The P-51 Mustang fighter plane was used during Word War II for ground attack bombing missions, and in its most important role, as a long-range bomber squadron escort fighter. The Mustang was also used during the Korean War for ground attacks and photo reconnaissance.
Designed as a single-seat long-range fighter plane and fighter-bomber, the P-51 Mustang was produced by North American Aviation. The plane's first test flight was on October 26, 1940. The first production models were used in operations conducted by the British Royal Air Force. Additional versions were designed and produced, and the definitive version was designated the P-51D, which was powered by a license-built supercharged Rolls Royce engine and outfitted with six Browning M2 machine guns.
Almost 8,000 of the P-51Ds were produced, and the planes arrived at the European war theater in the spring of 1944. Owing totheir long-range flight capabilities, the P-51D Mustangs became the UnitedStates Air Force's primary escort-fighter to accompany and protect the heavy-bomber missions penetrating deep into Germany. More than 4,900 enemy aircraft were destroyed by the new P-51D Mustangs during World War II.
The P-51D Mustangs served in all of the World War II combat zones. The fighter planes next served in the Korean War, but were eventually phased out and replaced by jet fighters near the end of the conflict in 1953. After the Korean War, Mustangs were sold on the civilian market and to foreign nations, and the fighter planes served in the armed forces of more than 25 countries until the final Mustang was retired by the Dominican Air Force in 1984.