North American P-51D Mustang in Detail
Search for the most distinguished aircraft in the history of American Air Force and you need to look no further. North American P-51 Mustang was not only the most famous American fighter of World War II, but also, as many would say, the best all-round propeller-driven fighter produced by any of the combatants during that conflict. And of all the Mustang variants, it is the P-51D that became synonymous with the type, and with Allied victory in the air.
The Mustang also epitomises the close co-operation between the USA and the UK during the war and became a symbol of the special relationship that grew between our two countries.
Many top USAAF aces flew the Mustang in Europe, including George Preddy, Don Gentile, Glenn Eagleston, Leonard Carson, John Thornell, John Godfrey and Chuck Yeager (the same who later became the first man to break the sound barrier), to name just a few. Mustangs accounted for 4950 of the 10720 air combat victories claimed by the USAAF in Europe, and 4131 of the 8160 ground strafing claims made in the same theatre, accounting for 48.9 percent of total losses inflicted on the enemy.
Total production of all Mustangs amounted to 15675, ranking only behind the P-47 Thunderbolt in being the fighter manufactured in greatest numbers for the USAAF.
A considerable number of P-51D and the sister K model Mustangs were supplied also to the Royal Air Force and the Commonwealth. Unlike most other American piston engine fighters, which were withdrawn from service soon after the end of WW II, the Mustang fought on, doing valuable ground support work in the Korean War. It was adopted by many other nations, too numerous to list here, and remained in service in some countries into the 1960's.
Although this is not the first walkaround of P-51D on this site (see North American P-51D in Detail from March 2000 - Ed.), this one provides a more in-depth thorough of this fabulous machine. The photos presented here are all-new.
Besides remaining one of the most popular modelling subjects of all time, the P-51D is the most common and popular warbird in existence today. Over 150 of them are flying today, and that tally does not include static examples, or the ones being restored to flying condition! Indeed, chances are that there is at least one preserved example in a country near you, and if you travel to the United States or the UK you should not have any problem finding a couple of Mustangs in perfect shape.
This photo collection features a number of P-51D I have encountered during my last two visits in the UK. The inspiration came from a recently acquired P-51D in RAF Hendon museum, Ser no. 413317 Donald Duck donated by Robert Charles Tullius. Other aircraft featured here are the Big Beautiful Doll from Imperial War Museum at Lambeth Road in London, and a couple of flying P-51D warbirds seen at IWM Duxford.
These aircraft are examined in the photo sections below.