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Malcolm Hood for P-51B/C

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Hey guys,

Someone mentioned in a thread several months back that the Mustang's malcolm hood did not have the forward and rear framing painted, but were in fact just clear plexiglass. I've scoured my sources, but this is the only somewhat clear picture I can find. Most pics have a glare on that part of the canopy, so I can't tell if it's reflection or paint. Anyone know the answer to this? Any reference pictures? This pic looks like clear plexiglass to me, but maybe other groups painted them?



I've found some more photos with unpainted frames



However, this one looks painted:


Edited by latormentabritanica
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You may have this one already. At first it looks like the leading edge of the hood might be painted but it appears you can see through the portion that is furthest from the camera. The trailing edge definitely appears to be clear.


You can also see on a couple of the photos that different types of metal fairings have been added to the windscreens to allow for a better fit of the hood.

Edited by David Walker
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Here's some more via Hyperscale:

Wayne Beattie

interior color Malcolm hoods on P-51B

Thu Dec 2, 2004 12:24

If the exterior framing of a Malcolm hood on a P-52B was natural metal what was the color of the interior. Would it be interior green American or British? I know there probably isn't much difference between the two but I am just curious.

I am currently building a Mustang B with a Malcolm hood.



Michael Vorrasi

Malcolm Hoods were frameless

Thu Dec 2, 2004 21:21

except for the bottom rails, the rear of which cannot be seen as they mount on the fuselage runners. The front and rear arcs look like a frame, but it is just a thick rounded plexiglass bead. No metal. BTW, they were designed by North American Aviation engineers (not RAF or British engineers) working onsite in the UK, as an upgrade for all ETO Mustangs and contract built in the UK because the Malcolm company had the facilities, and it saved time and valuable cargo space by not having to ship them to the UK, since they were produced where the planes were being sent. Had NAA not already been tooling up the D model, these canopies would have undoubtedly been incorporated in the B/C production lines. They were not an exclusively RAF development, rather, a manufacturer's onsite upgrade, so conjecture about RAF interior green misses the point, even if there was a framework, which there isn't.


I've gone through all my articles and books and online..

Fri Dec 3, 2004 07:49

and I can only find that the Malcolm hood was developed by R. Malcolm Company and made in the UK. I find no reference to a NA concept or design.

I'm still trying to find a good pic of the leading edge of the canopy. It could be a heavy roll of plexiglass where it fit into the forward windshield. But in the pic I posted there "appears" to be attachment rivets.

Interesting there is not a good article, unless you know of one.

Michael Vorrasi

Re: I've gone through all my articles, and books and online

Sat Dec 4, 2004 09:51

MD, I must correct myself. The source of the info that it was NAA engineers working in the UK did not come from Ray Wagner's book. It appears in a British Mustang history, "The Mustang Story" by Ken Delve (highly recommended). I will put a fresh post on the details so others may read as this thread is now buried deep. Much good info I had forgotten about the Malcolm.


Michael Vorrasi

MD, look at the great photo you posted

Fri Dec 3, 2004 08:59

Look in the forward bead section of the Malcolm's ARC. The forward bead turns black where it is picking up reflected light from the black instrument panel behind it. Also the rear bead reflects a light colored stencil box within it that is on the seat back structure behind it. Interesting to note that this Mustang has a sheet metal wind/weather strip added on the windshield ARC that the Malcolm's forward bead will slide under when closed. Several groups added this feature, and not all of these are the same, but it was not a part of the standard Malcolm kit. Appears top have been done to deflect wind or rain, but don't mistake it for being a part of the Malcolm unit itself. That part was a local unit addition, and added to the windshield structure, not the canopy itself. I think that is the rivet thingy you are referring to.


Michael Vorrasi


Fri Dec 3, 2004 08:43

MD, I'll double check later, but if memory serves, I picked this tidbit up in Ray Wagner's biography of Edgar Schmued (which was based on Edgar's own papers). He pointed out that NAA engineers working in the UK designed the Malcolm. It required a lot more aerodynamic and structural engineering than is commonly realized, as well as many airframe structural modifications, most of which are internal. Conversion time to a Malcolm for one airplane was listed in 8th AF documents as 136 man hours. No doubt about that being a frameless plexiglass bead. I've seen many photos where you can see the light passing through this translucent section in backlit situations. In fact, study that photo you posted closely, and you'll see it there too. The rear ARC shows reflections of the seat back structure within the plexiglass bead.



Not in the back arch, but in the front arch

Fri Dec 3, 2004 08:49

I hope I'm not hallucinating, but looking at the front arch I can see it go from light to dark to light as it crosses the black portions of the instrument panel and windshield frame.

Thank you for pointing it out.

Michael Vorrasi

You looked just as I was typing the

Fri Dec 3, 2004 10:01

second post above pointing out just that black reflection of the instrument panel! The force is with us.


Michael Vorrasi

Origins of the Mustang's Malcolm Canopy

Sat Dec 4, 2004 11:11

In a thread a few days back, the origin of the P-51B/C Mustang's Malcolm canopy came up. Most sources will casually attribute the design of this canopy to the RAF or R. Malcolm Company, Ltd., and move on. Actually, it was designed by NAA engineers working in the UK. While it is true that the Mustang Malcolm is an outgrowth of a similar but smaller canopy made by Malcolm for the Spitfire, a lot of airframe structural engineering was done, most not visible, for attachment of the railing, etc. and this was done by NAA.

An excellent British history "the Mustang Story" by Ken Delve covers the tests of the Malcolm prototype on 7 December, 1942, on a Mustang IA.

Ken Delve cites the official test report (p.35-36): "In December a Mustang IA was with AFDU for trials on a new canopy arrangement: 'In accordance with instructions from Air Ministry (DAT) reference 11800, trials have been carried out on a Mustang IA aircraft, AG618 [note from me, this is a Mustang I serial#, not a IA] fitted with a sliding hood. This hood has been designed by North American representatives in the Country and fitted to the aircraft by RAF Henlow...'"

Thus, RAF records confirm that North American engineers did indeed design the prototype Malcolm hood.

The report points out interesting findings which I'll try to distill. The vast improvement in visibility is of course cited, as was easier pilot entry/exit from the cockpit. The hood was tested at all speeds closed, and found to convey a slight speed increase. Tests with the canopy open were made, and it was opened at 250MPH and closed at 300MPH (though difficult) and showed no signs of wanting to blow away at high speeds either open or closed. It reported two hands needed to move the canopy at speed [i believe production models added a hand crank like a D canopy] and there was a slight updraught in the cockpit when the lower main wheel doors were open. Disadvantages were having to relocate and rewire the radio antenna.

The report recommended all Mustangs be refitted. Oddly, the RAF mainly fitted them to fighter role Mustang III's while the TacR Allison Mustangs kept the original canopies until sufficient were available, and even then, Allison RAF Mustangs with Malcolms are rare. Indeed, the RAF would not fly Mustang III's in Northern Europe without Malcolms. (They did in the MTO, however.)

The USAAF, alternately, gave TacR aircraft first priority in getting Malcolms. All Allison engined F-6B's (TacR P-51A's) in the UK got them, and Merlin F-6C's had next priority, while fighter units with P-51B/C's flew whatever canopy they had until sufficient Malcolms became available, these going to flight and element leaders first, wingmen later.

The goal was to re-equip all Allied B/C Mustangs with Malcolms, but the war ended and sufficient D models were on hand by then. None-the-less, supply never caught up with demand right to the end. Brand new P-51C's, converted to F-6C's were being issued in the ETO as late as January, 1945 (planes with only 15 or 16 hours of slow-time break in on them) to TacR units, where B/C's were preferred over D's.

Post VE day, these Malcolm F-6C's, as well as F-6D/K's had priority to be shipped to the Pacific. Robert Gruenhagen's book shows a cocooned F-6C with Malcolm canopy being loaded on a ship in the UK to go to the Pacific. I'd pay good money to find out the fate of that plane! No records or photos have yet emerged to document whether these actually arrived somewhere. My guess is that they got dumped overboard somewhere.

Hope you found this interesting!


jerry brewer

malcolm hood

Sat Dec 4, 2004 12:24


Just to add to the story extract from 'P-51 Mustang' by Roy Cross, Gerald Scarborough, and Bruce Robertson

'the cockpit had a three piece sideways folding hood which complicated jettison arrangements. Impetus came to improve the view came from Research and development; Factory representatives of North American in this country were asked to tackle the job and drawings for a makeshift canopy were completed by them. Later, the problem was taken out of their hands and given to the British engineering firm of R. Malcolm Limited, whose designers evolved a rearwards sliding blown perspex bubble hood, various sizes were tried and test flown and the one eventually chosen maintained the smooth airflow over the fuselage and actually increased speed.'



Terry McGrady

Very Interesting Michael

Sat Dec 4, 2004 11:25

As a rider to the RAF Malcolm Hood MKIII in Europe, like everything there is always an exception to the rule. In this case it is FZ145, PK*N of 315 SQ. This is one of the only A/C I've seen a photo of with the standard canopy in RAF (UK) service. It was on the Sq May-July 44. On 7th June, F/Sgt Ryszard Idrian claimed an ME109 15 miles SE of Rouen, flying this A/C

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The top photos looks as if the rear part of the canopy was painted in the field. I say that because if you follow the green paint on the frame for those flatish rear windows, you'll see how the frame is kind of sloppily painted with portions in green and portions still metal. But the part that is painted matches up exactly with the rear part of the canopy. This tells me that it was done in the field. However, the very front part of the canopy you can see through. This also tells me that it's probably clear on both ends but that in this case the rear part was painted over in the field.

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Interesting ! Nice photo of 375 FS Mustang.Anybody know the pilots name ?

Thanks RP

Funny, I have that picture as well, but I don't know where I got it from and it's not labeled.

Thanks for all your help guys. I'm going to leave the trailing and leading edges of the malcolm hood clear on my P-51B. I'm doing Ed Heller's "HELL-ER-BUST". I have only one picture of it, and the canopy has a glare on it...so I'm still going to have to make an educated guess. I'm guessing clear. Thanks you guys for all your help and information!

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