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                         OR ANG

A F-51D of the Oregon National Guard's 123d Fighter Squadron is pictured during the units Korean War activation. The 123d was assigned to the Air Defense Command based at Chicago's O'Hare Airport during their Korean call-up.  


The P-51 was designed (as the NA-73) in 1940 at Britain's request. An in-line engine, the British preference, was specified as well as the British standard of eight machine guns. The prototype was constructed within a 120-day limit. It was one of the few aircraft types that were conceived after the start of World War II yet saw large-scale service in the war. In permitting North American to design a fighter for a foreign buyer, the US Army Air Corps stipulated that two examples of the production model should be supplied free of charge for evaluation. It was the Royal Air Force that bestowed the nickname "Mustang" on the type. 

The first version for the US was the A-36 Apache dive bomber that first flew in 1942. About 500 of these "near-Mustangs" were built and saw action in the Italian campaign and in India. In December 1943, P-51Bs first entered combat over Europe, powered by Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. They provided high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, and by war's end, P-51 pilots had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air (nearly half of the US total destroyed) and an additional 4,131 on the ground, more than any other US fighter in Europe. Despite this showing, none of the top four Army Air Forces aces flew Mustangs. P-51s saw service in nearly every combat zone in the war; in the Pacific, they escorted B-29s to Japan from Iwo Jima. During  1944, the 317th, 318th and 319th Fighter Squadrons of the 325th Fighter Group nicknamed "The Checkertail Clan" transitioned out of the rugged P-47 Thunderbolt into the Mustang. The Checkertails would fly the P-51 in the European sky's until the end of World War II.

At war's end, 5,541 Mustangs were on hand. Surplus machines were sold or given to Australia, China, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, France, Indonesia, Israel, Sweden, Korea, Switzerland, Italy and Canada were the Mustangs served in Reserve Air Defense units . Many were also passed on to the USAF Air National Guard units, locally flown by the WA ANG's 116th Fighter Squadron (1947-1950 & 1952-1954) at Felts Field near Spokane WA. Other Squadrons in the region,  Oregon's 123d Fighter Squadron (1946-1951 & 1952-1953) Montana's 186th Fighter Squadron (1946-1953) and the 190th Fighter Squadron (1946-1953) were assigned the Mustang at their home base and other bases during their activation during the Korean War in the early 50's.

 During the Korean War, F-51Ds (as they were redesignated in 1948) were used by active duty units primarily for close support of ground forces until the type was withdrawn from combat in 1953. 

Mustangs have been popular for many years on the unlimited racing circuit. In 1984, the Piper Enforcer, a turboprop design based on the P-51, was marketed to smaller air forces as a light attack aircraft although none was bought.

  • TYPE: Close Air Support (A-10A), Airborne Forward Air Control (OA-10A)

  • POWER: One Packard V-1650-7 (license-built Rolls-Royce Merlin) liquid-cooled V- 12 of 1,490 hp.

  • SPEED: 437 mph

  • RANGE: 950 miles at 395 mph at 25,000 ft (clean), 2300 mi with maximum fuel (including drop tanks) of 489 US gal under most economical cruise conditions.  

  • SERVICE CEILING: 41,900 ft

  • WEIGHT: 7125 lbs empty, 10,100 lbs normal loaded, 12,100 lbs maximum.

  • DIMENSIONS: Wingspan was 37 ft 0 1/4 in, Length 32 ft 3 in, Height  8 ft 8 in,

  • ARMAMENT: Six .50-cal. machine guns and up to 2,000 lb of bombs or 10 5-in. High- Velocity Aerial Rockets (HVARs)

  • CREW: ONE 

  • PRODUCTION TOTALS: 15,621, including 500 A-36As (13,722 for USA / USAF).

  • COST: $50,985.00

P-51D "Dusty Butt" flow by the 325 Fighter Group in World War II
Mustang IV from the Royal Canadian Air Force 
The 116th Fighter Squadron 's Ace of Spades insignia can be seen on this F-51D 
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P.O. Box 4205
McChord AFB, WA. 98438-0205
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