Friday, May 29, 2009

P-51 Mustang #1

Yes, after all that the answer to the quiz was indeed "Mustang", but the airborne version rather than the car. Clue number one was a picture of the 27 litre Merlin engine that transformed the high-altitude behaviour of the plane when it was first tried in the airframe in 1942 as a replacement for the original Allison lump. As a result, the P-51, as it was now designated, became a powerful, multi-role aircraft that carved it's own legend into the skies over Europe and the Far East.

The version shown above is the only two seat instance of the P-51 ever produced and not a configuration the War Department ever commissioned. This conversion was done by a wealthy previous owner who did a ground-up restoration - more like "created a new plane from scratch", in fact - who wanted a professional pilot to fly it while he could ride shotgun in the rear cockpit. Subsequently, this plane was bought by the Collings Foundation for around $2.5m and now operates for some 500 hours a year at various location offering rides to the lucky (i.e. those willing to spend the money) passengers. Such as me.

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