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P-51 Mustang: 1942

P-51 Mustang: 1942

October 1942. "North American's P-51 'Mustang' fighter is in service with Britain's Royal Air Force. North American Aviation Inc., Inglewood, California." 4x5 inch Kodachrome transparency by Mark Sherwood for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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US Air Insignia

Re: Early Model Submitted by PhotoFan

"The pre-war red center dot in the national insignia, which had been iconic on American aircraft since 1919, was retired shortly after America entered WWII. It attracted the attention of trigger-happy gunners who thought they saw the rising sun of Japan. By the spring of 1942 most dots had been overpainted white."

Actually, the WWI Air Insignia as shown on this fighter was still the official emblem until the creation of the US Air Force after WWII. However, the Army ordered the red ball overpainted white for any aircraft operating in a combat zone in 1942. Planes operating in the US or other non-combatant zones still bore the red ball in the center.

For those interested, the design was a modification of the British roundel, with the center white circle changed to a star. The white star became a ubiquitous mark of the USA during WWII and was used on vehicles of all sorts.

Also got Hoovered

I too had occasion to be real close to Bob Hoover's bright yellow mustang. DuPage County airshow '73 I think. I was a wee lad sitting on top of the family station wagon to get a good view. Station wagon was a huge and truly vile green Pymouth Satellite (with wood trim) that Bob chose as his airshow IP.

British Mustang

This is an Allison engined Mustang I delivered to the British end of April, 1942. AL958 behind the fuselage national marking is the British ID code for this aircraft. The red dot US national insignia was changed mid May, 1942. I assume the aircraft was marked "US" since it would look rather strange to have British aircraft buzzing around on check out flights.

P-51s and P-51A were Allison engined with the carburetor air scoop above the engine. The canopy was indeed a cage, the top section swinging open to the right, the left glass panel opening to the left.

The P-51B and C were almost identical but built at two different plants, with the Allison engine replaced by the British Merlin, Americanized by Packard. The familiar nose profile most people visualize appeared with the Packard engine. The canopy was still the framed cage.

Once the D model came about, the version everyone thinks of finally evolved.

But not that particular P-51

Except maybe I have missed that the RAF was also using roundels with 5 points? And skipping the fin flash on the tail?

As for sound, 20 years or so ago a wag at a local air show was running a CD on the public address system. A CD called "Checkflight Gustav" - i.e. the sounds of a Messerschmidt Bf 109 G flying by. Also a V12 engine. Gave some very interesting reactions from the very senior guests.

Terrifying to have above you

I think it was in the summer of 1970 or ’71 that my wife and I were sitting in my Triumph, stalled in a traffic jam waiting to enter the air show near Greensburg, Pennsylvania. We had been moving painfully slowly for a half hour, hot and bored, when suddenly the car rocked on its suspension (such as it was), and a noise like a hundred freight trains hit us like a fist. For a split second I saw something big zoom over us, and then it disappeared over the line of traffic in front of us. I thought it was a meteor. Then it circled around and came back straight toward us. It was Bob Hoover in his P-51 beating up the line of cars, flying what looked to be only a few feet above the vehicles. I can truly say I had never been so scared. I damn near bailed out myself. I suppose it was an honor to be bounced by Hoover, but it was definitely one of life’s yeastier experiences, and gave me an insight into what the German ground troops felt like in the waning years of WWII.

Flying History

This is an awesome color photograph of an early P-51 Mustang Fighter plane. It's also neat that you can see the pilot looking back at the plane with the camera. I hope the pilot made it through the war. Thank you, sir, for your service in helping defeat tyranny!


First edition

I believe it's a P-51A model as indicated by the scoop on top of the nose. The B model lost the top nose scoop.

You haven't lived

... until you've experienced one of these buzzing a field right in front of you. The extended range of these (with a belly tank) enabled them to escort American bombers to the target and back. Before that, our bombers were sitting ducks.

Meredith Effect

The distinctive profile of a P-51 includes the radiator inlet near belly center.

Early WWII fighter designs were prone to overheating plus cooling drag limited efficiency and speed. British engineer F.W. Meredith recognized that an airplane flying at over 300 MPH could reduce the problem by directing waste exhaust heat through a nozzle to generate thrust exceeding the cooling drag. There are several good articles on the Meredith Effect.

P-51's distinctive air inlet needed to be set slightly apart from the fuselage to optimize air flow dynamics. Mustangs were roughly 20 mph faster than Spitfires with the same engine.

P-51 Mustang

Judging from the canopy and the paint scheme, that looks like one of the early Allison-engined models, before the Brits switched the engine out for the supercharged Merlin. It was one of the best fighters in the war.

Friend of mine had a WWII P-51D with four swastikas painted on it. Hell of a plane. Still have a photo of me sitting in the cockpit.

Empire of the Sun

"P-51! Cadillac of the sky!"

Early Mustang

One of the early Mustangs with the Allison engine, before they started using Merlins


That is about as fabulous an airplane as you’ll ever see. Maverick flew the later model with the bubble canopy at the end of "Top Gun 2," with Penny Benjamin in the back.

A, B or C

This P-51 Mustang is either an A, B or C version. While they served until the end of the war, their shortcomings were rearward visibility and gun jamming. The D version (pictured) with the bubble canopy would come out in late 1943 and would prove to be our best fighter of the war.

Early Model

That's a P-51A or B. It has the razorback canopy which kept drag low (and looked racy) but limited a pilot's rearward visibility. A bit of combat experience resulted in its replacement with the bubble canopy seen on all but a few surviving Mustangs. These later D and E models were a tad slower, but the power of their Rolls Royce Merlin engines was superior to that of the A and B models' Allison.

The pre-war red center dot in the national insignia, which had been iconic on American aircraft since 1919, was retired shortly after America entered WWII. It attracted the attention of trigger-happy gunners who thought they saw the rising sun of Japan. By the spring of 1942 most dots had been overpainted white.


Of course for RAF service, all the controls would be the reverse of normal.
(wink, wink)

Early P-51 ??

I'm not an expert, but when I first looked at this I thought it can't be a P-51 because it doesn't have a bubble canopy. But I gather that the early models were very different from the ones I'm more familiar with.

A Mustang Mk I

Maybe made of some of that scrap steel we saw a few photos back.

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