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The mustang.iconic fighter


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#1 [email protected]

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 01:35 PM

North American Aviation Company, originally designed the Mustang in response to a British specification.
They agreed to produce the first prototype only 4 months after signing the contract in April 1940.
By the end of 1941 North American Aviation had delivered the first Mustang to England for test flights.
These first Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1710 Engine , a good engine ,but one of which didn't operate well at high altitude .
In April 1942 ,a British test pilot named Ronald Harker ,flew the first Mustang and was impressed by it.However he suggested that the Mustang would be a natural fit with the Rolls Royce Merlin 60-series engine,well suited to high altitudes .At the request of Major Thomas Hitchcock , the American Aviation Company began working along the same lines ( using the Packard license -built version of the merlin) ,and the first Merlin equipped Mustang ,the P-51B, was produced and flew in November 1942.The results were impressive ,to say the lest. At 30.000 ft ,the improved Mustang reached 440mph ,almost 100mph faster than the Allinson -Equipped Mustang at that altitude .Fitting the P51 with the Merlin transformed it into a decisive fighter of the European theatre, which when fitted with external fuel tanks was capable of escorting American Bombers mainly B17s to the very heart of industrial Germany..
In 1942 Packard Motors negotiated with Rolls Royce to licence build the Merlin Engine at its Detroit Plant.Learning of the Rolls Royce plan ,Major Thomas Hitchcock ,The American Military Attaché in London and others pushed for development of a Mustang powered by the Packard built Merlin .Authorized in July 1942 ,North American began Merlin Mustang development.In August 1942 the XP-51B was produced and included several changes ,they included a Packard Merlin ,instead of the Allinson V-1710. A four bladed prop ,Stronger under wing racks, Strengthend Airframe.....a relocated carburettor intake ,from above to below the nose of the aircraft.An intercooler radiator , larger ducts and doors for the radiator system ,a deeper scoop under the rear fuselage.
First flown on the 30th of November 1942 ,the XP 51Bs performance exceeded engineers expectations ,at 30.0000ft it made 440mph at level flight ,it was 100 mph faster the its Allinson predecessors .The USAAF needed a long range escort fighter to escort bombers and in May 1943 North American Aviation produced 1.990. B models .Throughout its development three more changes appeared.
In 1944 the P51-D rolled off the production line, it was fitted with an 85 gallon fuel tank installed behind the pilot, giving critically longer range capability,but moving the centre of gravity aft, thus reducing directional stability until most of the fuel was consumed .It was also fitted with a plexiglass canopy which gave all round visibility ,it was fitted with 6 -50calibre machine guns mounted 3in each wing.Another great feature was the fitting of the K14.gun sight which greatly assisted deflection shooting.The K14 sight computed the correct angle of deflection needed to hit a moving target ,the pilot entered the wingspan of the target and range ,lined up the target in the piper , and pressed the trigger button.
With the arrival of the D-Models in 1944 its performance was outstanding in my opinion ,and could hold its own over the skies of Europe ,escorting B17s.For me the P51-D is a remarkable plane ,and an icon...........
Best Regards Keith

#2 CORSNING

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 07:53 PM

     The P-51D was a remarkable aircraft for its time. The first Merlin engine P-51B came

at just the right time. High altitude performance coupled with long, long range. There

were a lot of remarkable aircraft that flew in WW2.

     In my opinion, from December 1943 until V-E day (not V-J day) it was the best all round

fighter aircraft for the USAAF. That statement is based on over all performance (especially

at high altitude), ease of training for pilots and COST$$$.


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#3 [email protected]

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 10:20 PM

Thankyou for your comment Jeff ,much appreciated.An excellent high altitude fighter.However there were a lot of remarkable aircraft but for me it's got to be the Cadillac of the skies .
God bless.
Keith....

#4 Armand

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 02:18 AM

Actually it was Curtiss wich suggested the Brit's to talk with Nort American Aviation, however the thought was to let NAA produce Curtiss Hawk-81's for a British order - But North American' had their own plans and persuaded the Brits to buy their design!
This is actually one of the unconsidered "what if's": How would it have become If the British delegation hadn't had the mandatory to order the (birthnamed) NA-73 and instead insisted on the Curtiss Hawk-81!?

The idea of Merlins into the Mustang was at first tested on British grounds by different avaiable engines in five different Mustangs (observe: The Brit's didn't fly P-51's but North Aviation Mustang's) before the use of Packhards at the assembly line!

Edited by Armand, 30 December 2016 - 02:20 AM.

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#5 GregP

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 02:24 AM

The P-51D could and did cruise at 300 mph. It wasn't 300 mph IAS, it was TAS.

 

With drop tanks (even paper drop tanks that North American said were not possible) it had range to escort to Berlin and back. Had the Luftwaffe but known how unstable it was with full tanks, it might have gotten interesting early in the mission. Had they done so, my bet is there would have been lighter P-51Ds escorting the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the way and the more fully fueled P-51Ds would have taken a different route to join up when the less-fueled P-51Ds were turning back home.

 

The P-51D was fast enough, had a service ceiling as good as anything useful at bombing altitudes, and was manueverable enough to more than hold it's own against Fw 190s and Bf 109s.

 

The 109s and 190s could be lighter as they wouldn't need the range, even had they posessed it. They only had to press home the attack enough to expend ammunition before breaking off, and that wouldn't take too many passes with the large bomber streams flying in 1944 - 1945. There was almost no need to form up and re-attack because the ammunition capacity probably allowed only a short firing time anyway. Say, 15 - 20 seconds or so of continuous fire. When the bomber stream is miles long, they might not have needed to even make a full single pass.

 

Tactics were almost useless for the Lufgtwaffe since we were sending 1,000-plane raids against enemy fighters usually massing no more than 35 - 65 aircraft and sometimes less. Sure, the Luftwaffe occasionally sent up a large mass of fighters, but not all that often and less so as the war wore on. More often they were picking at stragglers and trying to isolate some particular aircraft to knock it out. We lost more to flak than to fighters a lot of time.

 

I am not aware of another fighter that could have done the P-51Ds job during the timeframe the P-51D was doing the job. The P-47N comes to mind, but it was a very late-war plane that could not have been deployed for escort when the P-51D was deployed. There never WERE enough longer-range Spitfires and they were also developed rather late.

 

Once the P-38 issues were solved, it could have been made to have the range, and could have climbed, gunned, and turned well enough to do the job, but we lacked the knowledge at the time to corrrect the low critical Mach number, so it was never going to be able to dive with the single seat opposition. That would have created a weakness the Germans would have exploited. We also didn't have the same number of P-38s as P-51Ds.

 

The P-39 was never up to it and the P-63 would never have had the range, although it was good enough everywhere else. The P-43 was a non-starter. That about exhausts the possibilities for the USA.

 

Despite the people saying we should have bought British planes, the USAAF would never have made any foreign aircraft primary equipment at the time, and they never made enough "extra" good British aircraft to have equipped us anyway. They were hard-pressed to make enough to British use, what with bombing going on. Cottage-industry aircraft are great, such as Mosquito and Hurricane parts, but were neverexactly a high-volume proposition.

 

The P-51 was the only aircraft that the USAAF could have realisitically used and, as such, it is lucky a great design was developed right when it was needed. We can thank the British for the impetus to start the program, and North American for deciding to come up with something better than a P-40 for them to produce.

 

I'm sure we owe a debt of gratitude to Sir Stanley Hooker for the absolutely wonderful multi-speed, multi-stage superchargers he came up with and to Rolls-Royce for the Merlin development from the Scheider Cup engines. Who knew the Schneider Cup would play so vital a role in the coming war? Had we had better vision of events on the horizon, we might have developed our own engines more for higher altitudes, and somewhat sooner. As it is, the Merlin, particularly the 2-stage Merlin, was largely responsible for successful daylight bombing during the ETO campaign.

 

So we American owe the British a hearty "thank you" for the success of our bombing campaign in Europe for the Merlins and the primary escort fighter used with the bombers. Perhaps we should get together and say "thank you" back and forth over a pint or possibly more of Ale. Nothing like can-do cooperation to get things done.

 

Cheers.


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#6 Armand

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 03:09 AM

Greg: USAAF operated as much as 600 Spitfires in North Africa after they had to conclude that the RAF judgement of the P-39 (wich USAAF brought to North Africa) was right!

US failed in engine development by not participate in the interwar European car racing. It was there the violent compressorized engines were developed to be found in Both British and German aircraft when war broke out. With the possibility of climbing to extreme height, it is obvious that the dogfights never happened at sea-level, and the american fighters had to be spectators from beneath :-o
The national(!) American car racing came never to the European level (650hp, wich wasn't passed until the Turbo powered F1 engines of the 70's) and If the reason lies in american race legislations they are actual to blame for the american aviation engines inadequacy at the start of the war :-o

Edited by Armand, 30 December 2016 - 03:12 AM.

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#7 Wuzak

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:25 AM

I'm sure we owe a debt of gratitude to Sir Stanley Hooker for the absolutely wonderful multi-speed, multi-stage superchargers he came up with and to Rolls-Royce for the Merlin development from the Scheider Cup engines. Who knew the Schneider Cup would play so vital a role in the coming war? Had we had better vision of events on the horizon, we might have developed our own engines more for higher altitudes, and somewhat sooner. As it is, the Merlin, particularly the 2-stage Merlin, was largely responsible for successful daylight bombing during the ETO campaign.

 

The US was working on high altitude systems too, but tended to concentrate on the turbo for altitude performance - at least for the USAAC/F.

 

The USN was keen on mechanical supercharging, and 2 stage engines were developed for them, though they had critical altitude lower than a 2 stage Spitfire. And the two stage Pratt & Whitney R-1830 was in production before the Rolls-Royce 60-series.

 

One issue that American manufacturers had was that for a period of time in the thirties GE was responsible for developing the superchargers, which held them back.

 

And the Merlin was not a development of the Rolls-Royce 'R'. Lessons were learned from it, but the Merlin was not a direct development.


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#8 GregP

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:44 AM

Hi Armand,

 

The USAAF never did send Spitfires on any long-range escort missions. We also operated about 100,000 fighters, probably about 42,000 of which were overseas. 600 Spitfires was a drop in the bucket, although a very good-flying drop. I'm sure the USAAF pilots who flew them liked them, but they'd never have made London to Berlin and back ... which was my entire point. There was no other fighter at the time available to us that could be had in sufficient numbers to make the long-range escort task possible.

 

The P-51's job was long-range escort. I thought that was clear. Apparently not.

 

I'm not the first to say it, but the P-51s couldn't quite do what a Spitifre would do, but they could do what they did over Berlin. The Spitfire could certainly make it to Berlin and fight, but wasn't gonna' make it back in the air.


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#9 TheArtOfFlight

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 12:03 PM

The Spitfire was never designed for long range search and destroy missions. They were designed for one thing only. Fighter/bomber interception over their own airfields/country. And to add enough fuel to get them to Germany and back would have totally ruined their great flying characteristics/shape/modification. The P-51 was simply crammed with fuel and thanks to its low drag wings its was capable of escort duty. 

 

I totally agree with Forum Guru about the "R" series engines. And the fact that many people have made the wrong assumption that the Schneider trophy S.6 race plane was the blueprint for the Spitfire. This is totally untrue, both aircraft were designed completely separately and for completely different purposes. They bare no relation at all.


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#10 Armand

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 12:09 PM

Hi Armand,
 
The USAAF never did send Spitfires on any long-range escort missions. We also operated about 100,000 fighters, probably about 42,000 of which were overseas. 600 Spitfires was a drop in the bucket, although a very good-flying drop. I'm sure the USAAF pilots who flew them liked them, but they'd never have made London to Berlin and back ... which was my entire point. There was no other fighter at the time available to us that could be had in sufficient numbers to make the long-range escort task possible.
 
The P-51's job was long-range escort. I thought that was clear. Apparently not.
 
I'm not the first to say it, but the P-51s couldn't quite do what a Spitifre would do, but they could do what they did over Berlin. The Spitfire could certainly make it to Berlin and fight, but wasn't gonna' make it back in the air.


The Spitfire comment was only aimed on Your intermediate sentence: "Despite the people saying we should have bought British planes, the USAAF would never have made any foreign aircraft primary equipment at the time....." of wich You seemingly forgot. ;-)




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