Valiant Air Command Welcomes Only Flying Example of Rare XP-82 Warbird
By Bob Boswell // August 21, 2019
XP-82 will be a significant addition to the collection of the Valiant Air Command in Titusville
BREVARD COUNTY • TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA – After a 12-year painstaking restoration process, master aircraft restorer Tom Reilly has the only airworthy example of the Army Air Force P-82 Twin Mustang take flight. And the unique and impressive Warbird has joined the collection of the Valiant Air Command.
The unique airplane, last piston-engine fighter to be bought by the AAF, flew into Titusville’s Space Coast Regional Airport.
An eager crowd awaited her arrival, tracking her progress on mobile phone apps, and marveling at her en route speed.
That speed should be no surprise, as her two Packard-built Rolls Royce Merlin engines give her a total of 3,400 horsepower.
Her maximum speed was listed as 461 miles per hour, phenomenal for a piston-engined airplane. The sweet song of the two 12-cylinder engines delighted the waiting crowd as the airplane performed two high-speed passes before landing.
The Twin Mustang, based on the North American P-51, was actually a new design where the Mustang fuselages were modified and mounted to a new center wing that was equipped with six .50 caliber machine guns.
Designed as a war innovation to accompany AAF bombers on long missions, she wasn’t ready for service before the war ended.
She served for several years in the nascent U.S. Air Force, primarily in the air defense role as her jet-powered successors suffered lengthy developmental delays, and has the distinction of scoring the first air-to-air victory of the Korean War.
The XP-82 differs from most production Twin Mustangs, in that she has Merlin engines. Series production switched to the American-designed and built Alison V-1710 engine.
The Alison-engined aircraft suffered little performance loss, as one flew nonstop from Honolulu to New York City in 1947, averaging nearly 350 miles per hour.
The XP-82 will be a significant addition to the collection of the Valiant Air Command and can be seen at the Warbird Museum, located at 6600 Tico Road in Titusville and is open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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