by the British, the aircraft was found to lack high-altitude performance and did not catch the eye of the U.S. Army Air Force until after war broke out in the Pacific. The first American units, designated F-6A, were used for photoreconnaissance, and additional units were ordered as the A-36 Apache dive bomber. These saw some success in North Africa.

The notion of mating an engine with better high-altitude performance to the Mustang airframe was hit on almost simultaneously by Britain (in October 1942) and the United States (in November). The results were impressive, and the U.S. ordered quantity production starting in June 1943 as the P-51B. The definitive P-51D differed in some details of the fuselage and in the use of the bubble canopy. The P-51D also had increased fuel capacity, giving it its outstanding range.

The Mustang was the only fighter with the range to effectively escort Superfortress bombers on their raids over Japan. However, the combat record of the Mustang in this theater was not nearly as outstanding as in the European theater. In return for destroying 221 Japanese aircraft, the Mustangs suffered 114 combat losses, 43 operational losses, and 107 lost pilots. Given the toughness of the Superfortresses and the weakness of Japanese air defenses at this stage of the war, this exchange rate is difficult to justify. The long flights were so stressful on pilots that they were rotated home after as few as 15 missions, and it became customary to change all the spark plugs out of the engines after every escort mission due to fouling during the long, low-RPM cruises.

28% of Mustang squadrons were deployed to the Pacific.

Image Gallery


Photograph of P-51 Mustang in flight

USAF

Photograph of P-51 Mustang from front

USAF

Photograph of P-51 Mustang from side

USAF

Photograph of P-51 Mustang showing drop tank

USAF

Photograph of P-51 Mustang cockpit

USAF

Photograph of P-51 guns being loaded

USAF

Photograph of P-51 drop tank being loaded

NARA

3-view diagram of P-51 Mustang

NASA



References

Gunston (1986)

Hastings (2007)

Tillman (2010)

Wilson (1998)



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