What's better than a single P-51 Mustang? A twin Mustang of course!
The F-82 was designed to be a long range escort fighter. While the existing P-38 had quite a good range, the pilots were a weak link. Staying alert for long hours escorting bombers was a challenge so the F-82 was designed with twin cockpits so two pilots could take turns flying. The F-82 was designed to carry external fuel tanks to extend range.
On 27 February 1947, the planned production version, a P-82B, flew from Hawaii to New York without refueling, a distance of 8,129 km 14 hr 32 min, averaging 559.2 km/h. This trip remains the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter, and the fastest distance ever covered in a piston-engined aircraft.
A P-51 Mustang and F-82 Twin Mustang flying in formation.
Like many cool aircraft built during late WWII, it didn't make it in time to see action. It was however used for a short time in the Korean War where it proved to be fast and nimble dogfighter with a top speed of nearly 500 mph (750 km/h). By August 1951 only eight F-82's were left operational with the 68th Squadron. Their missions were then taken over by the new jet powered F-94 Starfire.
Retired from service in the 1950's, all but five Twin Mustangs were eventually scrapped. Today only one is in flying condition, having had 10 years and over 200,000 hours spent restoring it. It's inaugural flight happened accidentally on New Year’s Eve 2018 when a high speed ground run for certification ended up lifting off. The power to weight ratio meant there was no room to safely stop so the pilot carried on and the short flight was luckily a success! We hope this one of a kind warbird remains in flying condition for a long time to come.