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F-82 — North American’s Mustang 2-fer

4 September 2013

F-82 — North American’s Mustang 2-fer

XF-82 — USAF photo

North American XF-82 proof of concept aircraft — USAF photo

Before the sudden end of World War II, in the Pacific Ocean, Allied military forces were preparing for a long haul of at least one or two more years of combat — and combat more intense than previously experienced. The U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) began to work on prosecuting bombing campaigns of the northern Japanese home islands to compliment aircraft carrier raids borne by the U.S. Navy. Unbelievably, perhaps, Japan was not only able to continue aircraft production but also develop new as well as effective aircraft designs. The USAAF required a longer ranging escort fighter than the P-51H Mustangs and P-47N Thunderbolts of the day and North American had the answer with the very long range Twin Mustang (initially designated P-82 but redesignated F-82 after the war’s end) which could fly 2000 mile combat missions. Commonly described as two P-51H fuselages mated together it was more complicated than that, as most things seem to be. Beginning with P-51H fuselages: each was lengthened adding more fuel and equipment volume, the main landing gear from each wing was moved to a fuselage, a center wing section was added to mate the fuselages together and the outer wing machine guns were relocated to the new center section, as well as the addition of a ventral strake forward of each vertical stabilizer to improve single engine handling. The Twin Mustang, having the six heavy caliber machine guns mounted in the center wing, had no difficulties regarding how to orient them in a converging pattern — they would all fire forward in parallel with the centerline making aiming easier for the pilot with regard to the range to the intended target. Having a pilot and a copilot also was desirable for very long escort missions, of course. The later night fighter version of the F-82 would replace the copilot with a radar operator and the radar equipment replacing the flight controls of the righthand cockpit. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet regarding the F-82.

F-82 — photo provided by North American

F-82 in flight — photo provided by North American Rockwell

F-82 — USAF photo

F-82 in formation with a P-51H, this comparision easily shows the Twing Mustang was more than simply joining two P-51H fuselages — USAF photo

World War II ended before the Twin Mustang could enter service but flew the first combat mission for the USAF in the Korean War when radar equipped night fighting F-82s were tasked to fly a reconnaissance mission from the Itazuke Air Base in Fukuoka Japan to the vicinity of Seoul South Korea. They observed many invading tanks from North Korea accompanied by a large number of troops. F-82s also were the first to shoot down North Korean aircraft until replaced by F-80 Shooting Star aircraft — the USAF had slightly less than 200 F-82 Twin Mustangs and required them for defense against strategic bombers on other fronts. These would be replaced by F-84 Thunderbolts within two years making the service life of the Twin Mustang one of the shortest of USAF aircraft — though this is not a judgement of the F-82’s effectiveness. The F-82 was a good flying aircraft with long range and an excellent record but it came in the waning years of piston engined/propeller driven fighter aircraft, hence its early retirement. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet with respect to the nightfighting F-82G Twin Mustang now being restored.

F-82 — USAF photo

F-82F, the nightfighter Twin Mustang, pilot in the left fuselage (photo right) and radar operator in the right fuselage — USAF photo

F-82 — USAF photo

F-82 left cockpit which is the pilot’s cockpit — USAF photo

F-82 — USAF photo

F-82 right cockpit which is the copilot/navigator cockpit (or radar operator in the nightfighter versions). This is a day fighter since it has a joy stick as well as being absent of a radar display — USAF photo

On 4 March 2011 a post was published showing the “Betty Jo” the record setting Twin Mustang.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 May 2014 22:35

    In case the writers of this article care, there is a typo in the next-to-last sentence, “drivev” instead of driven. (Also, if it makes any difference, the dash or hyphen in: “engined–propeller” is misplaced; a comma is sufficient.)
    “The F-82 was a good flying aircraft with long range and an excellent record but it came in the waning years of piston engined–propeller drivev fighter aircraft, hence its early retirement.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      22 May 2014 15:23

      Thanks for spotting the typographic error as well as the observation regarding the hyphen. The typo has, of course, been remedied. There are no rules regarding hyphens so we approached that matter in a different way than what you suggested.

      The photos in your blog of less than five posts are gorgeous.

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