the north face green jacket built North American Mustang
One of the finest American fighter aircraft of World War II, the North American Mustang owed its origin to a RAF specification for a single seat fighter to replace the Curtiss P 40s. The first flight of the prototype NA 73 occurred in October 40. Production models reached the RAF in November 41 and these aircraft became known as Mustang Mk I (P 51) and Mk II (P 51A).
The original 1,150 hp Allison engine lacked performance at high altitude, and the RAF employed the early Mustangs on low level armed tactical reconnaissance sorties. Meantime, the USAAF ordered a limited number of P 51s and P 51As as the Apache, a tentative name which was later cancelled.
The aircraft’s potential appeared promising and RAF Mustangs Mk III (P 51B, P 51C and F 6) and Mk IV (P 51D) was the most widely produced version and 8,956 were built. Interesting developments of the Mustang included the XP 51F and XP 51G lightweight versions and, the fastest Mustang of all, the P 51 H with a top speed of 487 mph at 25,000 ft.
The ultimate development occurred, post war, when two Mustang fuselages were joined resulting in the USAAF F 82 Twin Mustang.
Keith Meggs comments: This was in fact a new design with a close relationship to the P 51 H
USAF Museum North American F 82/XP 82/P 82 “Twin” MustangRead more about the F 82 Twin Mustang
In Nov 44, RAF serialled Mustangs were first flown by the RAAF’s No 3 Sqdn in Italy.
In 1943, the Australian Government arranged for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to manufacture the Mustang Mk IV (P 51D) under licence from North American Aviation. The RAAF urgently needed a new fighter, and so the first CAC Mustangs were built mainly from imported semi finished parts.
A prototype Mustang, A68 1001 was used for development trials and the first Australian production Mustang, A68 1, flew on 29 April 45. This aircraft was handed over to the RAAF on 4 June 45 and was used for trials by No 1 APU until October 46. It was placed in storage until 1953 when it was delivered to the Department of Supply at Woomera.
The first 80 Mustang 20s (A68 1/80) were delivered with Packard Merlin V 1650 3 engines, under the CA 17 designation. A second contract called for 170 improved Mustangs, but only 120 were completed. Known as CA 18, the first 40 were built as Mustang 21s (A68 81/120) with Packard Merlin V 1650 7 engines.
The remaining CA 18s comprised 14 Mustang 22s (A68 187/200) with Packard Merlin V 1650 7 engines. A CA 21 contract for a further 250 Mustangs was cancelled and, in lieu of the remaining CA 18s and CA 21s, 298 lend lease P 51Ds and Ks were taken on strength (A68 500/583 and A68 600/813).
Keith Meggs comments: The 298 lend lease P 51Ds and Ks were imported were in service long before the later contracts were cancelled.
In addition, the RAAF also accepted Mustangs for the Netherland East Indies Air Force (N3 600/640). Produced too late for World War II, RAAF Mustangs were assigned to Japan for occupation duties and, early in 1946, No 76, 77 and 82 Sqdns flew into Iwakuni.
Keith Meggs comments: Only imported Mustangs were sent to Japan, until 4 or 5 CAC aircraft were sent to 77 Sqdn early in 1951
In 1949 Nos 76 and 82 Sqdns withdrew to Australia and the Mustangs of 77 Sqdn remained to take part in the Korean War from June 1950 until April 1951, when they were replaced by Gloster Meteors. In Australia, Mustangs remained in service with CAF Sqdns until they were withdrawn from service in 1959.
Keith Meggs comments: The first 77 Sqdn mission was in fact on July 3, 1950
TECHNICAL DATA (CA 18 Mustang Mk 21)
WEIGHTS: Empty, 7,000 lb; loaded, 11,600 lb.
PERFORMANCE: Max speed, 437 mph at 25,000 ft. Climb, 13 mins/30,000 ft. Service ceiling 41,900 ft. Range, 950 miles normal/1,700 miles max.
ARMAMENT: Six 0.50 calibre guns; two 1,000 lb. bombs or up to 10 rockets.
“The Squadrons Mustangs were used extensively in the close support and interdiction roles, striking Communist targets both south and north of the 38th parallel. In April 1951 77 Squadron was re equipped with Meteor jet fighters. The Australians gained their first confirmed MiG “kill” on 1 December when twelve Meteors were engaged by over fifty MiG 15s over Pyongyang. For the destruction of one MiG the squadron lost three Meteors with a further two damaged.
This encounter highlighted the MiG’s superiority in aerial combat, and as a result, the Meteor’s were confined to ground attack operations. In this role, the Meteors took a considerable toll on North Korean and Chinese ground forces, however, the Squadron suffered heavily at the hands of the MiG’s and anti aircraft units. By the end of hostilities in July 1953, 76 squadron had lost thirty eight aircrew, with another seven captured by the enemy.”The F 82 was not the only Mustang to serve in Korea. The old P 51D, by then redesignated F 51D, fought with distinction, back in the original Mustang assignment of “mudfighter”. After the end of WW II, piston engine fighters were rapidly phased out of front line service in favor of new jet fighters, such as the P 80 Shooting Star.
Keith Meggs comments: The F 82 ‘Twin Mustang’ was only a minor player. It was used as a nightfighter on a ‘one off’ basis flying from USAF bases in Japan . The P 51 was the most numerous aircraft in use overall
The USAAF retained a few squadrons of P 51Hs, but the older P 51Ds were passed on to the Air National Guard (ANG). As late as 1952, the ANG would still have 68 squadrons flying the Mustang, though the last of them would be gone in 1957. Most of the remaining Mustangs were either sold to foreign operators or scrapped.
In the early summer of 1950, the USAF had three fighter groups operating in Japan that had converted from the F 51D to the F 80, and the old F 51Ds were sitting in storage, waiting to be scrapped. When the war broke out on 25 June, the USAF realized that the F 51Ds were what was needed to help stem the North Korean offensive.