Happy Birthday P51 Mustang! Cadillac of the Sky!
First flew on this day 1940.
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and several other conflicts. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down, second only to the carrier borne Grumman F6F Hellcat among Allied aircraft.
I have had the priviledge of knowing one of the NZ Squadron commanders who flew the P51 D during WW2 as bomber escort. He went on to receive the freedom of Paris and to command the first NZ Vampire Squadron at Ohakea Airforce base
The Mustang was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA), under the direction of lead engineer Edgar Schmued, in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission; the prototype NA-73X air frame was rolled out on 9 September 1940, albeit without an engine, 102 days after the contract was signed and it was first flown on 26 October.
The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 series two-stage two-speed supercharged engine, and armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns.
From late 1943, P-51Bs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF's Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's 2 TAF and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theatres, and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War.
At the start of Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters such as the F-86 took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s !
After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing.
Technical credit: Wikipaedia