It's a quality series, "Great Planes," and this reaches the level of most of the others. Everyone with any interest in the subject already knows the story of the P-51's development in its broad outline but this episode gives us lesser known details. We may know that the Mustang was originally designed because of a request from the British but this tells us how it came about.
There is just enough in the way of technical detail to satisfy a viewer's curiosity without challenging his mechanical aptitude too much. A good deal of footage is given over to the assembly process in the two plants that produced the airplane.
The narration doesn't wave any flags. The airplane's limitations are described as well as its virtues. The reasons for the earlier versions' failure as a dive bomber are pointed out. And of course the German jet fighters were far superior weapons.
There was nothing really radical in the design. It was the culmination of a developing pattern in most Air Force fighters: trim fuselage, single in-line engine, adequate fire power, versatility, and speed. Like a clipper ship or a Japanese lacquered bowl, all the elements had already been available. It was a matter of maximizing them.
What I find most impressive about the P-51, especially the later models, is the way its sleek grace is combined with its potency. Many airplanes acquire a kind of character of their own. And the P-51's appearance is a thing of beauty, like the Spitfire's wing or the Me-109's bullet shape. The radial-engined fighters of the US Navy look as pugnacious as they are but they're far from comely.
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