No. 10050. North American NA-149 F-82F Twin Mustang (46-420 cn 149-38306) US Air Force
Photographed at Hamilton Field, California, USA, September 1948, by W.T. Larkins

North American NA-149 F-82F Twin Mustang

09/30/2010. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "One of the most unusual products of the North American company to reach production, the Twin Mustang was a highly ingenious solution to the problem of providing a very long range escort fighter at short notice. Operations by the USAAF in the Pacific area during 1943 showed that the pilots of single-seat fighters were being subjected to very severe strains by the lengths of typical missions. To provide a two-seat fighter whilst retaining the desirable features of the P-51 Mustang and also minimizing development time, North American adopted the simple expedient of joining two Mustang fuselages and outer wing panels together by a new center section and tail plane.

The first of two NA-120 prototypes designated XP-82 flew on April 15, 1945, some sixteen months after the start of work on the project. These aircraft had two Packard V-1650-23/25 Merlin engines with opposite rotation to eliminate engine torque while a third prototype, the XP-82A, had Allison V-1710-119 engines both rotating in the same direction. Before the first flight, the USAAF ordered 500 NA-123 P-82Bs with Merlin engines but only twenty of these were built before the wholesale cancellation of production contracts after VJ-Day.

During 1946, the tenth and eleventh P-82Bs (44-65169 and 44-65170) were converted to night fighters, carrying radar in a large pod beneath the center section and the starboard cockpit was equipped for a radar operator instead of pilot. These two aircraft had two different types of radar, SCR 720 in the NA-123 P-82C and APS-4 in the NA-123 P-82D.

To replace the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, the USAF ordered 100 NA-149 P-82Fs with SCR 720 and fifty NA-150 P-82Gs with APS-4 in 1946, together with 100 NA-144 P-82Es without radar for service in the escort fighter role. All three went into service during 1947 and were fitted with 1,600 hp Allison V-1710-143/145 engines, with opposite rotation. The designation of all models from B to G was changed to F-82 in June 1948.

Air Defense Command was the primary operator of Twin Mustangs, and had 225 F-82F and G models on strength at the end of 1948, as replacements for the P-61. The F-82E served as a long-range escort with one SAC wing. By 1950, the F-82 was deployed overseas as part of the Fifth Air Force in Japan. The F-82s of the 347th Fighter (All-Weather) Group of the 8th F-B Wing, including the 4th, 68th and 339th (All-Weather) Squadrons at Itazuke, thus were among the first USAF aircraft to operate over Korea, and Lt. William G. Hudson, flying F-82G (46-383) of the 68th squadron, is officially credited with the first air-to-air victory of the Korean War, and he was also the first pilot serving with the USAF (rather than the USAAF) who scored a 'kill'.

North American completed fourteen of the night fighters as F-82Hs for service in Alaska, with special features to permit cold-weather operations, this action reducing the F-82F contract to 91 and the F-82G deliveries to 45. The Twin Mustang was the last piston-engined fighter ordered in quantity by the USAF.

Created September 30, 2010