North American P-51D Mustang Model Fighter Aircraft - Franklin Mint
Part Number: B11B556
Availability: Available Now
Actual size is approximately 8 1/2" (21.6 cm) in length. Wingspan approximately 9" (22.9 cm). Scale 1:48.
North American P-51D Mustang Model Fighter Aircraft - Description
A powerful tribute to one of the most effective Allied aircraft of World War II.
Engineered to perfection in preferred 1:48 scale.
Assembled entirely by hand to capture every authentic detail.
Hand-painted and enhanced with the actual military markings of the Mustang flown in the Pacific Theater by Lt. J.E. Young of the U.S. 5th Air Force.
Own the plane that served the USAAF so well throughout the war. Order now!
The North American P-51 Mustang was a long-range single-seat fighter aircraft that entered service with Allied air forces in the middle years of World War II and became one of the conflict's most successful and recognizable aircraft.
The P-51 flew most of its missions as a bomber escort in raids over Germany, and helped ensure Allied air superiority after 1944. It also saw service against Japanese air forces in the Pacific War.
The Mustang began the Korean War as the United Nations' main fighter, but was supplanted by jets by the conflict's end. Nevertheless, it remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s.
The definitive version of the single-seat fighter was powered by a single two-stage supercharged V-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns.
Many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing.
Shortly after World War II began in 1939, the British government established a purchasing commission in the United States, headed by Sir Henry Self. Self had sat on the (British) Air Council Sub-committee on Supply (or 'Supply Committee') along with Sir Wilfrid Freeman, who as the 'Air Member for Development and Production' was given overall responsibility for RAF production and research and development in 1938. One of Self's many tasks was to organize the manufacture of American fighter aircraft for the RAF. At the time, the choice was very limited. None of the US aircraft already flying reached European standards; only the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk came close. The Curtiss plant was running at capacity, so even that aircraft was in short supply.
North American Aviation (NAA) President Dutch Kindleberger approached Self to sell a new medium bomber, the Mitchell. Instead, Self asked if NAA could manufacture the Tomahawk under licence from Curtiss. (North American was already supplying their Harvard trainer but were otherwise underutilized.)
Kindleberger replied that NAA could have a better aircraft with the same engine in the air in less time. As executive head of the British Ministry of Aircraft Production, Freeman ordered 320 aircraft in March 1940. Fortuitously, on June 26 1940, MAP awarded a contract to Packard to build Rolls-Royce Merlin engines under licence. And in September, MAP increased the first production order by 300.
The Mustang was an extremely well-made and excellent plane, although its coolant system could be shut down by a single bullet that pierced an external feed. Pilots joked that "A kid with a rifle could bring it down." In addition, according to the manual, the engine would become starved for oil if the plane was flown inverted for more than a few seconds.
The result of the MAP order was the NA-73X project from March 1940. The design was in keeping with the best conventional practice of the era, but included two new features. One was a new NACA-designed laminar flow wing, which was larger than others on similar aircraft while still having the same drag. This left plenty of room for landing gear, guns, ammunition and fuel, all completely inside the wing and well streamlined. Another was the use of a new radiator design from Curtiss, that used the heated air exiting the radiator as a form of jet thrust.
The USAAC could block any sales they considered interesting, and this appeared to be the case for the NA-73. An arrangement was eventually reached where the RAF would get its planes, in exchange for NA providing two more cost-free to the USAAC.
The plane first flew on 26 October 1940, 178 days after the order had been placed - an incredibly short period. In general, the plane handled well and the internal arrangement allowed for a massive fuel load. It was armed with four .50 M2 Browning (12.7 mm) guns and another four .30-06 Browning A4 (7.62 mm) guns - a somewhat lighter armament than the contemporary Focke-Wulf Fw 190, which had four 20 mm cannon and two 7.92 mm machine guns. The British Spitfire carried two 20 mm cannon and four .303 machine guns.
It was quickly evident that performance, although good near sea level, was not up to European standards at higher altitudes. This was due largely to the mechanically supercharged Allison V-1710 engine. The finer points of supercharging were very much a British specialty: United States engineers had concentrated mainly on the turbocharger instead and the Allison suffered in consequence. Equal performance at high level had not been anticipated as a requirement for the Allison.
About 20 of the Mustang I were delivered to the RAF and made their combat debut on 10 May 1942. With their long range and excellent low-level performance, they were judged useful for tactical reconnaisance and ground-attack duties over the English Channel, but too slow at altitude to be used as fighters.
The smaller machine guns were removed from the Mustang Mk. IA to improve performance. At the same time the USAAC was becoming more interested in ground attack planes and had a new version ordered as the A-36 Apache which included two more M2 guns, dive brakes, and could carry two 500 pound (230 kg) bombs.
P-51B and P-51C
In April 1942 the RAF's Air Fighter Development Unit (AFDU) tested the Mustang at higher altitudes and found it wanting, but their CO was so impressed with its manouevrability and speed that he invited Ronnie Harker from Rolls-Royce's Flight Test establishment to fly it. Rolls-Royce rapidly realized that re-engining the Mustang with a Merlin 61 would result in a phenomenal improvement in performance. Freeman drove the Merlin Mustang conversion hard, and insisted on two of the five Mustangs that were being re-engined with Merlin 61s to be handed over to Carl Spaatz for trials and evaluation by the US 8th Air Force in Britain. 
The result was astonishing. The high altitude performance and range with the use of drop tanks enabled the mark to excel as bomber escort. After sustained lobbying at the highest level, American production of the Mustang with this engine was started in early 1943, and P51Bs and Cs started arriving in England in August and October 1943, not before time.
The pairing of the P-51 airframe and the Packard-Merlin 68 engine was designated P-51B/C (B being manufactured at Inglewood, California, and C at Dallas, Texas). The new version was used in 15 fighter groups, that were part of the 8th and 9th Air Forces in England, and the 12th and 15th in Italy (the southern part of Italy was under Allied control by late 1943).
The main role of the plane was bomber escort. It was largely due to the P-51 that daylight bombing raids deep into German territory became possible without prohibitive bomber losses in the middle of 1944.
P-51D and P-51K
The P-51D was considered by many as the definitive Mustang version. One of the problems with the Mustang was poor pilot visibility to the rear. The British had field-modified some Mustangs with fishbowl-shaped canopies called Malcolm Hoods, which somewhat corrected the problem. All British P-51s were equipped with Malcolm Hoods, and some American ones were also equipped with them. However, North American decided to do better than that, and equipped the new P-51D Mustang with teardrop-shaped bubble canopies derived from the British Hawker Typhoon fighter. The fuselage behind the pilot had to be cut down to accommodate the new canopy, but the new design offered the pilots unrestricted vision in all directions with virtually no distortion.
A common misbelief is that cutting down the rear fuselage to mount the bubble canopy reduced stability, requiring a dorsal fin to be added to the forward base of the vertical tail. Actually, both the B/C and later D/K models had a low speed handling problem that could result in an involuntary "snap-roll" under certain conditions of air speed, angle of attack, gross weight, and center of gravity. Several crash reports tell of P-51Bs and Cs crashing because the horizontal stabilizer was torn off during maneuvering. The report says:
"Unless a dorsal fin is installed on the P-51B, P-51C, and P-51D airplanes, a snap roll may result when attempting a slow roll. The horizontal stabilizer will not withstand the effects of a Snap Roll. To prevent recurrence the stabilizer should be reinforced in accordance with T.O. 01-60J-18 dated 8 April 1944 and a dorsal fin should be installed. Dorsal fin kits are being made available to overseas activities"
Photographs of P-51B/C models fitted with a similar dorsal addition, which has to be made to fit the different contours of the B/C rear fuselage, prove that the problem requiring it wasn't unique to the D/K versions. While some existing aircraft do not have the dorsal extension fitted, many were equipped at some point in their service or refurbishment with a taller model tail, which provides a similar increase in yaw stability. Also, civilian owned examples often have newer, lighter radios, an absence of external munitions and drop tanks, removed guns and armor plate, and an empty or removed fuselage tank - reducing the need for the dorsal fin.
Among other modifications, armament was increased with the addition of another two M2 machine-guns, bringing the total to six. The inner four machine guns had a supply of 400 rounds and the outer two 270. In previous P-51s the M2s were mounted at angles that led to frequent complaints of jamming during combat maneuvers. The new arrangement allowed the M2s to be mounted in a more standard manner that fixed a lot of the jamming complaints. The .50 caliber machine guns, though lacking penetrative power, proved adequate against the FW-190 and Bf-109 fighters that were the main opponent of the USAAF by this time. Later models had under-wing rocket pylons added to carry up to 10 rockets per plane.
The P-51K differed from the P-51D only by its hollow-bladed Aeroproducts propeller. This propeller turned out to be badly manufactured and created dangerous vibrations during times of high throttle, and was eventually replaced.
The P-51D/K started arriving in Europe in the middle of 1944 and quickly became the prime USAAF fighter in Europe. It was produced in larger numbers than any other Mustang variant. However, by the end of the war, roughly half of all operational Mustangs were still B or C models.
P-51Ds were also built under licence in Australia by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (see below).
The original NA-73 had been built to the USAAF acceleration standard of 8.33 g (82 m/s²), which made it stronger but considerably heavier than if it had been designed for the British standard of 5.33 g (52 m/s²). Both the USAAF and the RAF was interested in lightening the plane to be more in line with the Spitfire, which was expected to boost its performance significantly.
That resulted in what was basically an entirely new plane, and it gained a new name, the NA-105. Several prototypes were built with different engines from the P-51F (same engine as the D), G (Merlin 145M) and J (Allison V-1710-119) models. However none of these went into production.
Instead the final production version was the P-51H, using the new V-1650-9 engine, a version of the Merlin that included automatic supercharger controls and water injection for bursts of up to 2,000 hp (1,500 kW). With the new airframe several hundred pounds lighter, the extra power, and a better streamlined radiator, the P-51H was among the fastest propeller fighters ever, able to reach 487 mph (784 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m).
It was planned that the H model would become the standard fighter for the USAAF for the invasion of Japan, replacing all other models. Production was just ramping up with 555 delivered when the war ended. Additional orders already on the books were cancelled.
In 1946, the designation P-51D (P for pursuit) was changed to F-51D (F for fighter) because of a new designation scheme throughout the USAF. During the Korean War, F-51s, though obsolete as fighters, were used as tactical bombers. Because of its lighter structure, and less availability of spare parts the newer, faster F-51H was not used in Korea in place of the D model. With the planes being used for ground attack, their performance was less of a concern than their ability to carry a load.
The F-51 was adopted by many air forces, the Israeli Air Force using them in the War of Independence (1948) and in Operation Kadesh (1956). The last Mustangs were discarded by the USAF in 1957 but remained in National Guard service until 1964. Many remain airworthy across the globe, in private hands. A few of those have been modified for extra speed for competing in air racing.
The Impact of the P-51
At the Casablanca Conference, the Allies formulated the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO), a plan for "around the clock" bombing by the RAF at night and the USAAF by day. American pre-war bombardment doctrine held that large formations of heavy bombers flying at high altitudes would be able to defend themselves against enemy interceptors with a minimum of fighter escort, so that precision daylight bombing using the Norden bombsight would be effective.
Both the RAF and Luftwaffe had attempted daylight bombing and discontinued it. They found, contrary to Douhet's thesis, that advancements in single-engine fighters made multi-engined bombers vulnerable to interception and destruction. The RAF had worried about this in the mid-1930s and had decided to produce an all night-bomber force, but initially began bombing operations by day. The Germans used extensive daylight bombing during the Battle of Britain in preparation for a possible invasion. The Luftwaffe found daylight bombing raid sustained high casualties and soon switched to night bombing (see The Blitz). Bomber Command followed suit in its subsequent raids over Germany.
The initial efforts of the USAAF had been inconclusive because of limited scale. With the implemention in the summer and fall of 1943 of "Operation Pointblank", whose objective was to destroy the Luftwaffe before for the invasion of Europe, the 8th Air Force conducted a series of deep penetration raids of Germany beyond the range of available escort fighters. German fighter reaction to these raids was fierce and bomber losses were severe. Attacking the German ball-bearing industry as a vital choke point of aircraft production on October 14, losses were 20 percent, with many more written off. The disastrous loss of so many experienced aircrews made it impossible to continue raids deep into Germany without adequate fighter escort.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning had the range to escort the bombers, but was in very limited numbers in the UK and was difficult to maintain. The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was capable of meeting the Luftwaffe on even terms but did not then have sufficient range. The Mustang changed all that. In general terms, the Mustang was as simple or simpler than other aircraft of its era. It used a single well-understood and reliable engine, and had internal space for a huge fuel load. With the addition of external fuel tanks it could protect the bombers all the way to Germany and back.
Sufficient numbers of P-51s became available to the 8th and 9th Air Forces in the winter of 1943/44, and when "Pointblank" resumed in early 1944 matters changed dramatically. The P-51 proved perfect to the task and the 8th Air Force immediately began to switch its fighter groups to the Mustang, with 14 of its 15 groups converting.
The Luftwaffe pilots learned how to avoid the US fighters by grouping in huge numbers well in front of the bombers, then attacking in a single pass and leaving. This gave the escorting fighters little time to react. In this strategy the Luftwaffe fighters would dive below the bombers to gain speed, pull up and make a firing pass at the belly and least armored portion of the bomber, then "hit the deck" before the escort fighters could react.
But in May a new policy was instituted which allowed the fighters to 'free-hunt', roaming away from the bombers and attacking the German planes wherever they were found. The numerical superiority of the USAAF fighters and the flying qualities of the P-51 made this policy highly effective, and after the Luftwaffe had suffered catastrophic losses both in defense of the Reich and in the failed attempt to fight off the Allied invasion in France, the US, and later British, bombers had little to fear from German day fighters after the summer of 1944.
P-51s also distinguished themselves while fighting against advanced enemy rockets and aircraft, be it V-1s that were launched into London (a P-51B/C with high-octane fuel was fast enough to catch up with one), and even the Me 163 Komet rocket interceptors and Me 262 jet fighters, though considerably faster than the P-51, weren't invulnerable. Chuck Yeager, flying a P-51D, was the first American pilot to shoot down a Me 262 when he surprised it during its landing approach.
8th, 9th & 15th AF P-51 groups claimed some 4,950 aircraft shot down (approx. 50% of all USAAF claims in the European theatre) and 4,131 destroyed on the ground. Losses were approx. 840 aircraft. Top scoring P-51 unit was the 9th AF's 354th FG, with 701 air claims and 255 ground claims.
The P-51s were deployed in the Far East later in 1944, and operated there both in close-support and escort missions.
The P-51 Mustang not only served in World War Two and Korea but also remained in service with nearly 30 countries after the war — the last P-51 Mustangs retired from active service in the early 1980s. Here is a list of some of the countries that used the P-51 Mustang.