Olympic Flight Museum

The Olympic Flight Museum Collection: P-51D Mustang

P-51D Mustang P-51D Mustang


37 feet
32 feet; 2 inches
11,600 lb
Packard Merlin V-1650-7 12 Cyl, 1490HP Engine
437 mph
950 miles without auxiliary fuel cells
41,900 feet
3,475 feet per minute
Six Browning M2 .50 Caliber Machine Guns

Produced: 15,551 (all variants)

Brief History:

1951: RCAF 9300
1958: N6313T
1977: N51TK, "Lou IV" racer #19 (Tom Kelly)
1986: N51KD, "Cutters Capers" race #91
1993: (Wally Fisk)
1999: Rep. new paint job "Slo-Mo-Shun" (Brian Reynolds)
2000: New name: "American Beauty"

World War II History:

The Mustang, designed initially to meet a British requirement for fighter service in Europe, became the leading US fighter in the European Theater of Operation during the final months of the war.  The Mustang was designed and rolled out in 117 days.  It was first flown on October 26, 1940.  The P-51is the synergism of every contemporary advanced aerodynamic and structural design; primarily, it was the first fighter with a laminar wing design.  As a result, it held an exceptional internal fuel capacity and low drag enabling it to fly an extended combat radius.

The RAF first flew the P-51 on July 27, 1942 as the MK I Mustang, of which 620 were ordered.  Although the aircraft had great potential, it was limited by its Allison engine and relegated primarily to ground attack and reconnaissance roles.

The USAAF ordered 500 Mustangs, the first buy as A-36A dive-bombers in late 1942.  With an Allison powered V-1710-87 engine, the aircraft demonstrated high power at low level; however, it was inefficient above 15,000 feet with its single-stage supercharger.  The aircraft wasn't really wanted for an attack role, but was employed as a means to maintain the production line while the merits of the airframe were being argued.  The A-36A was named the "Apache", and then later the "Invader" until the name "Mustang" stuck.  The aircrafts were moderately successful in the Mediterranean area of operation; claiming its share of aerial victories against the Luftwaffe in air-to-air combat.

Cautiously, the USAAF ordered an initial 150 P-51s mounted with four 20 mm cannons.  Thereafter, 310 P-51As were ordered, with a 1,200 hp V-1710-81 engine, and four 0.5-in machine guns with racks for two 500-lb bombs. 

The British took a dramatic step that began to turn off the cautious attitude toward the Mustang by proposing the Merlin engine be fitted into the air frame.  There was even discussion that the engine should be placed behind the cockpit, similar to the P-39 configuration.  In 1942, with installation of the two-stage Merlin engines and four-bladed propellers, the Mustang performed extremely well, exceeding 400 mph; and, the transformation produced a fighter that could equal or outperform any other aircraft in the air at that time. North American developed plans to manufacture the P-51 with the license-built Merlin 61, the Packard V-1650-3 in-line engine.

The USAAF ordered 2,200 P-51Bs followed on by the P-51Cs.  The aircrafts were mounted with six 0.5 machine guns. The P-51D variant was ordered in 1943 and was introduced with the bubble canopy and dorsal fin to control stability problems.  Even though the Malcom hood, which enhanced visibility on the British Mustang Mk II and Mk III, was employed by the USAAF, it was the bubble canopy that became the standard feature of the P-51.  Few P-51Ds were operated by the British as the Mustang Mk V.  Later P-51Ds included an additional 85-gal fuel cell behind the pilot's seat.  This enabled the Mustang's combat radius to extend from England to Berlin and back. 


P51D 44-13926, of the 361st FG, 8AF flown by 1st Lt. Urban Drew during WWII.

In an effort to lower the Mustang's weight, the P-51H variant came about with a taller tail, of which 555 were manufactured. This version came late into the war and flew missions from the Philippines prior to VJ day.

The P-51K was the Dallas, Texas variant of the Inglewood, California
P-51D, sporting a different propeller, of which 1,500 were built.

In combat, the Mustang proved to be significant in its role to wartime victory.  The aircraft was employed throughout 40 USAAF fighter groups and 31 RAF squadrons.  The P-51 Mustang's combat record is generally considered to consist of: 4,950 aerial victories, and 4,131 ground kills resulting in an 11:1 "kill ratio".


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