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Ultra-Rare XP-82 Twin Mustang Prototype Near a Return to Flight

Operational Prototype Warbirds From Any Era are Rare Birds Indeed

XP-82 in flight. Image via USAF

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) produced the video entitled “XP-82 – Fate, Circumstance, & Necessity” to chronicle the story of the prototype North American P-82 Twin Mustang. The history of both the Twin Mustang and the XP-82, the prototype Twin Mustang aircraft itself, are told by Tom Reilly, who has invested ten years and more than 200,000 man-hours of work in the return to flight of one exquisitely rare flying machine. The effort Reilly and team have invested in the return to flight of the North American XP-82 Twin Mustang is featured in the August issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine. The video was uploaded to YouTube by EAA.

Born during World War II from a need to provide better escort for Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers flying those unprecedented long-range missions to Japan from the Marianas, the Twin Mustang was another aircraft developed during the war that didn’t make it to combat before the war ended. P-82s (later redesignated as F-82s) did serve as replacements for Northrop P-61 Black Widows in the role of air defense interceptors and as night fighters during the Korean war.

F-82C in flight. Image via USAF

In addition to the XP-82, there are four surviving F-82s held captive in museums today. The best known of these is the F-82B Betty Jo displayed at the National Museum of the US Air Force (NMUSAF). This aircraft once flew nonstop from Hawaii to New York. The NMUSAF has a second F-82 on display, this one dressed up as a F-82G night fighter. There was a second F-82 at the Soplata farm which is reported to be under restoration in Minnesota. The fifth F-82 airframe is displayed as part of an outdoor museum at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas.

F-82E in flight. Image via USAF

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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