The P-51 Mustang was by far the most popular and most successful aircraft built and flown during WWII. Manufactured by North American Aviation, they went into service in 1942 and well over 15,000 of them were built but today only a few dozen of them are in flying condition.
The P-51 was mostly used as a bomber escort during WWII but it also saw extensive use for almost 2 decades after WWII by several of the Air Forces around the world. Its long range capability made it an invaluable escort fighter during the German bombing missions and over the vast pacific ocean fighting the second front of WWII.
Initially it was designed to use the 1,100 hp Allison V-1710-39 engine but that engine had limitations in combat and it was replaced by the British Rolls Royce 1,695 hp, liquid-cooled, supercharged, V-12 Packard Merlin.
It was armed with six .50 caliber Browning machine guns but its biggest vulnerability was the liquid cooled engine that a single bullet puncturing the coolant system could down the entire aircraft.
They were several variants of the P-51 built in large numbers. P-51A, P-51B, P-51C, P-51D (most produced model), P-51H, P-51K and several other variants in much smaller quantities.
P-51D Mustang Specs:
* Crew: 1
* Length: 32 ft 3 in / 9.83 m
* Wingspan: 37 ft / 11.28 m
* Height: 13 ft 8 in / 4.17 m
* Wing area: 235 sq ft / 21.83 sq m
* Empty weight: 7,635 lb / 3,465 kg
* Loaded weight: 9,200 lb / 4,175 kg
* Max takeoff weight: 12,100 lb / 5,490 kg
* Engine: One liquid-cooled, supercharged, V-12,Packard Merlin
* Horsepower: 1,695 hp
* Maximum speed: 437 mph / 703 km/h at 25,000 ft / 7,620 m
* Cruise speed: 362 mph / 580 km/h
* Range: 1,650 mi / 2,655 km w/ external tanks, 1000 mi w/o
* Service ceiling: 41,900 ft / 12,770 m
* Rate of climb: 3,200 ft/min / 16.3 m/s
* 6 of 0.50 in / 12.7 mm machine guns
* 2 hard points, 2,000 lb /907 kg max weight
* 10 of 5 in /127 mm rockets