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         P-51 MUSTANG  

This is a vintage original photograph of a P-51 Mustang.

The P51 Mustang was one of the most effective planes of World War Two. The P51 Mustang gave the bombers of US 8th Air Force the fighter cover it so desperately needed over occupied Europe and, therefore, greatly assisted the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany in World War Two.

The P51 was originally ordered in April 1940 by the British Air Purchasing Commission. There was a realisation in Britain that its bomber squadrons were open to attack during bombing raids and that Fighter Command did not have the aircraft available to give Bomber Command sufficient protection. It was to become obvious during the Battle of Britain that one of the main weaknesses against which the Luftwaffe had no answer, was its inability to protect its bombers for any length of time over southern Britain. The Messerschmitt 109’s were formidable opponents for the Spitfires and Hurricanes of Fighter Command, but their time over Southern England was limited by the amount of fuel they could carry. Therefore, the Luftwaffe’s bombers were left exposed to attack when their fighters had to withdraw. Looked at in reverse, if Bomber Command was to attack Germany, it would be in the same situation as both the Spitfire and Hurricane had a limited range and British bombers would be left exposed once their fighter cover had been withdrawn. This left Bomber Command with two choices - attack during the day with the dangers that would bring or attack at night and trust that bomb aiming would be accurate and anti-aircraft fire inaccurate. Bomber Command selected the latter.

In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, bringing the United States in on the side of the Allies. Any military research and development in America would benefit the British as now the most powerful military nation in the world was an ally. The American air force was also to participate in the bombing of Germany with dangerous daylight raids.

The first flight of the P51 Mustang was in September 1942. The aerodynamics of the Mustang were excellent but initially it was underpowered. Fitted with an Allison engine, it was used primarily for photo reconnaissance. However, this all changed when it was fitted with a powerful V-1650 Merlin engine. This engine gave the Mustang sufficient power to enable its streamline shape to be used to its full advantage.

The following is a list of technical specifications for the P-51 Mustang.

Crew 1
Maximum Speed 437 MPH
Range 1000 Miles. Extended to 1300 Miles when using drop tanks.
Maximum Altitude 41,900 Feet
  • 6 x 0.50 machine guns
  • 10 x zero rail rockets or
  • 2 x 1000 lbs bombs
  • Engine Merlin V-1650
    Horsepower 1,695 hp
    Original Cost $54,000

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