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North American P-51D Mustang in Detail

(Revisited)

Part 3 - Engine and Undercarriage

n text and photos by Martin Waligorski


 

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A Mustang nose showing its beautiful curved lines in full profile view. Adopting a Merlin engine was not only a great leap forward for Mustang in terms of performance, but also aesthetics. Like a proof  to the old saying: "If it looks right, it is right!"
 




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Two detailed views of the engine cowling showing the differences in rivet, screw and bolt sizes on its removable panels.


 




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Spinner witch cuffed Hamilton Standard propeller in fully feathered position.
 




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The nose seen from below. With the introduction of the Merlin engine, the carburettor air intake was moved from above to below the nose in order to accommodate the Merlin's updraft induction system.

The perforated cooling vents on both sides of the nose are often associated with Merlin Mustangs, but these panels could be replaced with solid ones for cold weather conditions. Also, many Mustangs supplied to RAF and Commonwealth had these vents covered with louvered panels.

Note also the narrow slit in the lower cowling, a feature that often gets overlooked on P-51 drawings.
 




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View of the engine of another Mustang (this one being photographed at Duxford) with cowlings removed. The propeller of this machine looks differently than that of Hendon's P-51D, but is actually the same Hamilton Standard unit only without cuffs.
 




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This photo shows the general arrangement of the engine compartment. The prominent elements are: block of the Merlin engine at the top, exhaust pipes, semi-circular oil tank behind the propeller spinner and the carburettor intake duct built into the lower nose.
 




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Engine firewall with oil tank making itself visible with its yellow colour.

The plumbing, electrical wiring and engine accessories of the many P-51Ds that fly today have often been entirely replaced with modern technology and therefore cannot be entirely trusted as modelling reference, unless you are modelling just a warbird!
 




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Another view of the same disassembled nose.
 




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The exhaust pipes on this P-51D are shrouded with this aluminium fairing to minimize drag,
but many Mustangs flew with their exhaust pipes exposed.

Another small feature visible in this view is the camera gun opening located in the left wing root.
 




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General view of the undercarriage. Although similar in general appearance to the undercarriage of the P-51B, it was actually quite modified. The main landing gear was strengthened in order to accommodate the additional weight of the aircraft. The wheel bays and doors were modified in shape and the wing root chord increased.
 




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Interior of the wheel well. This one is beautifully restored and painted Interior Green with a few tell-tale modern joints visible among the plumbing. Recent research indicates that later production P-51D probably had their wheel wells left in bare metal.
 




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Another angle showing the inner wheel cover actuator and retractable landing light. These covers were designed to be closed on parked aircraft. In practice there was no lock holding them in the closed position and the gradual drop of hydraulic pressure caused them to slowly open - you could see these at almost any angle on parked aircraft. On this static machine, the covers are naturally fully dropped.
 




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Overall view of the port undercarriage leg.
 




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Detail of the inner wheel hub with visible brake drum.
 


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