Footage of Military Fighter Planes Setting a Cross Country Speed Record

RAAF P51 Mustang VH-SVU (A68-750) doing a demonstration in Geelong, Australia for Australia day on January 26th, 2024

Footage of Military Fighter Planes Setting a Cross Country Speed Record

Military fighter planes have always captivated the attention of anyone. They are simply faster, meaner, and leaner than their bomber counterparts. During the Second World War, few fighters were as lean and mean as the P-51 Mustang fielded by American forces. See these nimble fighters set a speed record in the years before Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier.

What is the P-51 Mustang?

Military Fighter Planes
6 and a half hours for a cross country flight was incredible in the 1940s.

Taking its maiden flight in 1940, the P-51 Mustang is one of many military fighter planes fielded by the United States during the Second World War. While the P-38 and P-47 proved to be potent in combat theaters around the world, the Mustang would take the lead quite ably.

P-51 Mustang Specs

Military Fighter Planes
The Mustang excelled at range, something that was noted by pilots on both sides of the war.

For any of the military fighter planes fielded during the Second World War, the Mustang was built for a specific purpose. With a maximum speed of 440 miles per hour, these were among the fastest craft fielded by the United States. The armament consisted of six machine guns chambered in .50 caliber. Further mission needs could see the use of bombs and rockets on the mount points.

Operational Service

Military Fighter Planes
Going from Los Angeles to New York City in a single flight was something unheard of in an era before jets.

While the Mustang only saw a decade of service, it had quite a storied time in the air. It was originally introduced as a long-range bomber escort, something pilots in the European theater noted it handled with ease. Allied users of the aircraft include the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.

A Need for Fighters

Military Fighter Planes
The Mustang was more than up to the task, cruising easily at 400 miles per hour.

American bombardment doctrine at the time didn’t see a need for military fighter planes. With tightly packed formations, it was thought any bomber squad could fend off enemy fighters. Massive casualties soon showed the need for something different.

Doctrine Shift

Military Fighter Planes
The Mustang was faster and had a longer range than comparable fighters in the American arsenal.

While the P-51 Mustang was by no means among the first military fighter planes fielded by the United States, it showed a shift in the thinking of the time. The Mustang’s superb range and handling characteristics meant it could fly missions from England to Germany for bombing runs without the need to refuel.

A Change in Course

P-51 Mustang
The range of the Mustang was likely extended by the lack of ammunition needed for the flight.

While you could argue the Germans fielded superior fighters, results are what matter most in warfare. The establishment of Clobber Colleges and new gun sights saw the P-51 Mustang ranking among the deadliest military fighter planes to take to the air.

Jack of All Trades

P-51 Mustang
The Mustang was an adept dogfighter, something many a German and Japanese pilot took notice of.

Sure, the P-51 excelled at escort missions, but that wasn’t all it had up its sleeve. It could ably dogfight other military fighter planes with ease and could handle strafing runs for ground targets along with precision bombing duties. It might not have excelled at ground attacks, but it could do them easily.

The Scourge of the Pacific

P-51 Mustang
While the Mustang wasn’t a perfect fighter, it is among the best to serve during the Second World War.

Military fighter planes took precedence for the European theater, but Mustangs would find their way to the Pacific for the fight. Hundreds of planes would end up in Chinese hands, where they showed the Japanese a rough time. American forces would use them for ground attacks, most notably in the incendiary bombing of Yokohama.

A Second Life

P-51 Mustang
You have to wonder how the average person reacted to two military planes bursting through the sky at top speed.

After the Second World War, jets were the new thing. The P-51 Mustang would be mothballed in place of the newfangled jets the Americans were fielding. However, Korea saw the need for all military fighter planes, and the P-51 would fly once again. In this capacity, they were used as fast-strike ground attack planes.

Watch the Full Video

P-51 Mustang
Both pilots were greeted by their families upon arrival.

If you would like to watch the full video where these images are taken, you can do so here. The land speed record set by the P-51 Mustang is an incredible feat, with the pilots flying from California to New York City in just under 7 hours.

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