Squadron/Signal Publications 6070: P-51 Mustang - Aircraft Specials series



Squadron/Signal Publications 6070: P-51 Mustang - Aircraft Specials series
Squadron/Signal Publications 6070
MUSTANG - just the word brings to mind high performance. And during the Second World War, it was the nickname for what is generally acknowledged to be one of the finest fighter aircraft of the war. It was known by other 'official' names like Invader and Apache, and unoffi­cial terms like SPAM CAN. The aircraft had many shapes, different engines, and one variant even had two fuselages. But they were all still Mustangs, 'The most aerodynamically perfect pursuit plane in exis­tence!'
The design of the Mustang began as a series of RAF requirements for a fighter aircraft that could be built in the United States to augment the dwindling fighter inventories being used up in the life and death struggle of the Battle of Britain. Indeed, the Mustang design and developments are directly tied to British requirements throughout the history of the air­plane. The RAF needed a new fighter and North American Aviation gave them the Allison-engined P-51 /Mustang I series. When the RAF wanted to develop the design further through use of a higher perfor­mance power plant. North American offered them the Rolls-Royce Merlin powered P-51B Mustang series. The use of the sliding bubble canopy was based on the RAF developed Malcolm Hood; although the 360 degree, full vision canopy was a purely North American design.
The Mustang was designed and developed throughout the Second World War to meet various Allied air force requirements for a long range escort fighter aircraft. It more than met those requirements as many a Luftwaffe pilot will attest. But after the end of the war, when the other major fighter types like the P-38, P-47, and Spitfire, were long gone from air force inventories, the Mustang was still flying combat. Five years after the end of the Second World War, the Mustang was the leading fighter-bomber in the 'jet war' in Korea. Four years after the end of the Korean War. Mustangs were fighting over the Sinai Desert with the Israeli Defense Force/Air Force. Mustangs were the basis of defense by more nations than any other major fighter type in history. Ironically, the only two major nations not to be equipped with Mustangs were the old foes of the P-51. Germany and Japan.
Today only a handful of the 16.000+ Mustangs that were built survive. Some are in museums, some are flying in air races, many fly the air show circuit and some are movie stars. But all those lucky enough to see them flying still marvel at, 'The most aerodynamically perfect pur­suit plane in existence.'

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