P-51D-20 (China)

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This page is about the Chinese fighter P-51D-20 (China). For other versions, see P-51 (Family).
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The ␗P-51D-20 Mustang is a rank III Chinese fighter with a battle rating of 4.0 (AB/RB) and 5.0 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".

This P-51D-20 operated by the Republic of China Air Force is largely the same as the premium P-51D-20-NA available in the USA tech tree, the only difference being a slightly reduced ammunition count for the inner wing machine guns. Compared to the previous P-47D-30, the Mustang is a smaller and sleeker aircraft with lighter armament. It is still best used in a high-speed boom-and-zoom role. Experience gained with the P-51D-20 can be applied to the later P-51K, which has significantly improved engine power and climb rate.

General info

Flight performance

Max speed
at 7 620 m710 km/h
Turn time22 s
Max altitude12 700 m
EnginePackard V-1650-7
Cooling systemWater
Take-off weight5 t
Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 7,620 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 686 668 12700 23.0 23.8 15.7 15.7 396
Upgraded 735 710 21.0 22.0 22.8 18.9

The P-51D-20 is the first Mustang available in the Chinese tech tree. As expected, it has a sleek airframe and laminar-flow wings that give it good diving and high-speed characteristics. It picks up speed readily in shallow dives and maintains roll and elevator control at high IAS. In Realistic battles, the rudder may perform poorly at high speeds due to the behavior of the instructor, which is an issue with all -D series Mustangs. Low speed performance is substandard and both the turn and roll rates are below average at low to medium IAS.

The P-51D-20's engine is not quite strong enough to compensate for the weight of the plane. A 31 minute minimum fuel load contributes to this issue. The climb rate is decent once spaded but not impressive. Vertical energy retention and horizontal acceleration are not great, so hard vertical manoeuvres should be done with caution and chasing after enemies a similar altitudes without the aid of residual dive speed can be difficult.

Like the P-47D-30, the engine performs well at medium to high altitudes. The lack of a turbocharger compared to the Thunderbolt means that combat at extreme altitudes should be avoided. On the plus side, it has infinite WEP time instead of the P-47's limited boost supply. The engine is easily kept cool even on sustained WEP by manually opening the radiators to high percentages, and on Mustangs this has only minor effects on drag and top speed.


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
901 281 644 512 265 ~11 ~5
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 500 < 300 < 500 > 400
Compressor (RB/SB)
Setting 1
Optimal altitude 100% Engine power WEP Engine power
2,400 m 1,580 hp 1,728 hp
Setting 2
Optimal altitude 100% Engine power WEP Engine power
6,400 m 1,320 hp 1,444 hp

Survivability and armour

Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural901 km/h
Gear281 km/h
  • 8 mm steel - in front of engine
  • 6.35 mm steel - behind engine
  • 38 mm bulletproof glass - windscreen
  • 8 mm steel - behind pilot
  • 11 mm steel - pilot headrest

Modifications and economy

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB983 → 1 297 Sl icon.png
RB2 198 → 2 901 Sl icon.png
SB3 558 → 4 696 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications24 800 Rp icon.png
45 000 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost1 100 Ge icon.png
Crew training22 000 Sl icon.png
Experts76 000 Sl icon.png
Aces500 Ge icon.png
Research Aces320 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
60 / 150 / 300 % Sl icon.png
142 / 142 / 142 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
1 700 Rp icon.png
3 100 Sl icon.png
160 Ge icon.png
Mods radiator.png
1 700 Rp icon.png
3 100 Sl icon.png
160 Ge icon.png
Mods armor frame.png
1 900 Rp icon.png
3 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png
Mods compressor.png
1 900 Rp icon.png
3 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
1 500 Rp icon.png
2 700 Sl icon.png
140 Ge icon.png
Mods new engine.png
1 500 Rp icon.png
2 700 Sl icon.png
140 Ge icon.png
Mods armor cover.png
2 000 Rp icon.png
3 600 Sl icon.png
190 Ge icon.png
Mods metanol.png
Engine injection
2 000 Rp icon.png
3 600 Sl icon.png
190 Ge icon.png
Mods g suit.png
2 000 Rp icon.png
3 600 Sl icon.png
190 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
1 700 Rp icon.png
3 100 Sl icon.png
160 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 1.png
Mods pilon rocket.png
Rocket Launcher M10
1 900 Rp icon.png
3 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
1 500 Rp icon.png
2 700 Sl icon.png
140 Ge icon.png
Mods pilon rocket.png
FRC mk.2
1 500 Rp icon.png
2 700 Sl icon.png
140 Ge icon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
FLBC mk.1
2 000 Rp icon.png
3 600 Sl icon.png
190 Ge icon.png


Offensive armament

Main article: M2 Browning (12.7 mm)

The P-51D-20 (China) is armed with:

  • 6 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, wing-mounted (270 rpg outer + 270 rpg mid + 400 rpg inner = 1,880 total)

The P-51D is armed with 6 x .50 cal M2 Browning machine guns with a total of 1,880 rounds of ammunition. For air battles the recommended ammunition belts are tracers or stealth. Tracers are recommended if the pilot wants to achieve the maximum damage output since the API-T rounds have a high chance of starting a fire, while stealth belts are recommended for skilled pilots who prefer the element of surprise over raw damage output; the stealth belts do retain incendiary rounds for starting fires but are much harder to aim due to not having any tracer rounds. For ground battles the previously recommended belts are still appropriate, but at the pilot's discretion ground target belts can be taken since they have a slightly higher penetration; these would be used if the pilot intends to ground pound and strafe ground targets. Ground targets belts can be effective in air battles as well if the pilot chooses to bring them, since armour-piercing shells can be effective against enemy aircraft.

Overall, the .50 cal machine guns are effective at taking out air targets, but due to the lower calibre than the cannons of many aircraft at a similar BR they do not have quite the same punch as other aircrafts' armament. This makes head-on engagements inadvisable against most fighters the P-51D will face, as the enemy aircraft likely has a more powerful armament. On the other hand, the large ammunition capacity means that the P-51D pilot can fire indiscriminately without worrying about ammunition too much. This allows the P-51D to put more rounds into the enemy aircraft than would be possible with other fighters, and also increases the pilot's chances of hitting the target in the first place. Despite their lower damage, just a few hits with .50 cals can be devastating to an enemy aircraft.

Suspended armament

The P-51D-20 (China) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Hardpoints P-51D-5.png
1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs 1 1
HVAR rockets 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
M8 rockets 3 3
Maximum permissible loadout weight: 1,500 kg
Maximum permissible wing load: 750 kg
Maximum permissible weight imbalance: 550 kg
Default weapon presets
  • Without load
  • 6 x M8 rockets
  • 10 x HVAR rockets
  • 2 x 1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs (2,000 lb total)

The P-51D has access to one air-to-air loadout (of no suspended armament, for increased performance) and three loadouts for ground attack missions, composed of either unguided rockets or bombs. Rockets or bombs can be carried at the pilot's discretion. Rockets are better for precision attacks if the pilot has a good aim, while bombs allow less precision but with less opportunity for destuction.

The 6 x M8 rockets are largely ineffective. A direct hit is practically required to damage the target due to the low explosive mass of only 1.95 kg of TNT. Unless the target is light enough to be hull broken, the low explosive mass will rarely cause a single-shot knock-out; most of the time only a few crew members will be knocked out. Due to the low penetration of only 24 mm a direct hit will not even guarantee damage to an armoured target, as it may simply not penetrate the armour or bounce off. The low velocity of 260 m/s can also make aiming these rockets tough, except at close ranges.

The 6 x HVAR rockets are the recommended rocket loadout, as they are improved over the M8s in almost every regard. The higher velocity of 420 m/s can make the HVARs easier to aim at mid-to-long ranges. Not only that, but the higher penetration of 36 mm is able to punch through much thicker armour to do more reliable damage. The explosive mass of 3.4 kg of TNT is also much more devastating to both light targets and armoured targets, allowing damage to unarmoured targets even without a direct hit, and doing much more damage to enemy vehicles when directly hit as well. For a pilot who prefers rockets to bombs, HVARs will not disappoint and can result in several vehicle knockouts when aimed well.

The 2 x 1,000 lb bomb loadout is very effective against armoured ground targets. The high explosive mass of 240.4 kg TNT equivalent allows up to 113 mm of armour penetration and a destruction radius of 12 m. This means that even if the bombs aren't dropped exactly on or near the target there is still a large chance of doing critical damage or knocking out the vehicle entirely. Against lightly armoured targets these bombs can hull break them even if not dropped right on them. The downside to the bomb loadout is that both bombs drop together, so only one bomb drop per flight is achievable; only one destruction can be scored unless multiple targets are grouped closely together.

Usage in battles


Probably the best assets the P-51D has are its speed and its ability to achieve it and maintain it. Like with all planes, higher altitude should be achieved. Although its climb rate is nice, there are enough planes with better and therefore pilots of P-51D should plan ahead and not wait for the last second to climb. Best way to climb at the start is to climb towards the corner of the map, so the enemy will be encountered later when P-51D is already high enough. When an enemy is spotted, heading in another direction than P-51D, this aircraft can enter mild dive and go for strafe run. After that, it is important to continue heading in the same direction, so the speed is maintained. Even the most agile fighters won't be able to turn quickly enough to fire just one shot at you. If feeling confident or sure about the outcome, P-51D should get at least 2 km away from the enemy and then start to turn towards him, depending on its speed. If speed is under 500 km/h, a bigger distance should be achieved before attempting a turn. This ensures that turn will be completed before the enemy gets to 1 km distance, so you won't give your enemy opportunity for the first shot. However, head-on assault should be done only against weaker opponents, since .50 cal does not have the punch of 20 mm or 30 mm that similarly-tiered planes carry. A salvo of .50 cal rounds from tracer belt can easily and often does ignite enemy engines upon impact, but few hits from 30 mm will tear wings of P-51D, while fire can be taken out.

When engaging enemy bombers, aim for their engines. When engine catches on fire, focus on another engine until it also burns and so on. It is likely that fire will be taken out, but the damage done by 2 to 4 burning engines will be so severe that enemy bomber will either crash within next minute even without one more hit or he will lose altitude so much that it will be an easy target for lower flying teammates. Bigger bombers like B-17 should not be followed for more than few seconds, as an engine of P-51D is too fragile and often will turn red upon first few hits, which gives you about 1 to 2 minutes before its engine dies completely. It is especially important to engage B-17 from relative higher altitude, gain little more speed and aim for engines. A well-aimed burst of tracer belt rounds should be enough to ignite 1 or 2 engines during this. Keep in mind that B17 can fly even with just one single engine and maintain its attitude and speed. Do not attempt to cut off wings of bomber like with bigger guns, as it is quite hard to do so with .50 cal. When engaging bomber with huge glass cockpit like on He 111, front assault with a salvo of .50 cal rounds has high chance to knock out its pilot with the number of rounds that will be fired.


It may seem that agility of the P-51D is lacking at first sight, but it is not that bad when used correctly. The P-51D has a good turn rate at higher speeds and its pilots should try to keep well above 400 km/h. When at a speed around 500 km/h, even Spitfires will have troubles getting behind you. However, the P-51D should avoid these encounters as this will bleed its speed to the point that the P-51D will be no longer able to turn with the enemy. If a window of opportunity arises, for example when an opponent starts his turn into the wrong direction after attempting to outmanoeuvre the P-51D, the P-51D can enter mild dive and go for a run. The P-51D can get to its top speed quite fast, especially when in mild dive. The top speed of the P-51D is one of the best at its rank. These three-speed factors will help you run away from many opponents, giving you a chance to set your own rules of engagement with them. When running away with the enemy closing in, try to avoid climb at all. If a climb is desired, it is best to wait until it is safe. If climb cannot wait, try to climb below 10 degrees. When an enemy with much higher speed is catching up with you at higher attitude, mild dive may not get you fast enough to your top speed. In these situations, deep dive can be done. During this, the enemy will get even closer to the P-51D. As the top speed of the P-51D is quite high, after the enemy loses his initial speed advantage, the P-51D will probably already start to get away. After this deep dive runaway, start to climb around 10 degrees. The P-51D is good at maintaining its speed, so it is likely that while the P-51D will continue to move around 800-850 km/h after deep dive for a couple of seconds, many opponents will quickly slow down to their listed top speed. This should be enough to provide a safe escape. If running away is not an option, high-speed turn fight can be done for a short while. The P-51D shouldn't prolong these encounters and should as soon as possible try to get away as already described in turn fights.

When an enemy is going head-on, he should be avoided. As already said, .50 cal cannot match 20 mm and bigger guns head-on. Additionally, such an encounter will probably damage the engine, which will at the start take away the most important asset of the P-51D and after a few minutes will lead to its failure. The vitality of pilot is average, so he may survive and so is the durability of its wings. However, control surfaces of the P-51D are quite fragile. Head-on should be done only with a weaker opponent, who has either much weaker armament or is already critically damaged. If the engine turns red, airfield should be sought as fast as possible. With red engine try to climb as much as possible in a way that speed will be at least slowly increasing. When the engine dies, glide towards airfield in a way little to none speed is lost to avoid a stall. If speed reaches 200 km/h and dive is not possible if the airfield is to be reached, use flaps as they will keep you in the air for little longer even at a lower speed. If combat flaps are not enough and even then the P-51D starts to stall, raise flaps, open gear, use landing flaps and retract gear. Landing flaps will keep you in the air for even longer than combat flaps, but if they are deployed too soon, they will serve as air brake, which is not desired during glide.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Not controllable Controllable
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
Separate Not controllable
2 gears
Not controllable

Pros and cons


  • Outstanding Boom & Zoom capability
  • Great performance at altitude
  • Excellent .50 calibre machine guns with good damage and plenty of ammo
  • Very fast at all altitudes
  • Very agile at high speeds
  • Good turn radius at high speeds
  • Good all-round cockpit visibility in Simulator
  • Has a gyro gunsight, guiding the player's aim in Simulator which is nice for boosting burst accuracy
  • Decent over-the-nose visibility
  • Quite decent climb rate
  • Useful close-support capability (ground attack) thanks to its bombs/rockets


  • Can't sustain much damage
  • Catches fire easily
  • Sluggish at low speeds
  • High stall speed (166 km/h)
  • Minimum fuel load is rather big
  • Front canopy frames are somewhat obstructive in Simulator


ROCAF Service

After the United States entered World War 2, it was decided to send American-built P-51 Mustangs to the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) to replace their older, less effective aircraft in the fight against Japan. The Mustangs - of P-51B and C models - arrived in November 1944 and were used first by the Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW), a unit of both Chinese and American pilots attached to the US Fourteenth Air Force. In February 1945, P-51D and K models were allocated to the CACW to fight alongside the earlier P-51B and Cs.

After the war ended, 278 Mustangs - mostly of P-51D and K models, along with F-6D and K reconnaissance variants - were given to the ROCAF. When the truce between Mao Zedong's Communist Party of China and Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist Republic of China ended, the Nationalists were forced out of the mainland and to Taiwan (also known as Formosa). Due to the retreat of the ROC, much equipment was left behind, including many P-51 Mustangs, which fell into the hands of the Communist People's Liberation Army (PLA).

PLA Procural

The first PLA Mustang was taken on 23 September 1948, after Captain Yang Peiguang (杨培光) of the 4th Fighter Wing of the ROCAF, based in Beiping, defected with his P-51D Mustang to the PLA. The PLA captured many more Mustangs during the Liaoshen Campaign of September through November 1948. At the Battle of Jinzhou (15 October 1948), thirty-one ROCAF Mustangs were captured. This left the PLA with a total of thirty-four P-51 Mustangs until December 1948, when the city of Beiping was captured with three more Mustangs and 128 V-1650 engines as replacement parts, with another Mustang arriving on the 29th of December after Lieutenant Tan Hanzhou (谭汉洲) of the Nationalist 4th Fighter Group defected from the ROCAF with his P-51. The total Mustangs held by the PLA at this point in time was thirty-eight, few of which could fly due to their state of disrepair.

It wasn't until the capture of Shenyang in October 1948 that the PLA had facilities in which to repair their Mustangs, with the Shenyang Beiling airport named the People's Liberation Army Air Force Repair Factory Number 5 (中国人民解放军空军第五修理厂) in November. There, the P-51 Mustangs took top priority for repairs, with thirty-seven Mustangs repaired by 1950.

On 14 January 1949, Lieutenant Yan Chengyin (阎承荫) defected from the Nationalist 3rd Fighter Group's 28th Squadron; he later changed his name after his defection to Yan Lei (阎磊). This was the final P-51 Mustang to be obtained by the PLA.


The PLA began using the P-51s at the Northeast Old Aviation School (东北老航校) for pilot training with the 2nd Squadron of the 1st Air Group in January 1949. Six P-51s, along with two Fairchild PT-19 trainer aircraft and two de Havilland Mosquitos, were formed into a squadron on 15 August 1949. The squadron, based at Beiping Nanyuan airfield, was assigned to defend the airspace around Beiping in September. Eleven more P-51 Mustangs were added to the squadron before October of the same year, but the squadron never saw combat.

With ROC forces on the run to Formosa (a.k.a. Taiwan), Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on 21 September 1949. A military parade was held in Tiananmen Square to celebrate, in the capital of Beijing which had been renamed from Beiping. The parade consisted of 16,400 soldiers, 152 tanks, 222 cars, and 17 planes. Nine of the seventeen aircraft were P-51 Mustangs (at least one a P-51K) which performed a flyover in three formations of three aircraft each in a V formation. After passing out of sight, the nine Mustangs turned around and performed a second flyover of the square, making it seem as if there were more aircraft than there were in reality.

The P-51 Mustangs all returned to a defensive mission after the celebratory parade, becoming part of the newly formed People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) on 11 November 1949. By that time there only remained twenty-two serviceable aircraft and nine more undergoing repairs, meaning eight out of the thirty-nine had been written off, for whatever reason. It's possible that some were destroyed in accidents, used for parts, or studied.

The squadron was renamed to Air Force 1st Independent Fighter Brigade (空军独立第一歼击机大队) on 26 July 1950. All of the P-51 Mustangs in the Fighter Brigade had been replaced by Soviet-built Lavochkin La-9 fighters by mid-August 1950. The P-51s were retained for training use by the Aviation School No. 7, with thirteen of the Mustangs being modified into two-seat training aircraft. Only eight Mustangs remained in service as training aircraft by September 1953, with the others having been retired due to structural issues with the landing gear. The date of final retirement for the P-51 in PLAAF service is unknown.

Surviving Examples

Two PLAAF Mustangs survive to this date. One P-51K-10-NT, called "Red 3032", with serial number 44-12458 remains at the Chinese Aviation Museum (中国航空博物馆) in Datangshan, Beijing. The other is a P-51D-25-NA, called "Red 3", with serial number 44-73920 is located at the China People's Revolution Military Museum (中国人民革命军事博物馆) in the Haidian District of Beijing. It was one of the nine Mustangs that performed the flyover of the Tiananmen Square military parade.



See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the aircraft;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links

North American Aviation
P-51A  P-51
P-51C  P-51C-10
P-51D  P-51D-5 · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · P-51D-30
P-51H  P-51H-5-NA
Twin-engine fighters  F-82E
Jet fighters  F-86A-5 · F-86F-2 · F-86F-25 · F-86F-35 · F-100D
Strike aircraft  A-36 · PBJ-1H · PBJ-1J
  FJ-4B · FJ-4B VMF-232
Bombers  B-25J-1 · B-25J-20
Export/Licence  ▂B-25J-30 · ␗B-25J-30
  ▄Mustang Mk IA · F-6C-10-NA · ␗P-51D-20 · J26 David · J26 · P-51D-20-NA · ␗P-51K
  F-86F-30 ▅ · ␗F-86F-30 · F-86F-40 ▅ · F-86F-40 JASDF▅ · ␗F-86F-40
  ◄F-86K · ▄F-86K (Italy) · ▄F-86K (France)
  ␗F-100A · ▄F-100D · ␗F-100F
Captured  ▅P-51C-11-NT
  Canadair Limited license-built the F-86 as the CL-13 for use in Canada and export to Europe.
  Fiat license-built the F-86K for the Italian Air Force though another 120 NAA built F-86Ks were also sold to the Italians.
See Also  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries · Canadair Limited · Fiat Aviation

China fighters
British  ␗Gladiator Mk I
French  D.510C
Japanese  ␗A6M2 · ␗Ki-27 otsu · ␗Ki-43-III ko · ␗Ki-44-II hei · ␗Ki-61-I otsu · ␗Ki-84 ko
American  CW-21 · Hawk III · P-66 · ␗P-40E-1 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-43A-1 · ␗P-47D-23-RA · ␗P-47D-30 · ␗P-51D-20 · ␗P-51K
Soviet  ␗I-15bis · ␗I-153 M-62 · ␗I-16 Chung 28 · ␗I-16 type 5 · ␗I-16 type 10 · ␗I-16 type 17 · ␗La-11 · ␗La-9