From: Stillwater, OK, United States
I like the P-51 as much as anybody, but the Luftwaffe was on its way to destruction before the P-51 entered large production numbers.
The P-38s, P-47s, and Spitfires were holding their own, and in late '43 the P-51B model arrived on the scene. By 1944 it was clear that the Luftwaffe was nowhere near the capabilities of the Allied Air forces. While the P-51 made a definate impact, it did not win the war alone. By D-Day, there were several times more P-38s, P-47s, and Spitfires than P-51s.
Below (As near as I can find) are the Highest ranking US Aces and their planes.
Richard Bong, 40 kills, P-38
Thomas McGuire, 38 kills, P-38
David McCampbell, 34 kills, F6F
Francis Gabreski, 28 kills, P-47
Robert Johnson, 27 kills, P-47
Charles MacDonald, 27 kills, P-38
George Preddy, 26.8 kills, P-51
Joeseph Foss, 26 kills, F4F
Robert Hanson, 25 kills, F4U
While I did include CBI, USN, and USMC pilots, I did so to prove a point. The P-51 was a good aircraft, but it didn't win the war single handedly. In the Pacific, there were only 4 P-51 aces, and 2 of those scored a good number of their kills in P-40s. As near as I can figure it, there were 28 P-51 aces in the ETO (8th AF). There were 20 who flew P-47s. Granted, the P-51 produced more Aces, but not near so much to validate a claim that "The P-51 destroyed the Luftwaffe".
The P-51 was a suberb aircraft, yes. It was also a war winner. But it did not singlehandedly destroy the Luftwaffe. Don't remember where, I seem to remember reading that the P-47 shot down more German Aces than any other aircraft. The P-51 was also a very vulnerable aircraft, due to its inline engine. The P-47 (and even the P-38) had a reputation for ruggedness, unlike the P-51.
Most people today think of the P-51 like the Britons think of the Spitfire. To them, it was the plane. The Spitfire is thought to have won the Battle of Britain, despite the fact there were far more Hurricanes. The P-51 is thought to have won the air war over Europe, when it in reality took a combined effort of Spitfires, Tempests, Jugs, Forktailed Devils, Hurricanes, and Mustangs. The Mustang assured victory, but it did not do it single handedly.
< Message edited by Tankerace -- 10/17/2004 7:06:18 PM >
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