Barksdale Global Power Museum (Formerly the 8th Air Force Museum) Site Index
P-51D Gallery


The sign accompanying the P-51. It reads

North American P-51D "Mustang"

USAFM 1985-28

Span: 37 ft. 0 in.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Height: 13 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 55,000 lb Max
Crew: One
Armament: Six .50 caliber machine guns
2,000 lbs. of bombs
Cost: $54,000
Max Speed: 437 mph
Cruising: 275 mph
Range: 1,000 miles
Service Ceiling: 41,900 ft
Engine: Packard built Rolls-Royce
"Merlin" V-1650 of 1,695 hp

The P-51 was designed as the NA-73 in 1940 at Britain's request. The design showed promise and the Army Air Forces' purchase of Allison-powered Mustangs began in 1941 primarily for photo recon and ground support use due to its limited high-altitude performance. By in 1942, tests of P-51s using the British Rolls-Royce "Merlin" engine revealed much improved speed and service ceiling, and in Dec. 1943, Merlin-powered P-51Bs first entered combat with the "Mighty Eighth" over Europe. Providing high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, they scored heavily over German interceptors and by war's end, P-51s had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe. The famed Tuskegee Airmen flew the P-51 and never lost a bomber that they escorted.

Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone, including the Pacific where they escorted B-29s to Japan from Iwo Jima. Between 1941-45, the AAF ordered 14,855 Mustangs (including A-36A dive bomber and F-6 photo recon versions), of which 7,956 were P-51Ds. During the Korean Warn, P-51Ds were used primarily for close ground support until 1953.

The P-51D on display is affectionately referred to by the museum staff as a "Heinz-51" as it is made up of several different surplus P-51s. Obtained in 1985 from Van Nyus, CA and "flown" to Barksdale AFB in a California ANG C-130, this P-51 is marked to represent the P-51D flown by Col. William "Bill" Whisner, a native of Shreveport, LA and an Ace in two wars. Whisner's P-51 assigned to the 8th Air Force's 352d Fighter Group which flew out of Bodney, England. The name "Moonbeam McSwine" is a female character from one of Whisner's favorite comic strips, L'il Abner.

Sign by the P-51D at Barksdale Global Power Museum (Formerly the 8th Air Force Museum)
Time picture taken Tue Aug 5 12:44:42 2008
Location picture taken Museum Grounds
Southwest of Lindeberg Rd.
Barksdale Global Power Museum (formerly the 8th Air Force Museum)
Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
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