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. First flight of P-82 was on June 16, 1945. After 1947, the old P for Pursuit designation was replaced by F for Fighter, so the aircraft became known as the F-82.
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 could have been used as a fighter, a long-range escort (of B-29 bombers), long-range reconnaissance, night fighter, attack bomber, rocket fighter or 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.
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