North American XP-51F

North American XP-51F

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North American XP-51F

The XP-51F was one of a series of experimental aircraft produced in an attempt to develop a lighter Mustang. It was 2,500 pounds lighter than the P-51D, but was powered by the same Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engine. The weight reduction was achieved by using a thinner wing, lighter cockpit canopy and a light weight three blade propeller. The XP-51Fs were built, and the new type achieved a top speed of 466 mph at 29,000 feet. Although the P-51F did not enter production, it was the basis of the P-51H, the final major production version of the aircraft.

26 April 1948

North American Aviation test pilot George S. Welch, flying the first of three XP-86 prototypes, serial number 45-59597. (North American Aviation, Inc.)

26 April 1948: At Muroc Field (now known as Edwards Air Force Base), in the high desert of southern California, North American Aviation test pilot George Welch put the prototype XP-86 Sabre, 45-59597, into a 40° dive and broke the Sound Barrier. It is only the second U.S. aircraft to fly supersonic. The first was the Bell X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, only a few months earlier.

In his book, Aces Wild: The Race For Mach 1, fellow North American Aviation test pilot Albert W. Blackburn makes the case that George Welch had taken the prototype XP-86 Sabre supersonic on its first flight, 1 October 1947, and that he had done so three times before Chuck Yeager first broke the Sound Barrier with the Bell X-1 rocketplane, 14 October 1947. Blackburn described two runs through the NACA radar theodolite with speeds of Mach 1.02 and 1.04 on 13 November 1947.

Mr. Blackburn speculates—convincingly, in my opinion—that Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington, Jr., ordered that Welch’s excursions beyond Mach 1 were to remain secret. However, during a radio interview, British test pilot Wing Commander Roland Prosper (“Bee”) Beamont, C.B.E, D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C. and Bar, stated that he had flown through the Sound Barrier in the number two XP-86 Sabre prototype (45-59598). Once that news became public, the U.S. Air Force released a statement that George Welch had flown beyond Mach 1 earlier, but gave the date as 26 April 1948.

Test pilot George S. Welch, wearing his distinctive orange helmet, in the cockpit of the prototype XP-86. This photograph was taken 14 October 1947. (U.S. Air Force)

It wasn’t long after the first flight of the XP-86 on October 1, 1947, that Welch dropped into Horkey’s [Edward J. Horkey, an aerodynamicist at North American Aviation] office at the Inglewood plant. He wanted to talk about his recent flight and some “funny” readings in the airspeed indicator. He had made a straight-out climb to more than 35,000 feet. Then, turning back toward Muroc Dry Lake, he began a full-power, fairly steep descent.

“I started at about 290 knots,” Welch was explaining to Horkey. “In no time I’m at 350. I’m still going down, and I’m still accelerating but the airspeed indicator seems stuck like there’s some kind of obstruction in the pitot tube. I push over a little steeper and by this time I’m through 30,000 feet. All of a sudden, the airspeed indicator flips to 410 knots. The aircraft feels fine, no funny noises, no vibration. Wanted to roll off to the left, but no big deal. Still, I leveled out at about 25,000 and came back on the power. The airspeed flicked back to 390. What do you think?”

“. . . You may be running into some Mach effects. . . .”

Aces Wild: The Race For Mach 1, by Al Blackburn, Scholarly Resources Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, 1999, at Pages 147–148.

The “funny” reading of the airspeed indicator became known as the “Mach jump.” George Welch was the first to describe it.

The Sabre became a legendary jet fighter during the Korean War. 9,860 were built by North American, as well as by licensees in Canada, Australia and Japan.

George Welch had been recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions as a P-40 Warhawk fighter pilot in Hawaii, December 7, 1941. He was killed while testing a North American Aviation F-100A Super Sabre, 12 October 1954.

Test pilot George S. Welch with a North American Aviation F-86 Sabre. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

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Please email if a variant is missing.

XP-51F weighed 1600lbs less than P-51D. 3-blade propeller. Top speed 466MPH.
XP-51G had 2,200HP Rolls-Royce Merlin with 5-blade propeller. Top speed 495MPH.
XP-51J had elongated canopy, Allison V-12 engine, carburetor scoop eliminated by integrating into radiator scoop, resulted in most streamlined Mustang ever. Top speed unknown because of engine problems.

North American experimented with 4 light-weight prototypes: XP-51F/G/H/J. Ultimately, production light-weight Mustang was based on XP-51H.

Relative to P-51D, P-51H was shaped more angular. Test pilots comparing D and H noticed H's greater maneuverability, acceleration, climb-rate. In normal power settings, speed difference was marginal.

No P-51H Mustangs ever engaged in combat [ref: David McLaren] , but NACA literature documents a few were (or were going to be) deployed to escort B-29s [ref: NACA, Reeder] . Prototype was being flight-tested in April 1945 when WWII Europe ended.

P-51H proved to be fragile. Tail-wheel was prone to collapsing, often ANG flew with tail-wheel locked down. Some had weak wing spars, ANG pilots were restricted to 2G.

When Korean War started, USAF choose to use P-51Ds and keep P-51Hs at home. In an odd reversal from its hand-me-downs policy, USAF actually gave newer/faster P-51Hs to ANG units in exchange for older/slower P-51Ds. Besides logistics, a reason was P-51D's reliability &mdash P-51H gained speed by having a weaker frame, its wings were weaker, its tail-wheel was prone to collapsing. USAF may have wanted to keep the limited number of faster-but-fragile P-51Hs in reserve for homeland defense, since during early 1950s, the only fighter with long range was still the Mustang.

Only 6 P-51H models survive [ref:] . At least 2 are airworthy.

P-51I designation was skipped (?). P-51K was just a P-51D with a different propeller.
[ref: North American P-51H Mustang by David McLaren]
[ref: NACA, Reeder]
[ref: ]


In 1938, the British government established a purchasing commission in the United States, headed by Sir Henry Self. [13] [14] Self was given overall responsibility for RAF production, research, and development, and also served with Sir Wilfrid Freeman, the Air Member for Development and Production. Self also sat on the British Air Council Sub-committee on Supply (or "Supply Committee") and one of his tasks was to organize the manufacturing and supply of American fighter aircraft for the RAF. At the time, the choice was very limited, as no U.S. aircraft then in production or flying met European standards, with only the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk coming close. The Curtiss-Wright plant was running at capacity, so P-40s were in short supply. [15]

North American Aviation (NAA) was already supplying its T-6 Texan (known in British service as the "Harvard") trainer to the RAF, but was otherwise underused. NAA President "Dutch" Kindelberger approached Self to sell a new medium bomber, the North American B-25 Mitchell. Instead, Self asked if NAA could manufacture P-40s under license from Curtiss. Kindelberger said NAA could have a better aircraft with the same Allison V-1710 engine in the air sooner than establishing a production line for the P-40.

John Attwood of North American spent much time from January to April 1940 at the British Purchasing Commission's offices in New York discussing the British specifications of the proposed aircraft with British engineers. The discussions consisted of free-hand conceptual drawings of an aircraft with the British officials. Sir Henry Self was concerned that North American had not ever designed a fighter, insisting they obtain the drawings and study the Curtiss XP-46 experimental aircraft and the wind tunnel test results for the P-40, before presenting them with detailed design drawings based on the agreed concept. North American purchased the drawings and data from Curtiss for £56,000, confirming the purchase with the Purchasing Commission. The Purchasing Commission approved the resulting detailed design drawings, signing the commencement of the Mustang project on 4 May 1940, firmly ordering 320 on 29 May 1940. Prior to this, North American only had a draft letter for an order of 320 aircraft. Curtiss engineers accused North American of plagiarism. [16]

The British Purchasing Commission stipulated armament of four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns (as used on the Tomahawk), a unit cost of no more than $40,000, and delivery of the first production aircraft by January 1941. [17] In March 1940, 320 aircraft were ordered by Freeman, who had become the executive head of the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) and the contract was promulgated on 24 April. [18]

The NA-73X, which was designed by a team led by lead engineer Edgar Schmued, followed the best conventional practice of the era, designed for ease of mass manufacturing. [16] The design included several new features. [nb 2] One was a wing designed using laminar flow airfoils, which were developed co-operatively by North American Aviation and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). These airfoils generated low drag at high speeds. [19] During the development of the NA-73X, a wind tunnel test of two wings, one using NACA five-digit airfoils and the other using the new NAA/NACA 45–100 airfoils, was performed in the University of Washington Kirsten Wind Tunnel. The results of this test showed the superiority of the wing designed with the NAA/NACA 45–100 airfoils. [20] [nb 3]

The other feature was a new cooling arrangement positioned aft (single ducted water and oil radiators assembly) that reduced the fuselage drag and effects on the wing. Later, [22] after much development, they discovered that the cooling assembly could take advantage of the Meredith effect: in which heated air exited the radiator with a slight amount of jet thrust. Because NAA lacked a suitable wind tunnel to test this feature, it used the GALCIT 3.0 m (10 ft) wind tunnel at the California Institute of Technology. This led to some controversy over whether the Mustang's cooling system aerodynamics were developed by NAA's engineer Edgar Schmued or by Curtiss, as NAA had purchased the complete set of P-40 and XP-46 wind tunnel data and flight test reports. [23] [24] The NA-73X was also one of the first aircraft to have a fuselage lofted mathematically using conic sections this resulted in smooth, low-drag surfaces. [25] To aid production, the airframe was divided into five main sections—forward, center, rear fuselage, and two wing halves—all of which were fitted with wiring and piping before being joined. [25]

The prototype NA-73X was rolled out in September 1940, just 102 days after the order had been placed it first flew on 26 October 1940, 149 days into the contract, an uncommonly short development period, even during the war. [26] With test pilot Vance Breese at the controls, [27] the prototype handled well and accommodated an impressive fuel load. The aircraft's three-section, semi-monocoque fuselage was constructed entirely of aluminum to save weight. It was armed with four .30 caliber (7.62 mm) AN/M2 Browning machine guns in the wings and two .50 caliber (12.7 mm) AN/M2 Browning machine guns mounted under the engine and firing through the propeller arc using gun-synchronizing gear. [nb 4]

While the USAAC could block any sales it considered detrimental to the interests of the US, the NA-73 was considered to be a special case because it had been designed at the behest of the British. In September 1940, a further 300 NA-73s were ordered by the MAP. [17] To ensure uninterrupted delivery, Colonel Oliver P. Echols arranged with the Anglo-French Purchasing Commission to deliver the aircraft and NAA gave two examples (41-038 and 41-039) to the USAAC for evaluation. [28] [nb 5]

The Allison engine in the Mustang I had a single-stage supercharger that caused power to drop off rapidly above 15,000 feet (4,600 m). This made it unsuitable for use at the altitudes where combat was taking place in Europe. Allison’s attempts at developing a high-altitude engine were underfunded, but produced the V-1710-45, which featured a variable-speed auxiliary supercharger, and developed 1,150 horsepower (860 kW) at 22,400 feet (6,800 m). In November 1941, NAA studied the possibility of using it, but fitting its excessive length in the Mustang would require extensive airframe modifications and cause long production delays. [30] [31] In May 1942, following positive reports from the RAF on the Mustang I's performance below 15,000 ft, Ronald Harker, a test pilot for Rolls-Royce, suggested fitting a Merlin 61, as fitted to the Spitfire Mk IX. [30] The Merlin 61 had a two-speed, two-stage, intercooled supercharger, designed by Stanley Hooker of Rolls-Royce. [32] Both the Merlin 61 and V-1710-39 were capable of about 1,570 horsepower (1,170 kW) war emergency power at relatively low altitude, but the Merlin developed 1,390 horsepower (1,040 kW) at 23,500 feet (7,200 m) versus the Allison's 1,150 horsepower (860 kW) at 11,800 feet (3,600 m), [33] [34] [31] delivering an increase in top speed from 390 mph (340 kn 630 km/h) at

15,000 feet (4,600 m) to an estimated 440 mph (380 kn 710 km/h) at 28,100 feet (8,600 m). Initial flights of what was known to Rolls-Royce as the Mustang Mk X were completed at Rolls-Royce's airfield at Hucknall in October 1942. [30]

At the same time, the possibility of combining the P-51 airframe with the US license-built Packard version of the Merlin engine was being explored on the other side of the Atlantic. In July 1942, a contract was let for two prototypes, briefly designated XP-78, but soon to become the XP-51B. [35] Based on the Packard V-1650-3 duplicating the Merlin 61's performance, NAA estimated for the XP-78 a top speed of 445 mph (387 kn 716 km/h) at 28,000 feet (8,500 m), and a service ceiling of 42,000 feet (13,000 m). [30] The first flight of the XP-51B took place in November 1942, but the USAAF was so interested in the possibility that an initial contract for 400 aircraft was placed three months beforehand in August. [36] The conversion led to production of the P-51B beginning at North American's Inglewood, California, plant in June 1943, [37] and P-51s started to become available to the 8th and 9th Air Forces in the winter of 1943–1944. Conversion to the two-stage supercharged Merlin 61, over 350 lb (160 kg) heavier than the single-stage Allison, driving a four-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller, required moving the wing slightly forward to correct the aircraft's center of gravity. After the USAAF, in July 1943, directed fighter aircraft manufacturers to maximize internal fuel capacity, NAA calculated the P-51B's center of gravity to be forward enough to include an additional 85 US gal (320 l 71 imp gal) fuel tank in the fuselage behind the pilot, greatly increasing the aircraft's range over that of the earlier P-51A. NAA incorporated the tank in the production of the P-51B-10, and supplied kits to retrofit it to all existing P-51Bs. [30]

United Kingdom operational service Edit

The Mustang was initially developed for the RAF, which was its first user. As the first Mustangs were built to British requirements, these aircraft used factory numbers and were not P-51s the order comprised 320 NA-73s, followed by 300 NA-83s, all of which were designated North American Mustang Mark I by the RAF. [38] The first RAF Mustangs supplied under Lend-Lease were 93 P-51s, designated Mk Ia, followed by 50 P-51As used as Mustang Mk IIs. [39] Aircraft supplied to Britain under Lend-Lease were required for accounting purposes to be on the USAAC's books before they could be supplied to Britain. However, the British Aircraft Purchasing Commission signed its first contract for the North American NA-73 on 24 April 1940, before Lend-Lease was in effect. Thus, the initial order for the P-51 Mustang (as it was later known) was placed by the British under the "Cash and Carry" program, as required by the US Neutrality Acts of the 1930s. [40]

After the arrival of the initial aircraft in the UK in October 1941, the first Mustang Mk Is entered service in January 1942, the first unit being 26 Squadron RAF. [41] Due to poor high-altitude performance, the Mustangs were used by Army Co-operation Command, rather than Fighter Command, and were used for tactical reconnaissance and ground-attack duties. On 10 May 1942, Mustangs first flew over France, near Berck-sur-Mer. [42] On 27 July 1942, 16 RAF Mustangs undertook their first long-range reconnaissance mission over Germany. During the amphibious Dieppe Raid on the French coast (19 August 1942), four British and Canadian Mustang squadrons, including 26 Squadron, saw action covering the assault on the ground. By 1943–1944, British Mustangs were used extensively to seek out V-1 flying bomb sites. The last RAF Mustang Mk I and Mustang Mk II aircraft were struck off charge in 1945.

Army Co-operation Command used the Mustang’s superior speed and long range to conduct low-altitude “Rhubarb” raids over continental Europe, sometimes penetrating German airspace. The V-1710 engine ran smoothly at 1,100 rpm, versus 1,600 for the Merlin, enabling long flights over water at 50 ft (15 m) altitude before approaching the enemy coastline. Over land, these flights followed a zig-zag course, turning every six minutes to foil enemy attempts at plotting an interception. During the first 18 months of Rhubarb raids, RAF Mustang Mk.Is and Mk.Ias destroyed or heavily damaged 200 locomotives, over 200 canal barges, and an unknown number of enemy aircraft parked on the ground, for a loss of eight Mustangs. At sea level, the Mustangs were able to outrun all enemy aircraft encountered. [43] The RAF gained a significant performance enhancement at low altitude by removing or resetting the engine’s manifold pressure regulator to allow over-boosting, raising output as high as 1,780 horsepower at 70" Hg. [43] [33] In December 1942, Allison approved only 1,570 horsepower at 60" Hg manifold pressure for the V-1710-39. [33]

The RAF also operated 308 P-51Bs and 636 P-51Cs, [44] which were known in RAF service as Mustang Mk IIIs the first units converted to the type in late 1943 and early 1944. Mustang Mk III units were operational until the end of World War II, though many units had already converted to the Mustang Mk IV (P-51D) and Mk IVa (P-51K) (828 in total, comprising 282 Mk IV and 600 Mk IVa). [45] As all except the earliest aircraft were obtained under Lend-Lease, all Mustang aircraft still on RAF charge at the end of the war were either returned to the USAAF "on paper" or retained by the RAF for scrapping. The last RAF Mustangs were retired from service in 1947. [46]

U.S. operational service Edit

Prewar theory Edit

Prewar doctrine was based on the idea "the bomber will always get through". [47] Despite RAF and Luftwaffe experience with daylight bombing, the USAAF still incorrectly believed in 1942 that tightly packed formations of bombers would have so much firepower that they could fend off fighters on their own. [47] Fighter escort was a low priority, but when the concept was discussed in 1941, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was considered to be most appropriate as it had the speed and range. Another school of thought favored a heavily up-armed "gunship" conversion of a strategic bomber. [48] A single-engined, high-speed fighter with the range of a bomber was thought to be an engineering impossibility. [49]

Eighth Air Force bomber operations 1942–1943 Edit

The 8th Air Force started operations from Britain in August 1942. At first, because of the limited scale of operations, no conclusive evidence showed American doctrine was failing. In the 26 operations flown to the end of 1942, the loss rate had been under 2%. [50]

In January 1943, at the Casablanca Conference, the Allies formulated the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) plan for "round-the-clock" bombing – USAAF daytime operations complementing the RAF nighttime raids on industrial centers. In June 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff issued the Pointblank Directive to destroy the Luftwaffe's capacity before the planned invasion of Europe, putting the CBO into full implementation. German daytime fighter efforts were, at that time, focused on the Eastern Front and several other distant locations. Initial efforts by the 8th met limited and unorganized resistance, but with every mission, the Luftwaffe moved more aircraft to the west and quickly improved their battle direction. In fall 1943, the 8th Air Force's heavy bombers conducted a series of deep-penetration raids into Germany, beyond the range of escort fighters. The Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission in August lost 60 B-17s of a force of 376, the 14 October attack lost 77 of a force of 291—26% of the attacking force.

For the US, the very concept of self-defending bombers was called into question, but instead of abandoning daylight raids and turning to night bombing, as the RAF suggested, they chose other paths at first, bombers converted to gunships (the Boeing YB-40) was believed to be able to escort the bomber formations, but when the concept proved to be unsuccessful, thoughts then turned to the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. [51] In early 1943, the USAAF also decided that the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51B be considered for the role of a smaller escort fighter, and in July, a report stated that the P-51B was "the most promising plane" with an endurance of 4 hours 45 minutes with the standard internal fuel of 184 gallons plus 150 gallons carried externally. [52] In August, a P-51B was fitted with an extra internal 85-gallon tank but problems with longitudinal stability occurred so some compromises in performance with the tank full were made. Since the fuel from the fuselage tank would be used during the initial stages of a mission, the fuel tank would be fitted in all Mustangs destined for VIII Fighter Command. [53]

P-51 introduction Edit

The P-51 Mustang was a solution to the need for an effective bomber escort. It used a common, reliable engine and had internal space for a larger-than-average fuel load. With external fuel tanks, it could accompany the bombers from England to Germany and back. [54]

By the time the Pointblank offensive resumed in early 1944, matters had changed. Bomber escort defenses were initially layered, using the shorter-range P-38s and P-47s to escort the bombers during the initial stages of the raid before handing over to the P-51s when they were forced to turn for home. This provided continuous coverage during the raid. The Mustang was so clearly superior to earlier US designs that the 8th Air Force began to steadily switch its fighter groups to the Mustang, first swapping arriving P-47 groups to the 9th Air Force in exchange for those that were using P-51s, then gradually converting its Thunderbolt and Lightning groups. By the end of 1944, 14 of its 15 groups flew the Mustang. [55]

The Luftwaffe's twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters brought up to deal with the bombers proved to be easy prey for the Mustangs, and had to be quickly withdrawn from combat. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190A, already suffering from poor high-altitude performance, was outperformed by the Mustang at the B-17's altitude, and when laden with heavy bomber-hunting weapons as a replacement for the more vulnerable twin-engined Zerstörer heavy fighters, it suffered heavy losses. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 had comparable performance at high altitudes, but its lightweight airframe was even more greatly affected by increases in armament. The Mustang's much lighter armament, tuned for antifighter combat, allowed it to overcome these single-engined opponents.

Fighting the Luftwaffe Edit

At the start of 1944, Major General James Doolittle, the new commander of the 8th Air Force, ordered many fighter pilots to stop flying in formation with the bombers and instead attack the Luftwaffe wherever it could be found. The aim was to achieve air supremacy. Mustang groups were sent far ahead of the bombers in a "fighter sweep" to intercept attacking German fighters.

The Luftwaffe answered with the Gefechtsverband ("battle formation"). This consisted of a Sturmgruppe of heavily armed and armored Fw 190 As escorted by two Begleitgruppen of Messerschmitt Bf 109s, whose task was to keep the Mustangs away from the Fw 190 as they attacked the bombers. This strategy proved to be problematic, as the large German formation took a long time to assemble and was difficult to maneuver. It was often intercepted by the P-51 "fighter sweeps" before it could attack the bombers. However, German attacks against bombers could be effective when they did occur the bomber-destroyer Fw 190As swept in from astern and often pressed their attacks to within 90 m (100 yd). [56]

While not always able to avoid contact with the escorts, the threat of mass attacks and later the "company front" (eight abreast) assaults by armored Sturmgruppe Fw 190As brought an urgency to attacking the Luftwaffe wherever it could be found, either in the air or on the ground. Beginning in late February 1944, 8th Air Force fighter units began systematic strafing attacks on German airfields with increasing frequency and intensity throughout the spring, with the objective of gaining air supremacy over the Normandy battlefield. In general, these were conducted by units returning from escort missions but, beginning in March, many groups also were assigned airfield attacks instead of bomber support. The P-51, particularly with the advent of the K-14 Gyro gunsight and the development of "Clobber Colleges" [57] for the training of fighter pilots in fall 1944, was a decisive element in Allied countermeasures against the Jagdverbände.

The numerical superiority of the USAAF fighters, superb flying characteristics of the P-51, and pilot proficiency helped cripple the Luftwaffe's fighter force. As a result, the fighter threat to the US, and later British, bombers was greatly diminished by July 1944. The RAF, long proponents of night bombing for protection, were able to reopen daylight bombing in 1944 as a result of the crippling of the Luftwaffe fighter arm. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander of the German Luftwaffe during the war, was quoted as saying, "When I saw Mustangs over Berlin, I knew the jig was up." [58] [59] [54]

Beyond Pointblank Edit

On 15 April 1944, VIII Fighter Command began "Operation Jackpot", attacks on Luftwaffe fighter airfields. As the efficacy of these missions increased, the number of fighters at the German airbases fell to the point where they were no longer considered worthwhile targets. On 21 May, targets were expanded to include railways, locomotives, and other rolling stock used by the Germans to transport materiel and troops, in missions dubbed "Chattanooga". [60] The P-51 excelled at this mission, although losses were much higher on strafing missions than in air-to-air combat, partially because the Mustang's liquid-cooled engine (particularly its liquid coolant system) was vulnerable to small-arms fire, unlike the air-cooled R-2800 radials of its Republic P-47 Thunderbolt stablemates based in England, regularly tasked with ground-strafing missions.

Given the overwhelming Allied air superiority, the Luftwaffe put its effort into the development of aircraft of such high performance that they could operate with impunity, but which also made bomber attack much more difficult, merely from the flight velocities they achieved. Foremost among these were the Messerschmitt Me 163B point-defense rocket interceptors, which started their operations with JG 400 near the end of July 1944, and the longer-endurance Messerschmitt Me 262A jet fighter, first flying with the Gruppe-strength Kommando Nowotny unit by the end of September 1944. In action, the Me 163 proved to be more dangerous to the Luftwaffe than to the Allies and was never a serious threat. The Me 262A was a serious threat, but attacks on their airfields neutralized them. The pioneering Junkers Jumo 004 axial-flow jet engines of the Me 262As needed careful nursing by their pilots, and these aircraft were particularly vulnerable during takeoff and landing. [61] Lt. Chuck Yeager of the 357th Fighter Group was one of the first American pilots to shoot down an Me 262, which he caught during its landing approach. On 7 October 1944, Lt. Urban L. Drew of the 361st Fighter Group shot down two Me 262s that were taking off, while on the same day Lt. Col. Hubert Zemke, who had transferred to the Mustang-equipped 479th Fighter Group, shot down what he thought was a Bf 109, only to have his gun camera film reveal that it may have been an Me 262. [62] On 25 February 1945, Mustangs of the 55th Fighter Group surprised an entire Staffel of Me 262As at takeoff and destroyed six jets. [63]

The Mustang also proved useful against the V-1s launched toward London. P-51B/Cs using 150-octane fuel were fast enough to catch the V-1 and operated in concert with shorter-range aircraft such as advanced marks of the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Tempest.

By 8 May 1945, [64] the 8th, 9th, and 15th Air Force's P-51 groups [nb 6] claimed some 4,950 aircraft shot down (about half of all USAAF claims in the European theater, the most claimed by any Allied fighter in air-to-air combat) [64] and 4,131 destroyed on the ground. Losses were about 2,520 aircraft. [65] The 8th Air Force's 4th Fighter Group was the top-scoring fighter group in Europe, with 1,016 enemy aircraft claimed destroyed. This included 550 claimed in aerial combat and 466 on the ground. [66]

In air combat, the top-scoring P-51 units (both of which exclusively flew Mustangs) were the 357th Fighter Group of the 8th Air Force with 565 air-to-air combat victories and the 9th Air Force's 354th Fighter Group with 664, which made it one of the top-scoring fighter groups. The top Mustang ace was the USAAF's George Preddy, whose final tally stood at 26.83 victories (a number that includes shared one half- and one third victory credits), 23 of which were scored with the P-51. Preddy was shot down and killed by friendly fire on Christmas Day 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. [64]

In China and the Pacific Theater Edit

In early 1945, P-51C, D, and K variants also joined the Chinese Nationalist Air Force. These Mustangs were provided to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Fighter Groups and used to attack Japanese targets in occupied areas of China. The P-51 became the most capable fighter in China, while the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force used the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate against it.

The P-51 was a relative latecomer to the Pacific Theater, due largely to the need for the aircraft in Europe, although the P-38's twin-engined design was considered a safety advantage for long, over-water flights. The first P-51s were deployed in the Far East later in 1944, operating in close-support and escort missions, as well as tactical photo-reconnaissance. As the war in Europe wound down, the P-51 became more common. With the capture of Iwo Jima, USAAF P-51 Mustang fighters of the VII Fighter Command were stationed on that island starting in March 1945, being initially tasked with escorting Boeing B-29 Superfortress missions against the Japanese homeland.

The command's last major raid of May was a daylight incendiary attack on Yokohama on 29 May conducted by 517 B-29s escorted by 101 P-51s. This force was intercepted by 150 A6M Zero fighters, sparking an intense air battle in which five B-29s were shot down and another 175 damaged. In return, the P-51 pilots claimed 26 "kills" and 23 "probables" for the loss of three fighters. The 454 B-29s that reached Yokohama struck the city's main business district and destroyed 6.9 square miles (18 km 2 ) of buildings over 1000 Japanese were killed. [67] [68] Overall, the attacks in May destroyed 94 square miles (240 km 2 ) of buildings, which was equivalent to one-seventh of Japan's total urban area. The Minister of Home Affairs, Iwao Yamazaki, concluded after these raids that Japan's civil defense arrangements were "considered to be futile". [69] On the first day of June, 521 B-29s escorted by 148 P-51s were dispatched in a daylight raid against Osaka. While en route to the city, the Mustangs flew through thick clouds, and 27 of the fighters were destroyed in collisions. Nevertheless, 458 heavy bombers and 27 P-51s reached the city, and the bombardment killed 3,960 Japanese and destroyed 3.15 square miles (8.2 km 2 ) of buildings. On 5 June, 473 B-29s struck Kobe by day and destroyed 4.35 square miles (11.3 km 2 ) of buildings for the loss of 11 bombers. A force of 409 B-29s attacked Osaka again on 7 June during this attack, 2.21 square miles (5.7 km 2 ) of buildings were burnt out and the Americans did not suffer any losses. Osaka was bombed for the fourth time that month, on 15 June, when 444 B-29s destroyed 1.9 square miles (4.9 km 2 ) of the city and another 0.59 square miles (1.5 km 2 ) of nearby Amagasaki 300,000 houses were destroyed in Osaka. [70] [71] This attack marked the end of the first phase of XXI Bomber Command's attack on Japan's cities. During May and June, the bombers had destroyed much of the country's six largest cities, killing between 112,000 and 126,762 people and rendering millions homeless. The widespread destruction and high number of casualties from these raids caused many Japanese to realize that their country's military was no longer able to defend the home islands. American losses were low compared to Japanese casualties 136 B-29s were downed during the campaign. [72] [73] [74] In Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Kobe, and Kawasaki, "over 126,762 people were killed . and a million and a half dwellings and over 105 square miles (270 km 2 ) of urban space were destroyed." [75] In Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, "the areas leveled (almost 100 square miles (260 km 2 )) exceeded the areas destroyed in all German cities by both the American and British air forces (about 79 square miles (200 km 2 ))." [75]

P-51s also conducted a series of independent ground-attack missions against targets in the home islands. [76] The first of these operations took place on 16 April, when 57 P-51s strafed Kanoya Air Field in Kyushu. [77] In operations conducted between 26 April and 22 June, the American fighter pilots claimed the destruction of 64 Japanese aircraft and damage to another 180 on the ground, as well as a further 10 shot down in flight these claims were lower than the American planners had expected, however, and the raids were considered unsuccessful. USAAF losses were 11 P-51s to enemy action and seven to other causes. [78]

Due to the lack of Japanese air opposition to the American bomber raids, VII Fighter Command was solely tasked with ground-attack missions from July. These raids were frequently made against airfields to destroy aircraft being held in reserve to attack the expected Allied invasion fleet. While the P-51 pilots only occasionally encountered Japanese fighters in the air, the airfields were protected by antiaircraft batteries and barrage balloons. [79] By the end of the war, VII Fighter Command had conducted 51 ground-attack raids, of which 41 were considered successful. The fighter pilots claimed to have destroyed or damaged 1,062 aircraft and 254 ships, along with large numbers of buildings and railway rolling stock. American losses were 91 pilots killed and 157 Mustangs destroyed. [80]

Pilot observations Edit

Chief Naval Test Pilot and C.O. Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight Capt. Eric Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, RN, tested the Mustang at RAE Farnborough in March 1944 and noted, "The Mustang was a good fighter and the best escort due to its incredible range, make no mistake about it. It was also the best American dogfighter. But the laminar-flow wing fitted to the Mustang could be a little tricky. It could not by any means out-turn a Spitfire. No way. It had a good rate-of-roll, better than the Spitfire, so I would say the plusses to the Spitfire and the Mustang just about equate. If I were in a dogfight, I'd prefer to be flying the Spitfire. The problem was I wouldn't like to be in a dogfight near Berlin, because I could never get home to Britain in a Spitfire!" [81]

The U.S. Air Forces, Flight Test Engineering, assessed the Mustang B on 24 April 1944 thus: "The rate of climb is good and the high speed in level flight is exceptionally good at all altitudes, from sea level to 40,000 feet. The airplane is very maneuverable with good controllability at indicated speeds up to 400 MPH [sic]. The stability about all axes is good and the rate of roll is excellent however, the radius of turn is fairly large for a fighter. The cockpit layout is excellent, but visibility is poor on the ground and only fair in level flight." [82]

Kurt Bühligen, the third-highest scoring German fighter pilot of World War II's Western Front (with 112 confirmed victories, three against Mustangs), later stated, "We would out-turn the P-51 and the other American fighters, with the Bf 109 or the Fw 190. Their turn rate was about the same. The P-51 was faster than us, but our munitions] and cannon were better." [83] Heinz Bär said that the P-51 "was perhaps the most difficult of all Allied aircraft to meet in combat. It was fast, maneuverable, hard to see, and difficult to identify because it resembled the Me 109". [84]

After World War II Edit

In the aftermath of World War II, the USAAF consolidated much of its wartime combat force and selected the P-51 as a "standard" piston-engined fighter, while other types, such as the P-38 and P-47, were withdrawn or given substantially reduced roles. As the more advanced (P-80 and P-84) jet fighters were introduced, the P-51 was also relegated to secondary duties.

In 1947, the newly formed USAF Strategic Air Command employed Mustangs alongside F-6 Mustangs and F-82 Twin Mustangs, due to their range capabilities. In 1948, the designation P-51 (P for pursuit) was changed to F-51 (F for fighter) and the existing F designator for photographic reconnaissance aircraft was dropped because of a new designation scheme throughout the USAF. Aircraft still in service in the USAF or Air National Guard (ANG) when the system was changed included: F-51B, F-51D, F-51K, RF-51D (formerly F-6D), RF-51K (formerly F-6K) and TRF-51D (two-seat trainer conversions of F-6Ds). They remained in service from 1946 through 1951. By 1950, although Mustangs continued in service with the USAF after the war, the majority of the USAF's Mustangs had become surplus to requirements and placed in storage, while some were transferred to the Air Force Reserve and the ANG.

From the start of the Korean War, the Mustang once again proved useful. A "substantial number" of stored or in-service F-51Ds were shipped, via aircraft carriers, to the combat zone, and were used by the USAF, the South African Air Force, and the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The F-51 was used for ground attack, fitted with rockets and bombs, and photo reconnaissance, rather than being as interceptors or "pure" fighters. After the first North Korean invasion, USAF units were forced to fly from bases in Japan and the F-51Ds, with their long range and endurance, could attack targets in Korea that short-ranged F-80 jets could not. Because of the vulnerable liquid cooling system, however, the F-51s sustained heavy losses to ground fire. [4] Due to its lighter structure and a shortage of spare parts, the newer, faster F-51H was not used in Korea.

Mustangs continued flying with USAF and ROKAF fighter-bomber units on close support and interdiction missions in Korea until 1953 when they were largely replaced as fighter-bombers by USAF F-84s and by United States Navy (USN) Grumman F9F Panthers. Other air forces and units using the Mustang included the Royal Australian Air Force's 77 Squadron, which flew Australian-built Mustangs as part of British Commonwealth Forces Korea. The Mustangs were replaced by Gloster Meteor F8s in 1951. The South African Air Force's 2 Squadron used U.S.-built Mustangs as part of the U.S. 18th Fighter Bomber Wing and had suffered heavy losses by 1953, after which 2 Squadron converted to the F-86 Sabre.

F-51s flew in the Air Force Reserve and ANG throughout the 1950s. The last American USAF Mustang was F-51D-30-NA AF serial no. 44-74936, which was finally withdrawn from service with the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in January 1957 and retired to what was then called the Air Force Central Museum, [85] although it was briefly reactivated to fly at the 50th anniversary of the Air Force Aerial Firepower Demonstration at the Air Proving Ground, Eglin AFB, Florida, on 6 May 1957. [86] This aircraft, painted as P-51D-15-NA serial no. 44-15174, is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, in Dayton, Ohio. [87]

The final withdrawal of the Mustang from USAF dumped hundreds of P-51s onto the civilian market. The rights to the Mustang design were purchased from North American by the Cavalier Aircraft Corporation, which attempted to market the surplus Mustang aircraft in the U.S. and overseas. In 1967 and again in 1972, the USAF procured batches of remanufactured Mustangs from Cavalier, most of them destined for air forces in South America and Asia that were participating in the Military Assistance Program (MAP). These aircraft were remanufactured from existing original F-51D airframes fitted with new V-1650-7 engines, a new radio, tall F-51H-type vertical tails, and a stronger wing that could carry six 13 mm (0.50 in) machine guns and a total of eight underwing hardpoints. Two 1,000-pound (450 kg) bombs and six 130 mm (5 in) rockets could be carried. They all had an original F-51D-type canopy but carried a second seat for an observer behind the pilot. One additional Mustang was a two-seat, dual-control TF-51D (67-14866) with an enlarged canopy and only four wing guns. Although these remanufactured Mustangs were intended for sale to South American and Asian nations through the MAP, they were delivered to the USAF with full USAF markings. They were, however, allocated new serial numbers (67-14862/14866, 67-22579/22582 and 72-1526/1541). [87]

The last U.S. military use of the F-51 was in 1968 when the U. S. Army employed a vintage F-51D (44-72990) as a chase aircraft for the Lockheed YAH-56 Cheyenne armed helicopter project. This aircraft was so successful that the Army ordered two F-51Ds from Cavalier in 1968 for use at Fort Rucker as chase planes. They were assigned the serials 68-15795 and 68-15796. These F-51s had wingtip fuel tanks and were unarmed. Following the end of the Cheyenne program, these two chase aircraft were used for other projects. One of them (68-15795) was fitted with a 106 mm recoilless rifle for evaluation of the weapon's value in attacking fortified ground targets. [88] Cavalier Mustang 68-15796 survives at the Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin AFB, Florida, displayed indoors in World War II markings.

The F-51 was adopted by many foreign air forces and continued to be an effective fighter into the mid-1980s with smaller air arms. The last Mustang ever downed in battle occurred during Operation Power Pack in the Dominican Republic in 1965, with the last aircraft finally being retired by the Dominican Air Force in 1984. [89]

Service with other air forces Edit

After World War II, the P-51 Mustang served in the air arms of more than 25 nations. [11] During the war, a Mustang cost about $51,000, [90] while many hundreds were sold postwar for the nominal price of one dollar to signatories of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, ratified in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. [91]

These countries used the P-51 Mustang:

P-51s and civil aviation Edit

Many P-51s were sold as surplus after the war, often for as little as $1,500. Some were sold to former wartime fliers or other aficionados for personal use, while others were modified for air racing. [121]

One of the most significant Mustangs involved in air racing was serial number 44-10947, a surplus P-51C-10-NT purchased by film stunt pilot Paul Mantz. He modified the wings, sealing them to create a giant fuel tank in each one these "wet wings" reduced the need for fuel stops or drag-inducing drop tanks. Named Blaze of Noon after the film Blaze of Noon, the aircraft won the 1946 and 1947 Bendix Air Races, took second in the 1948 Bendix, and placed third in the 1949 Bendix. Mantz also set a U.S. coast-to-coast record in 1947. He sold the Mustang to Charles F. Blair Jr (future husband of Maureen O'Hara), who renamed it Excalibur III and used it to set a New York-to-London (about 3,460 miles or 5,570 kilometres) record in 1951: 7 hr 48 min from takeoff at Idlewild to overhead London Airport. Later that year, Blair flew from Norway to Fairbanks, Alaska, via the North Pole (about 3,130 miles or 5,040 kilometres), proving that navigation via sun sights was possible over the magnetic North Pole region. For this feat, he was awarded the Harmon Trophy and the Air Force was forced to change its thoughts on a possible Soviet air strike from the north. This Mustang now sits in the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. [122]

In 1958, the RCAF retired its 78 remaining Mustangs. RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison ferried them from their various storage locations to Canastota, New York, where the American buyers were based. Garrison flew each of the surviving aircraft at least once. These aircraft make up a large percentage of the aircraft presently flying worldwide. [123]

The most prominent firm to convert Mustangs to civilian use was Trans-Florida Aviation, later renamed Cavalier Aircraft Corporation, which produced the Cavalier Mustang. Modifications included a taller tailfin and wingtip tanks. A number of conversions included a Cavalier Mustang specialty: a "tight" second seat added in the space formerly occupied by the military radio and fuselage fuel tank.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the United States Department of Defense wished to supply aircraft to South American countries and later Indonesia for close air support and counterinsurgency, it paid Cavalier to return some of their civilian conversions back to updated military specifications.

In the 21st century, a P-51 can command a price of more than $1 million, even for only partially restored aircraft. [123] There were 204 privately owned P-51s in the U.S. on the FAA registry in 2011, [124] most of which are still flying, often associated with organizations such as the Commemorative Air Force (formerly the Confederate Air Force). [125]

In May 2013, Doug Matthews set an altitude record of 12,975 m (42,568 ft) in a P-51 named The Rebel for piston-powered aircraft weighing 3,000 to 6,000 kg (6,600 to 13,200 lb). [126] Flying from a grass runway at Florida's Indiantown airport and over Lake Okeechobee, Matthews set world records for time to reach altitudes of 9,000 m (30,000 ft), 18 minutes and 12,000 m (39,000 ft), 31 minutes. He set a level-flight altitude record of 12,200 m (40,100 ft) in level flight and an absolute altitude record of 13,000 m (42,500 ft), [127] [128] breaking the previous record of 11,248 m (36,902 ft) set in 1954.

Incidents Edit

  • On 9 June 1973, William Penn Patrick (43) a certified pilot and his passenger, Christian Hagert, died when Patrick's P-51 Mustang crashed in Lakeport, California. [129][130]
  • On 1 July 1990 at the National Capital Air Show (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), Harry E. Tope was killed when his P-51 Mustang crashed. [131]
  • On 16 September 2011 The Galloping Ghost, a modified P-51 piloted by Jimmy Leeward of Ocala, Florida, crashed during an air race in Reno, Nevada. Leeward and at least nine people on the ground were killed when the racer suddenly crashed near the edge of the grandstand. [132]

Over 20 variants of the P-51 Mustang were produced from 1940 to after the war.

Production Edit

Except for the small numbers assembled or produced in Australia, all Mustangs were built by North American initially at Inglewood, California, but then additionally in Dallas, Texas.

Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/26/2017 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Vultee XP-54 was one of the more distinct aircraft creations designed during World War 2. Produced through the essentially "empty canvas / blank check" approach by an Army Air Corps initiative (the specification was known as "Request for Data R-40C") , the XP-54 (later nicknamed the "Swoose Goose" by Vultee employees) doomed itself to failure thanks to the integration of a myriad of unproven systems, subsystems, design philosophies and other factors generally out of Vultee's control. Sadly, this single-engine, twin-boom fighter of a most optimistic design would not progress past two "X" developmental aircraft. Instead, the Swoose Goose would become another of America's multi-million dollar gaffes to which there was nothing to show for by project's cancellation.

In the decade that was the 1930's, American aviation design and production was essentially proceeding at a snail's pace with bombers generally stealing the limelight in terms of firepower and speed over their fighter ("pursuit") counterparts. Many aircraft design firms were quite content with providing fighter creations based on an outdated yet tried-and-true formula from a decade before. This formula made heavy use of the most basic of fuselages, a standard monoplane wing structure arrangement and, at the very least, a simple twin-machine gun setup.

USAAF Initiative R-40C

The United States Army Air Corps was looking to change all that and stir the creative juices of these design firms to produce the very best aircraft possible with whatever powerplants and armament configurations the firms themselves deemed appropriate. The Army Air Corps would then evaluate each submission (submissions could include monoplane or biplane wing types) against other like-aircraft designs under a series of basic performance and armament categories by awarding points with the overall total not exceeding 1,000. With designs now coming in across all fronts from a variety of American aircraft producers (each smelling a potentially lucrative production contract to follow), the Vultee XP-54 garnered the top prize, scoring 817.9 points out of the maximum 1,000. Vultee assigned the company designation of Model 84 to the winning design and would work with the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) on refining the fighter. It should be noted that not one design was a biplane and all used the relatively new construction method of all-metal stressed skin. Vultee assigned relatively optimistic performance specs of a 510 mile-per-hour top speed, a 500 mile range and a ceiling of 37,000 feet with a gross weight of 8,500lbs. The USAAF signed a contract order for the Model 84 (s/n 41-1210) on January 8th, 1941.

Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose Walk-Around

The Vultee design featured a twin-boom arrangement with a centralized fuselage nacelle containing the pilot, cockpit, fuel, engine and armament. The central nacelle was sleek and slim with the cockpit situated amidships. The engine was mounted to the rear of the nacelle and was of a "pusher" type contra-rotating arrangement while the armament would have been fitted into the nose. The twin booms emanated from the wing trailing edges and were connected aft by a large horizontal plane. Each boom was capped with a short vertical tail surface. Wings themselves were set as inverted "gull" wings. Wings would contain the needed intercoolers and radiators for the engine. The selected engine was a Pratt & Whitney X-1800 liquid-cooled system powering contra-rotating propellers fitted between the booms. The undercarriage was of a tricycle arrangement made up of two single-wheeled main landing gears retracting into the forward portions of the booms and a long-stemmed single-wheeled nose landing gear recessing under the forward fuselage.

Cockpit entry for the pilot was addressed through a rather distinct approach. The pilot activated an electrically powered lift that would drop the cockpit floor - seat and all - down to where the pilot could climb aboard. Once strapped down, the system was reactivated once more to bring the pilot up and into the cockpit.

Interestingly enough, the originally intended nose-mounted armament of 6 x .50 caliber Browning air-cooled heavy machine guns was to sit with in a pivoting assembly allowing the guns to pivot 3-degrees and lower up to 6-degrees. The idea behind this technology was to aid the pilot in strafing runs while keeping his aircraft relatively level in flight. The weapon system would be managed by an equally complex sighting system that computed both angle an range to further assist the pilot. The system as a whole proved quite a novelty and perhaps even unnecessary not to mention the additional cost in weight. The addition of protective armor and self-sealing fuel tanks (quite standard features on any warplane by the end of the war) did little to offset the ballooning total.

Trouble for the Goose

While life for the Swoose Goose began rosy enough, storm clouds began to form along the horizon. Pratt & Whitney dropped support and further development of any liquid-cooled engines altogether, leaving the Vultee team to scatter for a new powerplant to power their XP-54. The selected system became an unproven Lycoming XH-2470 of 2,300 horsepower, another liquid-cooled engine that was larger and heavier than the XP-54 airframe originally intended. The new engine also forced the dropping of the contra-rotating propellers and a four-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller was selected in its place. To help provide the XP-54 with top-flight high altitude performance, a turbosupercharger was fitted to the XH-2470. This also meant that high altitude flight would require a pressurized cockpit for the pilot - all these systems adding further weight to the XP-54 airframe.

Vultee Adds Insult to Injury

Not to leave well enough alone, the Vultee team devised an effort to give the XP-54 increased lethality. With the second prototype being ordered by the Army on March 11th, 1942 (s/n 41-1211) the 6 x 12.7mm machine gun arrangement was dropped in favor of a twin 37mm cannon / 2 x .50 caliber machine gun set up. Cannons were shown to have better results against fighter and bomber targets alike but they suffered from a slower rate-of-fire when compared to machine guns. As such, the 2 x .50 caliber machine guns would complement the slower-firing cannons. The selected 37mm T-9 series cannons were a development of Oldsmobile and found some success in implements such as Bell's P-39 Airacobra. This new armament arrangement would still be installed in the nose in the same envisioned pivoting assembly as before - once again increasing the weight of the XP-54 beyond the original specifications - and once again detracting from the optimistic performance numbers.

Showtime for the Goose

The Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose was finally completed and ready for show in January of 1943. The aircraft was trucked out to the Mojave Desert to be assembled and flown. First flight of the initial XP-54 prototype was achieved on January 15th, 1943 and lasted 30 minutes, being more or less a success. After a move to Wright Field on October 28th, 1943, the Lycoming engine failed irreparably.

This is where the legacy of the Swoose Goose effectively ends. By 1943, the USAAF was already finding successes with the pursuit fighters it already had in inventory. The XP-54 was doomed by its new engine, heavy operating weight and complicated internal workings. As such, the XP-54 - with just the one completed prototype at hand - was beginning to lose the focus of the USAAF in favor of fielding existing fighters such as the North American P-51 Mustang, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Despite the drop in effort on the part of the USAAF, the original prototype continued in a limited testing procedure for whatever reason, by which time, the second prototype was completed and made available. The United States Army Air Force now moved in and officially cancelled the XP-54 project in whole.

The second prototype first flew on March 24th, 1944 in another short test flight this time to Norton Army Air Force Base. Like the first prototype before it, the second prototype's engine inexplicably failed as well, putting an end to the XP-54 legacy - what little there was to it to begin with. Now that both prototypes were essentially worthless, the two airframes were dismantled and used for scrap (a common practice during World War 2). As such, no remnants of the XP-54 Swoose Goose exist except for a few photographs, some memories and text.

Not one official (or usable) product came from the USAAF initiative known as Request for Data R-40C.

North American P-51H Mustang: Includes Lightweight Fighters XP-51F, XP51G, & XP52J

The North American Aviation Corporation's series of "Lightweight" Mustangs, the XP-51F, XP51G, XP-51J, and ultimately the P-51H, came as a result of North American's further development of their standard P-51A and B/C designs. These efforts were the direct result of combat experience in Europe in attempting to counter the fast German Luftwaffe's Focke Wulf 190 with its higher rate of roll, and the requirement in the Pacific Theater for a light, long-range fighter to counter Japanese aircraft, particularly the long-range, . Read More

The North American Aviation Corporation's series of "Lightweight" Mustangs, the XP-51F, XP51G, XP-51J, and ultimately the P-51H, came as a result of North American's further development of their standard P-51A and B/C designs. These efforts were the direct result of combat experience in Europe in attempting to counter the fast German Luftwaffe's Focke Wulf 190 with its higher rate of roll, and the requirement in the Pacific Theater for a light, long-range fighter to counter Japanese aircraft, particularly the long-range, high manueverable Mitsubishi A6M Reisen ("Zero" or "Zeke"). Read Less

History [ edit | edit source ]

Lockheed’s P-38 Lightning was one of the most recognizable fighter planes in World War II. Few twin-engine fighters during that period were agile enough to survive for long in combat, but the Lightning fought successfully in all fronts, and its high speed, long range and heavy firepower proved to be especially lethal against Japanese forces in the Pacific. Its unusual twin-engine, twin-boom configuration continues to make it a favorite today among modelers and airplane buffs worldwide.

The immense distances between islands in the Pacific Theater required a fighter type that could fly for hours between islands, yet have its pilot fresh for combat at any time. The P-38 only had one pilot, so a new plane was needed. North American’s solution was its XP-82 Twin Mustang, essentially two modified P-51H fuselages combined in a twin-boom configuration, carrying two pilots to share the tasks of flying and fighting. Although the Twin Mustang arrived too late for World War II, it joined the Air Force as the F-82 escort fighter and night fighter, and went on to a successful combat career in the Korean War.

As a double fuselaged P-51 Mustang, the post World War II P-82 in reality reached back to October 1940, when the P-51 prototype first flew. (The North American P-51 Mustang was developed in record time to satisfy British WWII requirements for a fighter that would take into account the early lessons of aerial combat over Europe. Among the aircraft's most notable features were a laminar flow wing section, aft mounted ventral radiator for minimum drag, and simple lines to ease the production that began in late 1941. A year later, the Army Air Forces adopted the P-51 for its own use. It ordered some 2,000 P-51Bs, a ground attack version o

North American F-82F Twin Mustang night fighter Serial 46-415

f the Royal Air Force P-51 singleseat fighter.)

Since North American used some Curtiss P-40 technical data to quickly develop the YP-51, the P-82's ancestry may even be traced to 1937, when the experimental P-40 Warhawk was ordered. During May 1939, in competition with other pursuit prototypes, the Curtiss Warhawk was evaluated at Wright Field. This plane. was immediately selected for procurement under a first contract of nearly $13 million-largest at the time for a US fighter. The first P-40s (of 12,302 produced) were delivered in May 1940.

A special escort plane was needed. The ADO of 1942 responded to the AAF's 1941 air war plans that "urged development of special escort planes [even though] bombers for the moment could rely on current interceptor type models for support, especially the P-47. Since Republic's incoming P-47s also served as fighter bombers, these plans suggested employment of a modified bomber type for the escort role. The 1941 air war plans sounded a discordant note at a time of overwhelming faith in the bomber's supremacy. Moreover through the late summer of 1942, WWII experience tended to confirm that escorts were only necessary to support bombers past enemy fighters along the coasts of France and Belgium. Once the "fighter belt" was crossed, little if any German opposition would be met.

With even longer range than the latest P-51 then in production the new plane was to penetrate deep into enemy territory. This was a requirement learned the hard way. Two 1943 missions (17 August and 14 October) over Schweinfurt, Germany, had resulted in the loss of 120 B-17s (more than 25 percent of those engaged) and death or capture of 1,200 airmen. In the P-51's case, this had prompted the AAF to rush modification of the plane's fuselage to insert an extra tank that would extend range to more than 800 miles.

This P-51D, like the later P-51H and P-51K, closely resembled the P-51B and P-51C, both of which could carry 184 gallons of fuel internally, 150 gallons in external tanks, and remain in the air 4 hours and 45 minutes. In November 1943 (1 month before the first P-51Bs entered service with the British based Eighth Air Force), the AAF chose the P-51B and P-51C for escort duty over the battletested P-47 and Lockheed's slightly older P-38. This step was meant to stop the soaring bomber losses due to escorts being too short ranged even with extra fuel tanks. (The use of extra fuel tanks for longer range dated back to WWI, when it first proved a definite fire hazard. It was also long resisted on the grounds that interceptor type fighters weighted with fuel

USAF operational F-82 Twin Mustang, F-82F 46-415, on the ramp at Ladd AFB, just before going to salvage at Elmendorf, May 1953

would be more vulnerable to enemy aircraft.)

The new plane's immediate role would be to escort the B-29 bombers used in the Pacific against Japan.

On 7 January North American presented a bold design based on the successful P-51. North American's idea of joining two standard, well proven, P-51 fuselages (complete with engine) was not unique. It was reminiscent of the Heinkel 111Z transport and glider tug, a "Siamese Twin" arrangement of two Heinkel 111 bombers, built by the Germans earlier in the war. In any case, North American's plane proved to be the sole American example.

This design promised range, reliability, and less pilot fatigue (the two pilots could spell one another). The AAF endorsed it at once. In fact, a February letter contract to construct and test three experimental P-82s gave way in the same month to an order for 500 productions.

The XP-82 made its first flight on 6 July 1945.

The AAF accepted this XP-82 in August and a second one in September. Both were equipped with Packard Merlin V 1650 23 and 25 engines. (British Rolls Royce type engines built in the United States) The third experimental plane, designated XP82A, had two Allison V 1710 119 engines. It was accepted in October.

The Air Force accepted a grand total of 272 F-82s (including 22 prototype, test, and early productions received by the AAF). Specifically, the F-82 program consisted of 2 XF-82s, 1 XF-82A, 19 F-82Bs (known for a while as P-82Zs and all allocated to testing), 4 F-82As, 96 F-82Es, 91 F-82Fs, 45 F-82Gs, and 14-F82Hs.

The Caribbean Air Command was the first to receive F-82s, 15 by year's end. Fifth Air Force was next, with one squadron (the 68th) soon flying F-82s out of Itazuke Air Base in Japan. Another squadron (the 4th) was in place at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, before the Korean war. It was part of the Twentieth Air Force, which once had directed the worldwide operations of all B-29 Superfortresses.

Few of the 40 F-82s available to the Far East Air Forces in mid 1950 were combat ready. In July, Fifth Air Forces (The Fifth was the largest air force under FEAF) spared three F-82s of the 68th Fighter All Weather Squadron for operations over Korea, but the planes proved of little value except against known and fixed targets. In addition, FEAF's F-82 operations (like ADC's, ADC resumed major air command status in January 1951) were hampered by parts shortages and maintenance troubles. If Fifth Air Force continued to use F-82s over Korea, only 60 days of extra supply support could be expected. Hence, although a few of SAC surplus F-82Es went to FEAF, all F-82s were withdrawn from combat in February 1952. Despite limited use, the F-82s

Mockup of a night fighter F-82

managed to leave a solid war record. They destroyed 20 enemy planes (4 in air fights, 16 on the ground). They scored the first aerial victory in Korea on 27 June 1950, downing a Soviet built Yakovlev Yak-11.

In the mid 1950s Air Defense units began trading F-82s for F-94s, and in early 1951 the few Twin Mustangs remaining in ADC were towing targets. The F-82s coming out of Korean combat in February 1952 lingered a bit longer in the inventory. After June 1953, no F-82s appeared on Air Force, Air National Guard, or Air Reserve Forces rolls.

Dream Catcher History & Legend

Dream catchers are one of the most fascinating traditions of Native Americans. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams , while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.

The dream catcher has been a part of Native American culture for generations. One element of Native American dream catcher relates to the tradition of the hoop. Some Native Americans of North America held the hoop in the highest esteem, because it symbolized strength and unity. Many symbols started around the hoop, and one of these symbols is the dream catcher.

Dream Catcher Lore:

Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams both good and bad. The dream catcher when hung over or near your bed swinging freely in the air, catches the dreams as they flow by. The good dreams know how to pass through the dream catcher, slipping through the outer holes and slide down the soft feathers so gently that many times the sleeper does not know that he/she is dreaming. The bad dreams not knowing the way get tangled in the dream catcher and perish with the first light of the new day.

How the Dream Catcher is made:

Using a hoop of willow, and decorating it with findings, bits and pieces of everyday life, (feathers, arrow heads, beads, etc) the dream catcher is believed to have the power to catch all of a person’s dreams, trapping the bad ones, and letting only the good dreams pass through the dream catcher.

Does North America Have A Chance At MSI?

The teams have qualified and now all that’s left is the waiting as we count down the days to the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). It marks the first major international tournament of the League of Legends season, which means two things historically. Disappointment and apathy.

But with COVID having shut down the League of Legends MSI last year, I feel more buzz for the invitational than I have in awhile. Or maybe. Just maybe, it’s because people think North America might make some noise.

History Says There’s A Chance

I don’t need to get on here and pontificate about North America’s abysmal history at the World Championships. I do that often enough. But the Mid-Season Invitational has historically been much kinder to our corner of the world. It was just a few short years ago that Team Liquid made it all the way to the finals.

A few years before that, CLG lost to SK Telecom T1 in the finals of MSI 2016. My point is that while North America has never won the Mid-Season Invitational, they’ve had a far more successful run there than they have at Worlds.

At MSI, it’s not just the top four regions on display. All the regional leagues send their best. And with Riot Games putting an extra worlds spot on the line this year, what better time to make history?

A Hope And A Prayer In Group C

Ah group stages. The natural predator of North American esports. To qualify for the main event of the Mid-Season Invitational, competitors need to place in the top two teams of their group. So let’s take a look at Cloud9’s competition in Group C.

  • Damwon Gaming – This is the first problem that Cloud9 will run into. Last year’s world champions have slotted into Group C with them. The South Korean juggernaut features one of the most talented top laners I’ve seen in Khan. In addition, their bottom lane connection of Ghost and Beryl should be keeping North America fans awake at night. This is an almost guaranteed 2 losses.
  • Infinity eSports – Listen. I’d love to get on here and tell you I’ve watched every game in the Latin American region this year, and thus have all the info on Infinity eSports. I haven’t, and I don’t. The Costa Rican squad defeated Furious Gaming to advance to MSI, and likely into a buzzsaw. Their support, Ackerman is a rookie sensation, but their team spells it “eSports” and for that alone, I hope Cloud9 buries them.
  • Detonation FocusMe – Perhaps better known by their title of “The only team from Japan you can name.” They’ve been the best of the region for what feels like 70 years, but their success has never transitioned to the international stage in a meaningful way. I would expect them to be better than Infinity, and not much else.

The Main Event

So what does it all mean? While International League of Legends has almost always been the death knell of North America, we should have hope. Cloud9, lead by Perkz, is a better team than either Infinity eSports or Detonation FocusMe and that’s good enough to make it into the main event of MSI 2021.

After that, who knows? The play-in stages are over, the group stages are over, and you just need to win some one-on-one matches. Cloud9 could get hot at the right time. Their opponents could get sick. Hell, it’s Reykjavík Iceland, a volcano could explode and the ash could get in the eyes of the opposing team. The point is, you’ve got a puncher’s chance once you make it out of group stages.

I’m not about to get on here and predict Cloud9 to stun the world and win North America’s first international League of Legends event. I don’t think they’re going to win that additional slot for the hometown region. I just think it might be more fun to watch than people are giving credit. They’ll have plenty of time to prove me wrong.

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