Soon after the beginning of the war in 1939 The British government established a commission to purchase with the United States, led by Sir. Henry Self. One of the many tasks of self was organizing the production of U.S. aircraft to RAF. At that time, the choices were quite limited: no American planes had ever reached the European aviation standards, and only Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk had come close, and the Curtiss plant already operating at capacity until the plane had a short supply.
At this point, the Dutch president Kindleberger the North American Aviation (NAA), approached Self with the vision to sell the new bomber British average of NAA's, B-25 Mitchell. Instead, Self asked if the NAA could produce the Tomahawk on license from Curtiss. (The NAA has provided its training center at Harvard such planes, but in any case were not used.)
Kindleberger 's reply was that NAA could produce a better aircraft with the same engine in less time. From this unlikely beginning came into being one of the best fighters in history. The use of large-scale version of the C P -51 Mustang by U.S. Air Force and British Royal was decisive for the success and continuity of long-range bombers over occupied Europe, Germany and its allies, as well as aircraft with an extra fuel tank could reach flight autonomy that allowed him to escort the going and coming Allied bombers, was superior to the German fighters into combat, except for the Me-262 Schwalbe that only come later in the conflict and insufficient to cope the Anglo-Americans . Thus their ability to penetrate deep into enemy territory on missions to escort defensive or offensive directed against the German fighters into its territory, largely responsible for both success in undoing the damage the Luftwaffe and industrial power at the service of Germany.
Equally crucial was the Pacific war, its use for the same purpose : to attack enemy fighters Mitsubishi in the territory since the second half of 1944 and mainly starting from February 1945, as a fighter escort for American bombers based on the main airfield Iwojima. Note that the last Japanese counter-attack in this battle was just a night attack against the camp of the P-51 pilots.
Its main flaws, the weakness in the lower compared to anti-aircraft fire and instability flight to maneuver when armed with bombs or rocket attacks has led to land both the Western allies in Europe, and in east, focus on the use of other aircraft more efficient to do so, as the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, American-made or Hawker Tempest of British manufacturing.
- Type: Long-Range Escort Fighter
- Operational Model: P- 51D
- Wingspan: 11.29 m
- Length: 9.81 m
- Height: 4.
- Weight: 3230 kg (empty ) and 5260 kg (laden)
- Engine: A Packard Merlin V -1650 -7 ( 1.590 hp )
- Maximum speed: 703 km / h
- Inicial Ascension: 1060 m / min.
- Maximum ceiling: 12 770 m
- Range: 1520 km (normal) and 2090 km (with disposable tanks )
- Armament: 6 guns Browning MG53 -2 ( 270 or 400 rounds per gun)
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