The Mustang legacy
When the world needed a hero, the P-51 Mustang was born. Designed and built in less than 120 days it was one of the most famous and beloved fighters that changed the nature of aerial warfare during the Second World War.
Before the P-51 Mustang came into play, bombers on long range missions had to fly unescorted above German soil. Since the fighter planes early in the war had a range of only about 250 miles, this meant that they could not escort the bombers further than Aachen, near the western border of German. For any penetration deeper into the Third Reich, the bombers had to fly on their own.
These unescorted missions had disastrous results for the bombers. During a bombing mission over Schweinfurt, Germany on October 14th , 1943, to bomb the large ball bearing factories so crucial to the German war effort, the U.S. Eighth Air Force were attacked by a large number of Luftwaffe fighter aircraft. Out of 229 bombers, 60 were shot down and 17 more were damaged beyond repair. This loss rate was unacceptable and proved that the allied daylight bombing campaign over Germany could not continue unless the bombers could be accompanied by fighter aircraft.
Originally overlooked by the USAAF, the P-51 did not see action with American forces until March of 1943. Once its full potential had been developed, the USA realized that this aircraft had been ignored for far too long.
With the addition of the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine to the American airframe, it would be unmatched by any other piston aircraft of World War II.
P-51s became the nemesis of the Luftwaffe, shooting down 4,950 enemy aircraft while achieving a kill ratio of 11:1. It's said that when Hermann Goering learned that long-range P-51s were beginning to escort Eighth Air Force B-17s on bombing runs over Berlin in 1944, he told his staff "The war is over."
Marking the Mustang's 65th year in combat history in 2007, there are now only approximately 1 percent of the original 15,868 Mustangs built flying today.
From NA-73X to Enforcer
Development information of the Mustang is incorporated in the left hand side of this page. There you can read more about the development and details of the different variations of Mustangs: from prototype NA-73X to Enforcer. They are put in logical order.
Courtesy of "In Action 45 - P-51 Mustang by Squadron/Signal Publications"
Many reading and research has gone into these articles. There are a ton of books & resources available on the P-51 and going through all of those is nearly impossible. Some sources also contain inconsistency in their data and I have tried to provide you with the most accurate data possible.
All of the pictures used within the articles are regarded free of copyright or are published with permission from their author. If there should be a picture in one of the articles that is not, please notify me and it will be removed promptly.
- Air Battles 2: P-51 B/C - Mustangs over the Third Reich by Tomasz Szlagor
- Air Battles 5: P-51 D/K - Mustangs over the Third Reich by Tomasz Eslagor
- Aircraft of the Aces: Mustang Aces of the Ninth & Fifteenth Air Forces & the RAF by Osprey Publishing
- American Eagles: P-51 Mustang Units of the Eight Air Force by Roger Freeman
- Aviation Elite Units: Very Long Range P-51 Mustang Units of the Pacific War by Osprey Publishing
- Battle Colors Volume I: Insignia and aircraft markings of the Eighth Air Force in World War II: VIII Bomber Command by Robert A. Watkins
- Battle Colors Volume II: Insignia and aircraft markings of the Eighth Air Force in World War II: VIII Fighter Command by Robert A. Watkins
- Battle Colors Volume III: Insignia and tactical markings of the Ninth Air Force in World War II by Robert A. Watkins
- Battle Colors Volume IV: Insignia and aircraft markings of the US Army Air Force in WWII: European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre by Robert A. Watkins
- Bluenoser Tales by Robert H. Powell, Jr.
- Development of the P-51 Mustang Long-Range Escort Fighter by Paul A. Ludwig
- Flight manual of the P-51A Mustang
- Flight manual of the P-51B/C Mustang
- Flight manual of the P-51D Mustang
- Flight manual of the P-82 Twin Mustang
- Flying Legends - P-51 Mustang by John Dibbs & Stephen Grey
- George Preddy, Top Mustang Ace by Joe Noah & Samuel L. Sox, Jr.
- Great Aircraft of WWII: P-51 Mustang and B-17 Flying Fortress by Mike Spick
- In Action No.45 - P-51 Mustang by Squadron/Signal Publications
- In Detail & Scale 50 - P-51 Mustang by Detail & Scale Inc, published by Squadron/Signal Publications
- Mustang Survivors by Paul Coggan
- Mustangs Worldwide - Special Edition by Motorbooks International
- North American P-51 Mustang by Bill Gunston & Robert F. Dorr (WINGS OF FAME, Volume 1)
- Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 1: Mustang Aces of the Eight Air Force by Jerry Scutts
- Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 51: Down to Earth: Strafing Aces of the Eight Air Force by William H. Ness
- P-51 Mustang by Turner Publishing Company
- P-51 Mustang by Dibbs & Grey
- P-51 Mustang from the RAF to the mighty Eighth by Michael O'Leary
- P-51 Mustang: Development of the Long-Range Escort Fighter, Classic Publications
- P-51 Mustang Restored by Paul Coggan
- Production Line to Frontline - North American Aviation P-51 Mustang by Osprey Aviation
- Special Collectors' Edition: 352nd Fighter Group by Osprey Publishing
- Stars & Bars: A tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 by Frank Olynyk
- The FlyPast Book of the P-51 Mustang by Key Publishing
- "To Fly and Fight" - Memoirs of a Triple Ace
- US Army Air Forces: Aircraft markings and camouflage 1941-1947 by Robert D. Archer
- Walk Around Number 7 - P-51D by Squadron/Signal Publications
- Warbirds Worldwide by Paul Coggan
- WWII Victories of the Army Air Force by Arthur Wyllie
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