The North American Avaition, NAA, P/F-82 Twin Mustang, proving with a little ingenuity, can do spirit, and recklessly endangering pilots near anything is possible. Ordered into production at the same time it started development, it in this way is a perfect example of war time exigency and we’ll fix it in post production.
In the WWII era planes lept from a draft table to flight to combat in literally months. With a near unlimited budget every manufacturer had several production planes in constant upgrades while at the same time trying clean sheet designs that hopefully were “good enough for government work”.
If you needed longer range you could upgrade the engines, fit a bigger wing, or carry drop tanks. If you wanted to go really far, especially in the pre Merlin engine equipped P-51D time frame, you had to get weird or bulky. Since bulky doesn’t work so good as a fighter twin boom aircraft like the Lockheed P-38 or Northrop P-61 were out into service. The P-51Ds exceptional range made these two somewhat of a niche aircraft.
The P-61 did quite well as a night attacker and the P-38 did great work in the pacific, partially because the USAF wanted to keep the P-52Ds in Europe where their real fight was. Helping the USN in the Pacific Ocean was always a secondary task, at least until the B-29s started flying from the Marianas islands in long range direct attacks against the Empire of Japan. With these flights the P-51Ds had met their match and was outranged by the B-29 and thus P-38s and P-61s attempted the escort role.
In the end Japan’s Air Force had been devastated to such a degree by 1945 that the B-29s often went unescorted. Originally designed as one of the first pressurized aircraft and thus intended to attack at very high altitude where enemy fighters would have a hard time matching its altitude, it’s ace in the hole was the B-29s speed. At altitude and high speed they were safe from all but the most determined attacks from Japanese aircraft, Japan did not have super/turbo charged high altitude fighters like the Germans. In the end the B-29s ended up flying at medium low altitude because the strong prevailing winds over Japan, complicated by its extensive mountains and island geography, did not allow high altitude bombing to be accurate in any effective way.
Following text excerpted from Wikipedia... Captions are mine though.
In the postwar era, Strategic Air Command used the planes as a long-range escort fighter. Radar-equipped F-82s were used extensively by the Air Defense Command as replacements for the Northrop P-61 Black Widow as all-weather day/night interceptors. During the Korean War, Japan-based F-82s were among the first USAF aircraft to operate over Korea. The first three North Korean aircraft destroyed by U.S. forces were shot down by F-82s, the first being a North-Korean Yak-11downed over Gimpo Airfield
Initially intended as a very long-range (VLR) escort fighter, the F-82 was designed to escort Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers on missions exceeding 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the Solomons or Philippines to Tokyo, missions beyond the range of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and conventional P-51 Mustangs. Such missions were part of the planned U.S. invasion of the Japanese home islands, which was forestalled by the surrender of Japanafter the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the opening of Soviet attacks on Japanese-held territory in Manchuria.
The XP-82 was to be powered by two Packard-built Rolls-Royce V-1650 Merlin engines. Initially, the left engine was a V-1650-23 with a gear reduction box to allow the left propeller to turn opposite to the right propeller, which was driven by the more conventional V-1650-25. In this arrangement both propellers would turn upward as they approached the center wing, which in theory would have allowed better single-engine control. This proved not to be the case when the aircraft refused to become airborne during its first flight attempt. After a month of work North American engineers finally discovered that rotating the propellers to meet in the center on their upward turn created sufficient drag to cancel out all lift from the center wing section, one quarter of the aircraft’s total wing surface area. The engines and propellers were then exchanged, with their rotation meeting on the downward turn, and the problem was fully solved. The first XP-82 prototype (44-83886) was completed on 25 May 1945, and made the type’s first successful flight on 26 June 1945. This aircraft was accepted by the Army Air Forces on 30 August 1945, whose officials were so impressed by the aircraft, while still in development, that they ordered the first production P-82Bs in March 1945, fully three months before its first flight.
On 27 February 1947, P-82B 44-65168, named Betty Joand flown by Colonel Robert E. Thacker, made history when it flew nonstop from Hawaii to New York without refueling, a distance of 5,051 mi (8,129 km) in 14 hr 32 min. It averaged 347.5 miles per hour (559.2 km/h). This flight tested the P-82's range. The aircraft carried a full internal fuel tank of 576 US gallons (2,180 l; 480 imp gal), augmented by four 310 US gal (1,173 l; 258 imp gal) tanks for a total of 1,816 US gal (6,874 l; 1,512 imp gal). The pilot forgot to jettison three of his external fuel tanks and still made it.
However, during the 1947 Soviet Aviation Day display at Tushino Airport, a surprise appearance was put in by three Boeing B-29s, followed by a fourth four-engined long-range strategic bomber. It was an example of the Tupolev Tu-4, which was a bolt-for-bolt copy of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, three examples of which were known to have been interned in the Soviet Union after having been forced to land there during bombing raids against Japan. Since the USSR was expected soon to have nuclear weapons, the appearance of the Soviet Tu-4 was a shock to U.S. military planners, since it meant that the U.S. mainland might soon be vulnerable to nuclear attack from the air.
The F-82E was the first model to reach operational squadrons and its initial operational assignment was to the Strategic Air Command 27th Fighter (later Fighter-Escort) Wing at Kearney Air Force Base, Nebraska in March 1948.
The sheer size of the Soviet Union dictated that a bombing mission would be a 12-hour affair there and back from bases in Europe or Alaska, most of it over Soviet territory. Also the weather, which was bad enough in Western Europe, would make bombing missions impossible over the Soviet Union between October and May. With no long-range jet fighters yet available to perform escort missions for the strategic bomber force, the mission of the 27th FEW was to fly these long-range missions with their F-82Es.
The F-82E had a range of over 1,400 mi (2,300 km), which meant that with external fuel tanks it could fly from London to Moscow, loiter for 30 minutes over the target, and return, the only American fighter which could do so. It also had an operational ceiling of 40,000 feet (12,200 m), where it could stay close to the bombers it was designed to protect. The first production F-82Es reached the 27th in early 1948, and almost immediately the group was deployed to McChord AFB, Washington, in June, where its squadrons stood on alert on a secondary air defense mission due to heightened tensions over the Berlin Airlift. It was also believed that the 27th would launch an escort mission, presumably to the Soviet Union, if conflict broke out in Europe. From McChord, the group flew its Twin Mustangs on weather reconnaissance missions over the northwest Pacific, but problems were encountered with their fuel tanks. Decommissioned F-61 Black Widow external tanks were found at Hamilton AFB, California, which could be modified for the F-82; fitted on the pylons of the Twin Mustang, these solved the problem. With a reduction in tension, the 27th returned to its home base in Nebraska during September, where the unit settled down to transition flying with their aircraft.
With the appearance of the MiG-15 over the skies of North Korea in late 1950, the B-29, as well as all of the propeller-driven bombers in the USAF inventory, were simply rendered obsolete as strategic offensive weapons. The straight-winged F-84Gs used in Korea as bomber escorts were ineffective against the MiG, and it took the swept-wing North American F-86 Sabre to clear the skies. It was clear that it would take a new generation of swept-wing jet bombers, able to fly higher and faster, to effectively defeat the defense of the jet propelled MiG-15 or subsequent Soviet-designed interceptors. Also, the era of large groups of bombers flying in formations to a strategic target ended after the Korean War. Strategic bombing evolved into a one-plane, one target affair, with the jet-equipped and nuclear-armed Boeing B-52 Stratofortress flying higher and faster than most enemy interceptors. The escort fighter concept became redundant, and by 1957 SAC had inactivated the last of its strategic fighter escort wings.
The production interceptor versions of the Twin Mustang were designated the F-82F and F-82G; the distinguishing feature between the F and G models was largely the nacelle beneath the center-wing that housed radar equipment (F-82F’s AN/APG-28 and F-82G’s SCR-720C18). In addition, the interceptor version required numerous modifications. The right side cockpit was replaced with a radar operator’s position without flight controls.
A long radar pod, resembling a sausage and irreverently known as a “long dong”, was attached to the underside of the center wing, below the six .50 inchmachine guns and with its dish in front of the propellers to prevent signal interference. This unconventional arrangement was found not to affect the aircraft’s performance seriously. Additionally the unit could be jettisoned in an emergency, or for belly landings – it was sometimes even lost during high-G maneuvers. F-82F models were designated for ADC units in the United States, while the F-82G models were deployed to Far East Air Forces for air defense of Japan and Okinawa. No F-82s were deployed to Europe.
With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, the F-82 was pressed into combat duty. At 04:00 on 25 June 1950, 68th Fighter Squadron F-82 aircrews on alert at Itazuke Air Base were told that North Korea had crossed the 38th Parallel. They were ordered to fly to the area and report any activity on the main roads and railroads. They arrived to find overcast conditions, with cloud tops at 8,000 feet (2,400 m). The Twin Mustangs flew through the clouds using radar and broke out at 2,000 feet (610 m), heading for Kimpo Airfield near Seoul. The pilots observed huge convoys of North Korean trucks and other vehicles, including 58 tanks, which had crossed into South Korea. The crews flew back through the clouds to Itazuke Air Base, where they were debriefed by a U.S. Army colonel from General Douglas MacArthur’s staff. This reconnaissance flight is considered to be the first United States air combat mission of the Korean War.
With this information, along with other intelligence reports available to them, FEAF confirmed that the Korean People’s Army had, indeed, launched a full-scale invasion of South Korea. FEAF’s first priority, however, was to evacuate United States citizens. On the morning of 26 June, the nearby Norwegian freighter Reinholte was sent to Inchon harbor to evacuate non-military personnel from Seoul, which lay directly in the invasion route. A flight of Twin Mustangs from the 68th F(AW)S was dispatched to the area, arriving at dawn to provide air protection for the evacuation. Two of the F-82s were dispatched to fly over the road from Seoul, while others flew top cover over the Inchon docks. The patrol went without incident until about 1300, when a pair of Soviet-built aircraft (the exact aircraft type has never been determined) came out of the clouds. Orders given to the F-82 pilots prohibited any aggressive action; however, gun switches were activated when the enemy leader tightened up his turn and peeled off at the F-82s with his wing man in close tail. The F-82s dropped their external tanks, turned on combat power and started a climbing turn towards the North Korean aircraft. For some reason, the North Korean leader fired while too far away, with his bullets falling short of the F-82s which then pulled up into the clouds and above the overcast, putting them in a position to return fire if the North Koreans followed them. However, they did not, and no further contact was made for the rest of the day. The evacuation at Inchon was successfully carried out with a total of 682 civilians being transported to Sasebo, Japan.
Before dawn on 27 June, the 347th Provisional Group was up in the air over Korea, with a mission to provide cover for the Douglas C-54 Skymaster transports flying in and out of Kimpo Airfield as they moved the last civilians out. 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 25 June), the Air Force requested air cover to protect the aircraft during takeoff. Fortunately, 339th Fighter All Weather Squadron (F(AW)S) with their F-82Gs were based at Yokota AB and the 68th F(AW)S was based at Itazuke AB Japan. With Lieutenant Colonel John F. Sharp in command, 27 F-82Gs of the 35 in Japan 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 group of five North Korean fighters (Soviet-built Yak-9s, Yak-11s and La-7s) appeared, heading for the airfield. One of the Yak-11s 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, and soon was closing in on the Yak’s tail. He then fired a short burst at close range, scoring hits with his six .50 inch 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 him. Moments later, Lt. Moran shot down an La-7 over the airfield, while a few miles away, Major James W. Little, commanding officer of the 339th F(AW)S, shot down another La-7. The C-54 was able to escape safely. Three of the five North Korean aircraft had been shot down, with pilot Lt. William G. “Skeeter” Hudson and radar operator Lt. Carl Fraiser scoring the first United States aerial “kill” of the Korean War.
Considering these crews had not been extensively trained in air-to-air gunnery, they came out of combat looking very good. It is generally believed that the aircraft Hudson and Fraiser flew that day was an F-82G named “Bucket of Bolts” (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.
Modified F-82F/Gs for cold weather were designated as F-82H. Six were assigned initially to the 449th F(AW)S at Adak Island in December 1948 to replace their P-61 Black Widows in the Alaska Air Defense mission. The Twin Mustang was well-suited for the air defense mission in Alaska due to its long-range flying ability. In March 1949, the squadron was reassigned to Ladd AFB, near Fairbanks, where an additional eight (14 total) arrived.
- 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 ft² (37.90 m²)
- Empty weight: 15,997 lb (7,271 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 25,591 lb (11,632 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Allison V-1710-143/145 counter-rotating liquid-cooled V12 engines, 1,380 hp takeoff (1,029 kW each) each
- Maximum speed: 482 mph (400 kn, 740 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
- Range: 2,350 mi (1,950 nmi, 3,605 km)
- Service ceiling: 38,900 ft (11,855 m)
- Guns: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning M3 machine guns
- Rockets: 25 × 5 in (127 mm) rockets
- Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
- Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.28 m)
- Height: 13 ft 4½ in (4.08 m:tail wheel on ground, vertical propeller blade.)
- Wing area: 235 sq ft (21.83 m²)
- Airfoil: NAA/NACA 45-100 / NAA/NACA 45-100
- Empty weight: 7,635 lb (3,465 kg)
- Loaded weight: 9,200 lb (4,175 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 12,100 lb (5,490 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Packard V-1650-7 liquid-cooled V-12, with a 2 stage intercooledsupercharger, 1,490 hp (1,111 kW) at 3,000 rpm; 1,720 hp (1,282 kW) at WEP
- Propellers: constant-speed, variable-pitch Hamilton Standard, propellerPropeller diameter: 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m)
- *Maximum fuel capacity: 419 US gal (349 imp gal; 1,590 l)
- Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0163
- Drag area: 3.80 sqft (0.35 m²)
- Aspect ratio: 5.83
- Maximum speed: 437 mph (380 kn, 703 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
- Cruise speed: 362 mph (315 kn, 580 km/h)
- Stall speed: 100 mph (87 kn, 160 km/h)
- Range: 1,650 mi (1,434 nmi, 2,755 km) with external tanks
- Service ceiling: 41,900 ft (12,800 m)
- Rate of climb: 3,200 ft/min (16.3 m/s)
- Wing loading: 39 lb/sqft (192 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.18 hp/lb (300 W/kg)
- Lift-to-drag ratio: 14.6