North American P-51D Mustang "Hurry Home Honey" Maintenance

Yearly general maintenance and inspection on the North American P-51D Mustang "Hurry Home Honey" in Lexington, KY.

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History of the North American P-51 Mustang

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. The Mustang was conceived, designed and built by North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a specification issued directly to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed and, with an engine installed, first flew on the 26th of October.

The Mustang was originally designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which had limited high-altitude performance. It was first flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber (Mustang Mk I). The addition of the Rolls-Royce Merlin to the P-51B/C model transformed the Mustang's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft, giving it a much better performance that matched or bettered almost all of the Luftwaffe's fighters at altitude. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It was armed with six .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns.

From late 1943, P-51Bs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF's Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's 2 TAF and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theaters, and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down.

At the start of the Korean War, the Mustang was the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters such as the F-86 took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the Mustang remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s. After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing, and increasingly, preserved and flown as historic warbird aircraft at airshows.

P-51 Mustang Specifications

Max Gross Wt....
Empty Wt............
37 ft 0 in
32 ft 3 in
13 ft 4½ in
12,100 lb
7,635 lb
Max Speed.........
Service Ceiling..
Rate Of Climb.....
1 × Packard V-1650 V12
1,490 hp
437 mph
1,650 miles
41,900 ft
3,200 ft/min


6 X 0.50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns with 1,880 total rounds.
2 X hardpoints for up to 2,000 lb of bombs.
6-10 X T64 5.0 in H.V.A.R rockets (P-51D-25, P-51K-10 on)
(Historical Information from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004)