All the US forces use of the P-51 Mustang and its stable mate, the P-82 Twin Mustang, are detailed throughout the various theater of operations with the quality coverage one can expect from Rene J Francillon. Mustang and derivatives successes and failures in US Cleveland to Reno air races, as well as a selection of warbirds, ensure that this second and last volume of the history of these remarkable aircraft absolutely comprehensive, containing over 300 photographs, more than 140 of them in color, and with unit tables and operating locations of each and every unit for wartime in World War II and Korea (including South African and Australian air force operations) as well as peacetime in the Air National Guard and US Air Force.
North American Aviation created the P-51 Mustang out of a British requirement for a fighter that could hold its own against the Luftwaffe. René Francillon, after having detailed the Mustang's infancy then service with both RAF and foreign air forces, covers in this second and final volume (spanning ebooks III & IV) the P-51 and P-82 operational service with all the US service branches and administrations.
Though the Mustang became one of the few World War II legendary fighters, it started its operational service more inconspicuously.
Indeed "Sired by the English out of an American mother, the Mustang has had no parent in the Army Air Corps or at Wright field to appreciate and push its good points," as Major Thomas Hitchcock, then Assistant Military Air Attaché in London, wrote on 8 October 1942. Willy-nilly, the United States Army Air Force used its Allison-powered Mustang at low altitude where this engine performed the best.
Thus the first US variants of the Mustang, the P-51-2s and A-36s, equipped tactical reconnaissance/fighter-bomber and dive-bombing squadrons in the Mediterranean theater of operations. Having a lesser drag compared to other allied fighter, thanks to its supercritical wing and engine cooling system, the Mustang made a quantum leap in performance with the switch to the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Medium and high altitudes were now where it excelled. The increased fuel capacity made it ideally suited to escort the heavies of the Mighty Eighth over Germany during the critical bombing campaign prior to D-Day in Normandy. From then on, the ''Little Friends'' would forever reside in our collective memory for their deeds over Europe.
On the other side of the globe, the China-India-Burma theater of operations also required long-legged fighters. After relinquishing its shark-mouthed P-40s upon creation of the 14th Air Force, the Flying Tigers, and the mixed Chinese American Composite Wing, flew P-51Bs and Cs successfully against their nimble Japanese opponents.
Attacking the Empire of the Sun was no mean feat for the B-29s crews of the the far flung bomber shore bases of Guam or Saipan. The Mustang rose to the challenge of astounding 14-hour long escort missions, over water most of the time, from Iwo Jima.
Unfortunately, peace did not last long as war in Korea started in 1953, the Twin Mustang rising to the challenge of long range operation from Japan. Once again Mustang were called to the rescue of the UN forces and this time, being no match to the fighter jets used by both sides, they excelled in the tactical reconnaissance and ground support roles.
Old soldiers never die, they only fade away and Mustangs were no exception. NACA/NASA and racers presented an opportunity for these legendary aircraft to further aviation technology. Warbirds all over the world ensure that they will not be forgotten, the magic Merlin engine sound still echoing today in multiple air shows.