"Mustang Mayhem"
North American P-51 Mustang Mk. II, RAF

Design of a single-seat fighter to meet British needs was started by North American Aviation early in 1940, leading to the emergence of one of the most successful and widely produced fighters of World War II. The first prototype flew in October 1940. This was followed by a British order of 620 similar aircraft to enter service in early 1942 known as Mustang Mk. I’s. By late 1943, cannon equipped Mustang Mk. IA’s began to appear, replacing some of the early Mk. I’s in the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force. The 2nd TAF was anxious to retain the Allison Mustang in its tactical, armed reconnaissance squadrons, as the plane possessed so much better range than the Spitfire.

There is a misconception that the Allison-powered Mustang was something of a failure. In the low to medium altitudes in which it was designed, its service through the entire war was an indication of its success. The RAF got three times the engine life from the Allison Mustangs compared to the Merlin engine Mustang Mk. III’s.

This painting illustrates the British Mustang in its element – down low and banking to use the F-24 camera mounted behind the pilot. These Mustang Mk. IA’s, of the RAF’s 2nd Tactical Air Force, armed with long barreled 20mm cannons, spot an enemy armored column advancing through a French village in the early morning fog. Armed reconnaissance at its lethal extreme!