The following introduction is as supplied by Pen and Sword:
The North American P-51 Mustang was one of the most successful and effective fighter aircraft of all time. It was initially produced in response to a 1940 RAF requirement for a fast, heavily-armed fighter able to operate effectively at altitudes in excess of20,000ft. North America built the prototype in 117 days, and the aircraft, designated NA-73X, flew on 26 October 1940. The first of 320 production Mustang I's for the RAF flew on 1 May 1941, powered by a 1,100hp Allison V-1710-39engine. RAF test pilots soon found that with this power plant the aircraft did not perform well at high altitude, but that its low-level performance was excellent.
It was when the Mustang airframe was married to a Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that the aircraft’s true excellence became apparent. Possessing a greater combat radius than any other Allied single-engine fighter, it became synonymous with the Allied victory in the air during the last eighteen months of the war in Europe, escorting bomber formations, it hounded the Luftwaffe to destruction in the very heart of Germany. In the Pacific, operating from advance bases, it ranged over the Japanese Home Islands, joining carrier-borne fighters such as the Grumman Hellcat to bring the Allies massive air superiority.
Yet the Mustang came about almost by accident, a product of the Royal Air Force’s urgent need for new combat aircraft in the dark days of 1940, when Britain, fighting for survival, turned to the United States for help in the island nation’s darkest hour.
This offering from Pen and Sword is part of a series titled Flight Craft. This offering is authored by Robert Jackson and Lynn Ritger; Robert Jackson has authored a good number of titles and his knowledge is widespread from biplanes to jets and armour past and present. The book is a soft backed offering with a stiff card that offers a reasonable level of protection to the contents. The contents themselves consist of 96 pages of a semi gloss paper that present both text and photographs in a good way.
The contents of this offering breakdown as follows:
Design and Development
1. RAF Army Co-operation Command
2. Tactical Air Force
3. Ground Attack the North American A-36
1. The Merlin Mustang
2. By Daylight to Germany
3. Combat over the Rhine
4. Mustang V Me 262
5. Mustang over the Pacific
6. In the Skies of Japan
7. The Last Mustangs
Mustang Post 1945
1. In Foreign Service
2. Mustangs over Korea
3. Israel’s Mustangs
TheP-51 Mustang in Colour
TheP-51 Mustang in Model Form
Looking through this title from Pen and Sword I can see the goal of the series laid out in front of me, the goal in my opinion is to provide grounding in the aircraft from its origins through its service and the role they performed. This title looking at the P-51 Mustang covers an aircraft that served in many fields during World War 2 and continued afterwards; even when it left military service huge numbers were used as air racers.
The book begins by laying out its aims to the reader with the aim of providing the modeller a high degree of visual reference along with enough text to provide a grounding in the aircraft. The book starts proper with a well written introduction before going into the bread and butter of the P-51 Mustang. The author is not wordy in this release as there is a lot of information that needs to be covered on an aircraft that has had a lot written about, and so the author has provided the information clearly and directly. This approach does make the text a little dry in places but at the same time provides a good deal of information.
The aspect of this title that will draw the attention of the modeller the most are the glorious photographs in the title. The photographs have been well chosen and show some very pleasing views of the P-51Mustang from prototype and then continues with its life in service. The photographs are a mix colour and black & white with excellent captions provided with the images, that are of a very good quality, being well written and providing the sorts of information I like to see provided. I was very pleased with the quality of the period colour offerings in this title which I thought were an exceptional quality. I urge everyone who purchases this title to take the time to read the content rather than rush past in their haste for the visual reference.
Before you reach the section covering the plastic on offer there are a good number of artists drawings showing the P-51Mustang from the left side; these drawings are well executed but I would have liked to have been offered a mix of views. The model section in this title is a joy for the P-51 Mustang modeller as it looks at a good number of available kits and covers them with micro reviews that provides a great deal of information and so allowing the modeller to decide what they want from a kit. The author has done an exceptional job of presenting this information in a way that is easily understood and at the same time gives you some background on the kit and what it represents; I would purchase this book for this section alone.
The P-51 Mustang is an Iconic aircraft that is up there with the Spitfire and its like. This book has tackled a subject that due to people’s love of the P-51 Mustang and the amount of information available is an immense task and done that job well. The information on the actual aircraft is good if a little dry, but the model section is especially well done and makes this book worth seeking out on its own. The micro reviews have a great deal of information for the reader that really helps to put them in the picture when it comes to which scale and which company meets their needs and what the potential results will be.