Allison-Engined P-51 Mustang
Air Vanguard * 1
Author: Martyn Chorlton
Artists and Illustrators: Richard Chasemore; Ian Palmer; Adam Tooby
Format: Softcover; ePub eBook; PDF eBook
Item: ISBN: 978-1-78096-151-4
Allison-Engined P-51 Mustang
is the first of Air Vanguard, a new series launched by Osprey. It features a great detail of information concisely packed into 64 pages including full color artwork, illustrations, and cutaway art.
Few can read of the Second World War air war without becoming acquainted with the P-51 Mustang. Many know that the Mustang entered service with an Allison engine instead of the Merlin. Some know that Allison Mustangs fought early in the war. I have been reading about the P-51 for 40 years yet did not know that Allison-engined P-51s fought in front-line squadrons against Germany until VE-Day. In fact, Allison Mustangs outlasted Merlin Mustangs in the RAF!
This book details the development and deployment of the Allison-engined Mustang , exploring the legend and myths of the aircraft, as well as the documented record.
In Allison-Engined P-51 Mustang
, the first of Osprey’s new series Air Vanguard, author Martyn Chorlton reveals the story of one of the world’s iconic fighters through 64 pages in seven chapters of over a dozen sections:
Design and Development
• The NA-73X – birth of a legendary fighter
• NAA designs and builds the fighter
• The RAF order
• The USAAF shows interest
• Enter the P-51A (NA-99)
Reconnaissance birds, the F-6A and F-6B
• The NA-73X
• Aircraft technical data – the Allison-powered Mustangs
• RAF service begins
• Dieppe and first blood
• ‘A’ for attack! – The A-36A into combat
• P-51 in combat
• Down and dirty with the 1st Air Commando Group (ACG)
• Rhubarbs, Rangers and Populars
• D-Day, RAF operations
• A host of units
Legend and myth surrounds the development of the Mustang. Some hold that North American Aviation (NAA) simply cleaned up and improved the failed Curtiss XP-46. True, NAA had no real fighter experience when British Direct Purchase Commission representatives approached them to license-build Curtiss P-40s. What NAA had was an experienced team of go-getters ready to apply their talent; Mr. Chorlton devotes the first nine pages proving that the P-51 was, indeed, a brand new original design.
The result of that talent rolled onto the tarmac as the NA-73. It immediately proved to be a ‘hot ship’ and quickly demonstrated a design a decade ahead of the competition. An adage of aircraft design is An airframe is only as good as, and never better than, the engine that powers it.
The P-51 demonstrated this in spades! Even with the same “low-altitude” Allison engine and weights as the ubiquitous Curtiss P-40, the P-51 entered service with the RAF able to outperform the Spitfire V in some categories below 20,000 feet.
Aspects of the design are examined. Two key features of the P-51 success story of explored, the ‘laminar flow’ wing, and the “Meredith Effect” of the radiator duct. Each component element of the aircraft has its own section: undercarriage and systems; ‘laminar flow’ wing; cockpit; fuselage; cooling system; and the engine. Mustangs packed a wild assortment of armament options, each mentioned. Also, nine internal / external weapon arrangements are presented. Each model / version of the P-51 is accounted for, including the F-6 family of photo reconnaissance planes.
The book chronicles the training and employment of the aircraft by the RAF. With its great range and speed the RAF was able to expand their Rhubarb, Ranger and Popular missions, which are explained for the unfamiliar reader.
It also includes the origins of the first American Mustangs, the A-36 Apache dive-bomber, and the P-51 and P-51A.
Mr. Chorlton includes a good deal of interesting and little known information, such as the height and weight of the pilot the aircraft was designed to accommodate. He also includes an informative separate box detailing RAF Mustang’s Pilot’s Equipment -
Circa Late 1942
. He does not try to account for unit histories, with the exception of the 1st Air Commando Group.
Nineteen pages are devoted to operational history of the fighter with the RAF and USAAF. Finally, the book ends with a discussion of the last American Allison fighter, the P-82 “Twin Mustang”. The aircraft’s design, operation, and choice of the Allison are narrated in good detail.
Finally, the text ends with the author’s conclusion about the Allison Mustang’s place in history, and surviving Allison Mustangs world-wide.
While it does not detract from the overall quality of the presentation and information, there are a few minor typos.
Art and Graphics
Over three dozen black and white photographs support the text. While most are high-quality images of designers, “studio” shots, and technical images, several are of operational Mustangs in, and over, the front lines. A photo from Burma is a certain inspiration for a diorama! Two color photos are included although these are contemporary exposures of restored Allison-engined P-51s. Two technical illustrations are also reproduced in the book.
With three artists credited to the book one would expect some fine art. I was not disappointed! They produced a color three-view of the NA-73X when it was rolled out of the factory on 9 September, 1940. Eight color plates illustrate an USAAC XP-51; USAAF A-36A; “Flying Tiger” P-51A; RAF Mustang 1 (2 SQN), Mustang 1 (26 SQN), Mustang 1A of 414 SQN, which scored the P-51’s first kill and served until 1947; and an F-6A and F-6B. Nine color vignettes show different Mustang weapon configurations, including an installation I thought was only applied to Hurricanes. Each plate has a descriptive sidebar.
Two exceptionally well done digital “in action” illustrations enhance the book. These dynamic full color pictures are a signature of Osprey’s titles. They are:
1. Dive-bombing In An A-36. This artwork illustrates the textual description of dive-bombing by Capt. Charles E. Dills over Italy, Corsica and Southern France.
2. Raid On Villacoublay Airfield, June 29, 1943. Under leaden skies a pair of RAF Mustangs rampage across a German aerodrome near Paris.
Rounding out the illustrations is a fine two-page foldout cutaway: North America Mustang Mk 1A (P-51 (NA-91))
in RAF livery. Thirty-five components are shown.
Finally, a table presents technical date of each mark and version.
This first title of the new Air Vanguard series is a great way to introduce the series. I found this book to be a fascinating story of the concept and creation of one of the iconic fighters of all times. I am very impressed with just how comprehensive the text is despite the 64-page format constraint. I find the level of detail to be sufficient. This book is not meant to present the record of every Allison Mustang squadron or group. It is very well written in an engaging style. The couple of minor typos do not detract from the content.
I greatly appreciate the detailed background of the collaboration between the British Direct Purchase Commission and NAA management’s decision to design their own aircraft. The description of systems is very interesting. It revealed some surprising data about the aircraft. The text enhanced my appreciation of the Allison P-51.
Supporting art and graphics leaves me wanting more. The editor provided a fine selection of airframes representing the type. The “in-action” artwork is first rate.
Osprey has launched this new series with a superb topic. It is a solid resource and offers a wealth of ideas for modelers.
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