.: Simon Godfree's 1/72nd P51-D Mustang by Hasegawa

North American Aviation originally designed the Mustang in response to a British specification. They agreed to produce the first prototype only 4 months after signing the contract in April 1940. By the end of 1941 North American had delivered the first Mustang to England for test flights. These first Mustangs were powered by the Allison V-1710 engine, a good engine, but one which didn't operate well at high altitudes.

In April, 1942, a British test pilot, Ronald Harker, flew the Mustang and was very impressed by it. He suggested that the new plane would be a natural fit with the Rolls Royce Merlin 60-series engine, well-suited to high altitudes. At the prodding of Major Thomas Hitchcock, the Americans began working along the same lines (using the Packard license-built version of the Merlin), and the first Merlin-equipped Mustang, the P-51B, flew in November, 1942. The results were impressive, to say the least. At 30,000 feet, the improved Mustang reached 440 MPH, almost 100 MPH faster than the Allison-equipped Mustang at that altitude.

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