P-51 Mustang: Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird.
P-51 Mustang: Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird by Cory Graff. Zenith Press (http://www. http://www.quartoknows.com/Zenith-Press), 400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, 2015, 224 pages, $40.00 (hardcover), ISBN 9780760348598.
When readers think of World War II fighter aircraft, the P-51 Mustang is often the first one that comes to mind. In 2015 the P-51 celebrated the 75th anniversary of its first flight. Cory Graff's P-51 Mustang: Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird is a wonderful celebration of this aircraft's illustrious history.
The iconic P-51 was born from Britain's desperate need for more platforms to fight the German Luftwaffe. When the British Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation about manufacturing the P-40 under license, that company's leader, "Dutch" Kindelberger, responded that North American could make a better aircraft faster than it could begin production of the P-40. Equipped with an Allison engine, the initial P-51 proved a bit anemic in performance, but when mated with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, it became one of the Allies' most capable--if not the most capable--and versatile aircraft: the lead horse in the American fighter stable.
As the long-range escort for American bombers on missions across the European continent, the P-51 played an essential part in winning the air war there. The Mustang proved its versatility by serving not only as an escort but also as a reconnaissance and ground-attack aircraft. Further, it performed admirably in the Pacific theater, continued to serve as a dedicated ground-attack platform in the Korean War, and, after retiring from military service, became a prized icon among civilian warbird owners as well as air racers.
To tell the story of the P-51, Cory Graff has pulled out all the stops, combining detailed yet easy-to-read text with a multitude of photographs and period advertisements to bring the tale to life. The book is a 60-40 split between images (photographs, drawings, and period advertisements) and text, respectively. Throughout, the author includes two-page vignettes of the Mustang and the men who flew her, such as the Tuskegee Airmen.
Although most readers interested in the P-51 have probably seen countless numbers of photos of the plane, Graff seems to have uncovered a heretofore unknown treasure trove of seldom-seen, well-captioned images. Particularly interesting are all of the many period P-51 advertisements. Rather than confine himself to historical photographs, Graff also includes images (mostly air-to-air) of today's surviving P-51s.
Although researchers would find a list of his sources useful, Graff's purpose is to tell the story of the P-51 in an enjoyable fashion, utilizing broad history, focused vignettes, and a wonderfully robust collection of photographs and images. Printed on thick, high-quality paper, P-51 Mustang: Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird is best described as a "meaty" coffee-table book for fans of both this aircraft and other World War II warbirds. This book will easily earn a prime spot on readers' shelves or coffee tables.
Lt Col Dan Simonsen, USAF, Retired
Barksdale AFB, Louisiana