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  • 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.

     Updated: 5/17/2017; 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.

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    North American P-51D Mustang Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1942
    Type: Fighter / Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): North American - USA
    Production Total: 15,586

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 32.32 feet (9.85 meters)
    Width: 37.04 feet (11.29 meters)
    Height: 13.65 feet (4.16 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 7,121 lb (3,230 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 11,601 lb (5,262 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Packard V-1650-7 Merlin liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,590 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 437 mph (703 kph; 380 knots)
    Maximum Range: 851 miles (1,370 km)
    Service Ceiling: 41,900 feet (12,771 meters; 7.94 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 3,475 feet-per-minute (1,059 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    Dependent upon model, includes any of the following:
    4 x 20mm long-barrel Hispano-Suiza cannons in wings,
    2 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose (A-36)
    4 x 12.7mm machine guns in wings

    6 x 0.50 cal Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in wings

    Up to 1,000 lb (454kg) of conventional drop bombs, rockets or fuel drop tanks.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Argentina; Australia; Bolivia; Canada; China; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; France; Nazi Germany (captured); Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Indonesia; Israel; Italy (post-war); Japan (captured); Netherlands; Nicaragua, New Zealand; Philippines; Poland; Somalia; South Africa; South Korea; Taiwan; Soviet Union; Sri Lanka; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom; Uruguay; Venezuela; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    NA-73X - North American Aviation Prototype Designation; Allison V-1710-F3F engine of 1,100hp.

    Mustang Mk.I - RAF Tactical Reconnaissance variant.

    Mustang MK.IA - RAF; 4 x 20mm cannon armament.

    Mustang Mk.II - Long-range variant for RAF use.

    Mustang MK.III - P-51B's and P-51C's; 4 x machine guns; Original and bubble canopy for RAF use.

    Mustang Mk.IV - RAF P-51D model Mustang

    XP-51 - American Evaluation Model Designation; 2 examples.

    A-36A "Apache / Invader" - Dedicated Dive bomber for USAAF; Allison V-1710 engine of 1,325 horsepower; 6 x 12.7mm machine guns and 1,000lb external bombload; 555 examples.

    P-51 - Initial Production Model; 4 x 20mm cannons; 150 examples.

    P-51A - 4 x 12.7mm machine guns with underwing bomb racks; Allison V-1710-81 engine of 1,200 horsepower; 310 examples.

    F-6A - P-51A offshoot reconnaissance model

    XP-51B - Improved P-51 model; Packard-built Merlin engine (V-1650); formerly XP-78 designation.

    P-51B - 4 x machine guns; Original and pseudo-bubble type canopies during production at Inglewood, California plant in Blocks 1-15; 1,988 examples.

    P-51C - 4 x machine guns; Original and pseudo-bubble type canopies during production at Dallas, Texas plant in Blocks 1-11; 1,750 examples.

    F-6C - P-51C Reconnaissance variant

    P-51D-NA (P-51D) - Definitive variant; Packard-produced Merlin engine; bubble canopy; produced in Blocks 1-30; 4 x 12.7mm machine guns; 6,502 examples.

    P-51D-NT (P-51D) - Definitve variant; Packard-produced Merlin engine; bubble canopy; produced in Blocks 5-30; 6 x 12.7mm machine guns; 1,454 examples.

    TP-51D-NT (TP-51D) - Two-place trainer variant; 10 examples.

    P-51E - Designation Reserved but never used.

    XP-51F - Experimental Lightweight Test Model; 3 examples.

    XP-51G - Modified XP-51F model with new engine; 2 examples.

    P-51H - Fastest Mustang model; lighter airframe version produced in Blocks 1-10; 555 examples.

    XP-51J - Modified XP-51F with new engine; 2 examples.

    P-51K - Improved P-51D; fitted with Aeroproducts propeller; produced in Blocks 1-15; 1,337 examples.

    F-6K - Reconnaissance version of P-51K

    P-51L - Improved P-51H with new engine; single example.

    P-51M - Improved P-51H with new engine; single example.

    Mustang Mk.20 - Australian license-production model.

    Mustang Mk.21 - Australian license-production model.

    Mustang Mk.22 - Australian license-production model.

    Mustang Mk.23 - Australian license-production model.

    Mustang Mk 24 - Australian export model