Images of War: Twin Mustang - the North American F-82 at War, Alan C. Carey

Images of War: Twin Mustang - the North American F-82 at War, Alan C. Carey

The North American F-82 Twin Mustang was the last piston engined fighter to be purchased in large numbers by the US Air Force. It was a most unusual aircraft, looking like two Mustangs had lost one wing each and been linked by a new centre wing (although in fact the two types had very few parts in common).

There is more text here than in most entries in the Images of War series. What we actually have is more of a standard history of the Twin Mustang, supported by an excellent range of photos, with perhaps about a 50/50 split between text and photos. For me this makes this a more useful volume than if it had been more photo-heavy - this isn't a familiar enough topic for that approach to work.

We start with the early develop of the P-82 during the Second World War, when it was seen as a possible long range escort for the B-29 in the Pacific. It didn’t arrive in time to see combat during the war, but in the post-war period a smaller number of aircraft were completed as long range fighters, all weather aircraft and night fighters. The type was needed as early jet fighters didn't have the endurance to perform these roles. The P-82 was delayed by two years when the decision was made to swap from Packard-Merlin engines to a less reliable Allison engine, and by the time it did enter service it was only seen as an interim design.

The Twin Mustang, by then the F-82, saw limited combat during the Korean War. At first it was used as a long range fighter - the only American fighter aircraft able to reach Korean from bases in Japan and then linger over the battlefield for a significant period. The F-82 achieved the first aerial combat victories for US aircraft during the war, but these victories all came on the same day, and were the only ones achieved by the type. It was then used as a ground attack aircraft, again because it could linger over the battlefield, but numbers were always limited. Some of the available aircraft were needed as night fighters in Japan, and the type eventually had to be withdrawn because limited spares meant that hardly any aircraft were available.

The photos are mainly ground pictures or formal in-flight pictures. There is one shot from a gun camera and several showing the engine cover off. There are also pictures of the control panels from the two cockpits of the night fighter version. The Twin Mustang was a rather odd looking aircraft, but also somehow photogenic, especially when flying in formation. One unexpected result of the unusual design was that some pilots suffered from an involuntary fear of collision whenever they glimpsed the other fuselage.

This is an excellent examination of this rather unusual and short-lived aircraft.

1 - Development
2 - F-82E Long-Range Escort
3 - Night and All-Weather Fighter
4 - Twins over Korea
5 - Interdiction and Air Support Missions
6 - Fade into History

A - P/F-82 Twin Mustang Specifications
B - Korean War F-82G Twin Mustangs
C - Korean War F-82 Aircraft Losses
D - Korean War F-82 Personnel Casualties
E  - P/F-82 Unit Listing

Author: Alan C. Carey
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2014

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