It is sometimes easy to forget just how far aviation technology has come since the Wright Brothers first took flight in 1903. In just over a century, aircraft have evolved from rudimentary gliders to highly capable machines that can perform an endless amount of impressive feats.
And while today’s fighter jets are infinitely superior to the propeller-powered planes of yesteryear, they can still trace their roots back to those once state-of-the-art fighters that took flight during the 1940s.
Check out some old-school aircraft flying in tandem with today’s fighter jets in the video below:
The video features the P-51 Mustang, one of the most recognizable aircraft of the 20th century. The American-made long-range single-seat fighter was primarily used during World War II and the Korean War. During its deployment, it was praised for its flying capabilities and its arsenal of weapons.
At the time of development, the P-51 was designed as an entirely new aircraft aimed at replacing the aging P-40 fighters. A product of the North American Aviation company, the fighter went into production less than four months after the initial proposal.
While the early P-51 Mustang utilized an underpowered Allison V-1710 engine, later iterations received an upgraded Rolls-Royce Merlin power plant which greatly increased the plane’s capabilities. This new engine resulted in far better performance for the aircraft at altitudes exceeding 15,000ft. With this improvement, the P-51 could compete with just about any other fighter in the sky.
By 1943, several iterations of the P-51 were deployed by the United States Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany. Heading into 1944, the Mustang had secured the Allies’ air superiority over Europe. In addition, the aircraft played an integral role in the Pacific theatre during the later stages of the war.
At the conclusion of WWII, pilots of the P-51 Mustang had claimed almost 5,000 confirmed enemy aircraft kills.
As capable as the P-51 was, military technology advanced at an increasing rate by the 1950s. And as quickly as it was introduced, the Mustang was replaced by a new era of fighter jets like the F-51 and F-86 during the Korean War.
While the P-51 remained in service all the way until the mid-1980’s, modern fighter jets, like the F-35 featured in the video above, quickly became the Air Force’s keystone. Seeing the P-51 fly side by side with the modern fighter jets of today offers an interesting glimpse at just how quickly modern warfare as evolved.