Nearly everyone has heard the story of the P51, North American Aircraft contracted by the British to produce a front line fighter in record time. They didn't disappoint. With the advantage of contemporary fighters to study such as the Spitfire, P40 and 109, they could pick the best parts and forget the worst.
The end result was a very fine aeroplane which was also a very practical machine to produce. Initially it was limited to ground attack and low level reconnaissance roles due to the poor altitude performance of its Allison engine.
The airframe was recognised as being outstanding and the RAF carried out a number of experiments involving additional fuel tanks, bomb shackles and armament changes, but the most exciting change of all was the experimental installation of a Merlin 61 similar to that fitted to the MkIX Spitfire.
The transformation was dramatic. The P51, once breathless above medium altitude now charged into the upper atmosphere where it could make the most of its excellent aerodynamics. It was now ready to take on its role as the supreme high altitude escort fighter.
The 'B and C" model (virtually identical but built in different factories) really were the heroes of the Mustang family. They entered the air war when the Luftwaffe was most numerous and took on the German pilots when they were at their peak of efficiency with five years experience behind them.
Post war the historians largely favour the D model, but we should remember that most of the US aces scored the bulk of their kills on the earlier model. Even Bud Anderson's famous "Old Crow" is depicted almost without fail as a D model and yet he flew no less than three P51Bs before that and definitely preferred the early model. The B model was generally felt to be a little faster due to its more aerodynamic rear deck and the weight saving of two .50 calibre machine guns.
The addition of the two outboard guns to the D model noticeably reduced initial roll response making the B model feel a lot more lively and refined. Of course its deficiency was visibility from the cockpit, although many of the early aces had grown used to its limitations, others had a Spitfire style sliding "Malcom hood"
fitted, which made a vast improvement. This was a field mod by a British company and proved very popular. Some of the last surviving B models were also fitted with the dorsal fin fillet of the late D models in order to improve directional stability when overloaded with fuel.
Check out the leading US aces and you will be surprised out how many racked up the bulk of their victories on the sleek B and C model.
Mustang P51B and the Warbirds Model
The Warbirds P51B is a delightful model to build and fly. With an all up weight of six pounds easily attainable and a good .52 fourstroke up front this little beauty makes a very practical, yet unusual weekend flyer.
The wide undercarriage and simple lines make this a simple first Warbird to build and operate. We also offer as an option, cranked oleo legs which have been machined to a very high standard and a beautiful aluminium spinner, or a cheaper nylon version.
The kit comes with the original "birdcage" flat canopy, but a Malcolm Hood is available as separate option.
There are a huge variety of colour schemes available for the early model P51, but among the best has to be the blue nosed version of the 352FG. A number of decal sets are available with nose art packs for the more famous aircraft.
On the full size circuit 'Princess Elizabeth" can be seen at various air shows and there is no doubt that it offers a sleeker profile than its iconic later brother.
The best engine for this model would be the OS52 or OS56, Saito .62 or ASP61, if you can't stretch to those an SC52 will do the trick although we have found they do need the best balanced propeller and spinner to make your model sparkle, where as the more expensive motors have a little more torque and are relatively less fussy.
Why not join the 352nd Fighter Group? Check out their website and the fascinating history of this colourful band of Aviators.
To make construction quick and easy, the kit features a fully factory made obechi covered foam core wing including, pre-installed retract plates, foam veneer top deck, epoxy cowl, canopy & scoops, exhaust stacks, fuel tank, tailwheel, step-by-step fully illustrated instructions and plan, CNC plywood parts and hand picked pre-cut balsa.
Wingspan: 1400mm [55"]
Radio: 4-5 channel
Motor: 40-46 2st or equivalent 4 stroke
Weight: 5.5-6lb approx.
- 352nd decal set
- 4 stroke in-cowl silencer
- Mechanical retract set including servo & wheels
- Aluminium cranked oleo legs
- Aluminium or nylon spinner
- Malcolm Hood canopy
- Pilot & cockpit set
A note about the 352nd Fighter Group - the subject of the Warbirds P51B - Queen Elizabeth
The 352nd FG had its beginnings in the merging of smaller units into a superb fighting force which would account for 776 enemy aircraft destroyed, fourth among all 8th Air Force units.
The Group embarked from New York harbor July 1, 1943, arriving in Scotland July 5th and a few days later reached their new base at Bodney, England. Training for combat became intense those next few months. The Group flew its first combat mission on September 9, 1943, an uneventful sweep out over the North Sea to escort returning B-17s. Some 40 pilots participated in this mission. Although the 352nd had several minor encounters with the enemy in their early missions, it wasn't until November 26th that Major J. C. Meyer, C.O. of the 487th Squadron scored their first victory-an Me-109 attacking the bombers near Gronigen-the first of many victories for the 352nd.
During WWII the 352nd flew 420 missions, 59,387 operational combat hours, destroyed 776 enemy aircraft and had 29 aerial aces. Returning to the U.S. at war's end, the unit was deactivated.