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Mustang: A Documentary History

Mustang: A Documentary History

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{detailed description}On D-Day the Allied air forces flew 11,000 sorties for the loss of just one aircraft to the Luftwaffe. The Eighth Air Force's daylight bombing offensive against Germany was sustained only because the ferocious defences were countered by long-range fighter escorts. At the Falaise Gap whole Wehrmacht armoured formations were destroyed by tactical air power. Air superiority was the key to all these achievements, and the Allies' finest weapon in the struggle for control of Europe's skies was the North American P-51 Mustang.
Conceived in response to the desperate need of the British and French for American fighters to supplement their own production, the Mustang got off to a solid but unspectacular start that belied its subsequent brilliance. Though rated an excellent low and medium-altitude fighter by the RAF's assessors, the original Allison-engined Mustang I lacked high-altitude performance and began its combat career as an attack and tactical reconnaissance aircraft with Army Co-Operation Command. On the other side of the Atlantic the Mustang remained unrecognised in its own land. Working in the face of program delays and insufficient funding for new fighters, a small group of Mustang enthusiasts had to style the type an "attack bomber" in an effort to get it into quantity production for the USAAF.
But then came what must be the happiest marriage of engine and airframe in all of flying history: the Merlin Mustang. This match of a remarkably low-drag airframe with the combat-proven British engine, pursued equally keenly by Rolls-Royce and North American, resulted in the best all-round propeller-driven fighter of the war.
A superb fighting aeroplane, the P-5 1B, as the first Merlin Mustang was designated, also outranged all of its US and British contemporaries. This allowed the Mustang squadrons to take the offensive in the bomber-escort battles, seeking out the enemy while the powerful but shorter-legged P-38s and P-47s had to remain in close defensive formation. The consequences of these tactics were enormous: according to Adolf Galland, the famous Luftwaffe fighter leader, the decision to use the Mustang in this way cost Germany the air war.
The Mustang went on to distinguish itself over the Mediterranean, in China and the Pacific, and in duels against Germany's excellent Me 262 jet fighter. After the war the Mustang served with
America's Air National Guard, fought in Korea and was developed into the extraordinary but highly effective F-82 Twin Mustang night fighter. Soldiering on well into the Jet Age, the Mustang was finally withdrawn from US first-line service in 1953.
In this documentary history Jeffrey Ethell takes a fresh look at an oft-told story. Some of the men who fought and flew in the Mustang recount their experiences with the type, while the author draws on hitherto unpublished documents to expand the accepted biography and refute the myths that grew up in the heat and confusion of war. A rich selection of photographs completes the newest addition to Jane's Documentary History series.
{Author / Publisher / Date}by Jeffrey Ethell
Published by Janes 1981 1st edition. 176pp profusely illustrated, index, bibliography.
{condition}mint, including d/j.
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