The North American F-82 Twin Mustang was designed after the North American P-51 Mustang which was a long range fighter-escort from World War II. The War ended before the F-82 units could be organized, but the post-War needs were still there as a new adversary came foth–the Soviet Union.
The original designation of the P82 now became the F-82 for “Fighter”as the design was for the F-82 to be a long range escort. It was to be a replacement for the Northrup P-61 Black Widow as an all weather day/night interceptor. Although it “missed” World War Ii, it was used in the Korean War. It was the first United States Air Force (USAFF) aircraft to operate over Korea and the first to down 3 North Korean aircraft, the first to be a Yak-11.
There were 272 F-82s Twin Mustang produced
Design and Development
The original design of the F-82 was to be a very long range (VLR) escort fighter to accompany the B-29 Superfortress on bombing missions during the planned Japanese Home Land Invasion campaign. However unexpected events took place that precluded an invasion as the Emperor of Japan surrendered to the Allies in August 1945 and the need for an VLP fighter was no longer needed for that planned purpose.
However, because of hositialies of The Soviet Union, the need for the F-82 was still needed and design, development and production went ahead as scheduled.
Prior to the surrender of Japan, in October 1943 the North American Aircraft designers began work on an VLR fighter capable of flying 2,000 miles without refueling. It was based on a twin -fuselage design similar that Germany was working on the Messerschmitt Bf-100Z (Zwilling).
North American Aircraft (NAA) Design Chief Edgar Schmued used the design of two standard P-51 Mustangs lengthened the fuselages by 57 inches fuselage plug located behind the cockpit where additional fuel tanks and equipment could be located.
The 2 P-51s had a center wing mounted in between them with 6 .50 cal Browning machine guns mounted on the extra wing, the outer wings mount were reinforced for carrying extra fuel or ordnance.
It had what was called dorsal fillets for additional stability in case of an engine failure. The two vertical tails and conventional landing gear came from the XP-51F Mustang. The landing gear retracted into the left and right gear bays of the two fuselages.
The prototype XP-82 was powered by two Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650 engines. The Rolls-Royce Merlin V1650-23 was used on the left engine and the Rolls-Royce Merlin 1650-25 on the right engine. The left engine was designed to counter-rotating to the right engine for better one-out engine operation.
After some testing and research, some problems were ironed out and the first prototype XP-82 was completed 25 May 1945. The first test flight was on 26 June 1945. The USAAF was so impressed with the Twin Mustang, that they ordered the first production aircraft in March of 1945, 3 months before the first test flight. in June of the same year. The first P-82 (redesignated F-82 on 30 August 1945.
The P-82B and P-82E had fully equipped cockpits on both fuselage so either pilot could fly the aircraft, especially on long flights. The Night Fighter version used a radar operator and just one pilot, that version had only the left cockpit equipped. The cockpit on the right side was radar equipment.
Due to lack of engines as World War II ended, as plants were shutting down, the P(F)-82 never say any action in WWII. The XP-82 and P-82B were equipped with the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines under license with Packard. Due to political reasons the USAAFF wanted the new F-82 to be powered by American engines.
A contract was signed with the Allison Division of GMC for the Allison V-1710-100 inline engine. It was not as powerful as the Rolls-Royce Merlin model. Starting with the F-82C and all other following models used the Allison powerplant. The F-82B was used as training aircraft. Thus the trainer had better performance than the fighter itself.
On 27 February 1947, Col. Robert Thacker made aviation history by fling an F-82B from Hickam Filed in Hawaii non-stop to New York a distance 5,051 mi without refueling. With full internal tanks and 4 auxiliary tanks, the aircraft had 1,18 gallons of fuel and averaged a speed of 348 mph still a record for a propeller driven fighter aircraft on speed and distance. The record setting Twin Mustang was driven by Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1610-24 and 25 engines.
As the U. S. military entered the atomic age with the twin explosions of the A-Bomb on Japan, WWII came to a halt. The jet age was still in its infancy.
During what was called Soviet Aviation Day in 1947, the Soviets displayed 3 B-29s (captured by the Russians during WWII) and their own Tupolev Tu-4 which was reverse engineering of the captured B-29s .
The new United States Air Force (USAF) leadership was stunned at the new Soviet weaponry. The new jet interceptors were just off the drawing boards and would not be ready for a couple of years. The United States could be open to air attack.
For example, the Curtiss-Wright XF-87 Blackhawk ran into developmental difficulties and was abandoned in October of 1948. The Northrop F-89 Scorpion Had great potential but again developed set back design problems.
The jet age was brand new and it took a lot longer to work out the “bugs” of many a new jet fighter. The Scorpion was not ready until 1952, then performed very poorly. Thus the Northrop P-61 Black Widow and the North American F-82 Twin Mustang were brought into service as stop-gap interceptors until the new jet fighters could be brought on line.
The B-29 Superfortress was the “king” of bombers during World War II, but now the enemy had changed from Japan in the Pacific and Germany in the Atlantic to the Soviet Union which was a lot further away then what the B-29 had been designed for.
The Convair B-36 Peacemaker can on the scene also as a stopgap until the Boeing B-47 Stratojet and the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress were developed in the early Fifties.. The F-82 Twin Mustang had a range of 1,400 mi (combat) with a loiter time of 30 minutes over target, say Moscow, and return to base in England.
The F-82 had a ceiling of 39,000 ft, thus they could stay with the bombers they are protecting. The F-82 was never used in combat, but filled a bomber escort gap until the jet age really “took off”. They were deployed to McChord AFB near Seattle WA to Alaska to Texas, training with different bomber groups around the country.
When the Korean conflict started in 1950, the 4/F-82 were deployed to Japan and landed at Kimpo Field, South Korea. Their recon mission had spotted tracks and tanks pouring over the border from the north The F-82 Recon mission was listed as the first combat mission of the Korean War.
The F-82 Twin Mustangs were then used for CAP (Combat Air Patrol) over Kimpo Air Base as Americans and other allies in Seoul, South Korea were being evacuated.in C-54 Cargo/Passenger aircraft. They engaged Yak and La-79 aircraft coming down from the north.
The Yak and La were propeller drive aircraft, in which the Twn Mustangs had numerous victories. As many of the F-82s that could were assigned d in the Asian theater were taken for CAP over key operations, ground support, night fighter duty and escort duty.
The F-82 certainly was a major factor in providing defensive resistance in the early days of the Korean War. But soon the Soviet Mig-15, the premier jet fighter of the Communist Air Forces came on the scene and the days of the propeller driven aircraft were numbered.
The F-82 became an utility aircraft; flying recon, ground support and occasional ground target missions.
The F-80 Shooting Star, the Northrop F-89 Scorpion the Lockheed F-94 Starfire and a little later the North American F-86 Sabrejet became the primary fighters in the Korean conflict.
The propeller driven bombers such as the Douglas B-26 Invader, B-29 Superfortress, and North American B-25 Mitchell became obsolete along with the Vought F4U Corsair, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
The North American F-82 Twin Mustang had a relatively short operational life. Being introduced into combat in 1950 and the last F-82 was finally released to retirement in November 1953.
A total of 282 Twin Mustangs were built , although their usage was fairly short, they provided a urgently needed “stop-gap” measure until the newer jet aircraft could be brought into productive service. Indeed technology over took the F-82 like no enemy aircraft ever could.
Where you can see the North American F-82 Twin Mustang
#44-65162 The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
#44-65168 “Betty Jo” (The record holding F-82 From Hawaii to New York) The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
#44-83887 Douglas Municipal Airport Douglas, Georgia (Note this aircraft is in the process of being restored to flying status)
$46-0256 Anoka, Minnesota (Note this aircraft is in the process of being restored to flying status)
#46-0262 (Gate Guard) Lackland Air Force Base San Antonio, Texas
Tech Specs for the North American F-82 Twin Mustang
Wingspan: 51 ft 3 in
Length: 43 ft 5 in
Height: 13 ft 1 in
Weight: 15,997 lbs (empty); 25,591 lbs (MTOW)
Max Speed: 461 mph
Ceiling: 38,900 ft
Range: 2,240 mi
Engine: 2/Allison V-1710-143/145 liquid cooled V-12 engines, rated at 1,600 hp each with counter-rotating propellers