THE P-82 ERA (1948 - 1950)

The last propeller driven fighter aircraft purchased in large quantity by the U.S. Air Force, the North American F-82 Twin Mustang only had a 20% commonality  in parts with its cousin, the P-51 Mustang.


Before transferring to McChord, the 318th began a transition from the Northrop P-61 Black Widow into the North American F-82F Twin Mustang in October of 1948.  The F-82F Twin Mustang, the F-82 was the last propeller-driven fighter acquired in quantity by the USAF, had a basic design that consisted of a two lengthened P-51H fuselages mounted to a newly designed center wing, tail, and propellers, as well as having a unique four-wheel landing gear.


Even though the P-51 was used as the base for the design of the P-82, the two aircraft only have a 20% commonality in parts. The extra fuel needed for the long-range missions lead to increasing the length of the fuselage, which led to a higher weight and the need to install a more powerful engine, stronger wings, and larger control surfaces. While the early versions of the F-82's retained both fully equipped cockpits where the aircraft could be flown from either position, the later night fighter versions kept the cockpit on the left side only, placing the radar operator in the right position.


Flying over Salt Lake City, UT, the 318th Fighter (All Weather) Squadron's "Green Dragon" insignia can be seen on the tail of F-82F s/n 46-418 in this 1950 photo.


Developed in 1945 as a long-range escort, the P-82 completed its flight on 26 June 1945, with the interceptor model P-82F (later redesignated as the F-82) making its first flight 11 March 1948. The P-82F carried an AN/APG-28 radar system mounted in a pod between the two fuselages that was controlled by a radar operator sitting in the right cockpit. The F-82F was armed with six 0.50-inch machine guns mounted in the center wing just above the radar pod.


The F-82G was intended to be more modern aircraft to fill in until more capable jet fighter aircraft could be developed and with the emergence of the Northrop F-89 Scorpion, and the Lockheed F-94s Starfire, the Twin Mustangs made a quick exit from service.

Next page: The F-94 Era (1950 - 1954)