Designated NA-99, the P-51A Mustang was ordered in numbers of 1,200 by the U.S. Army in August 1942. No ground attack here, no dive brakes, just pure fighter. This was the best fighter the U.S. had below 22,000 feet. This according to the AAF School of Applied Tactics at Orlando, FL.
The P-51A was powered by the Allison V-1710-81 which had automatic boost control
and rated at 1,200 horsepower. This Allison had increased performance at altitude
over the V-1710-39 used in the P-51. The propeller was a 3-blade, 10 feet 6 inch
Curtiss electric. Top speed was 390 mph at 20,000 feet and the
service ceiling was 31,500 feet. There were two underwing mounts for bombs or
drop tanks. Gross weight increased to 10,600 lbs. max with an average load of
Range was 750 miles at 300 mph on internal fuel. Add two 125 gallon drop tanks and you go 2,000 miles at reduced power (not that anyone want to go that far inside the P-51A, but you could if you needed to).
First flights were in February 1943 and deliveries began in March. The Mustang was delivered to the AAF in olive drab on top and a grey on bottom.
Serials for the P-51 were 43-6003 to 43-6312 starting with the P-51A-1NA and ending with the P-51A-10NA. 35 were used as recon F-6B and 50 were sent to the RAF to replace the NA-91 models earlier held back.
The P-51A served mainly as a fighter and escort in the China/Burma/India theatre (CBI). Modified versions called the F-6B, were fitted with camera equipment for recon and served in the ETO. The P-51A would see service into 1945, long after replacement models were in service. Production would be cut far short of the 1,200 ordered. As soon as the Rolls Royce Merlin modifications to the P-51 were deemed worthy, production was shifted to the new models. In all, 310 P-51As were produced by NAA.
|Weight - empty||-||6433|
|Weight - normal T.O.||-||8600|
|Weight - max G.W.||-||10600|
|Propeller||-||Curtiss 3-bladed electric 10'9"|
|Max Speed||-||390 @ 20k|
|Drop Tanks||-||2x 75 gal|
|Range||-||750 / 1375+|
|Guns||-||4x .50 cal - 1260 rounds|
|Bomb / Rockets||-||2x 500 lb bombs|