Detailed specification continued:
Fiberglass fuse and balsa built-up wing
Wing Covering Material: Covering, painted, decals applied and clear coated. The aircraft has a beautiful flat, non-glossy finish. This is superior to glossy covering materials. It is scratch, tear and wrinkle resistant. The covering material is a brand name covering which has a special paint adherant layer. The covering goes on clear, and is then primed and painted, then clearcoated.
Electric retracts: including alloy wheels and oleo struts. Incorporate all of the latest design improvements.
The P-51 Mustang was the principle long range fighter in the allied arsenal. Its iconic lines and design made it one of the most recognized aircraft of the era.
The P-51 arose from a need for a fighter aircraft for the RAF in accordance with the Lend Lease Act. The British had a need for more fighter aircraft and their manufacturing plants were operating at capacity and under constant threat of bombing by the Luftwaffe. The British considered the P-40 Warhawk, but it too was being produced at capacity, and no other suitable aircraft could be found. As a result, the British contracted with North American Aviation, who also manufactured the Harvard trainer, to design and build a new aircraft, which became the Mustang.
The original Mustangs used an Allison engine which quickly was recognized as being not up to the task. The British suggested using a Rolls Royce Merlin 61 engine, whcih would drastically improve the aircraft's high altitude performance. When this proved a successful variant it was designated the P-51B and put into full scale production. With the new engine and the improved high altitude performance, and especially the more efficient fuel economy, the aircraft proved capable of providing long range escort for allied bombers. This was especially true after the introduction of tanks. It entered full service in October of 1943, and its ascendence as an escort fighter was the catalyst for an incredible reduction in the attrition rates of allied daylight bombing raids.
After the introduction of the B version of the mustang, pilots reported that its poor rearward view was problematic, even though it was typical of most fighters of the era. Most of the RAF's fleet were fitted with a malcolm hood, which had a similar appearance to the canopy of a spitfire. A better solution was the tear canopy which was being fitted on the RAF's tempests and typhoons. North American Aviation modified the aircraft to accomodate this style of canopy, added two more .50 calibre machine guns, bringin the total to 6 and some minor changes to the landing gear which changed th profile of the leading edge of the wings. This variant became designated the P-51D, which proved one of the most important aircraft of all time. It was the predominant allied fighter aircraft from 1944 to the end of the war.
The Mustang airframe continued to serve in allied airforces late into the 50's. It saw action in Korea in US hands, and a number of them also saw combat at the hands of Israeli pilots during the war of Independence in 1948 and even during the Suez crisis in 1956 (although by that time the IAF was flying mostly French jet aircraft). The last US mustang was withdrawn from service in the West Virginia ANG in 1957. In continued to serve with a variety of nations around the world, the last one being in the Dominican Republic, it was withdrawn from service in 1984. The last one lost in combat was ironically against the US. A Dominican F-51 Mustang was shot down by US forces during Operation Powerpack in 1965-66. All in all, the Mustang earned its place in history as one of the greatest military aircraft of all time.
The P-51D istened "Glamorous Glen III" was flown by Captain Chuck Yeager of the 357th fighter group, 363rd Fighter Squadron in the Winter of 1944. Besides being famous as the first person to fly beyond the speed of sound after the war (in the Bell X-1), Yeager was a genuine fighter ace. He notched 11 1/2 kills during the war. However, he almost didn't make it that far. During his 8th mission he was shot down over France, and with the help of the resistance was successfully smuggled back to England by way of Spain. During the 2 months he was with the resistance he aided them in their cause against the Germans and was awarded a bronze star for helping a fellow downed aviator with an injured leg over the Pyrenees mountain range.
Upon returning to combat he distinguished himself as a pilot of unique talents. He was the first 'ace in a day' scoring 5 kills in a single day. He scored one of the first kills on an ME-262 jet fighter.
After the war Yeagar was a test pilot, and later was promoted to command of several fighter units in Germany and South East Asia, which included combat service in Vietnam. He retired as a highly decorated Brigadier General (though in retirement he was honoured with a promotion to Major General). His awards included a Silver Star with an oak leaf cluster, a Legion of Merit with an oak leaf cluster, a Distinguished Flying Cross with 2 oak leaf clusters, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, a Distinguished unit citation with oak leaf cluster, a Presidential medal of Freedom, and three unique medals for the act of breaking the sound barrier. Yeager remains one of the most historically significant pilots of all time.