North American P-51 Mustang – scale model aircraft plans & drawingsPosted in: World War II Aviation | Wednesday January 16, 2013
Tags: fighter, Military Aircraft 1939-1945, USA
North American P-51 Mustang historical facts
Created as a private-venture project by a company that was not officially recognized in its own country as worthy of designing fighter aircraft, the North American P-51 Mustang grew out of Britain’s overwhelming need for large quantities of modern high-performance fighters in the early stages of the Second World War. It was not, as incorrectly claimed by many published source, the product of a British requirement or specification. Rather, it was one of the very few successful warplanes in history that was conceived without an official specification ever being raised before its creation. Indeed, it was born as the result of amicable and unofficial negotiations between North American’s company officials and British government representatives in the USA.
In 1940, The British Purchasing Commission (in the U.S.) wanted North American (NAA) of Inglewood, CA, to build the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk under license. NAA Engineers had been researching a new fighter design that would overcome some of the notorious deficiencies of the designs used early in the war. The design would also incorporate a new aerodynamic feature: the lamina-flow wing.
In 120 days, NAA built a prototype that used the same 1,100hp Allison V-1710-F3R engine then being used in the P-40. The first flight of the NA-73 (the company-funded prototype with civil registration NX19998) was made on October 25, 1940. Production models with British-specified armament of six .303-caliber guns were flying in May 1941. NAA had originally called it the “Apache,” but this was soon changed to “Mustang”. The initial British contract was for 320 North American P-51 Mustang Is, and this was soon increased by another 300.
The U.S. Army wasn’t particularly interested in the new design, but it did direct that the fourth and tenth production Mustang Is be tested by the Army as “XP-51”. The 150 supplied to Britain as “Mustang IA” under Lend-Lease with four 20mm cannon were designated “P-51” though their armament and other details differed from the XP-51. These carried both U.S. Army and British serial numbers.
The first Army order to NAA was for 500 examples of an odd type – a single-seat dive-bomber variant designated “A-36A.” This had dive-brakes, racks for two 500-pound bombs and an armament of six .50-caliber machine guns (four in the wings and two in the lower nose). The engine was the 1,325hp V-1710-87.
The A-36A first flew on September 21, 1942, and production models took part in the invasion of North Africa and Sicily. The dive-bombing tactic, however, was soon abandoned, and the dive brakes were wired shut.
Total production was 15.586 North American P-51 Mustang aircraft. Mustang and P-51 variants served mainly in Europe, their prime mission being the almost incredible one of flying all the way from British bases tot target of the 8th AF deep in Germany – Berlin or beyond – escorting heavies and gradually establishing Allied air superiority over the heart of Germany.
North American P-51 Mustang saw service far beyond WW II. Two models (F-51B and F-51K) equipped active operational forces until 1951. Moreover, two other types of the redesignated P-51 (F-51D and F-51H) were flown by Air Reserve and Air National Guard units for several more years.
The F-51 was one of the first USAF fighters to participate in the Korean War, arriving in the fall of 1950. Twenty-two ANG units also served there, flying combat F-51s and their reconnaissance counterparts (RF-51Ds and RF-51Ks). The obsolete and tired F-51 finally withdrew from combat on 26 January 1953. The ANG retired its last propeller-drive F-51s in 1957.