Today’s aviation photo is one of the most famous aircraft of all time: the P-51 Mustang!
Recognizable even by those who are not fortunate enough to be airplane nerds, the P-51 is arguably the best airplane ever built. Fast, lethal, and beautiful, the Mustang not only won the air war in WWII, it won the hearts of generations of aviation geeks. There is just something about the Mustang that makes it desirable…the looks, the power, the noise of that 12-cylinder beast of an engine, who knows what it is. The fact that North American Aviation tossed off the design in a couple of short months under extreme pressure, and got the airplane so right, is a marvel of engineering.
Not too long ago I had the privilege of talking with a gentleman who flew the P-51 in the late 1940’s before the USAF switched him to the F-86. When I asked him which he preferred, he had to think about it but ultimately picked the Mustang. Even when offered a faster, sleeker, more modern jet fighter, some pilots prefer the je ne sais quoi of the Mustang to the bells and whistles of modernity.
Unlike the easy-to-spot P-51D with it’s distinctive bubble canopy, the P-51C has a caged canopy that fairs down to the tail, making it look almost like a totally different airplane.
The P-51. The perfect airplane. If I had a million dollars….