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P-51 Mustang (North American Aircraft)
Please wait for the sound file to load and turn up the volume on your speakers.
That's the sound of the big Merlin V-1650 engine.

"Cadillac of the skies"

The P-51 was designed as the NA-73 in 1940 at Britain's request. The design showed promise and AAF purchases of
Allison-powered Mustangs began in 1941 primarily for photo recon and ground support use due to its limited high-altitude
performance. But in 1942, tests of P-51s using the British Rolls-Royce "Merlin" engine revealed much improved speed and
service ceiling, and in Dec. 1943, Merlin-powered P-51Bs first entered combat over Europe. Providing high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, they scored heavily over German interceptors and by war's end, P-51s had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe. Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone, including the Pacific where they escorted B-29s to Japan from Iwo Jima.

Between 1941-5, the AAF ordered 14,855 Mustangs (including A-36A dive bomber and F-6 photo recon versions), of which7,956 were P-51Ds. During the Korean Conflict, P-51Ds were used primarily for close support of ground forces until withdrawn from combat in 1953.

The P-51D shown here was obtained by the U.S. Air Force Museum from the West Virginia ANG in 1957 and was the last prop-driven USAF fighter assigned to a tactical unit. It is painted as the -D flown by Col. C.L. Sluder, CO of the 325th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, in Italy in 1944.

Courtesy U. S. Air Force Museum

p51sm.jpg (3976 bytes)
Click for view of P-51 cockpit

 Take a QuickTime VR tour of a P-51 cockpit at Air & Space Smithsonian

 

VERSIONS

Mustang Mk I (reconnaissance fighter)
Mustang Mk IA and P-51 (cannon armament)
Mustang Mk II and P-51A (longer range version of Mk I)
P-51 B/C and Mustang Mk III (Merlin engine)
P-51D and Mustang MK IV (definitive fighter)
P-51H (light weight version)
P-51K (P-51D with different propeller)

SPECIFICATIONS

Span: 37 ft. 0 in.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Height: 13 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 12,100 lbs. max.
Cost: $54,000

Armament

Six .50-cal. machine guns and ten 5 in. rockets or 2,000 lbs. of bombs.

PERFORMANCE

Engine: Packard built Rolls-Royce "Merlin" V-1650 of 1,695 hp.
Maximum speed: 437 mph.
Cruising speed: 275 mph.
Range: 1,000 miles
Service Ceiling: 41,900 ft.

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