North American P-51 Mustang Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
The North American P-51 Mustang is arguably the most recognizable and celebrated American fighter of World War 2.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The North American P-51 Mustang proved an invaluable addition to the Allied cause in the latter half of World War 2. The system was designed and flown in a matter of months and made such an impact that it could clearly be considered the war-winning design for the Allies. Mustangs primarily assisted in escorting bombers on long range sorties but were able to attack ground targets with bombs and machine guns and outperform any of the German fighters that were matched against it. The Mustang exuded "classic warbird" in every sense of the phrase and went on to be one of the most recognized piston engine fighters of all time.
The British RAF need for more Curtiss P-40 production fighters led them to consider North American Aviation's manufacturing capabilities. North American designers Edgar Schmued and Raymond Rice, seeing this as an opportunity to market a new fighter altogether, seized the moment and produced a design for British review. The design was accepted under a new 1940 specification which required a heavily-armed fighter of considerable speed with the capability to operate at high altitude - all this with a flying prototype to be made available within a 120 day window. Development ensued and inevitably produced the NA-73X prototype within the allotted timeframe (some sources state the aircraft was completed in just 102 days whilst others say as many as 117 days). The NA-73X took to the skies on October 26th, 1940 with its 1,100 horsepower Allison V-1710-F3R inline engine and showed off its tremendous potential. The design was accepted by the British as the "Mustang" becoming an initial production model batch of 320 Mustang I's.