North American P51 Mustang Profiles and Logos

Profiles and Logos

The North American P51 Mustang was an American long range fighter used during World War 2 and the Korean War. The P51 was designed to a British requirement - in fact North American were approached by the British to build the Curtiss P-40 under licence but proposed a new design to meet the requirement.

The prototype first flew on 26th October 1940 and the Mustang Mk1 entered service with 26 Squadron in January 1942. The original aircraft were powered by the Allison V-1710 engine. The power from this engine dropped off above 15,000ft as it only had a single stage supercharger. Ronald Harker, the Rolls Royce test pilot suggested fitting a RR Merlin 61 as this had a two speed, two stage supercharger. Once fitted the top speed increased from 390 to 440 mph and the service ceiling increased to nearly 42,000ft. At the same time Rolls Royce licensed Packard of the USA to build the Merlin engine and fitted to the P51 became the P51B. As the new engine was heavier than the original Allison, the centre of gravity moved forward allowing the installation of a fuel tank behind the pilot greatly increasing the range. This aircraft entered service with the 8th & 9th Air Forces in Europe in the winter of 1943.

The Mustang was used as a long range bomber escort and out performed all the German aircraft at the bombers operating altitude, greatly decreasing the bomber loss rate. Mustangs claimed 4,950 aircraft shot down and 4,131 destroyed on the ground, over half of all USAAF claims in the European theatre. In all more than 15,000 Mustangs were built.