The P-51D incorporated several improvements, and it became the most numerous variant with nearly 8,000 being built. The most obvious change compared to the predecessors was a new ‘bubble top’ canopy that greatly improved the pilot’s vision. The P-51D also received the new K-14 gun sight, an increase from four to six .50-cal machine guns and simplified ammunition feed system that considerably reduced gun jams.
The P-51D arrived in quantity in Europe in the spring of 1944, becoming the USAAF’s primary long range escort fighter. The versatile Mustang also served as a fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Few Luftwaffe aircraft could match the P-51D and by the end of the war, Mustangs had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other USAAF fighter in Europe.
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