Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Your portal to America's aerospace history

Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) is a community based non-profit organization (501c3) including aerospace retirees and the public at large. Preserving Southern California's Aerospace and Aviation History including Downey's aerospace legacy.

North American Aviation

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P-51 Mustang

  Above- P-51B cutaway from Flying magazine, September, 1944.

Above- P-51B cutaway from Flying magazine, September, 1944.

"The iconic P-51 Mustang is rightly regarded as a marvel of engineering, but its path to becoming one of the legendary fighters of World War II was anything but smooth. Its development was beset with serious technical, bureaucratic, and manufacturing complications, but these were each overcome in turn, allowing the fighter to become an icon of World War II. The program only survived because executives at North American Aviation (NAA) and Army Air Forces chief Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold were convinced of its ultimate potential. James H. “Dutch” Kindelberger, president of NAA, had strong business ties to European countries under Nazi threat in 1940, stemming from their earlier purchase of trainer airplanes. As German forces advanced on France and England, these nations wanted to know: Could North American build P-40 Warhawk fighter airplanes on license from Curtiss-Wright? Kindelberger counteroffered to design and build a brand-new airplane that would leapfrog the aging, prewar P-40 design. Engineers at North American had been privately mulling the prospect of a new fighter for months. A deal was struck, but France disappeared into the Third Reich before the new model could be delivered." Read the complete article here, by John Fredrickson:

  Above- Edgar Schmued and James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger. "Kindelberger let Schmued handpick his staff for NAA’s highest priority project, the new British fighter. The team started laying out the new airplane on May 5, 1940".

Above- Edgar Schmued and James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger. "Kindelberger let Schmued handpick his staff for NAA’s highest priority project, the new British fighter. The team started laying out the new airplane on May 5, 1940".

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"Among one of the most famous fighters of World War II, the P-51 Mustang has its roots in both Britain and the USA. Originally overlooked by the USAAF, the P-51 did not see action with American forces until March 1943. Once its full potential had been developed, the USA realized that this aircraft had been ignored for far too long a time. With the forging of the American airframe with the British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, it would be unmatched by any other piston aircraft of World War II." Aviation-History

North American P-51D Mustang The clean lines of the North American P-51D Mustang are apparent in this side view 1949.jpg

Above- North American P-51D Mustang: The clean lines of the North American P-51D Mustang are apparent in this side view, and it was this feature, together with its NACA-developed laminar flow wing which made the Mustang not only an excellent fight, but a wonderful research tool. Langley operated this P-51, which later became NACA 127, for almost seven years. Image- NASA/Langley Research Center

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"In late 1939, with the likelihood of full-scale war in Europe a major concern, the British Royal Air Force was looking seriously at methods of quickly increasing its fighter strength. In April 1940, the British Air Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation with the intent of having them build Curtiss P-40's for the RAF. Since the P-40 design went back to 1933, James H. "Dutch" Kindelberger, the president of North American offered to build an entirely new advanced fighter using the same Allison V-1710-39 engine used on the P-40. It was said that "Dutch" got his inspiration for the P-51 after a 1938 tour of aircraft industries in Great Britain and Germany."  Aviation-History

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"Unique to the P-51 was the laminar flow wing design which was developed by the US National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Contemporary aircraft wings featured a wing cross-section with maximum thickness about a fifth of the way across the wing from the leading edge with most of the camber on top of the wing. The laminar flow wing in contrast has its maximum thickness well aft from the leading edge and has almost as much camber on top as on the bottom. This feature reduced turbulent flow across the wing, thereby reducing drag and increasing speed and range. Drag was also reduced by positioning a ventral radiator underneath the rear of the fuselage to present the smallest possible fuselage cross section." Source- The Aviation History Online Museum

  Above- P-51 Mustang, with North American Aviation tail logo prominent on the tail.  Image- Joe Loong from Reston, USA

Above- P-51 Mustang, with North American Aviation tail logo prominent on the tail. Image- Joe Loong from Reston, USA

"The North American P-51 Mustang was the first aircraft intentionally designed to use laminar flow airfoils." 

Aviation-History

  Aircraft on photo: North American P-51D Mustang ("Ford pulsejets")  Photo source: National Museum

Aircraft on photo: North American P-51D Mustang ("Ford pulsejets") Photo source: National Museum

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