War Thunder P-51D Guide
War Thunder P-51D Guide by YourSATScore
The P-51 D-5, D-20, and D-30 perform about the same so this guide should work for all 3 variants. Only notable difference is that the D-30 has 1880 ammo instead of 2080.
- Almost unrivaled top speed
- Excellent high speed maneuverability, especially with flaps
- Very good performance above 18000ft/6000m
- M2 Brownings have excellent ballistics and ammo reserves
- Everything about the P-51 screams FREEDOM
- Favorable match ups at its BR, you can compete with any aircraft you face
- Mediocre climb rate at low altitudes(relative to opposition)
- Below average acceleration until you get to higher speeds
- Most of the fights end up below 6000m, not in the P-51’s optimal performance range
At 5.0 BR, the American P-51D is an excellent high altitude fighter. It is easily one of the fastest props in the game, capable of catching every prop plane it faces. In addition the P-51 is also dangerous in a dogfight, being able to keep up and even out turn many fighters at high speeds. Though sometimes overlooked in favor of the USN fighters, the P-51 is a formidable fighter and can even defeat high tier 4 planes with a good pilot.
Though the P-51’s climb rate has been buffed in 1.45, it still falls behind many of its opponents at low altitudes. Above ~15,000ft(5,000m), the P-51 keeps going strong where other fighters start to drop off, especially the Russian fighters.
A 18° climb will work if you plan to alt-tab and browse reddit or do something productive.
According to Natarej: “I’ve spent way too long studying climb rates on the P-51. A good rule of thumb is you want to climb at 280km/h IAS from SL, slowing down to 275km/h at 4000m, and finally 265km/h only for when you are above 6km.”
6x M2 .50 Browning:
- 4 guns with 270 rounds ea, ~20s of firing
- 2 guns with 400/500 rounds ea, 30-35s of firing
Though the 6x M2 .50 Brownings do not have the killing potential of the 20mm cannons, the 6 Brownings make up for this with ample ammo reserves and excellent ballistics. Don’t be afraid to take potshots or long range shots; the high muzzle velocity allows you to accurately hit targets from even 800m away. That being said, most of your kill shots will be within 500m so set the convergence to 300m or 400m. The extra ammo in the outer pair MGs are superfluous; go land once you are down to 2 MGs since you are only going to annoy someone at most.
For belts, tracers are by far superior due to their high chance of causing lethal fires. It seems other belts have trouble igniting enemies and rely more on direct damage for a kill.
For ground attacking, the P-51 has access to 2x 1000lb bombs, 6x M10 bazookas, or 6x HVAR rockets. Only use them if there are some ships or bombing points that needs liberating. Otherwise Ground belts or default belt is sufficient for destroying light pillboxes.
The P-51D is among the fastest propeller planes in the game, able to make 373mph(600km/h) at Sea level and up to 445mph at 26000ft(716km/h at 8000m). Not the absolute fastest, but fast enough to chase down fighters with even a small energy or upgrade difference. Remember this works both ways. Some fighters will out run the P-51 at their optimal altitude, like the La-7s at low altitude. Only higher BR fighters like the Fw 190D and the Tempest V can catch the P-51 in a straight line, and usually only under favorable situations.
Though the P-51 is fast, the acceleration of the P-51 is relatively low compared to other aircraft. Many “slower” planes can catch you before you can speed away. Diving can compensate for relative lack of acceleration.
The P-51’s diving speed limit is above average now, red lining at 480mph IAS(772km/h) and breaking up at 505mph IAS(813km/h). Only some of the higher BR fighters can match the P-51 in a dive.
At low speeds, the P-51 has an average to mediocre turn rate, roughly on par with the 109K-4 but will slightly lose out to many other fighters. Avoid sustained turnfighting below 200mph(320km/h) as many fighters will out turn you.
At high speeds the Mustang has an excellent turn rate, being able to out turn the majority of the aircraft it faces. Ideally you want to keep above 250mph(400km/h) IAS to get the best turn rate. However, be careful above 375mph(600km/h) IAS as you will wing overload if you pull too hard, which would prematurely end your fun.
Combat flaps significantly increases the P-51’s turn rate at the cost of some drag. While useful, prolonged usage will drain the P-51’s energy and should only be used maneuvering dogfights or to adjust aim during a BnZ.
Roll rate is fairly average, with optimal roll speeds between 200 to 300mph(320-480km/h) IAS.
There isn’t anything notable about the P-51’s airframe damage tolerance; being average in everything except maybe a bit more prone to fires. However, the liquid cooled Packard V-1650-7 engine is another matter. Just a few hits will cause the the engine to start failing. If the P-51 starts trailing white smoke, consider heading home before the engine seizes. The engine itself won’t lose power until the oil overheats, allowing some leeway if engaged in a dogfight.
Oil overheats at 90°C. The oil never overheat unless flying WEP at low altitudes or if the engine is damaged. Water overheats at 120°C and will max out at around 125°C before the timer starts. Throttling the engine to 0% will quickly cool it down. Make sure to idle the engine before entering combat so you can WEP longer before overheating.
Honestly, the P-51’s engine is actually much more forgiving than many other fighters. It takes a long time on WEP to even overheat the engine and cooling it takes 5s at most when idling. In prolonged chases, you maybe able to escape just because the enemy overheated their engine first.
Ideally you want to fight above 6000m where the P-51 will out perform most other fighters.
Due to its high speed, the P-51 excels at Boom and Zoom and slashing attacks. The P-51 isn’t exclusively limited to BnZ; its maneuverability is good enough to dogfight with most other fighters. You can keep up in turns with non-turnfighting planes long enough to get a good burst of fire. As long as you use combat flaps intelligently and keep your speed up, you can even out maneuver most of the opposition. Just don’t overstay or the enemy can turn the tables on you.
Like many other fighters, the P-51 relies on efficient energy management in order to succeed in combat. Maintain situation awareness and enough energy so you can opt out of the fight if the enemy gains the upper hand.
Finally, trying to out turn a A6M Zero or a Merlin engine Spitfire is probably a bad idea.
First and foremost, keep your speed up. A Mustang without energy is a dead Mustang.
The easiest option is to use your superior speed to out run him as few fighters can catch you at speed. If the enemy is really close, simply nose down and dive away as most planes will have trouble following you. The P-51 is usually superior in an extended dive, but fighters with superior acceleration can keep up with you long enough to get a few good shots off. Be careful when recovering from your dive since ripping your wings off defeats the purpose of diving in the first place. Against some of the higher BR fighters, try to fly towards your team, if they are still around.
If the enemy tries to BnZ you, a safe defensive maneuver is to perform a Split-S. Most pilots will not follow you and those who do cannot keep up for long.
A more high risk-high reward tactic is to set an energy trap. Basically, the defender tries to force an attacking enemy to overshoot by a very tight turn. Then the defender reverses back onto the attacker’s tail and tries for a kill. This works better on less maneuverable planes like the Fw 190s. This maneuver takes a bit of practice since the enemy can easily shoot you down if improperly executed.
If you are forced into a dogfight, remember to maintain high speeds to maximize your turn ability. Turn on combat flaps since the extra turn rate can mean the difference between a kill or death. Few planes can match your agility in a high speed dogfight; so use this to turn the tables or force him to retreat. You cannot maintain a high speed dogfight for too long, so be decisive as to counter-attack or to break off the engagement.
If you are caught at low speed and low altitude, hope that your freedomarmor will protect you.
As a last resort, you can try to head on and hope for a favorable outcome. You should only do this if:
- You are out numbered, cannot escape, and no teammate is nearby to help
- 1 v 1 and you cannot get an advantage over a better performing plane
- 1 v Entire team
- You are “Lightning” from Red Tails
If you are going to be shot down, then make sure to take an enemy with you.
Fighting the P-51D
While a well flown P-51D is a tough adversary to face, there are many novice pilots that will make many mistakes for a veteran to exploit. Many planes should drag the fight to lower altitudes as the P-51 does not perform well on the deck and cannot convert altitude to energy. If you can keep the P-51 from getting a good firing angle on you, he usually won’t be able to inflict too much damage since the .50s are not powerful. Energy fighters should try to force a rolling scissors dogfight while turnfighters aim for a flat scissors. Once the dogfight slows down, the P-51 will have to either fight at a disadvantage or dive for safety.
On the offense, fighting a P-51 with an energy advantage isn’t the hard part, it is trying to catch him. Some of the higher BR planes like the Tempest V are fast enough to chase down the P-51. However, most planes should regain altitude and find an easier opponent to kill. The key to winning is to force the P-51 to lose his speed. Once that happens, he will be an easy kill.
As a last resort, many aircraft can out gun the Mustang in a head-on duel.
P-51 is still capable of inflicting significant damage so caution is advised before resorting to head on attacks.
Tl;dr: Fascists, redcoats, commies, and samurais are no match for the Freedomstang.
Constructive criticism is welcome. If this guide is well received, then I will consider writing more aircraft specific guides.
Edited to include non-American units. Also, the P-51D’s top speed in banana/moment is 78,858 b/m at sea level and 94,080 b/m at 41,600 bananas.
Note: 1 banana/moment = 4.73 x 10-3 mph = 7.61 x 10-3km/h.Banana/moment should be standardized as a Reddit SI unit of speed. Bananas as distance (1 banana = 7.5 in)
Edit 2: I should emphasize high speed maneuverability does not mean better dogfighting abilities. The P-51 should avoid dogfighting if possible and resort to slashing attacks and BnZ. Not that the P-51 can’t dogfight, but its not where the strength of the P-51 lies. Fly a F8F instead.
Edit 3: According to Natarej: “I’ve spent way too long studying climb rates on the P-51. A good rule of thumb is you want to climb at 280 IAS from SL, slowing only 275 from 4000m 265 only for when you are above 6km.”
Edit 4: Clarified the speed advantage of the P-51. Seems more higher BR planes can catch the P-51 than I thought, especially if manual engine controls are used to squeeze in extra aerodynamics or something like that.