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P-51 Mustang

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The P-51 Mustang was designed by North American Aviation in 1940 at Britain's request. Due to its limited high-altitude performance, its service during World War II was originally limited to photo recon and ground support use. But in 1942, tests of P-51s using the British Rolls-Royce "Merlin" engine revealed improved speed and service ceiling, and in Dec. 1943, Merlin-powered P-51Bs first entered combat over Europe. Providing high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, they scored heavily over German interceptors and by war's end, P-51s had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe.