North American P-51

The first USAAF order for the P-51 was not originally intended to provide aircraft for American service. When it was placed, on 7 July 1941, the two Mustang Is allocated to the USAAF had yet to be properly evaluated. Instead, the order for 150 aircraft was actually intended to go to the RAF as part of the Lend Lease program. USAAF interest at the time was centred on the A-36 ground attack version of the aircraft.

North American P-51/ Mustang IA from above
North American P-51/
Mustang IA
from above

When tests revealed how good the Mustang was, the USAAF kept back 57 of these aircraft. Two were used to develop the Merlin powered P-51B, while the remaining 55 aircraft were given cameras, and used in the tactical reconnaissance role, under the designation F-6A. The first American unit to use the P-51 on active service was the 154th Observation Squadron, from bases in Tunisia, in April 1943.

The P-51 was powered by the Allison V-1710-39 engine, and armed with four 20mm cannon, two in each wing.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 June 2007), North American P-51, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_P-51.html

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