Western and Central USA
Wing Span: 37" 0"
Length: 32' 2" Height: 13' 8"
Gross Weight: 11,600 lbs.
Max Speed: 505 mph
Power Plant: Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650-7
Fuel Capacity: 184 Gallons
Armament: 6 x .50 caliber machine guns
The P-51 was the United States supreme air-
superiority fighter in the European Theatre of
Operations (ETO) during WWII. It served as a
fighter-interceptor, Bomber-escort and fighter-
bomber. With the powerful Merlin engine
and droppable fuel tanks, the Mustang was able to penetrate deep into German territory where no previous Allied fighter had been able to go. The P-51 could escort bombers to all but the deepest targets inside Germany. With a fighter escort, fewer bombers were lost to the Luftwaffe's fighters. Reichmarschall Hermann Goering, Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe said " When I saw Mustangs over Berlin. I knew the war was lost."
Sleek and elegant, the North American P-51D Mustang was truly a "fighter pilot's dream". It is perhaps the best known fighter aircraft of all time. Designed in record time at the request of the British in 1940, the Mustang possessed a deadly combination of speed, endurance, maneuverability and firepower. By the end of the Mustang's production run, more than 15,000 P-51s had been built and the aircraft had seen service around the world as an escort fighter, fighter/bomber, dive bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, and finally, a race plane. The Mustang first drew blood in the spring of 1942 and the last Mustangs were withdrawn from active service more than four decades later - a service record which no other fighter aircraft has been able to match.
Manufacture of the Mustang began in early 1941 at North American's Inglewood, California plant. As orders for the new fighter quickly increased, North American opened a new plant in Grand Prairie, Texas to assist in the production of the P-51.
Originally fitted with an Allison V-1710 engine, the Mustang proved to be a superb fighter at low to medium altitudes, but its performance dropped off above 12,000 feet. At the urging of a Rolls Royce test pilot, a few RAF P-51s were tested with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine and the Mustang found new legs. With the powerful, supercharged Merlin, the Mustang's high altitude performance drastically increased as did the plane's range. This immediate boost in range allowed the plane (with drop tanks) to escort American bombers into the heart of Germany or Japan and back. Once the bombers had full fighter coverage, the air war for Europe and the Pacific was as good as won.
Jack's P-51D was built under contract #AC-2348 & factory charge #NA-122 in Inglewood, CA facility at Mines Field off Imperial drive, (now LAX). It was ferried to Newark, NJ and put on a ship to Italy where it joined the 15th Air Force, but never made it into combat before the war's end.
Returning stateside, #44-73420 was assigned to several Air National Guard units, including the 190th fighter squadron (Boise, ID), Moody AFB (Georgia) and the later 21st fighter/bomber wing at George AFB (Victorville, CA).
Released and sold by the USAF in January, 1958 for $895.00, #44-73420 began its civilian life and ultimately purchased by Jack Croul on June 6, 2005 (60th anniversary - D-day Invasion). The airframe was put through a complete overhaul restoration, "Only enhanced where necessary to operate in today's flying environment.