|Maximum Speed||569 km/h|
|On Height||4500 m|
|Maximum Altitude||8400 m|
|Turn Time||29.6 seconds|
|Rate of Climb||13 m/s|
|Takeoff Run||491 m|
|Armament||4x 20mm Hispano Mk. II cannons (500 rds)|
The North-American P-51 Mustang was an American fighter designed in the early 1940s and is considered the best US fighter of WWII. It was widely exported to countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. The P-51 participated in the Korean War and other post-WWII conflicts. The British designation of the original production model of the P-51 was the Mustang Mk. IA.
The first production contract was awarded by the British for 320 NA-73 fighters, named Mustang Mk I by an anonymous member of the British Purchasing Commission; a second British contract soon followed, which called for 300 more (NA-83) Mustang Mk I fighters. Contractual arrangements were also made for two aircraft from the first order to be delivered to the USAAC for evaluation; these two airframes, 41-038 and 41-039 respectively, were designated XP-51. The first RAF Mustang Mk Is were delivered to 26 Squadron at RAF Gatwick in February 1942 and made their combat debut on 10 May 1942. With their long range and excellent low-altitude performance, they were employed effectively for tactical reconnaissance and ground-attack duties over the English Channel, but were thought to be of limited value as fighters due to their poor performance above 15,000 ft (4,600 m).
The first American order for 150 P-51s, designated NA-91 by North American, were placed by the Army on 7 July 1940. The two XP-51s (41-038 and 41-039) set aside for testing arrived at Wright Field on 24 August and 16 December 1941 respectively. The relatively small size of this first order reflected the fact that the USAAC was still a relatively small, underfunded peacetime organisation. After the attack on Pearl Harbor priority had to be given to building as many of the existing fighters - P-38s, P-39s and P-40s - as possible while simultaneously training pilots and other personnel, which meant that the evaluation of the XP-51s did not begin immediately. However, this did not mean that the XP-51s were neglected, or their testing and evaluation mishandled. The 150 NA-91s were designated P-51 by the newly formed USAAF and were initially named Apache, although this was soon dropped, and the RAF name, Mustang, adopted instead. The USAAF did not like the mixed armament of the British Mustang Is and instead adopted an armament of four long-barrelled 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano Mk II cannon, and deleted the .50 cal engine cowling mounted weapons. The British designated this model as Mustang Mk IA. A number of aircraft from this lot were fitted out by the USAAF as F-6A photo-reconnaissance aircraft. The British would fit a number of Mustang Mk Is with similar equipment.
It was quickly evident that the Mustang's performance, although exceptional up to 15,000 ft (4,600 m), was markedly reduced at higher altitudes. The single-speed, single-stage supercharger fitted to the Allison V-1710 engine had been designed to produce its maximum power at a low altitude. Above 15,000 feet, the supercharger's critical altitude rating, the power dropped off rapidly. Prior to the Mustang project, the USAAC had Allison concentrate primarily on turbochargers in concert with General Electric; the turbochargers proved to be reliable and capable of providing significant power increases in the P-38 Lightning and other high-altitude aircraft, in particular in the Air Corps's four-engine bombers. Most of the other uses for the Allison were for low-altitude designs, where a simpler supercharger would suffice. Fitting a turbocharger into the Mustang proved impractical, and Allison was forced to use the only supercharger that was available. In spite of this, the Mustang's advanced aerodynamics showed to advantage, as the Mustang Mk I was about 30 mph (48 km/h) faster than contemporary Curtiss P-40 fighters using the same engine (the V-1710-39 producing 1,220 hp (910 kW) at 10,500 ft (3,200 m), driving a 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m) diameter, three-blade Curtiss-Electric propeller). The Mustang Mk I was 30 mph (48 km/h) faster than the Spitfire Mk VC at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and 35 mph (56 km/h) faster at 15,000 ft (4,600 m), despite the British aircraft's more powerful engine.
Although it has often been stated that the poor performance of the Allison engine above 15,000 ft (4,600 m) was a surprise and disappointment to the RAF and USAAF, this has to be regarded as a myth; aviation engineers of the time were fully capable of correctly assessing the performance of an aircraft's engine and supercharger. As evidence of this, in mid-1941, the 93rd and 102nd airframes from the NA-91 order were slated to be set aside and fitted and tested with Packard Merlin engines, with each receiving the designation XP-51B.
In-game, the Mustang Mk.1A is one of the most heavily armed aircraft in the game. With 4 20mm Hispano cannons with 125 rounds per cannon (amounting to 500 rounds in-total) this fighter is highly potent against bombers, where its 4 cannons will rip them apart, and fighters, where its par-decent turning speed allows it to quickly slot onto an enemy fighters tail.
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