P-51B Mustang

North American’s Bastard Stepchild that Saved the Eighth Air Force

P-51B Mustang cover


The P-51B Mustang was delivered to the European Theater of Operations in the cherished hope that it could help achieve the destruction of Germany's aircraft industry and the Luftwaffe before Operation Overlord. This title tells the story of that aircraft from its development prior to the American entry into the war through to D-Day in June 1944.

During World War II, the United States Army Air Corps was led by a cadre of officers who believed implicitly that military aviation, particularly fast heavy bombers at high altitude, would be able to destroy strategic enemy targets during daylight with minimal losses. However, by 1942 the Flying Fortress was proving vulnerable to Luftwaffe fighters.

This title charts the United States Army Air Forces' struggle to develop a Long-Range Escort which would enable them to achieve the Combined Bomber Objectives and gain mastery of the skies over the Third Reich. The commitment of the USAAF to the Mediterranean and European theaters saw an increasingly desperate need to find a fighter escort, which reached crisis point in 1943 as losses suffered in the Tidal Wave offensive and Schweinfurt-Regensburg-Munster raids emphasized the mounting strength of the Luftwaffe. The USAAF leaders increasingly accepted the probability of bomber losses, and the deployment of the P-51B Mustang solved the problem of Germany's layered defense strategy, as Luftwaffe fighters had been avoiding the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning escort fighters by concentrating their attacks beyond the range of these aircraft.

The P-51B duly emerged as the “The Bastard Stepchild” that USAAF Material Division did not want. It went on to become the key Long-Range Escort fighter, alongside the P-38 and P-47, that defeated the Luftwaffe prior to D-Day. As well as the P-51B's history, this title explores the technical improvements made to all three of these fighters, as well as the operational leadership and technical development of the Luftwaffe they fought against.

Table of Contents


1 The Creation of NAA
2 NAA's Struggle to Gain USAAC Acceptance
3 Building the Mustang Despite the USAAC-MD
4 The Birth of the Merlin Mustang
5 The Long-Hoped-For Single-Engined Escort Fighter
6 The Mission of Long-Range Escort Reaches Crisis Point
7 “Destroy the Luftwaffe – in the Air and on the Ground”


Product details

Published Aug 04 2020
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 352
ISBN 9781472839664
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Fully illustrated throughout in colour and black & white
Dimensions 269 x 198 mm
Series General Aviation
Short code GNA
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


James William "Bill" Marshall

Bill Marshall (aka James William Marshall) has dev…


Lowell F. Ford

Lowell Ford spent forty years in the aerospace ind…


Book Vote

Tell us what titles you would like to see published by Osprey, then vote for your favourites in our monthly book vote!

Related Titles

Sign up for Osprey membership for access to thousands of plane profiles, maps, battle scenes and more. Plus up to 30% off website purchases