The P-51 Mustang: World War II Long Range Interceptor
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

The P-51 Mustang: World War II Long Range Interceptor

The P-51 Mustang long range interceptor is one of the most iconic aircraft of World War II, and it destroyed more aircraft than any other during the war.

The P-51 Mustang is one of the most iconic aircraft of World War II. As the premier long-range interceptor of the victorious coalition, the P-51 was seen escorting B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bomber crews all over Hitler's "Fortress Europe." There are many surviving examples that continue to remain in flying condition today with the help of extensive service, and they can be admired at air shows all over the world. The airframe of the Mustang is one of the most visually recognizable World War II aircraft; persons with little or no experience can easily pick a Mustang out of the crowd. It was this iconic nature that motivated Ford General Manager Lee Iacocca to name his concept for one of Ford's great sports cars the Mustang, a design which still permeates our roads today.

 The first Mustangs were created as North American Aviation's answer to a British aircraft request. At the start of World War II, the United States was still maintaining its isolationism, and superchargers were considered classified and Top Secret along with many other items of military technology. The U.S. would later see sense and enact Lend-Lease aid for embattled nations which would open up the floodgates of research and technology, but in 1940, the Mustang was stuck with the Allison V-1710 engine. Unfortunately, this engine failed to deliver the needed performance at high altitudes. This was critical because most air-to-air combat was being fought at 25,000 feet and above at this time. It was British test pilot Ronald Harker that offered up the idea to use the new Rolls Royce Merlin series engines in 1942, and this was all that was needed to secure the P-51's solid airframe a place in aviation history.

The Mustang boasted some frighteningly fast performance figures with its new Merlin engine. Conservative estimates placed the aircraft's top speed at about 440 miles per hour, but actual combat records indicated that the plane easily exceeded that speed at maximum throttle. This speed was greater than all but a few Luftwaffe aircraft, such as the Me-262 (about 540mph) and Me-163 (from 650-690mph). Their greatest strength, however, was their ability to escort bombers further than any other fighter. When operators began fitting the planes with drop tanks, Mustangs could even occasionally go all the way to the target and back with bombers! This was an invaluable asset that greatly increased the survivability of bomber crews. While the P-38 Lightning had a similar capability, its twin boom design gave it a better opportunity to serve as a fighter/bomber. The Merlin V-1650 power plant generated 1,650 horsepower while the original Allison engine gave only 1,100. This difference was exaggerated to an even greater degree above 20,000 feet, and the Allison engine could not compete in any sense with the massive power and innovative two-stage supercharger of its Merlin counterpart.

With so much power now at its disposal, the Mustang could also easily wield a heavy assortment of six .50 caliber machine guns, which would put a heavy dent into any target. Fighter bomber versions often carried rockets as well. The Mustang's range easily exceeded 1,000 miles, which was just about double that of its slightly more maneuverable British counterpart, the famous Spitfire. Its role was cemented into the functions of long range interceptor, bomber escort, and long range reconnaissance. Word of the aircraft soon spread across the ocean, and Hermann Goering is believe to have lamented that the appearance of the aircraft over German airspace would effectively end the war.

 The Mustang definitely lived up to its reputation during World War II. The over 15,000 planes produced destroyed nearly 5,000 enemy aircraft, which was a greater total than any other aircraft of the war. Numerous pilot accounts of flying the aircraft expressed sheer admiration of the aircraft's qualities, and the legend of the aircraft, like its namesake automobile descendant, has continued to endure and inspire. 

SOURCES

http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2009/06/lee-iacocca-gets-his-own-special-edition-mustang.html

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:021002-O-9999G-006.jpg

http://www.acepilots.com/planes/p51_mustang.html

http://daveswarbirds.com/usplanes/aircraft/mustang.htm

http://www.globalaircraft.org/planes/p-51_mustang.pl

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in Airplanes & Aircraft on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Airplanes & Aircraft?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (10)

Interesting article especially as I was invited just this morning to a memorial service for a friend's father who flew a P-51 in the war and my understanding will be one will be involved in a "fly-over" at the service. Also interestingly, I myself own a 1965 Ford Mustang (convertible and in great candy apple red shape) so I was "all over" your article. Nicely informative.

Glad you liked it! P-51's are definitely still the hot rods of the sky. They were so fast that they were actually used as diving sound barrier trainers! Sounds like a great car.

After WW II some P-51s were converted as a civilian aircraft called the Cavalier 3000. This plane was modified to carry two passengers in a tandem fashion. I never flew a Mustang, but I logged a few hours in the Cavalier. No matter how you cut it the P-51 was one fine aircraft. One plane I have always wanted to fly is the P-38, I also have logged time in the Navy TBM that was used after the war as a crop duster. Other warplanes that I have stick time on include the PBY, B-17 and B-25. Fine artical and very informative.

Lou Woods

The P-51 Mustang was an amazing aircraft!

Lou

www.web-invisibility.at.tc

GardnerAviation

Gardner Aviation recently performed some maintenance work on a P-51 and I was lucky enough to captures so photos of the beautiful aircraft. After seeing the responses from all of our employees, I was curious about the history of the fighter plane. Your article provided me with a clear description and background. Thank you for sharing your aviation knowledge!

GardnerAviation

Gardner Aviation recently performed some maintenance work on a P-51 and I was lucky enough to captures so photos of the beautiful aircraft. After seeing the responses from all of our employees, I was curious about the history of the fighter plane. Your article provided me with a clear description and background. Thank you for sharing your aviation knowledge!

I am glad to be helpful, Thanks. Where is Gardner Aviation Located?

With all the research I put into this piece, you won't be stealing my glory, John. While your experience maintaining World War II-era aircraft is noted, Gardner is clearly thanking me for the article (as they said), not for your 7 lines of maintenance anecdotes. Really? That's pretty base. But thanks to you, Gardner Aviation, for such a fine compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed the article!

Dustin I don't know how that article got into my E-mail, and after I made that comment I realized that wasn't one of my articles although I have written about aviation in the past. When you have close to 2,000 articles in print it is hard to keep track of them all. Sorry about that, it was my mistake.

No problem at all. It's actually very simple: once you comment on an article, Factoidz notifies you every time that a new comment appears, which is why you got a notification for the last three comments.

ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES
RELATED CATEGORIES
ARTICLE KEYWORDS
RECENT SEARCHES ON KNOJI SHOPPING