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Mustang: The Untold Story (ePub)

Aviation Military > Pre-WWI > American History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century

By Matthew Willis
Imprint: Key Publishing
File Size: 2.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781802820898
Published: 1st July 2022


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The North American Mustang is one of the most well-studied aircraft. However, much of what is commonly understood about it, particularly its early, Allison-powered variants, is not entirely correct. This book examines the history of the aircraft afresh, within the orbit of tactical doctrine, strategy and even politics, as well as the changing nature of World War II. The Allison Mustang proved to be no worse than the best aircraft of the war in the roles where it found its niche and, through this new study, it is hoped that the significance of this vital aircraft can finally be appreciated.

Even among many Americans there lingers a suggestion that the Alison-engined Mustang was no match for the Packard-Merlin version and that it was ‘not up to much’. If the comparison is to be simply that of a high-altitude fighter there may be some merit in that thought. But the reality is that the two were quite different engines which equally functioned well – but in completely different applications. In effect the two engines produced two different aircraft and in this book Matthew Willis has produced a timely analysis of the one with the much-maligned Alison motor.

There had, indeed, been a number of problems with the Alison engine but these were exacerbated by its installation into an aircraft whose aerodynamics were at the forefront of the day’s know-how. Indeed so advanced were they that questions were raised as to whether they should be revealed even to a friendly power. But the only immediate customer for this advanced aircraft was the RAF which in the first painful years of the war, together with the army, had learned about modern warfare the hard way. By the time the Mustang flew in mid-1942 it was clear that ‘Army Co-operation’ was more than just spotting for artillery. It needed fast, robust, heavily-armed and long-range aircraft, adaptable for bombing and photo-reconnaissance, and the Alison-engined Mustang quickly proved it could provide all of that. High altitude performance was secondary.

From this extensive technical background the narrative moves on to operations by the RAF and USAAF worldwide, with dozens of evocative illustrations from both the European and Far-Eastern theatres.

With this book Matthew Willis has much more than ‘balanced the books’ for the Alison-engined Mustang – he has established its rightful place in the annals of aviation history.

Philip Styles - Archivist – The Shackleton Assn.

About Matthew Willis

Matthew Willis is a writer and historian of aviation history. His first work of non-fiction was published in 2007, the first full-length work on the Blackburn Skua World War Two dive-bomber/fighter. Since then, he has focussed on lesser-known areas of aviation history, particularly with regard to naval aviation, with titles on the Fairey Flycatcher, Blackburn Shark and Fairey Barracuda, and he wrote the first biography of the 1930s–40s test pilot Duncan Menzies. He focuses on original research and bringing out the voices of those who were there at the time. He is a frequent contributor to the historic aviation media, with many features published in journals such as Aeroplane, Flight Path, The Aviation Historian and Flypast, and currently writes the regular ‘Flight Line’ column on aviation history in Aeroplane. He has also contributed to heritage projects and has written for the Naval Records Society. He runs the website Naval Air History (www.navalairhistory.com).

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