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P-51 Mustang makes its maiden flight

26th October 1940

The first prototype, designated NA-73X, took flight on 26 Oct 1940, merely 117 days after the order was placed. It handled well, and most significantly, offered a long range with its high fuel load. It also had room to house heavier armament than the British Spitfire fighters.

The first design suffered some performance drawbacks at high altitudes, but otherwise it still impressed RAF Air Fighter Development Unit's commanding officer. As the British Royal Air Force came to like the P-51 Mustang fighters, the US Army Air Corps also placed an order for them to be used as ground attack and dive bomber aircraft. Dubbed A-36 Apache, the US Army name were not as common-place as the British Mustang designation. Very soon, the US Army also began using the Mustang name.

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