The P-51B Mustang was delivered to the European Theater of Operations in the cherished hope that it could help achieve the destruction of Germany's aircraft industry and the Luftwaffe before Operation Overlord. This title tells the story of that aircraft from its development prior to the American entry into the war through to D-Day in June 1944.
During World War II, the United States Army Air Corps was led by a cadre of officers who believed implicitly that military aviation, particularly fast heavy bombers at high altitude, would be able to destroy strategic enemy targets during daylight with minimal losses. However, by 1942 the Flying Fortress was proving vulnerable to Luftwaffe fighters.
This title charts the United States Army Air Forces' struggle to develop a Long-Range Escort which would enable them to achieve the Combined Bomber Objectives and gain mastery of the skies over the Third Reich. The commitment of the USAAF to the Mediterranean and European theaters saw an increasingly desperate need to find a fighter escort, which reached crisis point in 1943 as losses suffered in the Tidal Wave offensive and Schweinfurt-Regensburg-Munster raids emphasized the mounting strength of the Luftwaffe. The USAAF leaders increasingly accepted the probability of bomber losses, and the deployment of the P-51B Mustang solved the problem of Germany's layered defense strategy, as Luftwaffe fighters had been avoiding the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning escort fighters by concentrating their attacks beyond the range of these aircraft.
The P-51B duly emerged as the “The Bastard Stepchild” that USAAF Material Division did not want. It went on to become the key Long-Range Escort fighter, alongside the P-38 and P-47, that defeated the Luftwaffe prior to D-Day. As well as the P-51B's history, this title explores the technical improvements made to all three of these fighters, as well as the operational leadership and technical development of the Luftwaffe they fought against.
Bill Marshall (aka James William Marshall) has devoted a lifetime to studying World War II military aviation history, with primary focus on the ETO and MTO battle against Germany. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in Aero Engineering and has published two World War II unit histories – Angels, Bulldogs & Dragons; History of the 355th FG in World War II, and Our Might Always; History of the 355th FG in World War II. He has written several World War II historical articles. He is based in Texas.
Lowell Ford has enjoyed a 40-year career in the aerospace industry, working at North American Aviation, Inc., Rockwell International and The Boeing Company. He also served four years in the US Navy. His interest in the Mustang grew out of the mystery of what happened to the prototype X73, and continued into a greatly expanded appreciation for the men who designed it, built it, and made it the premier fighter of World War II. He lives in the USA.
“Within the pages of this book you will discover a detailed chronology and evolution of the P-51 airplane, from development to the battlefield. This is the most detailed and well-researched history that I have seen on the P-51 airplane, covering conception, design, development, manufacturing, and arrival at the field of battle. The story is both compelling and authentic.” —Gerald Landry, GALCIT Wind Tunnel Manager, Ret.
“The Mustang revisited. An exhaustive work with up-to-date research and something for all readers with the story of the famous fighter. A must-have for all Mustang lovers.” —Robert Gruenhagen, author of Mustang: The Story of the P-51 Fighter
"It is a compelling story, told in a way that is both interesting and informative. For enthusiasts of aerospace history, WWII history, or merely the story of the march of technology, this is a book that deserves to be read and studied." - Cindy Macha, Director of the Western Museum of Flight
"For anyone interested in the US Air Force, or the Mustang itself, this is a very solid and attractive work." - The Armourer
"A must have title that illustrates an outstanding American adventure." - JP4 Magazine
"The book is augmented by an impressive array of archival photos and informative technical data in four appendices. There are many books on the famous Mustang, but this one ranks among the best." —Aviation History