14 September 2017
P-51H Mustang: Winged Perfection
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The H variant of the famous P-51 Mustang was the most technologically advanced, top-performing and final mass-produced Mustang modification of the series. Although this version of the legendary American piston-engined fighter arrived too late to take part in any hostilities during WW2, War Thunder pilots can look forward to pitting the arguably best Mustang version against its contemporaries in the upcoming update 1.71 “New E.R.A”!
In early 1945, American engineers began testing a new lightweight modification of the P-51 Mustang, which promised a significant increase in performance compared to the standard P-51D. The new P-51H, as it would be designated, received a number of changes to both airframe and powerplant, allowing it to outperform the older D modification in almost every aspect. For starters, the engineers replaced the old Packard V-1650-7 1,315 horsepower engine with the new V-1650-9, capable of delivering over 2,220 horsepower with WEP engaged. Furthermore, the fuselage was stretched out and the air intake underneath the cockpit streamlined. New tailfins were installed and the height of the vertical tail was increased, all of which resulted in a positive impact to the aircraft’s flight stability. Once all the changes were applied, the new and improved P-51H took to the skies for her maiden flight on 3rd February 1945.
The US Army, pleased by the new aircraft’s performance, hastily ordered 2,000 P-51H fighters into production. These new Mustangs were intended to complement the P-47N Thunderbolt in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. The first batch of around 220 P-51Hs reached frontline troops by the end of July 1945, with another 330 arriving by September. However, as the Second World War ended with Japan’s surrender on 2nd September 1945, so did the demand for the P-51H. With the cancelled invasion of Japan, the Army suddenly found little use for any additional warplanes, thus the production of the remaining P-51Hs was cancelled as well. The approximate 550 P-51Hs that were in use with the USAF remained in active service until the early 1950s, after they were handed to reserve units of the National Guard.
In War Thunder, the long-awaited P-51H will be making its way to the fourth rank of the American aviation tree with the upcoming update 1.71 “New E.R.A”. There, it will provide seasoned War Thunder pilots with an aircraft that is, simply put, a true joy to fly, whilst preparing players that are just about ready to jump into the jet era with the perfect aircraft to get used to high-speed dogfights! The lightweight airframe of the P-51H, powered by a very powerful supercharged inline engine, allows the aircraft to reach a maximum speed of up to 472 mph (760 km/h) on an altitude of 21,200 ft (6,500m). The loss in weight, compared to previous models, enhanced the handling characteristics of the P-51H, allowing it to climb faster and turn sharper.
The P-51H performs best at medium to high altitudes, where it can make maximum use of its advanced automatic supercharging system. That being said, players are best off investing some time into gathering altitude with their aircraft before engaging in combat. As with previous models, the P-51H excels at Boom and Zoom tactics, where it can take maximum advantage of its high speed and acceleration in an effort to catch its opponent off guard with a burst of deadly .50 calibre fire. Fans of ground attack will also be pleased to hear that, despite being obviously tailored towards achieving better performance, the P-51H didn’t lose its traditional close air support abilities. Thus, players can expect the usual selection of bombs and rockets in various shapes and sizes to be available for the P-51H as well.
Soon, all War Thunder pilots will be able to try out one of the fastest piston-engined production aircraft ever built for the American air force in the upcoming update 1.71 “New E.R.A”! Clear prop!
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The War Thunder Team