P-51 Mustang 野馬
許多人認為它是第二次世界大戰中最好的活塞動力飛機。北美航空公司的 P-51 野馬最初是由英國委託製造，用以增加英國皇家空軍的戰鬥陣容。第一批 320 架飛機被用在低級戰術偵察和地面攻擊，後來的型號升級為勞斯萊斯隼式增壓引擎，有效提升了高空性能。所有型號中最成功的 P-51D 配備美國派卡德公司授權製作的梅林發動機、六個 .50口徑機槍和一個淚滴型艙頂，讓飛行員獲得最大視角。
在戰爭後半段，美國空軍為英國中隊配備了P-51野馬戰鬥機後，戰事風向開始轉變。由於野馬的長距離和作為轟炸機護航的能力，有可能對德國進行嚴重的白天轟炸襲擊。到1944 年初，P-51 正在席捲歐洲的天空，超越德國 Fw-190 和 Messerschmitt Bf 109，這兩款都是出色的飛機。即使是德國最先進的戰鬥機，噴氣式發動機Me 262也曾多次成為 Mustang 的犧牲品。雖然 P-51 到達太平洋戰區的時間較晚，但它仍然看到了近距離支援，戰術偵察和護送 B-29 轟炸機對日本的任務。到第二次世界大戰結束時，P-51 飛行員在陸空領域摧毀了近 5000 架敵機。
Considered by many to be the finest piston engined aircraft of World War II, North American Aviation’s P-51 Mustang was originally commissioned by Britain to increase the RAF’s fighter strength. The first batch of 320 planes were used for low-level tactical reconnaissance and ground attack, while later models, upgraded to the supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin engine, had greatly improved high-altitude performance. The most successful of all variants, the P-51D, was equipped with a license-built Packard-Merlin engine, six .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a tear drop canopy.
When the USAAF equiped their squadrons in Britain with the Mustang in the second half of the war, the tide began to turn. Due to the Mustang’s long range and ability as a bomber escort, it was once again possible to conduct crippling daytime bombing raids into Germany, as previous missions proved much too costly in lives and aircraft lost. By early 1944 P-51’s were sweeping the skies of Europe, out-classing the German Fw–190’s and Messerschmitt Bf 109’s, both excellent aircraft. Even Germany’s most advanced fighter, the jet-powered Me 262 fell prey to the Mustang on several occasions.
Although the P-51 arrived late to the Pacific Theatre, it saw duty in close support, tactical reconnaissance, and escort of B-29 bomber missions over Japan.
By the end of World War II Mustang pilots had destroyed almost 5,000 enemy aircraft in the air and on the ground. After the war the P-51 Mustang continued in the service of many of the world’s airforces into the 1980’s, and a few survivors have become the star attractions at air shows today.
Among one of the most famous fighters of World War II, the P-51 Mustang has its roots in both Britain and the USA. Originally overlooked by the USAAF, the P-51 did not see action with American forces until March 1943. Once its full potential had been developed, the USA realized that this aircraft had been ignored for far too long a time. With the forging of the American airframe with the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, it would be unmatched by any other piston aircraft of World War II.