Obsession | P-51 Mustang "Cadillac of the Sky"

The P-51 Mustang is one of the most celebrated fighters of the 20th century. The WWII-era single-seat plane was introduced in the middle of the conflict and served to tremendous success in both the European and Pacific theaters. The most widely produced of the P-51 models was the D variant, which was put into service in 1944 and would become the workhorse (bad pun) of the USAAF in Europe. Outside of its beautiful shape, speed and maneuverability, what made the P-51D special was the Packard built V-1650 engine. The fighter’s power plant was a North American made supercharged version of the illustrious Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. This gave the P-51 an incredible top speed and a ceiling of over 41,000 feet. Perfect for long range bomber support. After the war, the iconic fighter even inspired Ford designers to name their new sports car after the P-51.







Comments on “Obsession | P-51 Mustang "Cadillac of the Sky"

    Jake431 on February 23, 2009 3:38 PM:

    The Mustang is certainly the prettiest fighter in my opinion. Thanks for getting the D model dates right. One of my biggest gripes is in any war movie, the P-51D seems to show up no matter what the time frame is during the war. I suppose it’s inevitable since so many are left compared to other models (I think there’s one P-51C left, painted to look like a 332 FG in the 15th AF – the Tuskegee Airmen’s fighter group. Specifically Lee Archer’s plane. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wing_nut/1479136557/in/set-72157602249824520/).

    Michael Williams on February 23, 2009 3:47 PM:

    I love to see that ACL readers share a lot of these obsessions. The air intake on the Mustang could be one of the best looking things on earth. If we were standing in front of one right now, I would prolly use the word “boss” to describe it.


    walker on February 23, 2009 4:06 PM:

    I myself am partial to the “Hawker Hurricane”, but the P-51 is definitely up there in terms of timeless designs. But this argument is something of a non-start, isn’t it? You can’t compete with the apotheosis of propeller fighters. I’d be more interested in a reasoned debate about the aesthetic merits of the various rifle models used by the opposing sides in WWII.

    arnold on February 23, 2009 4:54 PM:

    when i was a kid, my obsession was the british supermarine spitfire. in the 7th grade our shop teacher, mr. scango, challenged us to make a model of anything our little hearts desired. some students made mini sleds, deformed german shepherds, bastardized log cabins. the spitfire is what i made. now; however, its the P51. tasty. what a beautiful and destructive example of form following function. if i had my drothers, i would commute in one.

    here is how my most desired method of commuting breaks down:

    1. p51 mustang

    2. lazy river / log flume

    3. 67 L-88/427 equipped corvette stingray

    Jake431 on February 23, 2009 4:59 PM:

    My personal favorite ww2 fighter is actually the P-47 Thunderbolt. It doesn’t get the love the P-51 gets but it’s just so brutal and perfect at it’s job. Liquid cooled engines are great, but that radiator is sure a weak spot. No such problems with the P-47. Sure, it’s big, and brutal looking, but 8 .50 caliber machine guns and a great big P&W R2800 radial engine pumping out 2000+ horsepower make up for a lot!

    Of course I wouldn’t turn down a P-51 if someone’s offering!

    Michael Williams on February 23, 2009 5:01 PM:

    Arnold, that was an awesome comment. Send me your address and I will mail you a domestic beer.

    My most desired method of commuting is as follows:

    1. Lima Ohio made M1A2 Abrams battle tank
    2. P-51D
    3. 1968 Oldsmobile 442
    4. Tuk Tuk

    Michael Williams on February 23, 2009 5:05 PM:

    Ah yes, the Jug. You see, I don’t want to get anywhere near Luftwaffe, so my radiator isn’t a factor.

    Matthew Schaffer on February 23, 2009 6:30 PM:

    Lest we forget the beauty of the P-38 Lightning.

    Thad Weston on February 23, 2009 7:11 PM:

    Mustn’t forget the Vought F4U Corsair with those seductive gull-wings.

    nick maggio on February 23, 2009 8:49 PM:

    I thought I was the only one who loved the 442. By far my favorite muscle car of all time. There was a HURST special edition with the “Holiday Package” on eBay a few months ago, I tried to sell my soul for it, but got no bids. Kudos. We’ll call the 442 the “P-51 of the streets”, shall we… that way this comment makes more sense for this post.

    Andrew Hazlett on February 23, 2009 10:23 PM:

    A beautiful machine… I wish it was a better quality photograph, but the subject is irresistible…

    Chuck Yeager posing with his P51 during the war… [http://www.achievement.org/achievers/yea0/large/yea0-036.jpg]

    Andrew Hazlett on February 23, 2009 11:00 PM:

    I had to post something of my own on this… http://theoccasional.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/designp-51/

    Jason Chalker on February 24, 2009 10:20 AM:

    Great post. I think the airplanes during the WWII era were some of the greatest mixes of form and function to ever grace the skies. I think my favorites are the Mustang, the Lightning and the Corsair (I love the vee of the wings). I did a drawing that is pertinent to this post. Some of you might enjoy it.
    I’m not a WWII fighter expert, so please forgive any inaccuracies. http://www.flickr.com/photos/manlyart/2928667324/in/set-72157594414173013/

    Alex on February 24, 2009 10:48 AM:

    Great drawing

    Tom on February 24, 2009 11:41 AM:

    I’ll be thinking of you guys when I’n at EAA this year. A friend of mine has a D model and is bringing her to the show. She has a jump seat and it looks like a ride is in the works. She’s dressed up in 352nd. colors and is a beauty.

    BP on February 25, 2009 11:57 PM:

    Swell post. It’s great to see the F4U comment love. Did they ever put black and white checkering on an actual plane or was that only on my childhood die-cast?

    Chuck Rigney on April 8, 2009 1:15 AM:

    I would say the North American P-51D Mustang is the best fighter aircraft ever built.My dad was a pilot,and he just loved the Mustang.It was not only
    fast but great looking.I would like to have one today.There is no sound like that Rolls-Royce
    Merline engine.The Mustang is just one Beauiful
    aircraft.We should always keep these planes flying.

    Scott Henricks on April 24, 2009 4:10 PM:

    Just wanted to say, Please never let the P-51 ever die. My father flew the P-51 in southern France during WWII. He flew in the 111th Tach Recon sq.
    I can’t say enough about the plane my father flew. He crashed landed one in a French field in late summer 1944. I’ve always been Proud to say that he flew such a fine aircraft as the P-51.

    Derek White on November 8, 2009 2:06 AM:

    Unfortunately, the P-47 Jug/Thunderbolt later to be reborn in the A-10 Warthog/Thunderbolt II was that the P-47 only had 6 seconds of fire power from its .50’s Now, one of the most seductive classic fighters I have ever seen would have to be the Hawker Typhoon, later to be reborn in the Eurofighter. Over all, the sexiest WWII fighters out there were the F4-U & F6F (The Terrible Twins as called by the Imperial Japanese fleet) the P-51D Bubble canopy and definitely the P-38.

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