Civilian P-51D Mustang
The North American P-51 Mustang is one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time. Designed in quick time to meet a British requirement and first flown in prototype NA-73X form on 26 October 1940, the initial Allison V-1710-engined Mustangs entered RAF service in early 1942. While the US Army Air Force also used Allison-powered examples, it was with the switch to the Rolls-Royce Merlin - another British contribution to the aircraft's success - that the P-51 truly came to excel, making it an outstanding escort fighter. As such it served in quantity with the 8th and 9th Air Forces from late 1943, operating from British bases and able to accompany Allied bombers deep into occupied Europe. In other theatres, too, the fast and agile Mustang excelled, and the type carried on with the post-war US Air Force and other air arms, fighting in Korea and various smaller conflicts. Today, Mustangs are much sought-after warbirds. RIAT 2017's celebration of the 70th anniversary of the USAF will include the P-51D, named Tall-in-the-Saddle, operated by Peter Teichman's Hangar 11 Collection at North Weald in Essex.