North American P-51H

The P-51H was the final production version of the Mustang. It was based on the light weight XP-51F, but with an extra 13 inches added to the fuselage. The new airframe featured a redesigned fuselage, wings and tail plane, although many of the changes were internal, and the new aircraft was visually similar to the P-51D. As well as reducing the weight of the aircraft, the changes also solved a problem with the balance of the aircraft that had been introduced when a fuselage fuel tank had been added. It was powered by the Packard Merlin V-1650-9 engine, capable of providing 1,380 hp in normal use, or 2,270 hp for short periods of war emergency power with water injection. The resulting aircraft had a top speed of 487 mph, making it the faster propeller driven aircraft to fly during the Second World War.

The P-51H did not see active service. It first flew on 3 February 1945, and did not enter operational service until after the end of the war. An initial order for 2000 aircraft was then reduced to one for 555. The P-51H equipped many Air Force units in the post-war years, before being replaced by the first generation of jet fighters. It also failed to see service in Korea, having been phased out of front line service before the outbreak of the war. It would be the P-51D (by then designated F-51D) that would see service in Korea.

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

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