North American P-51 Mustang

U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) fighter aircraft manufactured by North American Aviation, Inc., between 1942 and 1945. In its role as a long-range bomber escort in the European Theater of Operations during World War II, the P-51 exhibited its greatest influence and is credited by many as the airplane that shifted the European airwar in favor of the allied forces.

This P-51 was used by the USAFF, USAF and various U.S. Air National Guard units during and after World War II, performing a variety of missions, including interception of enemy aircraft, long-range bomber escort, armament support for land and sea forces, photographic reconnaissance and flight training.

The P-51 performed at levels surpassing other single-engine, propeller driven fighter aircraft during World War II.  The wingspan of 44-73287 is 37.03 feet and has a wing area of 236 square feet. The plane’s two-section, semimonocoque fuselage is constructed entirely of aluminum alloy and is 32 feet and 2 5/8 inches in length.

Laminar flow airfoil was used during World War II in the design of the wings for the North American P-51 Mustang, as well as some other aircraft. Operationally, the wing did not enhance performance as dramatically as tunnel tests suggested. For the best performance, manufacturing tolerances had to be perfect and maintenance of wing surfaces needed to be thorough. The rush of mass production during the war and the tasks of meticulous maintenance in combat zones never met the standards of NACA laboratories. Still, the work on the laminar flow wing pointed the way to a new family of successful high-speed airfoils. These and other NACA wing sections became the patterns for aircraft around the world.

P-51 Mustang

5 thoughts on “North American P-51 Mustang

  1. P-51 Fan

    The true turning point of WW II came with the debut of the P-51 Mustang in that its long-range escort ability saved the Allied bomber offensive from obliteration. As things were going about the time of the Schweinfurt Raids in mid-to-late 1943, the US was seriously considering ceasing large daylight bombing operations due to extensive losses.

    P-51s truly brought the war to Germany like the bomber alone could not do. Before it the Luftwaffe knew exactly when the P-47s and or Spitfires had to turn back and were waiting to intercept the bombers. As mentioned, losses were high. The Mustangs were able to tag along to any European or Pacific target, no matter how distant, giving the protection of their guns to their “Big Friends” as they stuck close. Once the tide was turning the P-51s were unleashed to pursue enemy fighters on any terms encountered.

    Mustangs were as maneuverable or more so than FW 190s or Bf 109s they met in most circumstances. While the Bs and Cs had four .50s with a total of 1,260 rounds, the D and later models had six guns with 1,880 rounds of API- armor-piercing incendiary ammo. Plus with the Merlin that replaced the original Allison V-12, the planes were faster with a 437-MPH top speed than most German planes but for a handful. The late-war P-51H seen in the closing stages of the Pacific could manage 487 MPH.

    After WW II they served in Air National Guard units and bore much of the ground attack war in Korea. Many saw use in small air forces around the world and some were even revamped in the 1980s for counter insurgency roles. All models’ production totaled around 14,000 aircraft.

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