Not enough credit is given to Allison-engined variants of one of the world's most famous fighters. We now associate the name ""Mustang"" with the pretty bubble-canopied fighters which now grace our skies as war birds at Airshows around the world today. There is no doubt that the Merlin engine elevated the Mustang's performance from just being ""very good"" to ""exceptional"" and this, in many people's eyes, peaked with the P-51B and P-51C, not the more familiar and most produced version - the P-51D - which comprises the majority seen today. From its inception in early 1940, the development of the fighter, which culminated in the prototype NA-73X launched in October, can only be described as rapid. Before the aircraft had even left the drawing board, the RAF had already placed an order for 320 units, such was the confidence in the design and need for a fighter at the time; from preliminary design to maiden flight had taken just 127 days! By early January 1942, the Mustang was in service with the RAF, flying low-level armed reconnaissance operations over Northern France.
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September 18, 2012
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