North American F-51D Mustang™, 44-12943/FF-943 ‘Was that too fast?’ 18th Fighter Bomber Group, USAF, Chinhae Airfield, South Korea, 1951
At the start of the Korean War, significant numbers of Mustang fighters were available to the USAF, although most were now serving with Air National Guard units. Now designated F-51D, the Mustang was no longer the premier fighter aircraft it was in WWII, due to the advent of jet technology, but it was still a highly capable long-range strike aircraft. As a close air support aircraft, the Korean War Mustang dropped more napalm and fired more rockets than any other aircraft involved in the conflict, as it served with four air forces in support of United Nations. It was also involved in some of the first spiralling dogfights with the new Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. Highly susceptible to the latest anti-aircraft defences, many close air support Mustangs were lost during the Korean conflict.
The North American P-51 Mustang was arguably the finest fighter aircraft of WWII and was significant in finally subduing any hope the Luftwaffe had of offering resistance to Allied air incursions. Only seeing service in the final months of the war, the impressive Mustang possessed range, speed, firepower and manoeuvrability, which were attributes used to the maximum by USAAF and RAF fighter pilots, in their efforts to secure air superiority. The Mustang saw extensive service in the European Theatre and towards the end of the Pacific War, where it was to prove decisive in combat.