20 Cold War-Era Warplanes of the U.S. Air Force

P-51 Mustang

F-51 Mustang

Following the Second World War, during which Mustang pilots claimed an incredible 15,000 victories, North American Aviation’s P-51 became the Air Force’s primary fighter while other piston-driven warplanes were phased out. Once the Korean War began, the Air Force realized that their new, finicky jets didn’t get along with rough Korean airfields. And when flying from Japan, the long commute meant they had to do their mission and get right back to base. Mustang landing gear could take a beating from primitive airstrips and their long range meant they could operate from Japanese fields with plenty of loiter time. The MiG-15’s performance and deadly cannons put a quick end to the Mustang’s glory days of dogfighting, and ground fire took a heavy toll on the lightly-armored planes when they transitioned to a fighter-bomber role, which the F-47 would arguably be better suited. The Mustang was phased out for F-84 Thunderjets and the iconic warbird retired in 1957.

Author: Chris Carter

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