The North American P-51 Mustang was arguably the most successful — and most versatile — fighter of World War II. Designed in 1940 for use by Great Britain, the first prototype XP-51 was finished in just 117 days. The Allison-powered P-51A was dubbed the Mustang Mk. 1 by the British and first deployed in tactical reconnaissance in the spring of 1942. The U.S. Army’s Eighth Air Force received its first P-51s (B models) in 1943.
The familiar P-51D, with its bubble canopy and Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, appeared in 1944 and became the major production version (7,956 built). The Mustang dominated the skies over Europe, mainly as a long-range escort for Allied bombers. During World War II, P-51s carried out nearly 214,000 missions in all theaters of war, destroying 4,950 enemy aircraft — nearly half of the total losses suffered by the enemy in the European theater.
U.S. Air Force Mustangs served with distinction in the Korean Conflict (1950-1953). In all, Mustangs have served the air forces of more than 50 other countries. Today, the P-51 is a popular air show performer and air racer.
The EAA AirVenture Museum’s XP-51 was the last of the four prototypes built by North American Aircraft in 1940, and the first P-51 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces. XP-51 No. 4 was acquired by EAA after years in storage at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It was completely restored in 1975-1976 by Darrell Skurich of Fort Collins, Colorado, and flew in the Oshkosh air show from 1976 until Paul Poberezny made the final flight in late 1982.
View virtual tour of cockpit
Aircraft Make & Model: North American XP-51
Length: 32 feet, 3 inches
Wingspan: 37 feet, 1/2 inch
Height: 12 feet, 2 inches
Empty Weight: 6,280 pounds
Gross Weight: 10,600 pounds (estimated)
Powerplant: 12-cylinder Allison V-1710-39
Horsepower: 1,100 hp
Cruise Speed: 300 mph
Maximum Speed: 380 mph
Range: 500 miles
Armament: Four .50-caliber Browning machine guns