This is a book that deserves to sell strongly and will appeal to a wide readership. The Haynes military aviation workshop manuals are building into a valuable source of information. Once again a new title in the series has been launched that provides an overview of an important aircraft type.
NAME: North American P-51 Mustang Owners Workshop Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Jarod Cotter, Maurice Hammond
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: GB £19.99
SUBJECT: WWII, fighters, escort fighters, single engine, drop tanks, technology, air war, ground attack, Packard Merlin, Korean War, warbirds, F-82G
DESCRIPTION: The Haynes military aviation workshop manuals are building into a valuable source of information. Once again a new title in the series has been launched that provides an overview of an important aircraft type. As an engineer’s workshop manual, this book will not serve because it does not provide the level of detail necessary to keep a vintage aircraft flying, but it does provide an excellent insight. The now familiar approach has been taken, with a brief but adequate history of the aircraft model. It then moves into the restoration of survivors, an anatomy, owner’s view, pilot’s view, engineers’ view and some useful appendices. A pair of surviving Mustangs owned and restored by Maurice Hammond have been selected to provide the central focus and some of the outstanding photographs and drawings. The Mustang has faired well, largely because it continued on in service with a number of air forces after 1945 and proved an effective war plane during the Korean War. Purists may not be happy that some Mustangs have been heavily modified for racing but this does increase the pool of operational aircraft. The Mustang started life as a British Purchasing Commission procurement specification. It therefore started life more than five years after the Spitfire and Hurricane taking advantage of technology developed in that period and the direct experience of RAF pilots in combat. A clean all metal monoplane with wide track undercarriage and laminar flow wing, the Mustang initially used the American Allison engine. The razor back canopy and aft structure was common to US fighters of the time but did not provide the rear vision necessary in close combat with other fighters. Bulged canopies were tried but the Mustang really came into its own with bubble canopy and licence built Merlin engine. Most commonly Mustangs were equipped with six 50 calibre Browning machine guns mounted in the wings and firing from outside the propeller arc. The Mustang was also equipped with four 20mm canon which became a standard RAF fighter armament. The ability to carry drop tanks enabled Mustangs to provide close escort to USAAF daylight bombing missions over Germany. In addition to the two wet underwing pylons, the Mustang was equipped with hardpoints for the carriage of bombs and rockets, making it a very effective ground attack aircraft. With the Allies establishing air superiority in Europe, this meant that the growing number of Mustangs could be employed on low level attacks on road and rail transport and other targets of opportunity. The WWII Mustang was a 400 mph plus fighter but when fully loaded with drop tanks and ammunition the maximum speed was restricted. German fighter pilots tried to tempt escort Mustangs into early combat forcing them to drop their auxiliary tanks to maximize dog fight performance and reducing the time they could escort the bombers. After twenty years of constant refinement the heavily modified racing Mustang Dago Red has set an upper limit speed of 507 mpg. The Mustang participated in the Korean War, both as a single seat monoplane and as the twin fuselage development the F-82G. The F-82G provided a two seat twin engine long range fighter by the simple method of joining two P-51 aircraft together. F-82G fighters did operate from rough strips in Korea, but they also introduced a novel form of combat when operating from Japan. Here, a pilot’s family living on or near the Japanese base could wave goodbye and be there to welcome the aircraft back. The Mustang retired from RAF service in 1947 and from US service in 1957, but Mustangs served on through into the 1960s with many air forces, particularly in South America. Another large user was the Swedish Air Force which made full use of Mustangs landed in neutral Sweden and impounded. The final stage was reached when a number of Mustangs was modernized by Cavalier Aircraft Corporation for ground attack and counter insurgency. The final stage was reached in 1971 when two Mustangs were converted to turbo prop operation using a Lycoming T55, after earlier experimenting with a Rolls Royce Dart turbo prop engine. The Mustang was a versatile and outstanding fighter with a long service life but numbers continue to be flown. The focus examples used in this excellent manual show the lengths that enthusiasts will go to achieve airworthy machines that faithfully preserve the WWII heritage. Racing pilots have taken the Mustang performance to the limit and offer an alternative approach to preserving airworthy vintage aircraft. This is a book that deserves to sell strongly and will appeal to a wide readership.