P51 Mustang



The need for and effects of
The P-51 Mustang
In the skies over Europe











On September 1, 1939, the German military forces invaded Poland to begin World War II. This invasion was very successful because of its use of a new military strategic theory – “blitzkrieg”. Blitzkrieg, literally "lightning war," involved the fast and deadly coordination of two German forces, the Wermacht (army) and the Luftwaffe (airforce). The Wermacht advanced on the ground, while the Luftwaffe destroyed the enemy air force, attacked enemy ground forces, and disrupted enemy communication and transportation systems. This strategy was responsible for the successful invasions of Poland, Norway, Western Europe, the Balkans and the initial success of the Russian invasion. For many years after the attack on Poland, the Luftwaffe dominated the air war in Europe. The performance of the Messerschmitt 109 fighter, and the Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka” dive-bombers dominated headlines during those weeks. Their terror from the skies campaign struck fear into the hearts and minds of the Allied nations of Europe. No other nation involved in the war had the experience, technology, or numbers to challenge the Luftwaffe\'s superiority. It was not until the United States joined the war effort that any great harm was done to Germany and even then, German air superiority remained unscathed. It was not until the advent of the North American P-51 Mustang fighter, and all of the improvements, benefits, and side effects that it brought with it, that the Allies were able to achieve air superiority over the Germans.
The Birth of the mustang dates back to before the war was present. In late 1939, with the likelihood of full-scale war in Europe, the British Royal Air Force was looking for ways of quickly increasing its fighter strength. In 1940, the British Air Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation with the intent of having them build P-40\'s for the RAF Instead, North American offered to build an entirely new fighter using the same Allison V-1710-39 engine as the P-40. The British agreed only on the condition that a prototype be on hand within 120 days. North American designers immediately set about meeting the requirements. Edgar Schmued, a designer, had been a part of Willy Messerschmitt\'s design group in Germany. It’s no coincidence that the somewhat jagged lines of the new fighter resembled the Messerschmitt. The continued domination of the European skies by the Luftwaffe was caused by two factors, the first of which was the difference in military theory between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. The theories of the Luftwaffe and RAF were exactly opposite because of their experiences in World War I. During WW I, Germany attempted a strategic bombing effort directed against England using "Gothas" (biplane bombers) and Zeppelins (slow-moving hydrogen balloons) , which did not prove to be very effective. This along with the fact that the German military theory at the beginning of WW II was based much more on fast, quick results (Blitzkrieg), meant that Germany decided not to develop a strategic air force. The Luftwaffe had experienced great success when they used tactical ground-attack aircraft in Spain, and so they figured that their air force should mainly consist of this kind of plane. Germany made the Luftwaffe a ground support force that was in essence an extension of the army and served the role as a long- range, aerial artillery. The RAF, on the other hand, had experimented with ground-attack fighters during WW I, and had suffered huge casualty rates. This, combined with the fact that the British had been deeply offended by the German aerial attempts to attack them on their home soil, made them determined to develop a strategic air force that would be capable of bombing German soil in the next war. At the beginning of WW II, the RAF was mostly a strategic force that consisted of heavy bombers and backup fighters, and lacked any tactical dive-bombers or ground-attack fighters since they had failed to realize they needed fast fighters earlier on in the war. Because of these fundamental differences, the situation that resulted after the air war began was that the bombers in enemy territory were flying against the German attack planes. The fact that the Allied bombers were "in enemy territory" was the second reason for the domination