1. On 26 October 1940, this eye-pleaser first took wing with Vance Breese in control. He flew several short test hops on that historic day when the Mustang was born and gave glowing pilot reports. As shown here, its rudder had been painted red, white (horizontal stripes) and blue (vertical stripe) hinting of its future association with the USAAF. (Stan Piet)

2. The British Purchasing Commission/British Air Ministry ordered 320 NA-73 Mustang Mk.I airplanes for the RAF. This is the second production Mk.I (RAF AG346) during its RAF acceptance procedure at Inglewood complete with an RAF test pilot in the cockpit and NAA technicians/British Army troops present. (Stan Piet)

3. This is the first of 300 NA-83 Mustang Mk.I airplanes (RAF AL958) as it appeared during its first flight on 13 February 1942. Although the NA-83 had a later NAA Charge Number and a different series of RAF serial numbers, it was identical to the NA-73 airplanes. It, like the first NA-73, was retained by NAA for further evaluations. (Stan Piet)

4. After the Lend-Lease programme was instituted on 7 July 1941, all USAAF aircraft orders for friendly nations had to go through the proper USAAF channels. Thus, when the BPC/BAM ordered 150 Mustang Mk.IA airplanes, they had to be first procured by the USAAF before they could be turned over to the RAF. Shown here is the premier NA-91 Mustang P-51/Mustang Mk.IA (USAAF 41-37320/RAF FD418) during its first flight on 30 May 1942. (Stan Piet)

5. The first production Mustang to employ the Packard-built V-1650 Merlin engine was the NA-102 P-51B/Mustang Mk.III. NAA built 400 as P-51B-1-NA airplanes in Inglewood. Shown is the 292nd P-51B-1-NA produced (43-12201). (Stan Piet)

6. The first bubble-topped Mustang in colour showing its yellow propeller spinner/USAAF serial number, black propeller blades, upper olive drab green and lower grey paint scheme. This experimental ‘XP-51D’ made its first flight on 17 November 1943 with Bob Chilton at the helm. He raved of its much improved all-around visibility over earlier P-51s he had flown. (Stan Piet)

7. With the increased firepower, performance and bubble-top Mustang, the USAAF came a-calling with a large 2,500-plane order for the NA-109 P-51D in three production blocks: P-51D-1-NA, P-51D-10-NA and P-51D-15-NA airplanes (44-13253 to 44-15752). A P-51D-5-NA (44-13366) is shown here during a factory functional test flight. (Stan Piet)

8. The lightweight Mustang programme culminated with the production of 555 P-51H-1-NA (20), P-51H-5-NA (280) and P-51-10-NA (255) airplanes in Inglewood. The last one came off the assembly line on 9 November 1945 ending P-51 Mustang production at 15,586 total aircraft of all types. Shown here is the fifth production P-51H-1-NA (44-64164) with Bob Chilton seated. An additional 1,945 P-51H airplanes on order were cancelled. (Stan Piet)

9. The Dallas, Texas-built, version of the P-51D was the P-51K (that nearly became the P-51E). Except for its propeller manufacturer and a few other minor details, the P-51K was identical to the P-51D. Shown here is a 362nd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group P-51K-5-NT (44-11697) named ‘Muddy’ at RAF Steeple Morden that was flown by Lt. James Gasser. (Stan Piet)

10. The final derivative of the P-51 Mustang was the P-82 Twin Mustang. The second of two experimental XP-82 airplanes (44-83887) rests on a ramp off Mines Field, c. June 1945. Five versions of the Twin Mustang – the B, E, F, G and H – saw service with the US Air Force up until 1953. (Stan Piet)

11. A group of pilot trainees at an unknown stateside A-36A training base in early 1943. Noteworthy is the USAAF pilot attire worn in that era. The A-36A Mustangs played all-important roles in the defeat of Germany, Italy and Japan, especially in the CBI, MTO and ETO theatres. (Stan Piet)

12. ‘Tika-IV’, a P-51D-5-NA (44-13357) of 8AF, 374FS, and 361FG, ‘The Yellow Jackets’, at RAF Bottisham, piloted by Lt. Vernon R. Richards showing his six kills to date. (Stan Piet)

13. P-51B-15-NA (42-106950), ‘The Iowa Beaut’, with a Malcolm Hood and ten kills. It was flown by Lt. Robert E. Hulderman of the 8th Air Force, 354th Fighter Squadron, of 355 Fighter Group based at RAF Steeple Morden aka ‘The Steeple Morden Strafers’. Despite showing ten kills, Hulderman was not an ace. This Mustang was lost on 11 September 1944 and Capt. Kevin G. Rafferty was killed in action. (Stan Piet)

14. P-51C-10-NT (43-25039) named ‘Li’l Kitten’ flown by Lt. Louis Fecher of the 8th Air Force, 364th Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group aka ‘The Yoxford Boys’ from RAF Leiston. Affording better visibility, a Malcolm Hood was fitted to this particular Dallas-built P-51C. (Stan Piet)

15. This is P-51D-5-NA (44-13704). It belonged to 8AF, 374FS and 361FG based at RAF Bottisham and was flown by Lt. Col. Wallace E. Hopkins who named it ‘Ferocious Frankie’ after his wife. Showing five kills, Hopkins had just become an ace. (Stan Piet)

16. Crew chiefs and engineers were a P-51 combat pilot’s closest friend. For without these hard-working airframe and powerplant mechanics, their Mustangs would not get through their missions and return home. This particular P-51B’s pilot would not be sporting 12 kills if his crew chief, shown here hard at work, had not been very good at his job. (US Air Force)

17. 8AF, 364FG, 385FS Mustangs taxiing for take-off at RAF Honington. A P-51D (44-14189), coded 5E-R, is the only identifiable Mustang in this photograph. Its pilot is unknown to this author, however. (Stan Piet)

18. Scottsdale, Arizona resident Betty ‘Tack’ Blake holds a 1:18 scale model of a P-51D-5-NA Mustang in front of her home on 12 March 2012. She is 91 years old and said that the Mustang was her favourite aircraft to fly. The model represents ‘LOU IV’ (44-13410) of the 361st FG. She joined the first class of Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) – later named Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs – and during the Second World War she was assigned as a transport pilot ferrying 36 different types of aircraft, including the Mustang, from factories to bases all across the US. (US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

19. Atlee G. ‘Mad Pappy’ Manthos. (Jeff Manthos)

20. An unidentified NAA flight line crew chief warms up the V-1650-3 Merlin engine on this factory-fresh NA-102 P-51B-1-NA (43-12342) at Mines Field prior to functional checkout flight to be performed by an NAA pilot. This was a procedure that every Mustang had to perform before it could be accepted and delivered to the USAAF. NAA produced 400 NA-102 airplanes and those received by the RAF were designated as Mustang Mark IIIs. (Stan Piet)

21. One of 400 NA-102 P-51B-10-NA (43-12102) airplanes. The tenth example was confiscated by NAA as it rolled off the assembly line for an in-house modification programme where the new NAA-designed bubble-top cockpit canopy and aft dorsal deck configuration were installed for pilot comfort and flight-test purposes. While it was on the production line, an order from NAA management demanded that the standard cockpit canopy and fuselage area behind were not assembled so modifications could proceed without tearing down the airplane. This airplane, which many Mustang historians refer to as the ‘XP-51D’, made its first flight on 17 November 1943. NAA initiated its NA-106 programme on 27 December 1943 to manufacture two P-51D-1-NA airplanes (42-106539 and 42-106540) based upon the so-called ‘XP-51D’ or the bubble-top cockpit canopy-fitted P-51B-1-NA (43-12102) that had made its first flight just forty days earlier. (Stan Piet)

22. NAA-Dallas built 1,500 NA-111 P-51K Mustangs (44-11353 to 44-12852). This Mustang was produced as a P-51K-5-NT (44-11569) but was modified to F-6K-5-NT standard in the field to be used by the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 13th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, at RAF Mount Farm in Great Britain. (Stan Piet)

23. Fuselage-to-wing joining process of a P-51D. (Stan Piet)

24. Inglewood Mustang assembly line. (Stan Piet)

25. ‘Margie H’ (42-83665), the A-36A belonging to the National Museum of the USAF at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. It is painted as the A-36A flown by Capt. Lawrence Dye of the 15AF, 522FBS while in the MTO. (National Museum of the USAF)

26. The premier NA-83 Mustang Mk.I (RAF AL958) in USAAC colours on 13 February 1942 during its first flight with Bob Chilton at the controls. It, like the first NA-73, was kept by NAA for functional flight tests and other evaluations. NAA produced 300 NA-83 airplanes to complete the 620 Mk.I aircraft order. (National Archives)

27. NA-91 Mustang Mk.IA/P-51 airplanes having their main landing gear wheels and tyres installed and inflated. A P-51 tail section in the background (FD533) shows both USAAF and RAF national markings. (Stan Piet)

28. An unidentified NA-91 Mustang Mk.IA/P-51 that was delivered to Great Britain in the spring of 1943 to serve in an RAF Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Its flared bell-shaped engine exhaust outlets are noteworthy. (Stan Piet)

29. A beautifully restored RAAF CA-18 Mk.21 Mustang (A68-118) lifts off for a demonstration flight at an air show in mid-1992. (Photograph courtesy ICS Department of Information & Computing Sciences Aircraft Images Archive posted by Edwin Kremer on 2 December 1992)

30. With chief engineering test pilot Bob Chilton at its controls the fifth P-51H airplane is on its first flight. This airplane was turned over to NACA (now NASA) for evaluation purposes soon afterwards. The P-51H aircraft were all powered by the 1,380 hp Packard-built V-1650-9 Merlin engine. (Stan Piet)

31. This excellent skeletal view of a P-51H Mustang was provided by Mustang Restoration Project director Norman Meyers and it illustrates the various colours and components of the internal structure. Meyers colourised this drawing from the NAA P-51H Design Manual. The original drawing was produced by staff artist Eugene Clay of NAA in early 1944. Meyers’ project is completing a static restoration and company of the 105th P-51H-5-NA (44-64265) built to represent ‘Louisiana Heatwave’ once flown by Capt. (later Lt. Col.) Claude J. Crenshaw. (Mustang Restoration Project via Norman Meyers)

32. A P-51D-25-NA (44-84390) based at Stewart AFB, New York, in January 1948. This airplane survives today in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is flown at air shows as ‘Section Eight’. (US Air Force)

33. A P-51D-5-NT (44-11200) at Gablingen, Germany, in 1946. It first belonged to the 335FS of the 4FG as WD-F and was flown by Lt. Paul J. Lucas Jr. It was later transferred to the 358FS of the 355FG as YF-I, named ‘OLE-V’, and flown by Col. Claiborn H. ‘Zoot’ Kinnard Jr. (US Air Force)

34. A TF-51H-10-NA (44-64675) at Tyndall AFB, Florida, of the 3625th Fighter Training Wing in 1952. (Photograph by Patrick G. Asher via Gerry Asher)

35. A P-51D named ‘Pretty Maggie’ with its pilot 1/Lt. P. G. Budesa of the 40th FS while based at Johnson AFB, Japan, in 1949 as part of the American Occupation Force. (P. G. Budesa)

36. 1st Lieutenant John E. Hill and his crew chief stand next to this unidentified F-51 named ‘Shirley Mae’ after his wife of the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing, 67th Fighter Bomber Squadron, c. August 1952. The way Hill is wearing his shoulder holster housing his personal .45 cal. automatic pistol is notable. He flew twenty sorties during 1952 while based at Hoengsong (K-46), South Korea. (Photograph courtesy of Fred Giles)

37. An F-51D-30-NA (44-74631) waits to be armed as it stands alone surrounded by 5-in. Holy Moses rockets and a 500 lb bomb seated atop its lift. (National Museum of the USAF)

38. A high mission RF-51D-25-NT (44-84837) named ‘Little Lynn’ of the 45TRS with its crew chief Arlon Motsch alongside at Kimpo (K-14) in May 1952. Motsch worked on both the airplane and its cameras. (Photograph courtesy of Arlon Motsch Jr.)

39. The official 45TRS Headquarters sign. (Photograph courtesy of Arlon Motsch)

40. An RF-51D of the 5th Air Force, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, the ‘Polka Dot Squadron’, at Kimpo (now Gimpo), South Korea, in 1952. (Jet Pilot Overseas)

41. A Minnesota ANG F-51D-30-NA (44-75024) shows its true colours in the 1960s. It belonged to the 109th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and now resides at the Minnesota ANG Museum. (Photograph courtesy of Minnesota ANG Museum)

42. A Massachusetts ANG F-51H-5-NA (44-64398) that was operated by the 104th Fighter Wing from 1951 until 1954. (Stan Piet)

43. An unidentified Pennsylvania ANG F-51D (USAF serial number is not shown) at Reading Airport c. 1957. Its all-white/red trim paint scheme is noteworthy. (Photograph by William T. Larkins)

44. Another interesting view of 44-65169. (Stan Piet)

45. The F-82B service test Twin Mustangs, temporarily designated P-82Z, was thoroughly evaluated by USAF test pilots at Muroc (now Edwards) AFB in 1948-1949. This is one of the eighteen F-82B airplanes in preparation for a test hop. (AFFTC/HO)

46. The famed ‘Betty Jo’ during an evaluation flight whereby several different external fuel tank configurations were tested prior to its historic long-distance flight from Hawaii to New York City. (Stan Piet)

47. This photograph of a US Army F-51D was taken on 8 November 1968. (Photograph courtesy of US Army)

48. The wide-spaced main landing gear design of the Mustang afforded excellent ground handling for its pilots. (Photograph courtesy of US Army)

49. Another view of N6167U showing its under-wing attachment points and permanently attached non-jettisonable wingtip fuel tanks. (Author’s collection)

50. Another view of the same PA-48 Enforcer. This airplane was a descendant of the Cavalier Turbo Mustang III programme. (USAF via NMUSAF)

51. Typical advertisement from the November-December 1944 issue of Skyline magazine published by NAA for its employees. (NAA via Chris Wamsley)

52. This P-51D-20-NA (44-63992) formerly belonged to the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) as Fv26020 and currently resides at the Swedish Air Force Museum (Flygvapenmuseum) in Linköping, Sweden. In the interim it was operated by the Israeli Air Force as IAF serial number 58. (Photograph by Stefan Sjogren)

53. This P-51D Mustang (NACA 127) has been owned and operated by NACA cum NASA since it was first acquired in 1944. It was restored to flying condition at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, California, in 2000 and is shown here during a flight on 15 September of that year. (NASA photo by Jim Ross)

54. ‘Impatient Virgin?’, a beautifully restored P-51B-10-NA (42-106638) with a Malcolm Hood, Code E9-R, was flown by 1/Lt. Victor E. Bocquin of 8AF, 361FG, 376FS, in the Second World War. Bocquin scored three kills on a mission flying ‘Small Fry IV’, a P-51D (44-14165) – E9-Q. ‘Impatient Virgin?’ is owned and operated by John T. Sessions of The Historic Flight Foundation at Kilo 7 located at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. This photo was taken on 5 June 2011 near Mt Pilchuck east of Everett. (Air-to-Air Photography by Mitchell D. Babarovich)

55. This NAA-drawn inboard profile, meticulously colourised by Norm ‘Mustanger’ Meyers, illustrates the second configuration of the Mustang family representing the NA-73 Mustang Mk.I and NA-73XP-51, the NA-73X being the first. (Photograph courtesy of Norm Meyers – Mustang Restoration Project)

56. Stallion 51 Corporation of Kissimmee, Florida, owns and operates two TF-51 Mustangs named ‘Crazy Horse’ and ‘Crazy Horse 2’. Both wear the authentic colours of the 8th Air Force, 352nd Fighter Group, 48th Fighter Squadron, based at Asche, Belgium, in 1945. Maj. George E. Preddy Jr. of the 352nd Fighter Group, known as the ‘Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney’ when it was based at RAF Bodney, was the highest scoring Mustang ace with 27.83 aerial victories with six kills in a single day. For additional information on these beautiful Mustangs visit www.stallion51.com/. (Photograph courtesy of Stallion 51 Corporation)

57. The National Museum of the United States Air Force owns and displays this beautifully restored P-51D named ‘Shimmy IV’ (44-15174). It represents the Mustang flown by the commanding officer Col. Chester L. Sluder of the 15th Air Force, 325th Fighter Group, (‘The Checkertail Clan’) in Italy in 1944. It was the 317th, 318th and the 319th Fighter Squadrons that formed the 325th Fighter Group. ‘Shimmy’ is derived from the names of his daughter, Sharon, and his wife, Zimmy. This particular P-51D (formerly 44-74936) was obtained from the West Virginia ANG in 1957 and was the last operational USAF Mustang. (National Museum of the USAF)

58. This recently restored Mustang represents ‘Bad Angel’, a P-51D-20-NA (44-63272) of the 14th Air Force, 3rd Air Commando Group and 4th Fighter Squadron flown by Capt. Louis E. (Lou) Curdes in 1945 while based at Laoang, China. It is on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Courtesy of Pima Air & Space Museum via James Stemm)

59. The late Jimmy Leeward owned and raced this highly modified P-51D-15-NA (44-15651) that he named ‘The Galloping Ghost’. Unfortunately, on 16 September 2011, 74-year-old Leeward and this plane were lost during the Reno Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport north of Reno, Nevada. Worse, the airplane crashed into spectators and killed more than ten people while injuring numerous others. Crash photos seemed to point to the left horizontal stabilizer trim tab that had failed and that Leeward was not visible in the cockpit indicating that he was slumped over and not in control of his airplane. (Photograph by Dan Whitney via the Aircraft Engine Historical Society, Inc.)

60. Leeward’s Mustang hit the ground at an estimated speed of almost 500 mph at a very sharp angle as this AP photo illustrates. (Photograph courtesy of the Associated Press)

61. The beautifully restored P-51D named ‘Big Beautiful Doll’ as it appeared at the ILA Berlin Air Show on 13 June 2010. It represents the Mustang flown by Col. John D. Landers of the 8th Air Force, 55th Fighter Group, 38th Fighter Squadron, (44-72218) at RAF Wormingford. It was owned by Rob Davies who was flying it on 10 July 2011 when it was hit mid-air by a Douglas AD-4N Skyraider at Flying Legends 2011 at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, Great Britain. Davies was able to parachute to safety from just 500 feet above the ground and survived the ordeal. The Skyraider , owned by Frenchman Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis, was able to land safely. (Photograph by Matthias Kabel)

62. This gorgeous P-51D-30-NA (44-74536) is now a dedicated race plane named ‘Miss America’ and is owned and flown by Dr. Brent Hisey out of Wiley Post Airport, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is a five-time national champion having won numerous air races. (Author’s collection)

63. This well worn and unidentified 51st FG P-51A in the CBI shows the famed Shark-mouth similar to that of the former P-40-equipped Flying Tigers. (National Archives via Warren E. Thompson)

64. This completely restored and flying A-36A was photographed at a Planes of Fame Museum air show in Chino, California, c. May 2010; civil registration number NL251A. (Photograph by Mark Von Reasfeld)

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