The History of the P-51 Mustang WWII Fighter Plane

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Perhaps no modern warplane has received more accolades than the P-51 Mustang. The aircraft's success as a fighter and fighter-bomber endured through two wars and many versions are still flying today. The aircraft was born of desperation as Britain faced an onslaught from the Luftwaffe and the RAF was seeking to purchase aircraft. At the time the most advanced fighter in production in the United States was the Curtis P-40. North American Aviation was contracted with to build the P-40 and it was then that the P-51 was born.'Dutch' Kindelberger, an engineer, knew something better was possible and it was. Edgar Schmued designed a new fighter, equipped with an Allison engine that the British used as a fighter bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft had excellent low altitude performance and the Army Air Force ordered the plane as the A-36 Apache. Tests with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine delivered astounding performance and a new long range escort fighter took to the air.

The P-51 served in the European and Pacific theatres of war and finished the campaign as B-29 escorts to Japan. The Mustang served in Korea, almost eliminating the North Korean Yak's until MiG 15's arrived. Today there are still many P-51's flying and the distinctive sound of the Merlin is still heard as the silver fighters amaze another generation.

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