|This page is about the Chinese fighter P-51K (China). For other versions, see P-51 (Family).|
The ␗P-51K Mustang, colloquially known as 野馬機 in Chinese, was the version of P-51D series produced in Dallas, TX by North American Aviation with a 4-bladed propeller from different supplier. Due to the hollow blades that caused fatal in-flight problems, notably propeller vibration, most of these aircrafts were aided to allied countries including the Nationalist forces as a cheap yet potent fighters (or more precisely, Pursuer). These aircrafts were supplied to ROCAF by the mid-1940s as aids for them; by the time of late Civil War, the soon-to-be PLAAF also acquired some of these aircrafts from defected pilots or captured at airfields. While the ROCAF Mustangs later retreated to Taiwan Island after the major losses at Mainland China and soon phrased-out by jet fighters as soon as the Korean War started, PLAAF Mustangs were also known for flew twice during the parade at the establishment of PRC and one of these pilots, Lin Hu (林虎, 1927/12/26-2018/3/3) later became a commander of PLAAF and later a political commissar in 1990s. As "new" Soviet Lavochkin fighters were imported and later MiG jet fighters joined PLAAF, they were soon phrased out as well and leaving only 2 examples in Mainland China where both of them are in Beijing at present.
It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision" one of the fighters on the Chinese aviation tech-tree at the ROCAF line, the P-51K looks much like the prior ROCAF P-51D-20. The main external difference is the unique Aeroproducts propeller with thinner blades. It flies identically to the American P-51D-30 and the higher engine boost compared to the P-51D-20 improves the performance greatly. While it does have its quirks, the P-51K is one of the finest ROCAF propeller fighters and offers a good stepping stone to the jet age, marked by the succeeding ROCAF F-86F-30.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 6,400 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 500||< 300||< 500||> 400|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|2,400 m||1,580 hp||1,959 hp|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|6,400 m||1,370 hp||1,699 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 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
The P-51K (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 fixed armament of the P-51K consists of 6 x .50 cal M2 Browning machine guns with 1,880 total rounds of ammunition. These guns have a few strong ammunition belt choices to be considered. One of the most highly recommended belts is the tracer belt, consisting only of API-T rounds. This belt is quite good at setting fires on enemy aircraft, while it is also good for less skilled or beginner pilots, due to the high volume of tracers making it easier to aim. For more skilled pilots that prefer the element of surprise, stealth belts are recommended. Stealth belts contain a similar amount of incendiary rounds for setting fires, but it has no tracers which makes aiming harder but reduces the enemy's awareness that they are being shot at. Ground belts are the third recommended belt type, as they contain incendiary rounds and armour-piercing rounds. This belt trades some fire-setting ability for slightly higher penetration, making it more useful against ground targets. All of these belt types listed above are solid choices to be chosen at the pilot's discretion.
The .50 cal machine guns do not have the hitting power of larger calibre cannons carried by aircraft at a similar BR, but they do have their advantages. Due to their relatively lower calibre, they simply do not have the damage output as cannons often carried by enemy fighters. As such, head-on engagements should be avoided unless it is known that the enemy aircraft does not have powerful frontal armament. On the positive side, .50 cals have a much higher ammunition capacity so the pilot can be less careful with the trigger, making up for lower damage with more bullets. This makes it more likely to first hit the target and then to do damage, as .50 cals are still effective when hitting an aircraft even if they don't have quite the power of cannon shells.
The P-51K (China) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
|1,000 lb AN-M65A1 bombs||1||1|
| Maximum permissible loadout weight: 1,500 kg|
Maximum permissible wing load: 750 kg
Maximum permissible weight imbalance: 550 kg
|Default weapon presets|
The P-51K has a total of four suspended armament loadouts. The first option is no suspended armament whatsoever, which is useful when the pilot wishes to act as a fighter since it preserves manoeuvrability. The other three loadouts consist of either rockets or bombs, which are useful against ground targets - mostly in ground RB.
The first rocket loadout consists of 6 x M8 rockets. This is the weaker of the two rocket loadouts, as M8 rockets are relatively ineffective. They have a low explosive mass (1.95 kg TNT), which hinders the amount of damage they can put out. The low penetration of 24 mm also reduces their effectiveness against armoured targets, meaning a direct hit often isn't enough to knock out a tank. The relatively low velocity of 260 m/s can also make them hard to aim at mid-long range.
The second rocket loadout consists of 6 x HVAR rockets, which are significantly more effective than the M8 rockets. They have a higher explosive mass of 3.4 kg TNT, allowing a much higher damage output once they connect with a target. In fact, the explosive mass is enough that extremely light targets such as SPAA vehicles can be critically damaged even without a direct hit. The penetration of 36 mm also increases the effectiveness against armoured targets, making it less likely that they directly connect without doing damage. They are also easier to aim at mid to long range due to a higher velocity of 420 m/s.
The bomb loadout of 2 x 1,000 lb bombs is very effective against ground targets. The explosive mass of 240.4 kg of TNT equivalent is quite enough to knock out an armoured tank, with a maximum of 113 mm of penetration and a destruction radius of 12 m. The bomb loadout allows a pilot to be less precise, but limits the amount of targets that can be knocked out due to only having one bomb drop (both bombs drop at once).
Usage in battles
Probably the best asset P-51K has is its speed and its ability to achieve it and maintain it. Like with all planes, higher attitude should be achieved. Although its climb rate is nice, there are enough planes with better and therefore pilots of P-51K 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-51K is already high enough. When an enemy is spotted, heading in another direction than P-51K, 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-51K 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-51, 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-51 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.
Since this plane is designed for higher altitudes, you have to side climb almost every time. Just like other american aircraft, the P-51 has the best performance above 4500 m, but the optimal altitude between 4500 and 7000 m. The Mustang has very bad climb rate when stock, so it's a torture to reach altitudes, but there is no other option. 6500 m of altitude should be enough. The correct mode to use this plane similar to the Bf 109s, climb to altitude, choose the target, hit and run away, and repeat. The P-51 can do some nice turns at high speeds, but it quickly loses it. Never do more than 1 or 2 turns, you will bleed your energy. Luckily, you have nice energy retention and good diving characteristics, but as mentioned before, you need altitude to use this advantage.
It may seem that agility of P-51 is lacking at first sight, but it is not that bad when used correctly. P-51 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, P-51 should avoid these encounters as this will bleed its speed to the point that P-51 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 P-51K, P-51K can enter mild dive and go for a run. P-51 can get to its top speed quite fast, especially when in mild dive. Top speed of P-51K is one of the best on its tier. 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 P-51K. As the top speed of P-51 is quite high, after the enemy loses his initial speed advantage, P-51 will probably already start to get away. After this deep dive runaway, start to climb around 10 degrees. P-51K is good at maintaining its speed, so it is likely that while P-51 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. P-51 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 P-51 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 P-51 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 P-51 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.
Do not underestimate this plane because it has a bad performance when stock. Unlock the modifications and focus on the performance, especially the "compressor", "engine" and "fuselage repair" upgrades. When you're done with them, get the two weapon upgrades and, at last, survivability modules. You don't need to buy the G-suit if your crew has at least 4 points of G-tolerance and 3 points of stamina, but if you have enough silver lions in the bank, it can be useful for Boom and Zoom attacks and dogfights with heavier or comparable opponents.
Once you spade the P-51K, it gets a huge boost to climb rate, speed and manoeuvrability, but you still have to avoid dogfights at low altitudes.
Manual Engine Control
|Not controllable|| Controllable
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
|Separate|| 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 in Simulator
- Quite decent climb rate
- Useful close-support capability (ground attack) thanks to its bombs/rockets
- Good diver and fast, can run away from most enemies
- 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
- Underwhelming stock performance
- No cannons, you must hit a target repeatedly to destroy it
- Although you get a sufficient ammo load, it's still less than what you get on other US planes (P-47 for example), so spraying should be avoided
The United States decided to send American-built fighter aircraft to the Republic of China (ROC), to assist in their fight against Japan, after the US entered World War 2 in 1941. The aid came in the form of the Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW), a combined unit that consisted of Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) and American personnel attached to the US Fourteenth Air Force. The CACW arrived in November 1944 with P-51B and C Mustangs. P-51D and K Mustangs supplemented the earlier models in the CACW in February 1945.
278 Mustangs, of the P-51D and K models along with F-6D and K reconnaissance variants, were given to the ROCAF after the end of World War 2. Due to a breakdown in the truce between Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist Republic of China and Mao Zedong's Communist Party of China, the ROC would eventually be forced out of mainland China to Formosa (now often known as Taiwan). During Mao's People Liberation Army campaigns to force the Nationalists out of China, a significant number of P-51 Mustangs were captured and put into service with the PLA.
The PLA captured their first Mustang after Captain Yang Peiguang (杨培光) of the 4th Fighter Wing of the ROCAF, based in Beiping, defected to the PLA with his P-51D Mustang. Many more Mustangs were captured from September through November 1948, during the Liaoshen Campaign. On 15 October, during the Battle of Jinzhou, a total of thirty-one Mustangs were captured from the ROCAF. Three more Mustangs, along with 128 V-1650 replacement engines, were captured after the PLA captured Beiping in December of 1948. One more was received on 29 December of the same year when Lieutenant Tan Hanzhou (谭汉洲) of the Nationalist 4th Fighter Group defected from the ROCAF with his P-51. Despite having thirty-eight Mustangs at that time, the PLA had very few that were in condition to fly. The P-51s captured by the PLA were most likely all P-51D and K models.
In October of 1948, the PLA captured Shenyang and its Shenyang Beiling airport, which was soon renamed to 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. This was the first facility available to the PLA for making aircraft repairs, and the P-51 Mustangs were at the top of the priority list to undergo repairs, with thirty-seven of them being repaired by 1950.
The thirty-ninth and final P-51 to be obtained by the PLA came when Lieutenant Yan Chengyin (阎承荫) defected from the Nationalist 3rd Fighter Group's 28th Squadron on 14 January 1949. As a note, he changed his name to Yan Lei (阎磊) after his defection.
The PLA first used their P-51 Mustangs in January 1949 for training at the Northeast Old Aviation School (东北老航校) with the 2nd Squadron of the 1st Air Group. On 15 August 1949, a squadron of two Fairchild PT-19 trainer aircraft, two de Havilland Mosquitos, and six P-51 Mustangs were formed into a squadron based at Beiping Nanyuan airfield. The squadron was assigned in September of the same year to defend Beiping, but they never saw combat. By October, eleven more Mustangs had joined the squadron.
On 21 September 1949, Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) after it became clear that the ROC was being forced out of China. In celebration, a military parade took place in Tiananmen Square. The parade included a flyover of seventeen planes, including nine Mustangs of which at least one was a P-51K. The Mustangs were the first to flyover, flying in three V formations of three aircraft each. After the flyover, the Mustangs increased their speed and came back around before coming back from the original flyover direction, making it seem like there were more planes than there were in reality.
After the celebratory parade all of the P-51 Mustangs were returned to their defensive mission, becoming a part of the new People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) upon its formation on 11 November 1949. At that point in time, nine Mustangs were still undergoing repairs and twenty-two remained in service with the PLAAF. This means that eight Mustangs had been removed from service, but the reason for it is unknown; it's possible that they were destroyed in accidents, used for parts, or some other cause.
On 26 July 1950, the Squadron of Mustangs was named the Air Force 1st Independent Fighter Brigade (空军独立第一歼击机大队). By the end of August 1950, all the Mustangs had been removed from operational service and replaced by Soviet-built Lavochkin La-9 fighters. The Mustangs were retained as training aircraft by the Aviation School No.7, and thirteen were even modified into two-seat trainers. Only eight remained in service by September 1953, with the rest having been retired because of structural issues in the landing gear. It is unknown when the Mustang was fully retired from service with the PLAAF.
A total of two P-51s used by the PLAAF are known to survive. The first 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. The other example is a 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.
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.
|North American Aviation|
|P-51D||P-51D-5 · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · P-51D-30|
|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|
|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|
|British||␗Gladiator Mk I|
|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|