Dedicated to all those who served with or supported the 456th Fighter Squadron or 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron or the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

 

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The P / F-82 "Twin Mustang"

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P-82 Twin Mustang
 

Specifications

First flight: June 15, 1945
Span: 51 feet 3 inches
Length: 39 feet
Power plant: Two Allison 12-cylinder V-1710-G6 engines
Speed: 475 miles per hour
Range: 1,600 miles
Service ceiling: 42,200 feet
Armament:
  • Six .50-caliber machine guns standard
  • Eight additional .50-caliber machine guns in special center section nacelle
  • Five rocket-launching racks, carrying five rockets each
  • Other alternate payload: 7,200 pounds of bombs, photographic nacelle or 2,000-pound torpedo
Number built: 272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the standard long-range, high-altitude escort fighter for the U.S. Air Force, the North American P-82 Twin Mustang was the climactic development of a long series of the famous World War II P-51 Mustang series.

North American produced 250 of the double-fuselaged airplanes for the Air Force, embracing three versions of the Twin Mustang then in service, the P-82E, P-82F and P-82G. They were ordered too late for World War II, however.

The versatility of the P-82 made it potentially adaptable to a wide variety of roles in modern aerial warfare. It was adapted as a fighter, a long-range escort, long-range reconnaissance, night fighter, attack bomber, rocket fighter and an interceptor.

With a speed of more than 475 miles an hour, the Twin Mustang had a combat range of over 1,600 miles with full armament. Range could be extended by use of external drop tanks on the wings.

A radical departure from the conventional single-fuselage airplane, the Twin Mustang was formed by two fuselages joined by the wing and the horizontal stabilizer. With a pilot in each fuselage, it reduced to a minimum the problem of pilot fatigue on ultra-long-range missions. The P-82F and G models carried a radar operator in the right cockpit instead of a co-pilot.

Both engine throttles and both propellers were controllable from either cockpit by manually operated levers. The pilot's cockpit on the left contained the normal flight and engine instruments, while the co-pilot on the right had sufficient instruments for relief and emergency operation.

A simplified cockpit arrangement improved pilot comfort, including a tilting, adjustable seat to reduce fatigue during long flights.

 

 

The P-82 / F-82 Twin Mustang

The Survivors

By John Weeks

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Of all the odd and whacky aircraft ideas that were dreamed up during World War II, the North American P-82 has to be towards the top of the list. In the air war with Japan, USAAF planners realized that they were going to need ultra long duration fighter escort planes to fly to Japan with the B-29 bombers. Since the P-51 was a great long range escort fighter, it only made sense that two of them joined at the hip would be an even better long range escort fighter. As it turned out, the Marines captured islands close enough to Japan that P-51 Mustangs were easily able to escort B-29 bombers all the way to Japan, so the P-82 project was put on the back burner.

At first, the idea for the Twin Mustang was pretty simple. All you do is bolt two P-51's together with a piece of straight wing, and there you go. In reality, all the extra fuel needed for the long range missions lead to increasing the length of the fuselage. The higher weight meant that the wings had to be stronger. All this extra weight and power meant that the control surfaces needed to be larger. In the end, the P-82 had less than a 20% parts commonality with the P-51 mustang.

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F-82

While a number of variants were built, the typical P-82 had a 51 foot 3 inch wingspan, was 38 feet 1 inch long, and just shy of 15,000 pounds empty. Gross payload was about 10,000 pounds. The flight numbers were impressive for a propeller driven fighter, max speed of 485 miles per hour, service ceiling of over 40,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 4000 feet per minute. While the USAAF, and later, the newly formed US Air Force, wanted jet fighters, they were slow coming off of the assembly line. The Air Force saw the P-82 as a solution to the problem as an interim fighter to be used until jets were more widely available. Once the USAAF became the USAF in 1947, the P-82 was redesignated F-82, with the F being for Fighter, as opposed to P for Pursuit.

The F-82 went into front line service with SAC in 1948. They were quickly replaced by jet fighters, so the Twin Mustangs were sent to air defense command units in 1949. By early 1950, after only 2 years of service, the F-82 were relegated to reserve status. But, as fate would have it, the war in Korea broke out in June, 1950, and a group of F-82 Twin Mustangs were based in Japan. As it was, the F-82 was the only aircraft available in the Pacific that could cover all of Korea from bases in Japan. This was extremely lucky given that North Korea rapidly overran almost all of South Korea, including the US air bases. The first three North Korean airplanes shot down by the US were claimed by the F-82. The last F-82 Twin Mustangs were retired in in 1953.

A total of 273 Twin Mustangs were built. Four complete airframes survive, with two possibly being flyable. The big issue with flying the F-82 is that the two engines spin in opposite directions. The left rotating engines are all but impossible to find, and the left hand propellers are no longer available. The Confederate Air Force has been looking for a left hand propeller for nearly 20 years.

 

The F-82 Twin Mustang

 

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P-61 Black Widow

The North American F-82 Twin Mustang was the last American piston engine fighter ordered into production by the United States Air Force. Based on the P-51 Mustang, the F-82 was originally designed as a long-range escort fighter in World War II, its postwar role changed to that of night-fighting. Radar-equipped F-82s were used quite extensively by the Air Defense Command as replacements for the P-61 Black Widow night fighter. During the Korean War, Japan-based F-82s were among the first USAF aircraft to operate over Korea. The first three North Korean airplanes destroyed by US forces were shot down by F-82s.

Design and development

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Messerschmitt Bf 109Z "Zwilling"

P-51H Mustang

Initially intended as a long-range escort fighter, the F-82 was designed to escort B-29 bombers on long missions over Japan during a planned U.S. invasion of the Japanese home islands that never materialized. It consisted of a two fuselage design, somewhat similar to the experimental German Messerschmitt Bf 109Z "Zwilling". Although based on the P-51H Mustang, it was actually an entirely new design incorporating two lengthened P-51H Mustang fuselages mounted to a newly-designed center wing, tail and propellers, as well as having a unique four wheel landing gear. Prototype YP-82s, P-82Bs and P-82Es retained both cockpits so that both pilots could fly the aircraft, alternating control on long flights, while later night fighter versions kept the cockpit on the left side only, placing the radar operator in the right position.

Although some P-82B airframes were completed before the end of World War II, most remained at the North American factory in California waiting for engines until 1946. As a result, none saw service during the war.

Like the P-51 Mustang, the first two prototype YP-82s, as well as the next 20 P-82B models were powered by British designed Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. These provided the aircraft with excellent range and performance, but political pressure forced North American to switch subsequent production P-82C and later models to the inferior Allison V-1710-100 engine. Allison powered P-82 models demonstrated a lower top speed and poorer high altitude performance than the earlier Merlin powered versions. The earlier P-82B models had been designated as trainers, while the "C" and later models were employed as fighters.

 

Operational Service

 

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The second prototype North American XP-82 Twin Mustang (44-83887)

On 11 June 1948, the newly-formed United States Air Force eliminated the P-for-pursuit category and replaced it with F-for-fighter. Subsequently, all P-82s were re-designated F-82. The F-82E was the first model to reach operational squadrons and its initial operational assignment was to the 27th Fighter Wing at Kearney Air Force Base, Nebraska in 1948. The 27th used the F-82E to fly long-range escort missions for SAC B-29 bombers. F-82Es continued to fly actively until 1953 escorting B-29s, B-50s and B-36s becoming Strategic Air Command's last operational piston-engined fighters.

However, the cessation of hostilities in World War II brought an end to the need for a long-range bomber escort though the F-82 would continue as a replacement for the aging P-61 Black Widow night fighter.

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Strategic Air Command 8th Air Force North American F-82E "Twin Mustangs" of the 27th Fighter Wing on the flightline of Kearney Air Force Base, Nebraska, 1948. Serials 46-322 and 46-332 are identifiable.

The night fighter versions, designated the F-82F/G, required numerous modifications to be made to make this possible. The right side cockpit was replaced with a radar operator's position lacking flight controls. More significant was the addition of a long radar pod attached to the underside of the center wing. Resembling a sausage, and irreverently known as a "long dong," the radar unit was installed in such a manner to keep its dish in front of aircraft's propellers. It was also necessary that it be hung from the underside of the wing to prevent it from interfering with six .50 caliber machine guns buried in the center wing. Surprisingly, this unconventional arrangement did little to affect the aircraft's speed or performance. Additionally the unit could be jettisoned in an emergency, or for belly landings and was sometimes lost during high-G maneuvers.

The first F-82F/G models began to reach operational squadrons in late 1948. By the middle of 1949 the F-82 was in widespread service with some 225 E/F/G models being in use by the USAF at Bergstrom, Hamilton, McChord, Mitchel and McGuire AFB. F-82Gs were also deployed to the 347th Fighter Group in Japan. Modified F-82s for cold weather (F-82Hs) were assigned to Ladd AFB, Alaska, and make a brief appearance in the movie " Top of the World" [2] (1955).

 

The Korean War

 

Although missing its opportunity to fight in World War II, the F-82G would go on to distinguish itself during the Korean War, beginning with one of the least known, and most important air combat missions of the 20th century. In June 1950, US forces in Seoul, South Korea were attempting to evacuate U.S. civilians, including many women and children, from the advancing North Korean Army. A total of 682 civilians had been evacuated on the 26 June aboard the Norwegian freighter Reinholte, then visiting Inchon Harbor and transported to Sasebo, Japan. The remaining civilians were to be evacuated the following day by an Air Force C-54. Fearing that the North Korean Air Force might try to shoot down the transport (a C-54 had been destroyed on the ground at Kimpo by North Korean fighters on June 25th) the Air Force requested air cover to protect the aircraft during takeoff. The F-80 Shooting Star was available, but its thirsty jet engine meant it could only remain over the airfield for a few minutes before having to return to base and no P-51 Mustangs were available.

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North American F-82F Twin Mustang Serial 46-414 of the 27th Fighter Wing, Bergstrom AFB Texas in black night fighter motif

Fortunately, the 4th and 339th Fighter All Weather Squadrons F(AW)S with their F-82Gs were based in Japan and Okinawa at Misawa and Yokota Airfields, and the 68th F(AW)S was based at Itazuke airfield. With Lt. Col. John F. Sharp in command, 27 F-82Gs of the 35 in the theater answered the call. Arriving in the early morning, they orbited Kimpo Airfield in three flights, each above the other. Suddenly, at 1150 hours, a mixed lot of five North Korean fighters (Soviet-built Yak-9s, Yak-11s and La-7s) appeared, heading for the airfield. One of the Yak-9s immediately scored several hits on 68th F(AW)S pilot Lt. Charles Moran's vertical stabilizer. Moments later, Lt. William G. "Skeeter" Hudson, also of the 68th F(AW)S, initiated a high-G turn to engage the Yak. Soon Hudson was closing in on the Yak's tail. He then fired a short burst at close range, scoring hits with his six .50 caliber machine guns. The Yak banked hard to the right, with the F-82G in close pursuit. A second burst hit the Yak's right wing, setting the gas tank on fire and knocking off the right flap and aileron. The North Korean pilot bailed out, but his observer, who was either dead or badly wounded, remained in the doomed aircraft. Parachuting down to Kimpo Airfield, the North Korean pilot was immediately surrounded by South Korean soldiers. Surprisingly, he pulled out a pistol and began firing at them. The South Korean soldiers returned fire, killing the pilot. Moments later, Lt. Moran shot down an La-7 over the airfield, while a few miles away, Maj. James W. Little, commanding officer of the 339th F(AW)S, shot down another La-7. The C-54 was able to escape safely. Of five North Korean fighters, only two returned to their base. In the process, Lt. William G. "Skeeter" Hudson, with his radar operator Lt. Carl Fraiser had scored the first aerial "kill" of the Korean War.

It is generally believed that the aircraft Hudson and Fraiser flew that day was an F-82G named "Bucket of Bolts" (s/n 46-383), as their usual aircraft was down for repairs. "Bucket of Bolts" would survive the Korean War and eventually be reassigned to escort duty in Alaska. It is believed to have been scrapped at Ladd AFB, Alaska in 1953.

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It is impossible to know exactly what impact the shooting down of a C-54 containing dozens of American women and children would have had on US policy at the beginning of the Korean War. This much is certain, as U.S. forces were being driven south and overrun by advancing North Korean soldiers, President Harry S. Truman was facing increasing pressure both from his military advisers, as well as members of his own cabinet to strike back decisively, including pressure from Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Curtis LeMay to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. Such actions could easily have drawn the Soviet Union into the conflict.

1951 was the last full year of F-82 operations in Korea, as they were gradually replaced by the jet-powered F-94 Starfire. Twin Mustangs destroyed 20 enemy aircraft, four in the air and 16 on the ground during the conflict.[1]

By summer 1952, the last surviving Korean War veteran F-82s were flown to Tachikawa, Japan to be upgraded to F-82H models with the addition of cold weather equipment and additional de-icers. Many of these planes would end up operating with Strategic Air Command from airfields in Alaska where they would serve as escorts for the massive Convair B-36 bombers during long flights over the Arctic, finally fulfilling their original mission as a bomber escort. The F-82 did not disappear from USAF inventory until 1953, when a lack of parts and high airtime made it impossible to keep them flying. Many were ultimately scrapped in Alaska.

 

Record Setting

 

On 27 February 1947, a P-82B (44-65168) named "Betty Jo" would also make history when it flew nonstop from Hawaii to New York without refueling, a distance of 5,051 miles in 14 hr 32 min (347.5mph). To this day, it remains the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter, and the fastest such a distance has ever been covered in a piston-engine aircraft. It should be noted that the aircraft chosen was the earlier "B" model powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.

 

Variants

 

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P-82C 44-65169 in black night fighter motif. Note the large bulge that carries the radar array, under the wing.
NA-123
Basic Development design. The NA-123 design was presented by North American Aircraft to the USAAF in February 1944. The design for the new aircraft was for a long range fighter to penetrate deep into enemy territory. Its immediate role would be to escort the B-29 Superfortress bombers used in the Pacific Theater of Operations against Japan. The USAAF endorsed it at once. A letter contract to construct and test four experimental XP-82 aircraft (P-82 designation) gave way in the same month to an order for 500 production models.
XP-82 / XP-82A
Prototype. The USAAF accepted the first XP-82 in August 1945 and a second one in September. Both were equipped with Packard Merlin V-1650-23 and -25 engines. The third experimental plane, designated XP-82A, had two Allison V-1710-119 engines. It was accepted in October 1945. There is no evidence that the XP-82A was ever actually flown, due to problems with the Allison engines. The fourth XP-82A prototype (44-83889) was cancelled.

At an early stage, it was suspected that once the war was over, the Packard Motor Car Company would be unlikely to continue the manufacture of V-1650 Merlin engines. In addition, the British economy was severely crippled and Rolls Royce was forced to charge a substantial license fee for its Packard-built Merlin. This increase, coupled with the Air Force's desire to develop US-designed liquid-cooled engines, led to the decision to switch to the Allison engine. Consequently, the V-1710-119 was specified for the third and fourth prototypes. All the remaining production F-82s ended up being powered by Allision engines.
P-82B
Planned production version. With the end of World War II, production plans were cut back significantly. Against the 500 P-82Bs initially planned, overall procurement was finalized on 7 December 1945 at 270 P-82s. Included were 20 P-82Bs already on firm order and later allocated to testing as P-82Z. The USAAF accepted all P-82Zs in fiscal year 1947. Two EA were accepted in January 1946, four in February 1947, and 13 in March 1947. By December 1949, no P-82Bs (by then redesignated F-82Bs) remained in the Air Force inventory. These P-82Bs were basically similar to the XP-82, but differed in having provisions for underwing racks.

P-82C

Night fighter version. A P-82B, (44-65169) modified in late 1946, for testing as a night interceptor. The P-82C featured a new nacelle (under the center wing section) housing an SCR-720 radar. The SCR-720 was the same radar installation which was carried aboard the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, a considerably larger aircraft which had clearance problems with the engine propellers. The right-hand cockpit became the radar operator's position.
P-82D

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North American F-82F Twin Mustang night fighter Serial 46-415
Night fighter version. Another P-82B (44-65170) modified with a different radar, the APS-4. The APS-4 was a much smaller set than the SCR-720, and operated in the three cm waveband. As like the P-82C, the right-hand cockpit became the radar operator's position.
P-82E
Escort fighter version. The F-82E followed the F-82B, which it so closely resembled. They were equipped with two counter-rotating Allison liquid-cooled engines, V-1710-143 and V-1710-145. The first four F-82Es were redesignated as F-82As and were allocated for engine testing. After production delays by engine problems and additional testing, F-82Es entered operational service in May 1948. The Air Force accepted 72 F-82Es in fiscal year 1948 (between January and June 1948), and 24 in fiscal year 1949 (22 in July 1948, one in October, and one in December). F-82Es quickly disappeared from the SAC inventory. The first sizeable lot was declared surplus in March 1950.
P-82F/G/H
Night fighter versions. A nacelle beneath the center-wing that housed radar equipment (F-82F's ANIAPG28 and F-82G's SCR-720C18); automatic pilot; and a radar operator replacing the second pilot. When winterization was added to the F or G, it became an F-82H. Entered operational service in September 1948. One F-82G was accepted in fiscal year 1948 (February 1948), all other F-82s (F, G, and H models) in fiscal year 1949. The last F-82G and six winterized F-82Hs were received in March 1949. In mid-1950, Air Defense units began trading F-82s for F-94s, and in early 1951, the few Twin-Mustangs remaining in ADC were towing targets. The F-82s coming out of Korean combat in February 1952 lingered a bit longer in the inventory. After June 1953, no F-82s appeared on Air Force, Air National Guard or Air Reserve Forces rolls.
 

Production Totals

 

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The Air Force accepted a total of 272 F-82s (including 22 prototype, test and early production aircraft). Models and serials were as follows:

All examples were redesignated as F-82 in 1948. Specifically, the F-82 program consisted of two XF-82s, one XF-82A, ten F-82Bs (known for a while as P-82Zs and all allocated to testing), four F-82As, 96 F-82Es, 91 F-82Fs, 45 F-82Gs and 14 F-82Hs.

One F-82G was accepted in fiscal year 1948 (February 1948), all other F-82s (F, G, and H models) in fiscal year 1949. The last F-82G and six winterized F-82Hs were received in March 1949.

 

USAF F-82 Units

 

  • 27th Fighter Wing, F-82E (1948-1950)
    • (522nd, 523rd, and 524th Squadrons)
  • 35th Fighter Wing, F-82F/G (1950-52)
    • (339th Squadron)
  • 51st Fighter Wing, F-82F/G (1949-1950)
    • (16th, 25th, and 26th Squadrons)
  • 325th Fighter Wing, F-82F/G (1948-1950)
    • (317th, 318th, and 319th Squadrons)
  • 347th Fighter Wing, F-82F/G (1949-1950)
    • (4th, 68th, and 339th Squadrons)
  • 5001st Composite Wing, F-82H (1949-1953)
    • (449th Squadron)

The 4th, 68th and 339th Squadrons served in combat during the Korean War.

 

Survivors

 

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"Betty Jo" is currently on display at The National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio in its Cold War gallery.

Three other F-82s are known to exist. F-82E (46-262) has been a "gate guard" for many years outside Lackland AFB in Texas as part of the USAF History and Traditions Museum in San Antonio, Texas while a second F-82B that had been on display next to it, was acquired by the former Confederate Air Force in 1966 and was operated for many years by its Midland, Texas squadron. That F-82B stalled and crashed in Harlingen, Texas in 1987. The aircraft was restorable but its unique props and landing gear were destroyed in the crash and replacement parts could not be obtained. In 2002, the CAF included it with a crashed P-38 in a trade for a flyable P-38. The USAF stepped in and demanded the F-82 be returned since it was only loaned to the CAF on the condition that the CAF keep it. The matter has now been resolved in favor of the Commemorative Air Force (the renamed organization). A single fuselage of the second YP-82 was located for many years on the farm of Walter Soplata in Newbury, Ohio. It was sold several years ago and its current whereabouts are unknown.

 

Specifications (F-82G)

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General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 42 ft 9 in (12.93 m)
  • Wingspan: 51 ft 3 in (15.62 m)
  • Height: 13 ft 10 in (4.22 m)
  • Wing area: 408 ft (37.90 m)
  • Empty weight: 15,997 lb (7,271 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 25,591 lb (11,632 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 Allison V-1710-143/145 liquid-cooled V12 engines, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW each) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 400 knots (460 mph, 740 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
  • Range: 1,950 nm (2,250 mi, 3,605 km)
  • Service ceiling: 38,900 ft (11,855 m)

Armament

  • Guns: 6 .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns
  • Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,900 kg)

 References

  1. ^ a b Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
  2. ^ Top of the World
  • Baugher, Joe. USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present. [1] Access date: 9 January 2007.
  • Davis. Larry. F-82 Twin Mustang (Squadron/Signal Mini In Action Series Number 8). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1996. ISBN 0-89747-367-1.
  • Menard, David W. USAF Plus Fifteen - A Photo History 1947 - 1962. Lancaster, PA: Schiffere Books,1993. ISBN 0-88740-483-9.
  • Mondey, David. The Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II. London: Chartwell Books, 1994. ISBN 0-7858-0147-2.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A.Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.

Wikipedia

 

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F-82B F-82G

 

 

The XP-82 Twin Mustang

Joe. Baugher

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The North American P-82 Twin Mustang was the last piston-engined fighter ordered by the USAAF. It was conceived late in 1943, when it was realized that the very long distances over which single-seat fighters were operating in the Pacific were imposing very great strains on their pilots. It was not uncommon for fighter pilots to spend up to eight hours in their cockpits on maximum-distance missions. Pilots would often return from such missions drenched in sweat and would be so exhausted that they would have to be lifted from their cockpits.

It seemed that a fighter with a second seat for a copilot might be a good idea. North American Aviation came up with the idea of joining two Mustang fuselages together by a constant-chord wing midsection and a rectangular tailplane, using standard port and starboard outer wings. The project was given the company designation of NA-120.

On January 7, 1944, the USAAF ordered four prototypes under the designation XP-82. The twin fuselages were basically similar to that of the P-51H, but were lengthened by some 57 inches by inserting additional sections with integral dorsal fins in front of the tailplane. All parts of the wing had to be completely redesigned internally to carry the very much greater gross weight and to accommodate the increased fuel capacity. The center wing section carried a full set of flaps and was stressed to carry heavy external loads on either one or two pylons. The outer wings were stressed for two pylons. Because of the greater rolling inertia, each aileron was increased in length and divided into inner and outer sections to prevent binding of the hinges under high g-loads.

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F-82E

The engines were 1860 hp Packard Merlin V-1650-23/25 liquid-cooled Vees driving oppositely-rotating Aeroproducts propellers. Each main undercarriage leg was attached to the front wing spar under the outboard side of each fuselage. The wheels retracted inwards under the fuselage and wing. Armament consisted of six 0.5-inch Browning MG 53-2 machine guns with 300 rpg mounted in the new wing center section. These guns could be augmented by a central pod below the wing, with 8 additional machine guns installed.

The two cockpits with dual controls had the same bubble canopies as the P-51H. The port cockpit housed the pilot and was equipped with a full set of flight and engine instruments. The starboard cockpit housed the navigator/copilot and was equipped with only a limited set of instruments, sufficient only for basic control of the plane. At an early stage, it was suspected that once the war was over, the Packard Motor Car Company would be unlikely to continue the manufacture of V-1650 Merlin engines. Furthermore, the Allison V-1710 had by that time matured into an engine which, without a turbosupercharger but with two stages of gear-driven blowers could give excellent performance at high altitudes. Consequently, the V-1710-119 was specified for the third and fourth prototypes, which were to be designated XP-82A. XP-82 serial number 44-83887 flew for the first time on April 15, 1945, piloted by J. E. Barton. The other XP-82 (44-83886) followed shortly thereafter. At first, there were problems with excessive drag, which was eventually traced to the fact that the propellers turned toward each other during their upward sweep. This tended to stall the center section of the wing. The problem was cured by switching the engines, so that the blades met during their downward trajectory. The performance was excellent, the XP-82 retaining all the excellent qualities of the P-51: high speed, excellent maneuverability, and heavy firepower. Maximum speed of the XP-82 was 468 mph at 22,800 feet. Normal range was 1390 miles, with maximum range being 2600 miles. Service ceiling was 40,000 feet, and an altitude of 25,000 feet could be attained in 6.4 minutes. Weights were 13,402 pounds empty, 19,100 pounds normal loaded, and 22,000 pounds maximum. Dimensions were wingspan 51 feet 3 inches, length 39 feet 1 inches, height 13 feet 10 inches, and wing area of 408 square feet.

Serial numbers of XP-82 Twin Mustang

44-83886/83887	North American XP-82 Twin Mustang
			c/n 120-43742/43743

 

The XP-82A

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At an early stage, it was suspected that once the war was over, the Packard Motor Car Company would be unlikely to continue the manufacture of V-1650 Merlin engines. Furthermore, the Allison V-1710 had by that time matured into an engine which, without a turbosupercharger but with two stages of gear-driven blowers could give excellent performance at high altitudes. Consequently, the V-1710-119 was specified for the third and fourth prototypes, which were to be designated XP-82A.

The third Twin Mustang prototype (44-83888) was completed as the XP-82A and was fitted with a pair of Allison V-1710-119 engines of 1500 hp each, driving propellers rotating in the same direction. This change to the Allison brought the Mustang design full circle. The serial number was 44-83888. The Allison installation now looked not unlike that of a Merlin, because the -119 engine had an updraft inlet and an injection-type carburetor upstream of the two-stage supercharger, so that the inlet was on the underside of the engine behind the spinner. The inlet was about a foot further back than with the Merlin.

There is no evidence that the XP-82A was ever actually flown, due to problems with the Allison engines. The other XP-82A prototype (44-83889) was cancelled.

Serial numbers of XP-82A

44-83888/83889	North American XP-82A Twin Mustang
			c/n 120-43744/43745

The P-82B

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The first production model was the P-82B (Model NA-123), with a pair of Packard Merlin V-1560-19/21 engines. Five hundred production P-82Bs were ordered by the USAAF. These P-82Bs were basically similar to the XP-82, but differed in having provisions for underwing racks capable of carrying four 1000-pound bombs, two 2000-pound bombs, or 25 5-inch rockets. A central pod carrying eight additional 0.50-inch machine guns could also be fitted.

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The P-82B was one of the hottest piston-engined fighters of the war. Maximum speed was 482 mph at 25,100 feet. Normal range was 1390 miles at 227 mph, 1280 miles with a 4000-pound bomb load. Service ceiling was 41,600 feet, and an altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 7 minutes. Weights were 13,405 pounds empty, 19,100 pounds normal loaded, and 22,000 pounds maximum. Dimensions were wingspan 51 feet 3 inches, length 38 feet 1 inches, height 13 feet 10 inches, and wing area of 408 square feet.

Only twenty of these P-82Bs had been built by the time of V-J Day (serials were 44-65160/65179). None of these planes managed to get overseas before the end of the war. The end of the war against Japan resulted in the cancellation of the remaining 480 of these P-82Bs.

On February 28, 1947, P-82B serial number 44-65168 piloted by Robert E. Thacker and his copilot John M. Ard flew nonstop without refueling from Hickam Field, Hawaii to LaGuardia Airport, New York, covering a distance of 4968 miles in 14 hours 31 minutes 50 seconds for an average speed of 342 mph. This airplane, named *Betty Joe* after Thacker's wife, carried four external fuel tanks under the wings for this flight. This was the longest unrefuelled flight ever carried out by a piston-engined fighter. The record still stands.

Serials of P-82B:

44-65160/65168	North American P-82B Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43746/43754
44-65169	North American P-82C Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43755
			conversion of 10th P-82B to P-82C night fighter
44-65170	North American P-82D Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43756
			conversion of 11th P-82B to P-82D night fighter
44-65171/65179	North American P-82B Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43757/43765
44-65180/65659	North American P-82B Twin Mustang
			contract cancelled.

The P-82C

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The tenth P-82B (serial number 44-65169) was modified during construction as a night fighter with the mounting of a SCR-720 airborne interception radar housed in a large bulb-shaped housing underneath the center wing. The SCR-720 was the same radar installation which was carried aboard the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, a considerably larger aircraft. In order to avoid interference of the radar beam from the propellers, it was necessary to position the radar antenna ahead of them, which mean that the entire pod had to be cantilevered well ahead of the pylon, placing severe nodding loads on the pylon, pod, and wing. The right-hand cockpit became the radar operator's position. The designation P-82C was applied. The first flight took place on March 27, 1946.

Serials of P-82C:

44-65169	North American P-82C Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43755
			conversion of 10th P-82B to P-82C night fighter
 

The P-82

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radar installation in place of the SCR-720 set of the P-82C. The APS-4 was a much smaller set than the SCR-720, and operated in the 3 cm waveband. The designation P-82D was applied. The first flight took place on March 29, 1946.

Serials of P-82D:

44-65170	North American P-82D Twin Mustang
			c/n 123-43756
			conversion of 11th P-82B to P-82D night fighter
 

The P-82E

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The third Twin Mustang prototype, the XP-82A, had been fitted with a pair of Allison V-1710-119 engines of 1500 hp each, driving propellers rotating in the same direction. The serial number was 44-83888. This brought the Mustang design full circle.

At first sight, it seems difficult to understand just WHY the USAAF would ever want to go back to the Allison engine, when the Merlin engine worked so well. However, at the end of the war, the British economy was severely crippled and Rolls Royce was forced to charge a substantial license fee for its Packard-built Merlin. This increase, coupled with the Air Force's desire to develop US-designed liquid-cooled engines, led to the decision to switch to the Allison engine. All the remaining production Twin Mustangs ended up being powered by these Allison engines.

In order to cover the period which elapsed before the first jet fighter aircraft could be available, on October 10, 1946 the USAAF ordered a hundred P-82Es, the production version of the XP-82A. Serials were 46-255/354, and the company designation was NA-144. Power was applied by a pair of supercharged Allison V-1710-143/145 engines rated at 1600 hp each. Unlike the early V-1710s that powered the P-39 Airacobra and the P-40 Warhawk, these engines were cleared to 3200 rpm for takeoff, where the rating was 1600 hp. With water-alcohol injection, maximum power output was 1930 hp at sea level and 1700 hp at 21,000 feet. As the dual designation implied, these engines were handed, with the -143 engine being mounted in the left fuselage, the -145 engine in the right fuselage. The propeller blades moved toward each other at the top.

The first P-82E flew on February 17, 1947. Maximum speed of the P-82E was 465 mph at 21,000 feet. Normal range was 2504 miles, with maximum range being 2708 miles. Service ceiling was 40,000 feet, and the initial climb rate was 4020 feet per minute. Weights were 14,914 pounds empty and 24,864 pounds maximum. Dimensions were wingspan 51 feet 3 inches, length 38 feet 1 inches, height 13 feet 10 inches, and wing area of 408 square feet.

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Serials of P-82E:

46-255/354	North American P-82E Twin Mustang 
			c/n 144-38141/38240
			Redesignated F-82E in 1948.
			0256 owned by Wally Fisk of Minnesota
			0262 at USAF History and Traditions Museum, Lackland
				AFB, TX.

The P-82F

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Also ordered were 91 examples of the P-82F (Model NA-149), a night-fighter version with an APS-4 or APG-28 radar set installed in a large bulbous pod mounted underneath the central wing in such a way that it protruded beyond the forward edge of the propeller spinners. The starboard cockpit was modified to carry a radar operator's position. The armament consisted of six 0.50-inch machine guns mounted in the center wing just above the radar set. Serials were 46-405/495.

The first P-82F flew on March 11, 1948. Surprisingly, the additional weight and aerodynamic drag caused by the large radar pod had only a slight degrading effect on performance. Maximum speed of the P-82F dropped only five mph to 460 mph at 21,000 feet. Normal range was 2200 miles, with maximum range being 2400 miles. Service ceiling was 38,500 feet, and the initial climb rate was 3690 feet per minute. Weights were 16,309 pounds empty and 26,208 pounds maximum. Dimensions were wingspan 51 feet 3 inches, length 42 feet 2 inches, height 13 feet 10 inches, and wing area of 408 square feet.

Serials of P-82F:

46-405/495	North American P-82F Twin Mustang 
			c/n 149-38291/38381
			Redesignated F-82F in 1948.

The P-82G

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59 examples of the P-82G (Model NA-150) were also ordered. The P-82G was basically similar to the P-82F, but had a SCR-720C radar set. This included nine planes that were originally ordered as P-82Fs but were completed to the standards of the P-82G. The SCR-720C radar set was somewhat lighter than the APS-4 or APG-28 radar of the P-82F, so the P-82G had a slightly better performance. Maximum speed of the P-82G was 461 mph at 21,000 feet. Normal range was 2240 miles, with maximum range being 2495 miles. Service ceiling was 38,900 feet, and the initial climb rate was 3770 feet per minute. Weights were 15,997 pounds empty and 25,891 pounds maximum. Dimensions were wingspan 51 feet 3 inches, length 42 feet 5 inches, height 13 feet 10 inches, and wing area of 408 square feet.

 

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Serial numbers of P-82G:

46-355/383	North American P-82G Twin Mustang 
			c/n 150-38241/38269
			Redesignated F-82G in 1948.
46-384/388	North American P-82H Twin Mustang 
			c/n 150-38270/38274
			Redesignated F-82H in 1948.
46-389/404	North American P-82G Twin Mustang 
			c/n 150-38275/38290
			Redesignated F-82G in 1948.
 

The P-82H

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Five P-82Gs and nine P-82Fs were modified for cold-weather usage in Alaska. They were redesignated P-82H.

46-384/388	North American P-82H Twin Mustang 
			c/n 150-38270/38274
			Redesignated F-82H in 1948.
46-496/504	North American P-82H Twin Mustang 
			c/n 150-38382/38390
			Redesignated F-82H in 1948.

The P / F-82 Service Record

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The first Twin Mustangs began to reach the squadrons during 1948. In June of that year, the P-designation was changed to F, and the Twin Mustang became F-82 rather than P-82. The F-82E entered service in the long-range bomber escort role with the 27th Fighter Group (522nd, 523rd, and 524th Squadrons) of the Strategic Air Command. They spent their brief life flying alongside B-29s, and were replaced by jets in 1950.

In 1948, the F and G night-fighter versions of the Twin Mustang began to replace the Northrop F-61 Black Widow in service with the Air Defense Command. They were painted all-black and had flame-damped exhausts. The first Air Defense Command unit to take delivery of the F-82F was the 325th Fighter Group (317th, 318th, and 319th Squadrons) based at both Hamilton Field, California and McChord AFB, Washington, the 51st Fighter Group (16th, 25th, and 26th Squadrons) and the 52nd Fighter Group (2nd and 5th Squadrons) based at Mitchel AFB and McGuire AFB, New Jersey. In 1949, the 347th Fighter Group (4th, 68th, and 339th Squadrons) stationed in Japan received F-82Gs. The 449th Squadron of the 5001st Composite Group based at Ladd AFB in Alaska received the "cold-weather F-82Hs.

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By the middle of 1949, the Twin Mustang was in widespread service, some 225 E, F, and G models being on strength. It was anticipated that the service life of the Twin Mustang would be relatively brief, since the F-82 was seen as only an interim type, filling in the gap only until adequate numbers of jet fighters could be made available. In 1950, some units based in the USA were already beginning to replace their Twin Mustangs with jets.

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War broke out. The Twin Mustangs based in Japan were immediately thrown into combat to stem the North Korean advance. They were the only fighter aircraft available with the range to cover the entire Korean peninsula from bases in Japan. They provided fighter cover for the C-54 and C-47 transports flying in and out of Kimpo Airfield near Seoul. On June 27, 1950, an F-82G (46-383) of the 68th Fighter Squadron of the 347th Fighter Group flown by Lieut. William Hudson (pilot) and Lieut. Carl Fraser (radar operator) shot down a North Korean Yak-7U. This was the first air-to-air kill of the Korean War, and, incidentally, the first aerial victory by the newly-formed United States Air Force. Squadron records have been lost, and memory is unreliable, and it is possible that Lt. Hudson was actually flying 46-601 that day. Later that same day, an F-82G (46-392) flown by Major James Little of the 339th Fighter Squadron of the 347th Fighter Group shot down a North Korean Yak-9. Records are unreliable, and some experts maintain that Major Little actually was the first to kill.

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The Twin Mustang saw extensive service in Korea until November of 1951, serving in both escort and ground attack roles. However, the F-82 played a secondary role as compared with its distinguished predecessor, the single-engine F-51. As more jets became available, the F-82s were withdrawn from combat and phased out of service.

The last Twin Mustang was retired from service in mid-1953.

Joe. Baugher

Sources:

Classic Warplanes: North American P-51 Mustang, Bill Gunston, Gallery Books, 1990.

Fighters of the United States Air Force, Robert F. Dorr and David Donald, Temple Press Aerospace, 1990.

The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Volume 4, William Green, Doubleday 1964.

American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

Fighter Combat Over Korea, Part 1: First Kills, Wings of Fame, Aerospace Publishing, 1995.

 

 

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