P-51 Mustang, Seventy-Five Years of America's Most Famous Warbird. By Cory Graff. Minneapolis, Minn.: Zenith Press, 2015. Diagrams. Illustrations. Photographs. Index. Pp. 224. $40.00 ISBN: 978-0-7603-4859-8
This is fundamentally a beautiful picture book with generous captions on the illustrations and a moderate amount of text. The pictures are well-chosen, interesting, and beautifully reproduced on heavy paper. Some are so gorgeous that, if they weren't printed on two pages, one would be tempted to tear them out and frame them. The photos are not hurt by the fact that the North American Aviation (NAA) Mustang, especially its NA-73X prototype, was one of the most elegant looking aircraft ever built.
Graff is the military aviation curator at the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington. He graduated from the University of Oregon and worked for the Museum of Flight in Seattle prior to moving to the Flying Heritage Collection in 2008. He has written at least eight previous aviation/military-related books.
The book covers the entire history of the Mustang. Graff did not end the story with World War II but also includes the war in Korea as well as the plane's career as a racer, warbird, and museum artifact. He did an outstanding job of finding excellent photos of the aircraft both in production and in service. Many contemporary posters and advertisements are also included, adding a feel for the way America thought about World War II and about the Mustang. Some are quite elegant. Inclusion of shoulder patches of the various numbered air forces that used the Mustang is also a very nice touch.
However, there are some issues with the text. On page 20, while apparently discussing the NA-73 (Mustang MK I, XP-51), which had an Allison V-1710 engine, Graff describes the under-fuselage duct as containing "the airplane's watercooling radiator, oil cooler, and aftercooler." Allison engine Mustangs did not have after-coolers. The after-cooler appeared with the Packard V-1650 Merlin engine on the P-51B. On page 18 and 19, he suggests that NAA sought information...