If you’re reading this, you most likely know that there are 50 weeks until the air show, or you do now, at any rate. You probably also know what air show I’m talking about. So, for 50 weeks, I will be doing a Plane of the Week countdown. I may continue after the air show too, who knows? But this week’s plane is what matters now. I thought I’d start off with something unusual. This week’s plane is the North American F-82 Twin Mustang.
The North American F-82 Twin Mustang was the last American piston-engine fighter ordered into production by the United States Air Force. Based on the P-51 Mustang, the F-82 was originally designed as a long-range escort fighter in World War II; however, the war ended well before the first production units were operational, which is quite unfortunate.
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 F-82 was basically, design-wise, two P-51 Mustangs attached to one another by a center wing. It doesn’t look like something that should fly well, and at first it didn’t, but it could fly at 482 miles per hour and was a reasonably good fighter. The first few kills of the Korean War were made by F-82s. Out of 272 planes produced, only 5 F-82s are known to still exist.
I would normally have some more information, but this was not a very common airplane, so there isn’t a lot of interesting information out there.
Next week: Lockheed’s answer to the Douglas DC-6.