|Later in WWII the Allied bombers were flying deep into Germany but suffered tremendous losses
because of the lack of range the fighter escorts had. German fighters would wait beyond the
range of the Allied fighters and then attack the vulnerable bombers. Once the P-51, called
Mustang by the British, had the Allison engine replaced with a British Merlin it possessed the
high performance that had been lacking. With drop tanks the P-51 had the range to escort
bombers all the way to Berlin and back.
The 348th FG converted from P-47s to P-51s in early 1945 and assigned bomber escort attacks
on Kyushu. From February 1945 to mid 1945 the unit was based in Luzon and then moved to
Le Shima Island near Okinawa. By January 1945, Dunham was the Deputy Group Commander
and had 15 victories scored over New Guinea and the Philippines. Dunham took a break back in
the U.S. returning to the 348th FG on Le Shima. Now equipped with a P-51K Mrs. Bonnie,
Dunham scored his sixteenth and only Mustang victory.
Specifications for the North American Aviation P-51D Mustang
The P-51K was built in Dallas as a variant of the P-51D and equipped with an Aeroproducts
propeller instead of the Hamilton Standard propeller. Combat crews routinely replaced the
Aeroproducts propeller with the Hamilton Standard propeller.
Tasks – Dive-bomber, bomber-escort, ground-attack, interceptor, photo recon
Number Produced– 1,500 with RAF receiving 594 they named Mustang Mk. IVa
Wing Span – 37 ft (11.27 m)
Length – 32 ft 3 in (9.82 m)
Height – 13 ft 8 in (4.16 m)
Empty – 7,125 lb (3,232 kg)
Gross – 10,100 lb (4,581 kg)
Maximum Take-off – 11,600 lb (5,262 kg)
Engine – Packard Merlin two-staged supercharged V-1650-7, 12 cylinder V engine 1,695 hp.
Maximum Speed – 437 mph (703 km/h)
Ceiling – 41,900 ft (12,771 m)
Range – 950 miles (1,529 km)
Maximum Range – 2,300 miles (3,701 km)
(6) .50 caliber MG
Maximum External Bomb Load – 2,000 lb (907 kg)
Or (4) .5 inch rockets.
|Hobby Master 1/48 Air Power Series
P-51K Mustang "Mrs Bonnie"
Lt. Col. Bill Dunham,
Deputy CO/348 FG, Okinawa, August 1945
|HOBBY MASTER COLLECTOR