From the Caliban Rising Channel, Phil Hawes discusses his thoughts on how significant the Mustang was on the ETO and whether its arrival revolutionized the air battle against the Luftwaffe.
The P-51 Mustang
The Mustang is considered one of the greatest fighters of its generation. This long-range fighter and fighter bomber dominated the skies during World War II, securing Allied victory by allowing the resumption of strategic bombing.
Did the P-51 Destroy the Luftwaffe on Its Own?
According to data by Caldwell Donald, between 1939 and 1945, pilots serving the JG26- planes who spent the entire war in the west had a total of 1,319 casualties, and one of the leading causes of those casualties is because of the Spitfire.
Was the P-51 More Successful?
Was the plane more successful throughout its career because it was a better aircraft, or was it given more opportunities over the Luftwaffe, or was it both?
Hawes thinks that another factor was fighter vectoring- the fighters gained an additional 165 miles of early warning into enemy territory. Combining this system with information from Y-service gave the Eight Fighter command a very good picture of enemy air activity.
Was It The Only Aircraft for the Job?
Well, the simple answer is no. Not only is the potential range of the P-47 being grossly underestimated by many mainstream histories of the war but the effective range of the P-51, according to Hawes, may have been overestimated.
Turning the Tides of the War
In terms of destroying aircraft, the P-51 was certainly instrumental in losses suffered by the Luftwaffe.