North American P-51 Mustang variants

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North American P-51 variants
25 P 51XR Mustang N6WJ Precious Metal Reno Air Race 2014 photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
Precious Metal (aircraft) XR-51D
The sole Mustang Mk.X AM203

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used by Allied air forces during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts. During World War II Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down, second only to the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

The P-51 was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA), under the direction of lead engineer Edgar Schmued, in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission; the prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, albeit without an engine, 102 days after the contract was signed and it was first flown on 26 October.[1] The Mustang was originally designed to use a low-altitude rated Allison V-1710 engine, and was first flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber. Allison-powered Mustangs can be readily identified by the carburetor air intake scoop on the dorsal surface of the nose immediately behind the propeller.

The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a licence-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 series two-stage two-speed supercharged engine, and armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns. This article covers the various variants of the P-51.

Allison-engined Mustangs[edit]

NA-73X[edit]

A Mustang I in British camouflage and American markings on a test flight from the Inglewood, California factory in October 1942.

Mustang Mk I(NA-73)[edit]

The first production contract was awarded by the British for 320 NA-73 fighters, named Mustang Mk I by an anonymous member of the British Purchasing Commission; a second British contract soon followed, which called for 300 more (NA-83) Mustang Mk I fighters. Contractual arrangements were also made for two aircraft from the first order to be delivered to the USAAC for evaluation; these two airframes, 41-038 and 41-039 respectively, were designated XP-51.[2] The first RAF Mustang Mk Is were delivered to 26 Squadron at RAF Gatwick in February 1942 [3] and made their combat debut on 10 May 1942. With their long range and excellent low-altitude performance, they were employed effectively for tactical reconnaissance and ground-attack duties over the English Channel, but were thought to be of limited value as fighters due to their poor performance above 15,000 ft (4,600 m).

P-51/Mustang IA (NA-91)[edit]

The first American order for 150 P-51s, designated NA-91 by North American, were placed by the Army on 7 July 1940.[4] The two XP-51s (41-038 and 41-039) set aside for testing arrived at Wright Field on 24 August and 16 December 1941 respectively.[nb 1] The relatively small size of this first order reflected the fact that the USAAC was still a relatively small, underfunded peacetime organisation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, priority had to be given to building as many of the existing fighters - P-38s, P-39s and P-40s - as possible while simultaneously training pilots and other personnel, which meant that the evaluation of the XP-51s did not begin immediately. However, this did not mean that the XP-51s were neglected, or their testing and evaluation mishandled.[5] The 150 NA-91s were designated P-51 by the newly formed USAAF and were initially named Apache, although this was soon dropped, and the RAF name, Mustang, adopted instead. The USAAF did not like the mixed armament of the British Mustang Is and instead adopted an armament of four long-barrelled 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon, and deleted the .50 cal engine cowling mounted weapons. The British designated this model as Mustang Mk IA. A number of aircraft from this lot were fitted out by the USAAF as F-6A photo-reconnaissance aircraft. The British would fit a number of Mustang Mk Is with similar equipment, like machine guns.[6]

It was quickly evident that the Mustang's performance, although exceptional up to 15,000 ft (4,600 m), was markedly reduced at higher altitudes. The single-speed, single-stage supercharger fitted to the Allison V-1710 engine had been designed to produce its maximum power at a low altitude. Above 15,000 feet, the supercharger's critical altitude rating, the power dropped off rapidly. Prior to the Mustang project, the USAAC had Allison concentrate primarily on turbochargers in concert with General Electric; the turbochargers proved to be reliable and capable of providing significant power increases in the P-38 Lightning and other high-altitude aircraft, in particular in the Air Corps's four-engine bombers. Most of the other uses for the Allison were for low-altitude designs, where a simpler supercharger would suffice. Fitting a turbocharger into the Mustang proved impractical, and Allison was forced to use the only supercharger that was available. In spite of this, the Mustang's advanced aerodynamics showed to advantage, as the Mustang Mk I was about 30 mph (48 km/h) faster than contemporary Curtiss P-40 fighters using the same engine (the V-1710-39 producing 1,220 hp (910 kW) at 10,500 ft (3,200 m), driving a 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m) diameter, three-blade Curtiss-Electric propeller).[7] The Mustang Mk I was 30 mph (48 km/h) faster than the Spitfire Mk VC at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and 35 mph (56 km/h) faster at 15,000 ft (4,600 m), despite the British aircraft's more powerful engine.[8]

Although it has often been stated that the poor performance of the Allison engine above 15,000 ft (4,600 m) was a surprise and disappointment to the RAF and USAAF, this has to be regarded as a myth; aviation engineers of the time were fully capable of correctly assessing the performance of an aircraft's engine and supercharger.[9] As evidence of this, in mid-1941, the 93rd and 102nd airframes from the NA-91 order were slated to be set aside and fitted and tested with Packard Merlin engines, with each receiving the designation XP-51B.[10]

P-51 Mustang on a test flight, October 1942; this particular aircraft (41-37416?) may have been allocated to the RAF as a Mustang 1A.

P-51A/Mustang II (NA-99)[edit]

On 23 June 1942, a contract was placed for 1,200 P-51As (NA-99s). The P-51A used the new Allison V-1710-81 engine, a development of the V-1710-39, driving a 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter three-bladed Curtiss-Electric propeller. The armament was changed to four wing-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns, two in each wing, with a maximum of 350 rounds per gun (rpg) for the inboard guns and 280 rpg for the outboard. Other improvements were made in parallel with the A-36, including an improved, fixed air duct inlet replacing the movable fitting of previous Mustang models and the fitting of wing racks able to carry either 75 or 150 U.S. gal (284 or 568 l) drop tanks, increasing the maximum ferry range to 2,740 mi (4,410 km) with the 150 gal (568 l) tanks. The top speed was raised to 409 mph (658 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m). A total of 50 aircraft were shipped to England, serving as Mustang Mk IIs in the RAF.[11]

A-36 Apache/Invader (NA-97)[edit]

Main article: North American A-36

On 16 April 1942, Fighter Project Officer Benjamin S. Kelsey ordered 500 A-36 Apaches, a redesign that included six .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, dive brakes, and the ability to carry two 500 lb (230 kg) bombs. Kelsey would rather have bought more fighters but was willing instead to initiate a higher level of Mustang production at North American by using USAAC funds earmarked for ground-attack aircraft when pursuit aircraft funding had already been allocated.[12]

The 500 were designated A-36A (NA-97). This model became the first USAAF Mustang to see combat. One aircraft (EW998) was passed to the British who gave it the name Mustang Mk I (Dive Bomber).

Merlin-engined Mustangs[edit]

Mustang X[edit]

In April 1942, the RAF's Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU) tested the Mustang and found its performance inadequate at higher altitudes. As such, it was to be used to replace the Tomahawk in Army Cooperation Command squadrons, but the commanding officer was so impressed with its maneuverability and low-altitude speeds that he invited Ronnie Harker from Rolls-Royce's Flight Test establishment to fly it. Rolls-Royce engineers rapidly realized that equipping the Mustang with a Merlin 61 engine with its two-speed two-stage supercharger would substantially improve performance and started converting five aircraft as the Mustang Mk X. Apart from the engine installation, which utilized custom-built engine bearers designed by Rolls-Royce and a standard 10 ft 9 in (3.28 m) diameter, four-bladed Rotol propeller from a Spitfire Mk IX,[13] the Mustang Mk X was a straightforward adaptation of the Mustang Mk I airframe, keeping the same radiator duct design. The Vice-Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Wilfrid R. Freeman, lobbied vociferously for Merlin-powered Mustangs, insisting two of the five experimental Mustang Mk Xs be handed over to Carl Spaatz for trials and evaluation by the U.S. 8th Air Force in Britain.[14] The high-altitude performance improvement was remarkable: the Mustang Mk X (serial number AM208) reached 433 mph (697 km/h) at 22,000 ft (6,700 m), and AL975 tested at an absolute ceiling of 40,600 ft (12,400 m).[15]

An early P-51B assigned to the 356th FS, 354th FG 8th AF in England.

P-51B and P-51C[edit]

The two XP-51Bs[nb 2] were a more thorough conversion than the Mustang X, with a tailor-made engine installation and a complete redesign of the radiator duct. The airframe itself was strengthened, with the fuselage and engine mount area receiving more formers because of the greater weight of the Packard V-1650-3, 1,690 lb (770 kg), compared with the Allison V-1710's 1,335 lb (606 kg). The engine cowling was completely redesigned to house the Packard Merlin, which, because of the intercooler radiator mounted on the supercharger casing, was 5 in (130 mm) taller and used an updraught induction system, rather than the downdraught carburetor of the Allison.[17] The new engine drove a four-bladed 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m) diameter Hamilton Standard propeller that featured cuffs of hard molded rubber.[18] To cater for the increased cooling requirements of the Merlin, a new fuselage duct was designed. This housed a larger radiator, which incorporated a section for the supercharger coolant, and, forward of this and slightly lower, an oil cooler was housed in a secondary duct which drew air through the main opening and exhausted via a separate exit flap.[19]

A "duct rumble" heard by pilots in flight in the prototype P-51B resulted in a full-scale wind-tunnel test at NACA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory. This was carried out by inserting the airplane, with the outer wing panels removed, into the 16-foot wind tunnel. A test engineer would sit in the cockpit with the wind tunnel running and listen for the duct rumble. It was eventually found that the rumble could be eliminated by increasing the gap between the lower surface of the wing and the upper lip of the cooling system duct from 1 inch to 2 inches. The conclusion was that part of the boundary layer on the lower surface of the wing was being ingested into the inlet and separating, causing the radiator to vibrate and producing the rumble.[20] The inlet that went into production on the P-51B was lowered even further to give a separation of 2.63 inches from the bottom of the wing. In addition, the shelf that extended above the oil cooler face was removed and the inlet highlight was swept back.[21]

N3B reflector gunsight with A-1 head assembly.

It was decided that new P-51B (NA-102) would continue with the four wing-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning machine guns (with 350 rpg for the inboard guns and 280 rpg for the outboard) first used in the P-51A, while the bomb rack/external drop tank installation was adapted from the A-36 Apache; the racks were rated to be able to carry up to 500 lb (230 kg) of ordnance and were also capable of carrying drop tanks. The weapons were aimed using the electrically illuminated N-3B reflector sight fitted with an A-1 head assembly which allowed it to be used as a gun or bomb sight through varying the angle of the reflector glass.[22] Pilots were also given the option of having ring and bead sights mounted on the top engine cowling formers. This option was discontinued with the later P-51Ds.[23]

The first XP-51B flew on 30 November 1942.[24] Flight tests confirmed the potential of the new fighter, with the service ceiling being raised by 10,000 feet, with the top speed improving by 50 mph at 30,000 ft (9,100 m). American production was started in early 1943 with the P-51B (NA-102) being manufactured at Inglewood, California, and the P-51C (NA-103) at a new plant in Dallas, Texas, which was in operation by summer 1943.[nb 3] The RAF named these models Mustang Mk III. In performance tests, the P-51B reached 441 mph (709.70 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,100 m).[25] [nb 4] In addition, the extended range made possible by the use of drop tanks enabled the Merlin-powered Mustang to be introduced as a bomber escort with a combat radius of 750 miles using two 75 gal tanks.[25]

The range would be further increased with the introduction of an 85 gal (322 l) self-sealing fuel tank aft of the pilot's seat, starting with the P-51B-5-NA series. When this tank was full, the center of gravity of the Mustang was moved dangerously close to the aft limit. As a result, maneuvers were restricted until the tank was down to about 25 U.S. gal (95 l) and the external tanks had been dropped. Problems with high-speed "porpoising" of the P-51Bs and P-51Cs with the fuselage tanks would lead to the replacement of the fabric-covered elevators with metal-covered surfaces and a reduction of the tailplane incidence.[27] With the fuselage and wing tanks, plus two 75 gal drop tanks, the combat radius was now 880 miles.[25]

P-51C of 311 FG, China, July 1945, shows the dorsal fin fillet which was fitted to help counter control problems experienced when the fuselage fuel tank was fitted.

Despite these modifications, the P-51Bs and P-51Cs, and the newer P-51Ds and P-51Ks, experienced low-speed handling problems that could result in an involuntary "snap-roll" under certain conditions of air speed, angle of attack, gross weight, and center of gravity. Several crash reports tell of P-51Bs and P-51Cs crashing because horizontal stabilizers were torn off during maneuvering. As a result of these problems, a modification kit consisting of a dorsal fin was manufactured. One report stated:

"Unless a dorsal fin is installed on the P-51B, P-51C and P-51D airplanes, a snap roll may result when attempting a slow roll. The horizontal stabilizer will not withstand the effects of a snap roll. To prevent recurrence, the stabilizer should be reinforced in accordance with T.O. 01-60J-18 dated 8 April 1944 and a dorsal fin should be installed. Dorsal fin kits are being made available to overseas activities"

The dorsal fin kits became available in August 1944, and were fitted to P-51Bs and P-51Cs, and to P-51Ds and P-51Ks. Also incorporated was a change to the rudder trim tabs, which would help prevent the pilot over-controlling the aircraft and creating heavy loads on the tail unit.[28]

One of the few remaining complaints with the Merlin-powered aircraft was a poor rearward view. The canopy structure, which was the same as the Allison-engined Mustangs, was made up of flat, framed panels; the pilot gained access, or exited the cockpit by lowering the port side panel and raising the top panel to the right. The canopy could not be opened in flight and tall pilots especially, were hampered by limited headroom.[27] In order to at least partially improve the view from the Mustang, the British had field-modified some Mustangs with clear, sliding canopies called Malcolm hoods (designed by Robert Malcolm), and whose design had also been adopted by the U.S. Navy's own F4U-1D version of the Corsair in April 1944.

A Malcolm Hood-equipped Mustang Mk III flown by Wing Commander Tadeusz Nowierski, CO of 133 (Polish) Wing, RAF Coolham, July 1944.

The new structure was a frameless plexiglas moulding[nb 5] which ballooned outwards at the top and sides, increasing the headroom and allowing increased visibility to the sides and rear.[27] Because the new structure slid backward on runners, it could be slid open in flight. The aerial mast behind the canopy was replaced by a "whip" aerial which was mounted further aft and offset to the right. Most British Mk IIIs were equipped with Malcolm hoods. Several American service groups "acquired" the necessary conversion kits and some American P-51B/P-51Cs appeared with the new canopy, although the majority continued to use the original framed canopies.[27]

P-51Bs and P-51Cs started to arrive in England in August and October 1943. The P-51B/P-51C versions were sent to 15 fighter groups that were part of the 8th and 9th Air Forces in England and the 12th and 15th in Italy (the southern part of Italy was under Allied control by late 1943). Other deployments included the China Burma India Theater (CBI).

Allied strategists quickly exploited the long-range fighter as a bomber escort. It was largely due to the P-51 that daylight bombing raids deep into German territory became possible without prohibitive bomber losses in late 1943.

A number of the P-51B and P-51C aircraft were fitted for photo reconnaissance and designated F-6C.

P-51D and P-51K[edit]

The tenth production P-51B 43-12102, prototype for the P-51D, showing the modified rear fuselage and new canopy and windscreen.

Following combat experience the P-51D series introduced a "teardrop", or "bubble", canopy to rectify problems with poor visibility to the rear of the aircraft.[29] In America, new moulding techniques had been developed to form streamlined nose transparencies for bombers. North American designed a new streamlined plexiglass canopy for the P-51B which was later developed into the teardrop shaped bubble canopy. In late 1942, the tenth production P-51B-1-NA was removed from the assembly lines. From the windshield aft the fuselage was redesigned by cutting down the rear fuselage formers to the same height as those forward of the cockpit; the new shape faired in to the vertical tail unit.[30] A new simpler style of windscreen, with an angled bullet-resistant windscreen mounted on two flat side pieces improved the forward view while the new canopy resulted in exceptional all-round visibility. Wind tunnel tests of a wooden model confirmed that the aerodynamics were sound.[30]

The new model Mustang also had a redesigned wing; alterations to the undercarriage up-locks and inner-door retracting mechanisms meant that there was an additional fillet added forward of each of the wheel bays, increasing the wing area and creating a distinctive "kink" at the inner leading edges. Most significant was a deepening of the wing to the allow the guns to be mounted upright, resulting in a slightly reduced maximum speed compared to P-51B/C variants.[31]

P-51D-25-NA, assigned to Lieutenant Abe P. Rosenberger.[32][nb 6]: This shows the modified wing with the kinked leading edge and the fillet added to the base of the vertical fin. This aircraft is famous in photos as one of "The Bottisham Four."

Other alterations to the wings included new navigation lights, mounted on the wingtips, rather than the smaller lights above and below the wings of the earlier Mustangs, and retractable landing lights which were mounted at the back of the wheel wells; these replaced the lights which had been formerly mounted in the wing leading edges.[31]

The armament was increased with the addition of two more .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, bringing the total to six. The inner pair of machine guns had 400 rpg, and the others had 270 rpg, for a total of 1,880.[33] In previous P-51s, the M2s were mounted at large angle to allow access to the feed chutes from the ammunition trays. This angled mounting had caused problems with the ammunition feed and with spent casings and links failing to clear the gun-chutes, leading to frequent complaints that the guns jammed during combat maneuvers.[34] The new arrangement allowed the M2s to be mounted upright, remedying most of the jamming problems. In addition the weapons were installed along the line of the wing's dihedral, rather than parallel to the ground line as in the earlier Mustangs.[35][nb 7]

The wing racks fitted to the P-51D/P-51K series were strengthened and were able to carry up to 1,000 lb (450 kg) of ordnance, although 500 lb (230 kg) bombs were the recommended maximum load.[36] Later models had removable under-wing 'Zero Rail' rocket pylons added to carry up to ten T64 5.0 in (127 mm) H.V.A.R rockets per plane. The gunsight was changed from the N-3B to the N-9 before the introduction in September 1944 of the K-14 or K-14A gyro-computing sight.[37][nb 8] Apart from these changes, the P-51D and K series retained V-1650-7 engine used in the majority of the P-51B/C series.[39]

P-51K 44-15672 (Lt. Jessie R. Frey of the 362nd FS, 357th FG) shows the Aeroproducts propeller unit with the "uncuffed" blades.[nb 9]

The addition of the 85 U.S gallon (322 l) fuselage fuel tank, coupled with the reduction in area of the new rear fuselage, exacerbated the handling problems already experienced with the B/C series when fitted with the tank, and led to a fillet being added to the base of the vertical tailfin.[31] P-51Ds without fuselage fuel tanks were fitted with either the SCR-522-A or SCR-274-N Command Radio sets and SCR-695-A, or SCR-515 radio transmitters, as well as an AN/APS-13 rear-warning set;[nb 10] P-51Ds and Ks with fuselage tanks used the SCR-522-A and AN/APS-13 only.[40]

The P-51D became the most widely produced variant of the Mustang. During 1945–48, P-51Ds were also built under licence in Australia by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. A Dallas-built version of the P-51D, designated the P-51K, was equipped with an 11 ft (3.4 m) diameter Aeroproducts propeller in place of the 11.2 ft (3.4 m) Hamilton Standard propeller.[41] The hollow-bladed Aeroproducts propeller was unreliable, due to manufacturing problems, with dangerous vibrations at full throttle and was eventually replaced by the Hamilton Standard.[42] By the time of the Korean War, most F-51s were equipped with "uncuffed" Hamilton Standard propellers with wider, blunt-tipped blades.[42]

The photo reconnaissance versions of the P-51D and P-51K were designated F-6D and F-6K respectively. The RAF assigned the name Mustang Mk IV to the P-51D model and Mustang Mk IVA to P-51K models.[42]

The P-51D/P-51K started arriving in Europe in mid-1944 and quickly became the primary USAAF fighter in the theater. It was produced in larger numbers than any other Mustang variant. Nevertheless, by the end of the war, roughly half of all operational Mustangs were still P-51B or P-51C models.

Australian Production[edit]

In November 1944 the Australian government decided to order Australian-built Mustangs, to replace its Curtiss Kittyhawks and CAC Boomerangs in the South West Pacific theatre. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) factory at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne was the only non-U.S. production line for the P-51.

In 1944, 100 P-51Ds were shipped from the U.S. in kit form to inaugurate production. From February 1945, CAC assembled 80 of these under the designation CA-17 Mustang Mark 20, with the first Australian-built aircraft flying on the 29 April 1945 and the first aircraft was handed over to the RAAF on 31 May 1945.[43] The remaining 20 were kept unassembled as spare parts. In addition, 84 P-51Ks were also shipped directly to the RAAF from the USA.

In late 1946, CAC was given another contract to build 170 (reduced to 120) more P-51Ds on its own; these, designated CA-18 Mustang Mark 21, Mark 22 or Mark 23, were manufactured entirely in-house, with only a few components being sourced from overseas.[43] The 21 and 22 used the American-built Packard V-1650-3 or V-1650-7. The Mark 23s,[nb 11] which followed the 21s, were powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 or Merlin 70 engines. The first 26 were built as Mark 21s, followed by 66 Mark 23s; the first 14 Mark 21s were converted to fighter-reconnaissance aircraft, with two F24 cameras in both vertical and oblique positions in the rear fuselage, above and behind the radiator fairing; the designation of these modified Mustangs was changed from Mark 21 to Mark 22. An additional 14 purpose-built Mark 22s, built after the Mark 23s, and powered by either Packard V-1650-7s or Merlin 68s, completed the production run.[43] All of the CA-17s and CA-18s, plus the 84 P-51Ks, used Australian serial numbers prefixed by A68.

In October 1953, six Mustangs, including A68-1, the first Australian built CA-17 Mk 20, were allotted to the Long Range Weapons Development Establishment at Maralinga, South Australia, for use in experiments to gauge the effects of low-yield nuclear atomic bombs. The Mustangs were placed on a dummy airfield about 0.62 mi (1 km) from the blast tower on which two low-yield bombs were detonated. The Mustangs survived intact. In 1967, A68-1 was bought by a U.S. syndicate, for restoration to flight status and is currently owned by Troy Sanders.[44]

After the USAF cancelled orders for P-51H variants, the RAAF followed suit, cancelling 250 locally-built versions, which CAC had assigned the designation CA-21.[45]

The "lightweight" Mustangs[edit]

XP-51F, XP-51G and XP-51J[edit]

An XP-51F (one of three built) with the three-bladed Aeroproducts propeller unit

The lightweight Mustangs had an all-new wing design. The wing airfoils were switched to the NACA 66,2-(1.8)15.5 a=.6 at the root and the NACA NACA 66,2-(1.8)12 a=.6 at the tip. These airfoils were designed to give more low-drag laminar flow than the previous NAA/NACA 45-100 airfoils. In addition, the wing planform was a simple trapezoid, with no leading extension in the wing root region.[21][46]

In 1943, North American submitted a proposal to redesign the P-51D as model NA-105, which was accepted by the USAAF. Modifications included changes to the cowling, a simplified undercarriage with smaller wheels and disc brakes, and a larger canopy and an armament of four .50 Brownings. In total the design was some 1,600 pounds lighter than the P-51D. In test flights the XP-51F achieved 491 mph (790 km/h) at 21,000 feet. The designation XP-51F was assigned to prototypes powered with V-1650 engines (a small number of XP-51Fs were passed to the British as the Mustang V), and XP-51G to those with reverse lend/lease Merlin RM 14 SM engines.[47]

A third lightweight prototype powered by an Allison V-1710-119 engine was added to the development program. This aircraft was designated XP-51J. Since the engine was insufficiently developed, the XP-51J was loaned to Allison for engine development. None of these experimental lightweights went into production.[48]

P-51H[edit]

A P-51H-10-NA showing the longer, slightly deeper fuselage and the lightweight undercarriage with smaller wheels. A taller tailfin was later adopted by the P-51H series.

The P-51H (NA-126) was the final production Mustang, embodying the experience gained in the development of the XP-51F and XP-51G aircraft. This aircraft, with minor differences as the NA-129, came too late to participate in World War II, but it brought the development of the Mustang to a peak as one of the fastest production piston-engine fighters to see service.[49]

The P-51H used the new V-1650-9 engine, a version of the Merlin that included Simmons automatic supercharger boost control with water injection, allowing War Emergency Power as high as 2,218 hp (1,500 kW). Differences between the P-51D included lengthening the fuselage and increasing the height of the tailfin, which greatly reduced the tendency to yaw. The canopy resembled the P-51D style, over a raised pilot's position. Service access to the guns and ammunition was also improved. With the new airframe several hundred pounds lighter, the extra power and a more streamlined radiator, the P-51H was among the fastest propeller fighters ever, able to reach 487 mph (784 km/h or Mach 0.74) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m).

The P-51H was designed to complement the P-47N as the primary aircraft for the invasion of Japan, with 2,000 ordered to be manufactured at Inglewood. Production was just ramping up with 555 delivered when the war ended.

Additional orders, already on the books, were canceled. With the cutback in production, the variants of the P-51H with different versions of the Merlin engine were produced in either limited numbers or terminated. These included the P-51L, similar to the P-51H but utilizing the 2,270 hp (1,690 kW) V-1650-11 engine, which was never built; and its Dallas-built version, the P-51M, or NA-124, which utilized the V-1650-9A engine lacking water injection and therefore rated for lower maximum power, of which one was built out of the original 1629 ordered, serial number 45-11743.

Although some P-51Hs were issued to operational units, none saw combat in World War II, and in postwar service, most were issued to reserve units. One aircraft was provided to the RAF for testing and evaluation. Serial number 44-64192 was designated BuNo 09064 and used by the U.S. Navy to test transonic airfoil designs and then returned to the Air National Guard in 1952. The P-51H was not used for combat in the Korean War despite its improved handling characteristics, since the P-51D was available in much larger numbers and was a proven commodity.

Many of the aerodynamic advances of the P-51 (including the laminar flow wing) were carried over to North American's next generation of jet-powered fighters, the Navy FJ Fury and Air Force F-86 Sabre. The wings, empennage and canopy of the first straight-winged variant of the Fury (the FJ-1) and the unbuilt preliminary prototypes of the P-86/F-86 strongly resembled those of the Mustang before the aircraft were modified with swept-wing designs.

Experimental Mustangs[edit]

The P-51A-NA modified with skis

In early 1944, the first P-51A-1-NA, 43-6003. was fitted and tested with a lightweight retractable ski kit replacing the wheels. This conversion was made in response to a perceived requirement for aircraft that would operate away from prepared airstrips. The main oleo leg fairings were retained, but the main wheel doors and tail wheel doors were removed for the tests. When the undercarriage was retracted, the main gear skis were housed in the space in the lower engine compartment made available by the removal of the fuselage .50 in (12.7 mm) Brownings from the P-51As. The entire installation added 390 lb (180 kg) to the aircraft weight and required that the operating pressure of the hydraulic system had to be increased from 1,000 psi (6,897 kPa) to 1,200 psi (8,276 kPa). Flight tests showed that ground handling was good, and the Mustang could take off and land in a field length of 1,000 ft (300 m); the maximum speed was 18 mph (29 km/h) lower, although it was thought that fairings over the retracted skis would compensate.[50]

Concern over the USAAF's inability to escort B-29s all the way to mainland Japan resulted in the highly classified "Seahorse" project (NAA-133), an effort to "navalize" the P-51. [nb 12] On 15 November 1944, naval aviator (and later test pilot) Lieutenant Bob Elder, in a P-51D-5-NA 44-14017, started flight tests from the deck of the carrier Shangri-La. This Mustang had been fitted with an arrestor hook, which was attached to a reinforced bulkhead behind the tail wheel opening; the hook was housed in a streamlined position under the rudder fairing and could be released from the cockpit.[52] The tests showed that the Mustang could be flown off the carrier deck without the aid of a catapult, using a flap setting of 20° down and 5° of up elevator. Landings were found to be easy, and, by allowing the tail wheel to contact the deck before the main gear, the aircraft could be stopped in a minimum distance.[53] The project was canceled after U.S. Marines secured the Japanese island of Iwo Jima and its airfields, making it possible for standard P-51D models to accompany B-29s all the way to the Japanese home islands and back.[54]

While North American were concentrating on improving the performance of the P-51 through the development of the lightweight Mustangs, in Britain, other avenues of development were being pursued. To this end, two Mustang Mk IIIs (P-51Bs and P-51Cs), FX858 and FX901, were fitted with different Merlin engine variants. The first of these, FX858, was fitted with a Merlin 100 by Rolls-Royce at Hucknall; this engine was similar to the RM 14 SM fitted to the XP-51G and was capable of generating 2,080 hp (1,550 kW) at 22,800 ft (7,000 m) using a boost pressure of +25 lbf/in2 (170 kPa; 80 inHg) in war emergency setting. With this engine, FX858 reached a maximum speed of 453 mph (729 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,500 m), and this could be maintained to 25,000 ft (7,600 m). The climb rate was 4,160 ft/min (21.1 m/s) at 14,000 ft (4,300 m).

FX901 was fitted with a Merlin 113 (also used in the de Havilland Mosquito B. Mk 35). This engine was similar to the Merlin 100, but it was fitted with a supercharger rated for higher altitudes. FX901 was capable of 454 mph (730 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,100 m) and 414 mph (666 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,200 m).[55]

Summary of P-51 Variants[edit]

North American NA-73X and Mustang I side-view silhouettes.png
NA-73X
The initial prototype was designated the NA-73X by the manufacturer, North American Aviation.
Mustang Mk I (NA-73 and NA-83)
The first production contract was awarded by the British for 320 NA-73 fighters. A second British contract for 300 more Mustang Mk Is was assigned a model number of NA-83 by North American. The RAF mostly used its Allison-engined Mustangs as tactical-photo reconnaissance fighters, fitting many of its Mustang I, IA and II variants with camera equipment.
XP-51
Two aircraft of this lot delivered to the USAAF were designated XP-51.
P-51 (NA-91)
In September 1940 150 aircraft were ordered by the USAAF. These were designated by the USAAF as P-51 and initially named the Apache, although this name was dropped early-on for Mustang. The British designated this model as Mustang Mk IA. They were equipped with four long-barrelled 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon instead of machine guns. Following British practice, a number of aircraft from this lot were fitted out by the USAAF as tactical-photo reconnaissance fighters designated F-6A.[56]
A-36A Apache (NA-97)
In early 1942, the USAAF ordered a lot of 500 aircraft modified as dive bombers and designated A-36A. This model became the first USAAF Mustang to see combat. One aircraft was passed to the British, who gave it the name Mustang Mk I (Dive Bomber).
P-51A (NA-99)
Following the A-36A order, the USAAF ordered 310 P-51As, fifty of which were delivered to the RAF as Mustang IIs.[56] 35 P-51As were equipped with K-24 cameras and designated F-6B.[56] All these models of the Mustang were equipped with Allison V-1710 engines except the prototype XP-51B.
North American Mustang X, P-51B and Mustang III side-view silhouettes.png
XP-51B (NA-101)
Two USAAF ordered P-51s had been allocated to be fitted and tested with Packard-Merlins; these were first called XP-78s by the USAAF, but were soon re-designated as XP-51Bs.[56]
P-51B (NA-102)
Beginning with this model the Packard V-1650-3 replaced the Allison, although from the P-51B-10NA series the V-1650-7 was used.[57] Almost 2,000 P-51Bs were built[57]
P-51C (NA-103)
In the summer of 1943, Mustang production was begun at a new plant in Dallas, Texas, as well as at the existing facility in Inglewood, California. The P-51C version mainly used the medium-altitude rated V-1650-7. The RAF named these models Mustang Mk III. 1,750 P-51Cs were built.[57] The RAF also used P-51Bs and Cs, designating them Mustang IIIs. A number of P-51Bs and Cs were modified as tactical-photo reconnaissance fighters and re-designated as F-6Cs.
P-51D (NA-106)
A P-51B-1NA (43-12102) was modified and tested with a cut down rear fuselage and clear-blown canopy structure, becoming the fore-runner of the production P-51Ds.[58]
P-51D (NA-109)
As well as the modified fuselage and new canopy the production P-51Ds had modified wings compared with the P-51B/C series and became the most widely produced variant of the Mustang, with 6,502 being built at Inglewood and 1,600 at Dallas - a combined total of 8,102.[42] 280 were used by the RAF and designated Mustang Mk IV.[42]
P-51K
A Dallas-built variation of the P-51D equipped with an Aeroproducts propeller in place of the Hamilton Standard propeller was designated P-51K; 1,500 of these were built.[42] The RAF received 594 P-51-Ks and assigned them the name Mustang Mk IVA.[42]
F-6D
136 Dallas built P-51Ds were converted to photo-reconnaissance versions designated F-6D.[42]
F-6K
The photo-reconnaissance versions of the P-51K, of which 163 were built, was designated F-6K.[42]
P-51B in flight showing wing planform
Dual control P-51C "Betty Jane" operated by the Collings Foundation.
P-51F
As the USAAF specifications required airframe design to a higher load factor than that used by the British for their fighters, consideration was given to re-designing the Mustang to the lower British requirements in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft and thus improve performance. In 1943, North American submitted a proposal to do the re-design as model NA-105, which was accepted by the USAAF. The designation XP-51F was assigned for prototypes powered with V-1650 engines. A small number of P-51Fs were passed to the British as the Mustang Mk V.
P-51G
XP-51G was assigned to those variants with reverse lend/lease Merlin 14.SM engines. Modifications included changes to the cowling, a simplified undercarriage with smaller wheels and disk brakes, and a larger canopy.
P-51J
A third prototype was added to the development that was powered by an Allison V-1710 engine. This aircraft was designated XP-51J. As the engine was insufficiently developed, the XP-51J was loaned to Allison for engine development.[clarification needed]
P-51H
The final production Mustang, the P-51H, embodied the experience gained in the development of the lightweight XP-51F and XP-51G aircraft. This aircraft, model NA-126, and, with minor differences, NA-129, came too late to participate in World War II, but it brought the development of the Mustang to a peak and was one of the fastest production piston-engine fighters to see service. The P-51H used the Merlin V-1650-9 engine, equipped with Simmons automatic boost control and water injection, allowing War Emergency Power as high as 2,270 hp (1,690 kW). Some of the weight savings inherited from the XP-51F and XP-51G were invested in lengthening the fuselage and increasing the height of the tailfin, greatly reducing the tendency to yaw, and in restoring the fuselage fuel tank. The canopy was changed back to more nearly resemble the P-51D style, over a somewhat raised pilot's position. Service access to the guns and ammunition was improved. The P-51H was designed to complement the P-47N as the primary aircraft for the invasion of Japan, and 2,000 were ordered to be built at the Inglewood plant. With the solution to the problem of yaw control, the P-51H was now considered a suitable candidate for testing as an aircraft carrier-based fighter; but with the end of the war, the testing was cut short, and production was halted after 555 aircraft were built. Although some P-51Hs were issued to operational units, none saw combat. One aircraft was given to the RAF for testing and evaluation. Serial number 44-64192 was re-serialed as BuNo 09064 and used by the U.S. Navy to test transonic airfoil designs, then returned to the Air National Guard in 1952. The P-51H was not used for combat in the Korean War despite its improved handling characteristics, due to the lack of experience with durability of the lighter airframe under combat conditions as well as limited numbers in the USAF inventory.[59]
P-51L
With the cutback in production, the variants of the P-51H with different versions of the Merlin engine were produced in either limited numbers or terminated, including the P-51L, similar to the P-51H but utilizing the 2,270 hp (1,690 kW) V-1650-11 engine, which was never built.
P-51M
The Dallas-built version of the P-51H, the P-51M, or NA-124, which utilized the V-1650-9A engine lacking water injection and therefore rated for lower maximum power, of which one was built out of the original 1629 ordered, AAF Serial Number 45-11743.
F-51
Redesignation of all P-51s in 1947 in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard following establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service.
TF-51D
Twin seat/dual control version of the F-51 with four versus six guns.
Trans-Florida Executive Mustang[60]
XR-51D
25 P 51XR Mustang N6WJ Precious Metal 2014 Reno Air Race
A Unofficial designation to the heavily modified P-51D Reno Air Racer "Precious Metal". Powered by an estimated 3,200 horsepower Griffon. The XR designation, created by the race crew, signifies the specially designed contra-rotating 3-Blade propellers. "Precious Metal" is the only P-51 of its kind flying in the world.
Cavalier 750[60]
Cavalier 1200[60]
Cavalier 1500[60]
Cavalier 2000[60]
Cavalier 2500[60]
Cavalier Mustang II[60]
Cavalier Turbo Mustang III[60]
Piper PA-48 Enforcer
Piper PA48 Enforcer in USAF trials
Losing contender in the Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) tri-service competition, won by the North American OV-10 Bronco. A highly modified Cavalier modification powered by a Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engine.

P-51 Mustang Dimensions, performance and armament[edit]

The basic dimensions of the P-51/A-36 variants remained consistent from the XP-51 through to the experimental "lightweight" P-51s, although there were relatively minor variations in height and wing areas. The P-51H was the first production version of the Mustang to feature a lengthened fuselage and taller tailfin.

Power ratings[edit]

The power rating for the engines could vary according to the type of supercharger fitted, the size of the compressor impeller(s) and the gear speeds selected.

In the case of the Packard Merlin V-1650s, used from the P-51B on, two sets of power ratings can be quoted because these engines were fitted with two-stage, two-speed superchargers; the maximum power generated by the V-1650-3 was 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 13,750 ft (critical altitude) (4,191 m) in low blower using 61 in (1,500 mm) of Mercury "boost"; i.e. 61" Hg.[61] The "boost" is the pressure to which the air–fuel mixture is compressed before being fed through to the engine's cylinders (manifold pressure). Because air pressure and air density decrease with altitude the efficiency of a piston engine drops because of the reduction in the amount of air that can be drawn into the engine; for example the air density at 30,000 ft (9,100 m) is ⅓ of that at sea level, thus only ⅓ of the amount of air can be drawn into the cylinder and only ⅓ of the fuel can be burnt.

A supercharger can be thought of either as artificially increasing the density of the air by compressing it - or as forcing more air than normal into the cylinder every time the piston moves down.[62]

In the case of the Mustang the air being forced through the supercharger air intake was first compressed by the supercharger's first stage, or low blower. The intercooler stopped the compressed mixture from becoming too hot and either igniting before reaching the cylinders, or creating a condition known as knocking.

Two-stage refers to the use of two impellors[nb 13]on a common driveshaft in effect constituting two superchargers in series; a Bendix-Stromberg pressure carburettor injected fuel at 5 psi through a nozzle direct into the supercharger where the first-stage impellor compressed the air/fuel mixture. This was then fed to the smaller second-stage impellor which further compressed the mixture. The impellors were driven by a hydraulically operated two-speed gearbox.[63] At low to medium altitudes, the supercharger was in Low Blower (this referred to the speed at which the impellors were operating). Once the aircraft reached and climbed through the set critical altitude (20,000 ft/6,096 m for the -3) the power would start to drop as the atmospheric pressure, hence the weight of air dropped. As the critical altitude was passed a pressure-operated aneroid capsule operated the gearbox which changed up to High Blower driving the impellors faster, thus compressing a greater volume of the air-fuel mixture.[64][nb 14] This second stage blower required approximately 200 hp (149 kW) to drive it. As a result, the maximum power generated by the V-1650-3 in high blower was 1,210 hp (902 kW) at 25,800 ft (7,863 m), using 61" Hg.[61][65]

The V-1650-7 used in later P-51B/Cs and in the P-51D/K produced slightly more power but, because of the use of slightly different gear ratios for the impellers, the critical altitude ratings of the supercharger stages were lower, 8,500 ft (2,590 m) and 21,400 ft (6,523 m) respectively. Experience showed that most air-to-air combat over Europe was taking place between these altitudes.[27]

The power of the engine could also change according to the Octane rating of the aviation fuel being used. Higher octane fuels allowed boost pressures to be increased without the risks of pre-ignition or knocking.

The British measured boost pressure as lbs./sq.inch (or psi). The normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.6959 psi, although this can vary from day to day: a reading of +6 meant that the air/fuel mix was being compressed by a supercharger blower to 20.7 (rounded figure) psi before entering the engine; +25 meant that the air/fuel mix was being compressed to 39.7 psi. However, there was a problem with the British system of measuring boost, in that in an aircraft the pressure gauges should measure absolute pressure within the engine's supercharger, rather than showing atmospheric pressure at sea level, plus the supercharger's pressure; at sea level this was a reasonable measure but, in engines that were used through different altitudes this method becomes completely arbitrary. Because the Americans measured their boost ratings using inches of Mercury (" Hg), their boost gauges more accurately recorded the absolute pressures being generated by the superchargers at all altitudes.[66]

Inches of Mercury (" Hg) Pounds of Boost[66]
80.9" of mercury= +25 lb boost
66.6" of mercury= +18 lb boost
60.5" of mercury= +15 lb boost
48.3" of mercury= +9 lb boost
42.2" of mercury= +6 lb boost

Reliability of performance figures[edit]

When reading performance figures it should always be borne in mind that weight, the aerodynamic drag generated by different external fittings, the condition of the airframe and/or engine, and all sorts of other factors could influence how an aircraft performed. For example, the P-51's laminar flow wings needed to be kept as clean and smooth as possible; even relatively minor damage on the wing leading edges could drastically reduce top speed. The most accurate performance figures for the P-51 came from tests carried out at facilities such as the USAAF's Flight Test Engineering Branch, which was based at Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio and, for the RAF, the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) based at Boscombe Down. North American Aviation carried out their own performance tests, as did the only other manufacturer of the P-51, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of Australia.

Table of P-51 Dimensions, performance and armament[edit]

Mustang I to P-51D
Mustang Mk I[67] A-36 [67] P-51A[67] P-51B[67] P-51D/K[67]
Wingspan 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m)
Wing area 233.0 ft² (21.65 m²) 233.0 ft² (21.65 m²) 233.0 ft² (21.65 m²) 233.0 ft² (21.65 m²) 235.75 ft² (21.9 m²)
Length 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m)
Height 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)
Empty weight 5,990 lb (2,717 kg) 7,240 lb (3,284 kg) 6,800 lb (3,084 kg) 7,010 lb (3,179 kg) (without fuselage tank) 7,635 lb (3,363 kg)
Loaded weight 8,633 lb (3,915 kg) 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) 9,600 lb (4,354 kg) 9,800 lb (5,125 kg) Maximum permitted (straight flying)(without fuselage tank) 10,500 lb (5,262 kg) Maximum permitted (straight flying)
Engine Allison V-1710-39 Allison V-1710-87 Allison V-1710-81 Packard Merlin V-1650-3 (P-51-B-1NA to -5NA; P-51-C-1NT Packard Merlin V-1650-7
Power 1,220 hp (909 kW) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) (44.7" Hg, 3,000 rpm) 1,325 hp (988 kW) at 5,400 ft (1,646 m) (47" Hg, 3,000 rpm) 1,330 hp (991 kW) at 11,000 ft (3,353 m) ("War Emergency" 57" Hg, 3,000 rpm) 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 13,750 ft (4,191 m) (61" Hg, low blower, 3,000 rpm) 1,590 hp (1,185 kW) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m) (61" Hg, low blower, 3,000 rpm
Maximum speed 382 mph (615 km/h) at 13,700 ft (4,176 m) 368 mph (592 km/h) at 14,000 ft (4,267 m) 409 mph (658 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) 441 mph (710 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,144 m) 438 mph (705 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Rate of climb ft/min ( m/s) at ft ( m) ft/min ( m/s) at ft ( m) 2,660 ft/min (13.5 m/s) at 14,750 ft (4,496 m) 3,520 ft/min (17,9 m/s) at 13,000 ft (3,962 m) 3,510 ft/min (17.8 m/s) at 7,000 ft (2,133 m)
Service ceiling[nb 15] ft (m) ft ( m) ft ( m) 42,00 ft (12,800 m) 41,900 ft (12,770 m)
Wing loading 37.0 lb/ft² (180.6 kg/m²) 42.9 lb/ft² (209.46 kg/m²) 41.2 lb/ft² (201.1 kg/m²) 42.5 lb/ft² (207.5 kg/m²) 44.5 lb/ft² (217.3 kg/m²)
Power/mass 0.14 hp/lb (0.23 kW/kg) 0.13 hp/lb (0.21 kW/kg) 0.14 hp/lb (0.22 kW/kg) 0.15 hp/lb (0.21 kW/kg) 0.15 hp/lb (0.22 kW/kg)
Combat range 480 mi (644 km) on internal fuel,
  • 750 mi (1,207 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks.
400 mi (644 km) on internal fuel,
  • 750 mi (1,207 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks.
400 mi (644 km) internal fuel,
  • 750 mi (1,207 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks.
500 mi (805 km) on internal fuel,
  • 880 mi (1,416 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 1,000 mi (1,609 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
500 mi (805 km) on internal fuel,
  • 880 mi (1,416 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 1,000 mi (1,609 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
Ferry range 900 mi (1,448 km) on internal fuel,
  • 1,600 mi (2,575 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,500 mi (4,023 km), 2 × 150 US gal (568 l) ferry tanks.
900 mi (1,448 km) on internal fuel,
  • 1,600 mi (2,575 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,500 mi (4,023 km), 2 × 150 US gal (568 l) ferry tanks.
900 mi (1,448 km) on internal fuel,
  • 1,600 mi (2,575 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,500 mi (4,023 km), 2 × 150 US gal (568 l)ferry tanks.
1,200 mi (1,931 km), wing/fuselage fuel tank,
  • 1,830 mi (2,945 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,120 mi (3,412 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
1,200 mi (1,931 km), wing/fuselage fuel tank,
  • 1,830 mi (2,945 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,120 mi (3,412 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
Armament
  • 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, two in fuselage, two in each wing; 350 rpg inboard guns, 280 rpg outboard, 400 rpg fuselage.
  • 2 × 250 lb (113 kg) or 2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs
  • 4 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, two in each wing; 350 rpg inboard guns, 280 rpg outboard.
  • 2 × 250 lb (113 kg) or 2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs
  • 4 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, two in each wing; 350 rpg inboard guns, 280 rpg outboard.
  • 2 × 250 lb (113 kg) or 2 × 500 lb (227 kg) bombs
  • 6 × .50 (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, three in each wing; 400 rpg inboard guns, 270 rpg outboard.
  • 2 × 250 lb (110 kg) to 2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
  • provision to carry up to 6 × (with bomb racks) or 10 × (bomb racks removed) 5 in HVAR rockets on zero-length launchers.
CA-18 Mk 22 to F-82E
CA-18 Mustang Mk 22[68] XP-51G[69] P/F-51H[70] P/F-82E[71]
Wingspan 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 37 ft 0 in (11.277 m) 51 ft 2 in (15.6m)
Wing area 235.75 ft² (21.9 m²) 239 ft² (22.2 m²) 239 ft² (22.2 m²) 417.63 ft² (38.8 m²)
Length 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 32 ft 3.5in (9.83 m) 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m) 39 ft 1 in (11.91 m)
Height 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m) 12 ft 8 in (3.88 m) 13 ft 8 in (4.19 m)
Empty weight 7,120 lb (3,229 kg) 5,750 lb (2,608 kg) 6,585 lb (2,986 kg) 15,615 lb (7,083 kg)
Loaded weight 10,500 lb (5,262 kg) Maximum permitted (straight flying) 8,885 lb (4,030 kg) 9,530 lb (4,322 kg) Clean (no external stores) 24,864 lb (11,278 kg)
Engine Rolls-Royce Merlin 70 Rolls-Royce Merlin R.M 14 S.M Packard Merlin V-1650-9 Allison V-1710-143 port, -145, starboard
Power 1,375 hp (1,025 kW) at 13,500 ft (4,115 m) 54" Hg, low blower, 3,000 rpm. 2,080 hp (1,551 kW) at 22,800 ft (6,949 m) "War Emergency", 80" Hg, low blower, 3000 rpm. 1,930 hp (1,439 kW) at 23,500 ft (7,163 m) "War Emergency", 80" Hg, low blower, 3,000 rpm. 1,600 hp (1,193 kW) at take-off: 58" Hg, 3,200 rpm
Maximum speed 448 mph (390 knots) (722 km/h) at 14,000 ft (4,267 m) 495 mph (796 km/h) at 22,800 ft (6,949 m) 487 mph (784 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,620 m) 461 mph (401 knots) (742 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
Rate of climb 3,510 ft/min (17.8 m/s) at 7,000 ft (2,133 m) 5,020 ft/min (25.5 m/s) at 20,000 ft (6,096 m) 5,210 ft/min (26.5 m/s) at 4,400 ft (570 m) 3,770 ft/min (19.15 m/s) at 13,000 ft (3,962 m)
Service ceiling 41,800 ft (12,740 m) 46,000 ft (14,021 m) 41,700 ft (12,710 m. basic) / 44,300 ft (13,500 m. interceptor) 38,898 ft (11,856 m)
Wing loading 44.5 lb/ft² (217.3 kg/m²) 38.1 lb/ft² (186.1 kg/m²) 39.9 lb/ft² (194.7 kg/m²) 59.5 lb/ft² (290.6 kg/m²)
Power/mass 0.13 hp/lb (0.19 kW/kg) 0.23 hp/lb (0.38 kW/kg) 0.20 hp/lb (0.33 kW/kg) 0.13 hp/lb (0.19 kW/kg)
Combat range 500 mi (805 km) on internal fuel,
  • 880 mi (1,416 km), 2 × 61.5 imp gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 1,000 mi (1,609 km), 2 × 91.5 imp gal (416 l) drop tanks.
542 mi (872 km) on internal fuel
  • 936 miles (1,506 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 1,104 mi (1,777 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
Ferry range 1,200 mi (1,931 km), wing/fuselage fuel tank,
  • 1,830 mi (2,945 km), 2 × 61.5 imp gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,120 mi (3,412 km), 2 × 91.5 imp gal (416 l) drop tanks.
1,350 mi (2,172 km) on internal fuel
  • 1,930 mi (3,106 km), 2 × 75 US gal (284 l) drop tanks,
  • 2,230 mi (3,589 km), 2 × 110 US gal (416 l) drop tanks.
  • 2,900 mi (4,667 km), 2 × 165 US gal (l) ferry tanks.
Armament
  • 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, three in each wing; 500 rpg inboard guns, 270 rpg outboard.
  • 2 × 250 lb (110 kg) to 2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
  • 6 × 5 in HVAR rockets on zero-length launchers (three on each wing outboard of bomb racks).
  • 6 × .50 (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, three in each wing; 390 rpg inboard guns, 260 rpg outboard.
  • 2 × 250 lb (110 kg) to 2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
  • provision to carry up to 6 × (with bomb racks) or 10 × (bomb racks removed) 5 in HVAR rockets on zero-length launchers.
  • 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, center-section of wing; 400 rpg.
  • 8 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning, jettisonable pod under center-section; 400 rpg.
  • 8 × 250 lb (110 kg) to 2 × 2,000 lb (910 kg) bombs
  • provision to carry up to 25 × 5 in (127 mm) HVAR rockets, 5 each on "Christmas tree" racks disposed as 1 rack under wing center-section, 2 each outer wing panels.

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Wright Field Flight reports are indexed in the External Links, P-51 (Allison Engine).
  2. ^ The provisional designation XP-78 was dropped after a formal decision had been taken to develop the new engine and airframe combination and to stop production of any further Allison engined aircraft.[16]
  3. ^ The Inglewood manufactured Bs were given the suffix NA (e.g. P-51B-5-NA) while the Dallas manufactured P-51Cs were given the suffix NT (e.g. P-51C-10-NT). P-51Ds used the same NA suffix while the equivalent P-51Ks used the suffix NT.
  4. ^ This was exactly ⅔ supersonic speed, or Mach 0.67[26]
  5. ^ The only proper frames housed the runners at the base; because the fore and aft frames were perspex the canopy was able to break apart should it strike the tail on jettisoning.
  6. ^ This Mustang can also be seen in the heading photo of the 375th FS, 361st FG.
  7. ^ The M2, although not firing an explosive projectile, had excellent ballistics and proved adequate against the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, which were the main USAAF opponents at the time.
  8. ^ The K-14A had range lines for the T64 rockets etched onto the sight reticle.[38]
  9. ^ An AN/APS-13 antenna array can just be seen on the vertical fin and there is an orange formation light in the center of the fuselage star.
  10. ^ Command radio equipment was used to communicate with other aircraft or ground stations, while R/T was used between aircraft only. The AN/APS-13 was fitted to late series aircraft and used four small antenna mounted horizontally on the vertical tail fin.[40]
  11. ^ The prototype of the Mark 23, A68-1001, ex 44-13293, was used as a development aircraft by CAC prior to assembling the CA-17s and was re-engined with a Rolls-Royce Merlin 70 to assess the suitability of the British built engine.[43]
  12. ^ Although tests were conducted on a P-51D, the intent of NA-133 was to develop a naval version of the P-51H.[51]
  13. ^ Impellors were often referred to as "blowers" in American parlance.
  14. ^ The second stage starting was often accompanied by a noticeable jolt, which inexperienced pilots often mistook for some type of engine malfunction.
  15. ^ Note:The Service Ceiling denotes the altitude at which the rate of climb is reduced to 100 ft/min.
  16. ^ Rounds Per Gun.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Kinzey 1996, p.5.
  2. ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 12.
  3. ^ http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/1999/11/stuff_eng_p51early.htm
  4. ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 7, 17.
  5. ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 7, 17-18.
  6. ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 18.
  7. ^ Gruenhagan 1980, pp. 178, 180–181.
  8. ^ Birch 1987, p. 11.
  9. ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 8.
  10. ^ Kinzey 1996, pp. 8, 18, 55.
  11. ^ Gruenhagan 1980, pp. 66–67, 178, 182, 196.
  12. ^ "P-51 History: Mustang I." The Gathering of Mustangs & Legends. Retrieved: 26 March 2009.
  13. ^ Gruenhagen, 1980, pp. 81–82.
  14. ^ Bridgman 1946, pp. 248–249.
  15. ^ Birch 1987, p. 35.
  16. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, p. 74.
  17. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp.72-73.
  18. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, p. 73.
  19. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 74, 76–77.
  20. ^ Matthews 1943.
  21. ^ a b Lednicer, 1991.
  22. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 78, 104–105.
  23. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 104–105.
  24. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 72–79, 178, 182–183.
  25. ^ a b c Gruenhagen 1980, p. 192
  26. ^ "P-51B performance data." Retrieved: 27 July 2008.
  27. ^ a b c d e Gruenhagen 1980, p. 91.
  28. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 91, 110–111.
  29. ^ Kinzey 1997, p. 5.
  30. ^ a b Gruenhagen 1980, p. 96.
  31. ^ a b c Kinzey 1997, p. 11.
  32. ^ http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/361stfg.php?action=list_records&sort_order=ASC&order_by=Squ&recs=All#tabletop
  33. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, p. 386B.
  34. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, p. 90.
  35. ^ Kinzey 1997, p. 6.
  36. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, pp. 398-399.
  37. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, pp. 373, 377-381.
  38. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, p. 373.
  39. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, p. 51.
  40. ^ a b AN 01-60JE-2 1944, p. 336.
  41. ^ AN 01-60JE-2 1944, p. 21.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kinzey 1997, p. 10.
  43. ^ a b c d Anderson 1975, p. 3.
  44. ^ Anderson 1975, p. 71.
  45. ^ "A68 Mustang." RAAF Museum, 2009. Retrieved: 14 December 2012.
  46. ^ P-51H root sectionP-51H tip section Retrieved: 22 March 2008.
  47. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, p. 185.
  48. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 117–125, 185–187.
  49. ^ Kinzey 1997, p. 32.
  50. ^ Grunehagen 1980, pp. 128–129.
  51. ^ Thomason, Tommy H. "Seahorse." Tailhook Topics, 11 June 2011. Retrieved: 21 December 2011.
  52. ^ World Aircraft Information Files, Files 231, sheet 6.
  53. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, p. 129.
  54. ^ Kaplan 2001, p. 51.
  55. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 130–131, 185, 192.
  56. ^ a b c d Kinzey 1996, p. 7.
  57. ^ a b c Kinzey 1996, p. 56.
  58. ^ Kinzey 1996, p. 9.
  59. ^ North American P-51H
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h "American airplanes: ti - ty". Aerofiles.com. 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  61. ^ a b Gruenhagen 1980, p. 183.
  62. ^ Smallwood 1995, p. 133.
  63. ^ Smith 1942, p. 656.
  64. ^ Flight 1945, pp. 315-316.
  65. ^ Smallwood 1995, pp. 132–136.
  66. ^ a b Lowrey 1943, p. 619
  67. ^ a b c d e Gruenhagen 1980, pp. 176–192.
  68. ^ Anderson 1975, pp99-103
  69. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp.122-123, 176, 185, 190
  70. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp.125-127, 176, 185, 192
  71. ^ Gruenhagen 1980, pp.138-142, 178, 188, 190

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]