North American P-51D Mustang

Place in history: The P-51 Mustang is arguably the fighter that won the air war in Europe, providing long-range escorts that enabled American heavy bombers to carry the air war into the heart of Germany. In 1939, the British Purchasing Agency approached North American Aviation in desperate need of additional aircraft for the war in Europe. Just 117 days later, the first P-51 was rolled out of the factory. The aircraft's laminar wing design was innovative, greatly reducing turbulent airflow across the wing and overall drag. In 1942, the P-51 was fitted with the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and large external fuel tanks that could be jettisoned when empty. With this powerful new engine and extended range, the P-51 quickly became one of the best-known and most feared fighters in the world.

This aircraft: This P-51 is a combat veteran that was delivered to the United States Army Air Force on January 26, 1945. It was based in Raydon, England with the 8th Army Air Force (352nd Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group), where it was assigned to Lt. Harrison B."Bud" Tordoff. Tordoff flew the aircraft in support of the daylight bombing raids against Germany throughout occupied Europe and in support of missions for the Allied ground forces during the liberation of mainland Europe.

In the summer of 2003, Captain Tordoff was reunited with this plane at the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum – the first time he had seen it since ceasefire.

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