The North American P-51 Mustang

United States of America
United States of America

side viewfront viewunder view

The Mustang turned out to be one of the War winners. In all respects a good to excellent aircraft, coupled with an extraordinary range. It's beginnings can be traced to a british requirement for a fighter, placed in the USA. Originally the British wanted to buy the Curtiss P-40, but since their production capacity was to heavily taxed at the time, they turned toward North American. Experience with the North American BT-9 trainer (or North American NA-19) had satisfied the British, hence the approach to North American. Also, North American had spare production capacity to offer at the time, which meant that the British would see their aircraft coming in faster and earlier. North American didn't want to build the P-40 however, and offered their own design instead, which could be built equally fast. The design they had in mind had already been worked upon, and had advanced features such as a laminar-flow wing, and a coolant duct under the fuselage that not reduced bu in fact increased the speed of the aircraft because of the thrust of the coolant air that left the system.
The British were convinced by this design, and in May 1940 ordered one prototype, the NA-73X, to be delivered in Januari 1941. The prototype was completed in 122 days, of which 20 days had been lost due to a slow delivery of the engine.
the British favoured liquid cooled engines, and the only engine available in the USA was the Allison V-1710-F3R Vee, rated at 1,150 hp (856 kW). The inadequate supercharger resulted in low performance at higher altitudes, although the NA-73 had adequate performance on low altitudes.

Version list:

Further pictures:

North American P-51C Mustang, seen from above
North American P-51C Mustang, seen from above

North American P-51D, 2 wings in formation
North American P-51D, 2 wings in formation

 

Technical data on the North American P-51A Mustang
Powerplant 1 × Allison V-1710-81 Vee, rated at 1200 hp (894.59 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 32 ft 3 inch Height 12 ft 2 inch
Empty weight 6550 lb Operational weight 8800 lb typical
Wing Span 37 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 233 sq ft Service ceiling 31350 ft
Maximum speed 390 mph at 20000 ft Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate 2,300 ft per min,
Climb to 20,000 ft in 9 min 6 sec
Range 750 miles typical,
1250 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 150 Imp gal (180 US gal) Fuel capacity external Up to 250 Imp gal (300 US gal) in two 125 Imp gal (150 US gal) or 62 Imp gal (75 US gal) drop tanks
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 350 rounds each (inboard pair)
  • 2 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 280 rounds each (outboard pair)
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 1,000 lb of disposables carried on 2 under wing hardpoints, rated at 500 lb each. Generally it consisted of 2 × 500, 325, 250, or 100 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 26 October 1940 Operational Service April 1942 - 1960's
Manufacturer North American Aviation, Inc Number produced 15.576 total, 310 this version
Metric system
Length 9.83 m Height 3.71 m
Empty weight 2971 kg Operational weight 3992 kg typical
Wing Span 11.28 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 21.65 m² Service ceiling 9555 m
Maximum speed 628 km/h at 6096 m Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate 701 m per min,
Climb to 6.095 m in 9 min 6 sec
Range 1207 km typical,
2012 km max
Fuel capacity internal 681 liters Fuel capacity external Up to 1.136 liters in two 568 liters or 284 liters drop tanks
Machine guns
  • 2 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 350 rounds each (inboard pair)
  • 2 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 280 rounds each (outboard pair)
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 454 kg of disposables carried on 2 under wing hardpoints, rated at 227 kg each. Generally it consisted of 2 × 227, 148, 113, or 45 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Technical data on the North American P-51B Mustang
Powerplant 1 × Packard V-1650-3, rated at 1,400 hp (1.044 kW), or a maximum combat emergency power, rated at 1620 hp (1207.69 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 32 ft 3 inch Height 8 ft 8 inch
Empty weight 6840 lb Operational weight 9200 lb typical,
11200 lb max
Wing Span 37 ft 0.25 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 233 sq ft Service ceiling 42000 ft
Maximum speed 440 mph at 30000 ft Cruising speed 343 mph at 25000 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 20,000 ft in 7 min 0 seconds Range 810 miles typical,
2200 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 4 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53-2 guns, with 280 rounds for the inboard pair, and 350 for the outboard pair Cannons -
Bomb load up to 2,000 lb on 2 hardpoints, generally being 2 × 1,000 lb or 500 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 26 October 1940 Operational Service April 1942 - 1960's
Manufacturer North American Aviation, Inc Number produced 15.576 total, 1.988 this version
Metric system
Length 9.83 m Height 2.64 m
Empty weight 3103 kg Operational weight 4173 kg typical,
5080 kg max
Wing Span 11.28 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 21.65 m² Service ceiling 12802 m
Maximum speed 708 km/h at 9144 m Cruising speed 552 km/h at 7620 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 6.095 m in 7 min 0 seconds Range 1304 km typical,
3540 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 4 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53-2 guns, with 280 rounds for the inboard pair, and 350 for the outboard pair Cannons -
Bomb load up to 907 kg on 2 hardpoints, generally being 2 × 454 kg or 227 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Technical data on the North American P-51C Mustang
Powerplant 1 × Packard V-1650-7, rated at 1,450 hp (1.044 kW), or a maximum combat emergency power, rated at 1695 hp (1263.61 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 32 ft 3 inch Height 8 ft 8 inch
Empty weight 6985 lb Operational weight 9800 lb typical,
11800 lb max
Wing Span 37 ft 0.25 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 233 sq ft Service ceiling 41900 ft
Maximum speed 435 mph at 30000 ft Cruising speed 397 mph at 25000 ft
Initial climb rate Climb to 20,000 ft in 6 min 54 seconds Range 1300 miles typical,
2440 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 4 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53-2 guns, with 280 rounds for the inboard pair, and 350 for the outboard pair Cannons -
Bomb load up to 2,000 lb on 2 hardpoints, generally being 2 × 1,000 lb or 500 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 26 October 1940 Operational Service April 1942 - 1960's
Manufacturer North American Aviation, Inc Number produced 15.576 total, 1.750 this version
Metric system
Length 9.83 m Height 2.64 m
Empty weight 3168 kg Operational weight 4445 kg typical,
5352 kg max
Wing Span 11.28 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.88
Wing Area 21.65 m² Service ceiling 12771 m
Maximum speed 700 km/h at 9144 m Cruising speed 639 km/h at 7620 m
Initial climb rate Climb to 6.095 m in 6 min 54 seconds Range 2092 km typical,
3927 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 4 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53-2 guns, with 280 rounds for the inboard pair, and 350 for the outboard pair Cannons -
Bomb load up to 907 kg on 2 hardpoints, generally being 2 × 454 kg or 227 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets -

Technical data on the North American P-51D Mustang
Powerplant 1 × Packard (Rolls Royce) V-1650-7 Merlin Vee, rated at 1695 hp (1263.61 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 320 ft 3 inch Height 13 ft 8 inch
Empty weight 7635 lb Operational weight 12100 lb max
Wing Span 37 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.83
Wing Area 235 sq ft Service ceiling 41900 ft
Maximum speed 437 mph at 25000 ft Cruising speed 395 mph at 25000 ft
Initial climb rate 3,475 ft per minute at 5,000 ft altitude,
Climb to 20,000 ft in 7 min 18 sec
Range 950 miles typical,
1650 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 224 Imp gal (269 US gal) Fuel capacity external Up to 183 Imp gal (220 US gal) in two 90 Imp gal (108 US gal) or 62 Imp gal (75 US gal) drop tanks
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 400 rounds each (inboard pair)
  • 4 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 270 rounds each (outboard pairs)
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 2,000 lb carried on 2 underwing hardpoints, rated at 1,000 lb each. General disposable load was 2 × 1,000 lb or 500 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets 10 × 5 inch HVAR air-to-surface rockets on later aircraft in stead of bombs
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 26 October 1940 Operational Service April 1942 - 1960's
Manufacturer North American Aviation, Inc Number produced 15.576 total, 7.956 this version
Metric system
Length 97.61 m Height 4.17 m
Empty weight 3463 kg Operational weight 5489 kg max
Wing Span 11.28 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.83
Wing Area 21.83 m² Service ceiling 12771 m
Maximum speed 703 km/h at 7620 m Cruising speed 636 km/h at 7620 m
Initial climb rate 1.059 m per minute at 1.525 m altitude,
Climb to 6.095 m in 7 min 18 sec
Range 1529 km typical,
2655 km max
Fuel capacity internal 1.018 liters Fuel capacity external Up to 1.018 liters in two 409 liters or 284 liters drop tanks
Machine guns
  • 2 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 400 rounds each (inboard pair)
  • 4 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 270 rounds each (outboard pairs)
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 907 kg carried on 2 underwing hardpoints, rated at 454 kg each. General disposable load was 2 × 454 kg or 227 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets 10 × 127 mm HVAR air-to-surface rockets on later aircraft in stead of bombs

Technical data on the North American P-51H Mustang
Powerplant 1 × Packard V-1650--9, rated at 1,470 hp (1.096 kW), with a maximum emergency output, rated at 2218 hp (1653.5 kW) Role during war
  • Air superiority Fighter
  • Fighter
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Fighter-bomber
  • Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length 33 ft 4 inch Height 8 ft 10 inch
Empty weight 6585 lb Operational weight 9500 lb typical,
11500 lb max
Wing Span 37 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.825
Wing Area 235 sq ft Service ceiling unknown
Maximum speed 487 mph at 25000 ft Cruising speed 359 mph at 10000 ft
Initial climb rate 5,350 ft per min,
Climb to 15,000 ft in 5 min 0 sec
Range 1075 miles typical,
1530 miles max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 6 × 0.50 inch Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 2,000 lb carried on 2 underwing hardpoints, rated at 1,000 lb each. General disposable load was 2 × 1,000 lb or 500 lb bombs Torpedoes/rockets 10 × 5 inch HVAR air-to-surface rockets on later aircraft in stead of bombs
Crew 1Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 26 October 1940 Operational Service April 1942 - 1960's
Manufacturer North American Aviation, Inc Number produced 15.576 total, 557 this version
Metric system
Length 10.16 m Height 2.69 m
Empty weight 2987 kg Operational weight 4309 kg typical,
5216 kg max
Wing Span 11.28 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.825
Wing Area 21.83 m² Service ceiling unknown
Maximum speed 784 km/h at 7620 m Cruising speed 578 km/h at 3048 m
Initial climb rate 1.631 m per min,
Climb to 4.570 m in 5 min 0 sec
Range 1730 km typical,
2462 km max
Fuel capacity internal unknown Fuel capacity external unknown
Machine guns 6 × 12,7 mm Browning MG53-2 fixed forward-firing in the wing Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 907 kg carried on 2 underwing hardpoints, rated at 454 kg each. General disposable load was 2 × 454 kg or 227 kg bombs Torpedoes/rockets 10 × 127 mm HVAR air-to-surface rockets on later aircraft in stead of bombs

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the North American P-51  Mustang
North American P-51 A number of Mustang Mk IA's were delivered to the USAAF, where they were redesignated to P-51. See Mustang Mk IA for more details.

P-51-1 55 Conversions from the P-51 to reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with 2 K-24 cameras.


Redesignated aircraft
North American P-51A Mustang During the operational life of the P-51/A-36A Apache the value of the Mustang as a multi-role fighter became more and more appreciated. An additional 310 aircraft were ordered with a powerplant of 1 × Allison V-1710-81, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW). For further details see above.
Of these aircraft only 260 were deliverd to the USAAF, which stationed most of them in the CBI (China, Birma, India). In this theatre a number of aircraft were often fitted with a cluster of 3 bazooka-like rockets to add additional firepower in their ground-attack role.
50 aircraft were delivered to great Britain, to replace the Mustang Mk I, and were subsequently redesignated Mustang Mk II.
35 aircraft were converted to the F-6B standard, to operate as photo-reconnaissance aircraft mostly used in the ETO (European Theatre of Operations).
Number built: 310
North American P-51B Mustang During the War Rolls Royce were given the opportunity to test aircraft not fitted with their engines. A test with the Mustang Mk I revealed that it had very good agility and performance, but that at altitude the latter suffered severely. The conclusion was reached that in case the Mustang would be fitted with the Rolls Royce Merlin (61) engine fitted with a two-stage two-speed supercharger, it would overcome this problem and would be an excellent aircraft. Guesses concerning a Merlin-powered Mustang revealed a speed of 432 Mph (695 km/h), far higher than any Allison powered Mustang. After 5 Mustangs had been converted to Merlin 65/66 powered aircraft it was proven that these speeds could be reached. Rolls Royce approached the USAAF and North American with their idea to fit the Mustang with Merlins. North American stood open for the idea because at that moment Packard was producing Merlin XX's already, meaning there was a USA source for the engines. The USAAF also approved the idea, because it meant there was no need to fear a shortage of other engines that currently were powering the Republic P-47 and Lockheed P-38.
The 2 XP-51B's that were powered by a Packard V-1650 license built Rolls Royce Merlin possessed a max level speed of 453 Mph (729 km/h) at 28,800 ft (8.780 m). The final P-51B's were thus fitted with 1 × Packard V-1650-3, rated at 1,400 hp (1.044 kW), or 1,620 hp (1.208 kW) maximum combat emergency power. See details above

P-51B-1 The initial P-51B standard, see technical details.
P-51B-5 P-51B-1 with increased internal fuel in the rear fuselage. Capacity was increased with 71 Imp gal (80 US gal, 322 liters)
P-51B-10 Unknown changes
P-51B-15 Unknown changes


Number built: 1.988
North American P-51C Mustang Identical to the P-51B, but powered by 1 × Packard V-1650-7, rated at 1,450 hp (1.081 kW), or 1,695 hp (1.264 kW) combat emergency rating.
Number built: 1.750
North American P-51D Mustang This was the final P-51 version. It was based on the P-51B and P-51C, but had amongst others the cockpit canopy revised to the teardrop bubble canopy offering clear view to the rear. Also there were some small changes to the wingroots (slightly extended forward), and a small dorsal fillet to improve directional stability of the aircraft. The P-51D was armed by 4 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning MG53-2 guns with 1.600 rounds (400 each), or 6 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning MG53-2 guns with 1.880 rounds.
Because the demand for the P-51 was so high, the first batch was produced with the original canopy, the rest with the teardrop canopy.
Early P-51D's had provisions for two underwing assemblies of 3 launcher tubes for the 4.5 inch (114 mm) M8 air-to-surface rockets with an HE warhead. The P-51D-25 and onward possessed zero-length underwing launchers for the 5 inch (127 mm) HVAR air-to-surface rockets with an HE warhead. In this case 3 launchers under each wing could be carried together with drop tanks, or 5 launchers under each wing without drop tanks. In the Pacific Theatre of Operations the P-51D was the only aircraft capable of escorting Boeing B-29's to Japana, and not even all the way. They had to take off at Iwo Jima to reduce the range, and carry 2 × 138 Imp gal (165 US gal, 625 liters) drop tanks.

P-51D-1 Original batch, still without the teardrop canopy.
Number built: 800
P-51D-5 and onward Revised teardrop canopy and dorsal fillet.
Number built: 7.156


number built: 7.956
North American P-51F Mustang North American contemplated upon improving the P-51D. As such, range was more than adequate for it's task, so only performance and/or maneuverability were viable options. In order to increase speed and climb rate, either the engine needed to be uprated, or weight should be reduced. To do so, they replaced some metal parts for plastic, removed some items, reduced internal fuel to 171 Imp gal (205 US gal, 776 liters), reduced the armament to 4 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning guns, and introduced a revised bubble canopy. The revised model had a maximum take-off weight of only 9,060 lb (4.110 kg), and this resulted in a max level speed of 466 Mph (750 km/h) at 29,000 ft (8.840 m). Weight was thus reduced with 3,040 lb (.1379 kg), and speed was increased with 29 Mph (47 km/h). This resulted in 3 prototypes
Number built: 3 prototypes
North American P-51G Mustang Like the P-51F, the P-51G was revised in much the same manner, but to a larger extend. The max take-off weight had become 8,885 lb (4.034 kg), and was powered by a Rolls Royce merlin 145M, rated at 1,695 hp (1.264 kW), driving a 5-bladed propeller. Max level speed reached 472 Mph (759 km/h) at 20,750 ft (6.325 m). Only one prototype was produced.
Number built: 1 prototype
North American P-51H Mustang Based on the P-51F, the P-5H was the fastest of all P-51's. It was powered by 1 × Packard V-1650--9, rated at 1,470 hp (1.096 kW), with a maximum emergency output of 2,218 hp (1.654 kW). The P-51F's fuselage was slightly lengthened, and had a little taller vertical tail. Also a 42 Imp gal (50 US gal, 190 liters) fuselage tank and 6 guns were (re-)introduced. See details above.
Number built: 557
North American P-51J Mustang Two prototypes, powered with 1 × Allison V-1710-119, rated 1,500 hp (1.118 kW). The nose entry was completely revised as the carburetor air inlet was incorporated into the ventral radiator installation
Number built: 2 prototypes
North American P-51K Mustang This version was built exactly like the P-51D, and only differed with respect to it's propeller. The P-51D had a Hamilton Standard propeller with a diameter of 11 ft 2 inch (3,40 m), the P-51K had an Aeroproductspropeller with a diameter of 11 ft 2 inch (3,35 m).
Number built: 1.500
North American P-51M Mustang Based on the P-51H, the P-51M had a powerplant of 1 × Packard V-1650-9A. Only 1 was completed before the order was cancelled.
Number built: 1
North American Mustang Mk I The first production model of the famous P-51 Mustang had been initiated by a British order. As such, the aircraft had a lot of typically British features, such as a liquid cooled Vee engine, the Allison V-1710-39, rated at 1,150 hp (856 kW). The empty weight of the Mustang Mk I was 6,300 lb (2.838 kg), max take-off weight was 8,600 lb (3.901 kg). Max level speed was 390 Mph (628 km/h) at 8,000 ft (2.440 m). Range was 1.050 miles (1.690 km), service ceiling was 32,000 ft (9.755 m), and it could climb to 15,000 ft (4.570 m) in 8 min 6 sec. It's armament consisted of:
  • 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the lower parts of the nose, 400 rounds each
  • 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning MG53 fixed forward-firing in the wing, 400 rounds each
  • 4 × 0.30 inch (7,62 mm) Browning MG40 fixed forward-firing in the lower parts of the nose, 500 rounds each
The British had ordered 620 aircraft, 320 NA-73's and 300 NA-83 with some small changes. All these aircraft went to Great Britain, except 12 aircraft. 10 Were sent to Russia, and 2 were sent to the USAAF as the XP-51 for trials.
Initial test in Britain revealed a dramatic loss of performance above 13,000 ft (3.965 m), but other aspects were excellent. It was decided that the Mustang would be used as an Army co-operation (ground attack) and tactical reconnaissance aircraft because of it's good performance at low levels and heavy armament.
Number built: 620
North American Mustang Mk IA Identical to the Mustang Mk I, except it's armament: 4 × 20 mm cannons fixed forward-firing in the wing. This version was also delivered to the USAAF as the P-51.
Number built: 150
North American Mustang Mk II Redesignated P-51A's, when delivered to the RAF
Redesignated aircraft
North American Mustang Mk III 274 P-51B's and 636 P-51C's delivered to the RAF, and subsequently redesignated (910 total). These aircraft still had the hinged cockpit canopy, which the RAF found inadequate because of the egress problems, and poor fields of vision. An unofficial modification was made to most aircraft of theRAF, and a number of aircraft of the USAAF: the 'Malcolm Hood'. This was a blown and bulged canopy that could slide to the rear, and provided a lot better field of vision.
Redesignated aircraft
North American Mustang Mk IV Transferred P-51D's to the RAF, and subsequently redesignated. Also, a number of P-51K's were transferred, and were redesignated to the same Mk.
Number transferred: 271 + 594
North American F-6A Redesignation of the P-51-1 reconnaissance version
Redesignated aircraft
North American F-6B Converted from the P-51A to reconnaissance standard, and redesignated subsequently to F-6B
Converted aircraft: 35
North American F-6C Conversion from the P-51B to photo-reconnaissance standard. These aircraft were fitted with either 2 × K-17, 2 × K-22, or 2 × K-24 cameras.
Number converted: 71
North American F-6D Conversion from the P-51D to photo-reconnaissance standard. These aircraft were fitted with either 2 × K-17, 2 × K-22, or 2 × K-24 cameras.
Number converted: 126
North American F-6K Conversion from the P-51K to photo-reconnaissance standard. These aircraft were fitted with either 2 × K-17, 2 × K-22, or 2 × K-24 cameras.
Number converted: 163
North American A-36A The USAAC had received 2 aircraft as XP-51, but in 1941 they had little interest in the type. The upper command then felt that the aircraft would not fit in enough, because it was built to British requirements (not that British requirements were less, but different, resulting in possible logistical problems etc). It was not until 1942 when the USA had been drawn into World War 2 that the USAAF (former USAAC) returned it's attention to the Mustang. This was mainly because of the very positive British reports about the aircraft, and the intervention of General H. H. 'Hap' Arnold, the commanding officer of the USAAF.
An order of 500 aircraft was placed in April 1942, and these aircraft were designated A-36A Apache. The Apache was powered by 1 × Allison V-1710-87, rated at 1,325 hp (1.030 kW), armed with 6 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Browning guns in the wings, and was able to carry 2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs under the wings for it's intended ground attack and dive-bombing operations. For this the Apache had dive breaks installed to stabilise the aircraft during a shallow dive and keep the speed in range of an estimated optimal speed of 250 Mph (402 km/h). The max level speed of the Apache was 356 Mph (573 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1.525 m), and declined to 310 Mph (499 km/h) with 2 bombs. The clean aerodynamical design was actually a problem for steep dive-bombings, a problem that could not be solved with the dive brakes.
Number built: 500
North American TP-51D Mustang Conversions from the P-51D, with a revised cockpit and relocated radio equipment. This version was a two-seat trainer
Number converted: 10
North American (Commonwealth) Mustang Mk XX Australian P-51D built by Commonwealth. Australia received 1 completed P-51D and components for another 100 aircraft. This version was powered by 1 × Packard V-1650-3.
Number built: 80
North American (Commonwealth) Mustang Mk 21 Australian P-51D built by Commonwealth. This version was powered by 1 × Packard V-1650-7.
Number built: 40
North American (Commonwealth) Mustang Mk 22 Australian P-51D built by Commonwealth. This version had an F.24 camera fitted for photo-reconnaissance. Also, a number of mustang Mk 21's were converted for the same task.
Number built: 14 + 14 conversions
North American (Commonwealth) Mustang Mk 23 Australian P-51D built by Commonwealth. This version was powered by 1 × Rolls Royce Merlin 66 or 70.
Number built: 66

Operational remarks:

The first operational sortie of the Mustang was during a sad event: the Canadian-British landing at Dieppe. During the day in August 1942, a Mustang Mk I scored a kill against a Focke-Wulf Fw 190. During October 1942 the Mustang was the first RAF single-engine aircraft that operated over Germany during the War, a prelude of it's final role of long-range escort for bombers.
The Mustang was also well used in the Photo-reconnaissance role, gathering vital data the Allied forces needed for Operation Overlord, the landings in Normandy.
The P-51B and P-51C were the first long range escort fighters. The P-51B was first used on a mission to Kiel in December 1943, and in March 1944 the first mission to Berlin was flown with the P-51 as escort fighter.
As an escort fighter, the Mustang was instrumental in destroying the Luftwaffe. Raiding allied fighters were mostly left alone to avoid 'unnecessary' losses to the Luftwaffe, but a group of bombers was an entirely different story. Letting the bombers roam free in German airspace was generally considered to be a bad idea, and necessitated the Luftwaffe to intercept. The Mustang then could engage the fighters, and destroy them, while the bombers took care of airfields, production facilities and other strategic targets.
In the Pacific Theatre of Operations the P-51D Mustang was the only fighter capable of escorting the Boeing B-29 Superfortress all the way to Japan, but in order to do so they had to take off at Iwo Jima with extra large droptanks (2 × 138 Imp gal/165 US gal, 625 liters).

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/23/01