Designed at the request of Britain by the North American Aviation Company, the P-51 began life in 1940 as the NA-73 prototype. The first variant to see service, the P-51A, was powered by an American-made Allison V-12. It served well as a fast reconnaissance platform and ground support fighter, but the Allison didn’t have the kind of high altitude performance necessary for long range bomber escort. In 1942 North American started testing the Mustang with Britain’s phenomenal Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12. Developing almost 1,700 h.p.in war emergency mode, the Merlin gave the Mustang the kind of high-altitude performance and speed necessary for long-range escort. During its production run, 7,956 Mustangs were built in several different versions. The most popular of these was the P-51D. It can easily be identified by its distinctive bubble canopy. With a maximum speed of 437 mph and a ceiling of 41,900 feet, the “D” was by far the most powerful Mustang ever built. Some of aviation’s most famous figures flew the “D” model Mustang into combat including test pilot Chuck Yeager and veteran air show performer Bob Hoover. Today, approximately 150 “D” model Mustangs are still flying.
Acquired in 2003 by Warbird Recovery, P-51D Mustang 44-63791 will be rebuilt to flying condition as a 352nd Fighter Group “Blue Noser” carrying the nose art “Three of Hearts”. Warbird Recovery has begun rebuilding the P-51 to flying condition.
Built in Inglewood, CA, Serial Number 44-63791; P-51D-20-NA; Project 92917R; DEPUS 450205;
Assigned to 8th USAAF; remained in storage after VE-Day;
To Swedish AF (26086) 470401; Assigned to F16;
To FAD (FAD 1926) 520919, damaged in accident 1967. Storage.
Acquired 2003 by Warbird Recovery, build to fly.
Construction-All metal stressed-skin
Engine-One 1,490hp Packard built Rolls Royce V-1650-7 liquid cooled V12
Armament-Six-.50 caliber Browning machine guns with 1880 available rounds. Could also carry 2-1,000 lb. bombs or 10-5″ Rockets
Performance-Maximum speed 437mph
Service ceiling 41,900
Range 950 miles
Weight empty-7,635 lbs.
Weight loaded-12,100 lbs.