One of the "features" of the P-51 was a tail warning radar that was supposed to let pilots know if an enemy fighter was on your tail.

However, a P-51 pilot told me that they generally disabled them.

According to him, the problem was that, if you were flying in formation and performing a turn, there was generally a point when a squadron-mate would be behind you. When that happened, a loud horn would sound and a bright light would flash in your eyes, scaring the bejesus out of you.

Has anyone else heard of that problem?


You are right, it was probably a bell - I heard the story 35 years ago. And the fact it had volume controls indicate that he would have turned the TWR down/off rather than disconnecting it.

I have read mixed reviews regarding the gunsight. Some of the favorable reviews were from old-timers who I thought would hate it.

For those who doubt that the P-51D had TWR, here is a picture from the POH showing the controls for the TWR (aka Rear Warning Radar), which are referenced in the comments below - item 8.

Number 8 is the controls referenced in the comments.

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    $\begingroup$ The AN/APS-13 had a volume knob and an intensity knob for the light, as well as an on/off switch. It was likely only turned on when the possibility of combat was present, but I can't find any anecdotal evidence of that or this claim. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 8 '21 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ I recall that it was a bell not a horn, but maybe switched to a horn later? Pilots didn't like the K-14 lead computing gunsight either and would only use the fixed backup/ground attack reticle, except for some who took the trouble to master use of the gyro driven reticle. It allowed you to delete your tracers from the loadout so your target was unaware you were shooting at them until you were scoring hits, a huge tactical advantage. Gun camera film with no tracer apparent means the pilot is aiming with his K-14's gyro reticle. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jun 8 '21 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Tail warning radar was widely available in 1944. just watch a DCS sim video on youtube. The DCS P-51 has it. The red light on the left side of the glareshield. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jun 9 '21 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ ...and here I thought they just had a trained monkey who would pull the string for the bell if he saw anything coming up behind you. LOL! I had no idea P-51's had this. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 '21 at 23:19

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