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There were more Lightning reconnaissance planes than any other type in the USAAF. His combat switch may or may not be on.” So, flying along in this condition, wrote Rau, the kid suddenly gets bounced by German fighters. Partly in consequence and partly because many fighter pilots were intimidated by the Lightning’s size and complexity, the Army Air Forces were ambivalent about the P-38 and failed to exploit aggressively its superior range and high-altitude performance when it was the only fighter in Europe capable of escorting bombers deep into Germany. The P-38 is Lightningâs flagship bicycle and itâs not hard to see why. Used both as a long-range fighter and fighter/bomber, the P-38 was instrumental in many important WWII missions. Bomber guys had those heated blue union suits that they wore but we tried heated clothing and it didn’t work for us.”. Original 9x5 B&W Photo LOCKHEED CC-130E HERCULES RCAF 130316 Military Aircraft. “We were in awe of the P-38,” said future ace Jack Ilfrey. It was, Olds hastened to add, “the most beautiful plane of our generation.” And it fought well in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. The twin-engine, twinboom Lockheed P-38 Lightning was designed to meet a 1937 requirement for a high-altitude interceptor. Home » Specials and New In Stock » Specials Bikes » Used Lightning P-38 White. They were blemishes in motion. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. It was August 14, 1944, and Olds had just used his P-38 Lightning to rack up the first two of his eventual 13 World War II aerial victories. - J model rated at 1,600 horsepower vs. 1,425 for earlier H model Lightnings. Associate Professor of History, Ohio State University, Columbus. With tricycle gear, twin booms and a centerline fuselage pod brimming with guns, the P-38 was powered by two 1,600-hp Allison V-1710-111/113 liquid-cooled engines driving three-bladed, 9-foot Curtiss Electric propellers. Again outnumbered, the 55th was heavily engaged near the target as it strove to defend the bombers, for which it paid dearly. Birtciel said procedures were so lax that a training instructor simply appeared amid a group of students one day and asked, “Anyone want to fly a ’38?” He raised his hand, expecting to be a backseater, and found a fully operational, single-seat P-38—not an RP-322—waiting for him on the ramp. The P-51’s chief disadvantage in comparison to the P-38 was its vulnerability to enemy fire, particularly the liquid-cooled Merlin engine, which could be put out of action with a single hit. This 1942 Lockheed P-38H Lightning aircraft for in California, United States is 1 of 0 similar aircraft currently available on GlobalPlaneSearch. “Their hands and feet became numb with cold and in some instances frost-bitten; not infrequently a pilot was so weakened by conditions that he had to be assisted out of the cockpit upon return,” wrote Freeman. The arrival of the improved P-38J-25 and P-38L models, modified on the production line based on lessons learned in Europe, helped, but problems remained. “The fact is, the P-38 Lightning was too much airplane for a new kid and a full-time job for even a mature and experienced fighter pilot. About 1,400 Lockheed P-38 Lightnings were completed as F-4 and F-5 reconnaissance planes, which were flown, unarmed and unafraid, deep within enemy territory. Improperly blended British fuel exacerbated the problems: Anti-knock lead compounds literally seethed out and became separated in the Allison’s induction system at extreme low temperatures. Rau described part of the solution: “It is standard procedure for the group leader to call, five minutes before [rendezvous with the bombers being escorted,] and tell all pilots to ‘prepare for trouble.’ This is the signal for everyone to get into auto rich, turn drop tank switches on, gun heaters on, combat and sight switches on and to increase RPM and manifold pressure to maximum cruise. P-38J. P38D Edit It was August 14, 1944, and Olds had just used his P-38 Lightning to rack up the first two of his eventual 13 World War II aerial victories. Lightning was used in a number of roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground-attack, night fighting, photoreconnaissance missions, and extensively as â¦ Updates? It was 30-70 mph faster than any German piston-engine fighter until the Fw-190D and had better acceleration, while its maneuverability and climb rate matched or exceeded anything the Luftwaffe could field. Mortimer J. Adler, American philosopher, educator and writer. Author of. Its Allison engines consistently threw rods, swallowed valves and fouled plugs, while their intercoolers often ruptured under sustained high boost and turbocharger regulators froze, sometimes causing catastrophic failures. The P-38J, in service by the spring of 1944, had a top speed of 414 miles (666 km) per hour and a ceiling of 44,000 feet (13,400 metres); it was armed with a 0.8-inch (20-mm) automatic cannon and four 0.50-inch (12.7-mm) machine guns. After sixty hours of this, the student received ten hours of AT-6 gunnery, although he might get his gunnery training in the AT-9, since AT-6s were in short supply.”. The P-38’s General Electric turbo-supercharger sometimes got stuck in over-boosted or under-boosted mode. Struggling to keep the air campaign over Europe alive in the face of disastrous bomber losses, the U.S. Army Air Forces rushed two P-38 combat groups to England. 1944 Champion Spark Plug Lockheed P-38 Lightning WWII USAAF US Army Air Force Ad. The switches [valve selector handles] are all in awkward positions and extremely hard to turn. He flew the Lightning. https://www.britannica.com/technology/P-38, The Museum of Flight - Lockheed P-38L Lightning. Our enemies had difficulty defeating the P-38 but, as much as we gloried in it, we were defeating ourselves with this airplane.”. Frank E. Birtciel, who flew 72 combat missions in P-38s and 49 in P-51s, said that near the end of training in the AT-9, the usual practice was to give a student pilot a “piggyback” ride in a P-38 with a second seat, and then check him out in the RP-322, a version of the fighter with simpler systems. “We were arrayed against the Luftwaffe and they were facing us head-on,” one of the pilots said, “and we were not winning.”. A P-51B could carry 400 gallons of fuel, almost as much as the bigger P-47, but the Mustang got 3.3 miles per gallon while the Thunderbolt and Lightning got less than 1.8. A substantial proportion of P-38 production was committed to the Pacific, where its exceptional range was particularly valuable. Updated September 03, 2019 The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was an American fighter used during World War II. “So, he reaches down and turns two stiff, difficult gas switches (valves) to main, turns on his drop tank switches, presses his release button, puts the mixture to auto rich (two separate and clumsy operations), increases his RPM, increases his manifold pressure, turns on his gun heater switch (which he must feel for and cannot possibly see), turns on his combat switch and he is ready to fight.” To future generations this would be called multi-tasking, and it was not what you wanted to be doing when Luftwaffe fighters were pouring down on you. Another P-38 pilot described the multi-tasking challenge this way: “When you reduce power you must pull back the throttle (manifold pressure) first, then the prop RPM, and then the mixture. He shot down German fighters. Weight was kept to a minimum and it was far more advanced and faster than its U.S. counterparts, the Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. He may not have known P-51 pilots could perform all these functions with one hand—never possible in the P-38, even in later versions. Critics and champions of the P-38 alike often failed to remark on the obvious—that it was a multi-engine aircraft while most fighters were single-engine. “After flying the P-38 for a little over one hundred hours on combat missions it is my belief that the airplane, as it stands now, is too complicated for the ‘average’ pilot,” wrote Rau. The aircraftâs target, was a German Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor patrol bomber. Long after the war, former 1st Lt. Arthur W. Heiden wrote: “The quality of multi-engine training during World War II bordered on the ridiculous. The sleek, silvery image of Lockheedâs twin-engine, twin-boom fighter grabbed the hearts of a generation of prewar youngsters, few as early or so firmly as Kunkle. The Lockheed P-38 Lighting is an American two-engine fighter used by the United States Army Air Forces and other Allied air forces during World War II. $1495. The first P-38 available in quantity, the F model, equipped with self-sealing fuel tanks and armour, entered service in November 1942. The P-38 shot down more Japanese aircraft than any other USAAF fighter in WW II. A few droop-snoots were fitted with radar for bombing through clouds, and, in the final days of the war in the Pacific, a handful of Lightnings were fitted with air-intercept radar for use as night fighters. So what happened in northern Europe, and how could things have gone so wrong? Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, English astronomer who confirmed Einstein's theory of relativity. Description: Size Medium. A limited number of P-38s were fitted with a bombardier’s position in the nose of the central pod; termed “droop-snoots,” these were used to lead formations of P-38s carrying two 2,000-pound (900-kg) bombs each, the entire formation dropping on the bombardier’s command. The Lightning’s long range and high ceiling made it a natural for photo-reconnaissance, and cameras replaced guns in the F-5 version, which ranked second only to the British Mosquito as a workhorse of Allied photographic intelligence. The P-38 Lightning inspired young men, fought a global war and earned a reputation as one of the greatest fighters of all time. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. Serial Number: #1888 made around 2009. The P-38 performed usefully but suffered from a number of problems. It was introduced in Update 1.53 "Firestorm". In an article on ausairpower.net, Carlo Kopp noted that in their early days in the European theater, “Many of the P-38s assigned to escort missions were forced to abort and return to base. Most common error is to push the throttles wide open before increasing RPM. Specifications: Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT: Rear Derailleur: [due to] intercoolers that chilled the fuel/air mixture too much. $10.99. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. During advisory visits to his fighter group, Lockheed and Allison representatives asked for suggestions. The vaunted Mitsubishi A6M Zero lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks and was overrated in some areas, including its fabled maneuverability. â¦ Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The pilot in a new American fighter, the P-38 Lightning, peeled down from the skies over Iceland on August14, 1942. Lightning pilots suffered terribly. “The crew chief told me how to start it up and I took off and flew it without any instruction,” he said. For additional reading, try: The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, by Warren M. Bodie; The Mighty Eighth, by Roger A. Freeman; Fighters of the United States Air Force, by Dorr and David Donald; and Fighters of the Mighty Eighth, by William N. Hess and Thomas G. Ivie. $14.50 The P-51’s lower rate of fuel consumption gave it a combat radius of more than 700 miles, enough to reach any target the bombers could. This P-38 went through several owners before being purchased by Warbirds Of Great Britain. Its great range and high-altitude performance also made the P-38 useful as a strategic bomber. Many of the men in P-38 cockpits fighting Japan started out with far more experience than those who were initially rushed to Europe. Built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company, it was designed to a 1937 specification calling for a high-altitude interceptor with heavy armament and a high rate of climb. True to its name, the P-38 was akin to a force of nature: fast, unforeseen, and immensely powerful. The P-38E is the first of the P-38 vehicles available in game, and is all round a very good plane. Omissions? They fought in warmer weather and at lower altitudes, and while some of their Japanese adversaries were also seasoned, few were as skilled as the typical Luftwaffe fighter pilot of December 1943. “At this point, he has probably been shot down,” Rau noted, “or he has done one of several things wrong. This procedure, however, will not help the pilot who is bounced on the way in and who is trying to conserve his gasoline and equipment for the escort job ahead.”. A large and powerful aircraft, it served as a bomber escort, a tactical bomber, and a photo-reconnaissance platform. The P-38 Lightning, built by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, was the only U.S. pursuit aircraft to remain in continuous production throughout World War II. The 55th Fighter Group was the first to get the new P-51D, trading in its old P-38s for the bubble-canopy fighters. Although a fully loaded Lightning weighed more than 10 tons—nearly twice as much as a P-51 Mustang—a skilled pilot could fling the P-38 around like a lightweight. âEvery boy in the late 1930s wanted to be a P-38 Lightning pilot,â says Kunkle. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was originally designed as a bomber-interceptor and was never intended to be a fighter. This occurred mainly when the fighter was flown in the freezing cold at altitudes approaching 30,000 feet, which was the standard situation in the European air war. $29.99. A large and powerful aircraft, it served as a bomber escort, a tactical bomber, and a photo-reconnaissance platform. The P-38 was used in this role, bombing and strafing German armies. P-38, also called Lightning, fighter and fighter-bomber employed by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. In 1989 it was flown from California to the United Kingdom in an epic transatlantic crossing. Sold Surplus in 1946 for $1,250 it was used for aerial mapping until 1967 when it went on display at Harrah Automobile Collection where it remained on display unitl 1982. The American fighter pilot spotted two indistinct shapes cutting diagonally across a road just slightly above and in front of him. Whatever Lightning or P-47 Thunderbolt pilots might have said then, or might say today with 70 years of hindsight, the Mustang’s combination of speed and maneuverability was superior to that of any other U.S. fighter, and it had the legs to go deep into enemy territory. To increase power you must first put the mixture rich, then increase prop RPM, then increase manifold pressure. The main strength of the P-38E is its speed and energy retention, so it should be used accordingly - play it as an energy fighter or â¦ Eighth Air Force commander Lt. Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle would later call the P-38 “the sweetest-flying plane in the sky.”. Only two types of gunsights were used during its career: The N-3 series (and ST-1A for â¦ The Mustangs’ arrival in Britain altered every aspect of the Americans’ aerial campaign against Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. P-38L Photo courtesy of NASA. As part of the Ninth Air Force, the group flew mostly ground-attack missions at relatively low altitudes, and thus avoided most of the concerns associated with air-to-air action higher up. P-38, also called Lightning, fighter and fighter-bomber employed by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. This power setting required better maintenance between flights. “Neither P-38 pilots, mechanics, facilities or logistics were prepared to operate efficiently in one of the bitterest European winters on record [1943-44],” he noted. The US heavy hitter in the WWII Pacific Theater. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a heavy fighter aircraft designed to meet specification X-608, spearheaded by Ly Benjamin Kelsey, for a high altitude interceptor capable of reaching 579 km/h at 6,000 metres â with an endurance of one hour at that height â and 466.7 km/h at sea level, with the ability to take off and land over a fifteen-meter obstacle within 675 metres, issued in February 1937. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the "Fork-Tailed Devil" - Der Gabelschwanz Teufel - by the Germans, was the brainchild of Lockheed engineer Kelly Johnson. Until that instant, he hadn’t been certain the planes were German. The toggle switches for outboard tanks are almost impossible to operate with gloves on.” That last issue was no small thing given the need to wear gloves in the Lightning’s frigid cockpit. âI loved the P-38 but I got those kills in spite of the airplane, not because of it,â Olds recalled. Lightning pilot 2nd Lt. Jim Kunkle of the 370th Fighter Group remembered: “The critical problem with us was we didn’t have much heat in the cockpit. Used Lightning P-38 Yellow. I am convinced that with training methods now in use we could take most of civilian private pilots who might be about to fly the Aztec or Cessna 310, and in ten hours, have a more confident pilot than the ones who flew off to war in the P-38. Most of the top Army aces in the Pacific flew Lightnings. While a combat radius of 500 miles was a challenge to the P-38 under conditions in Europe, thanks in part to greater efforts to manage fuel consumption in the Pacific—aided by advice from Charles A. Lindbergh, who visited combat units and taught younger pilots how to save gas (see “The Lone Eagle’s War,” March 2013)—550 miles was not un – common. It was first committed to combat in North Africa in tactical support of ground forces, where it was forced to fight at low altitudes and, out of its element, suffered at the hands of more-nimble German Me 109s and Fw 190s. Rau wrote that he was being asked to put kids fresh from flight school into P-38 cockpits and it wasn’t working. His sight is off to save burning out the bulb. In the European Theater of Operations it was somewhat miscast, sorely misused and severely challenged. The P-38 was dropped from service after the war ended in 1945. Corrections? The Bicycle Man is open Wed Through Sat, 10-6:00. One role in which the P-38 excelled, regardless of where, was photoreconnaissance. Radiators that lowered engine temps below normal operating minimums. Of the three outstanding Army fighters of the war (the others being the P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang), the P-38 was the first to fly by almost two and a half years. In typical English November weather, damp and overcast, forty-eight P-38s set out to escort bombers on the target leg of a mission to Bremen; one turned back before the enemy coast was crossed and two more aborted later. It served in all theaters of war, and was the main mount of many of America's top aces in the Pacific theater. Only the P-38 has had nearly 30 years of refinements and record-setting experience to bring it to its current state of development. The U.S. military was keen on âheavyâ aircraft, those with armor that would protect the pilot â¦ A P-38 pilot usually got his training in two ways. P-38 expert Warren M. Bodie wrote that the Lightning should have been converted from Allison to Merlin power, exactly as was done with the P-51. Another difficulty was that early P-38 versions had only one generator, and losing the associated engine meant the pilot had to rely on battery power. At 26,000 feet over Germany, pilots shivered in bitterly cold cockpits, flying conditions were unusually bad, and the probability of mechanical troubles at that temperature did not help. Olds shot down one of the Fw-190s moments later, then followed the second into a violent left break, fired and watched the pilot bail out. Yet, they were not.”. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is an American fighter aircraft used in World War II. Description: Size Medium, 200lb weight limit. Seven P-38s fell, five to enemy fighters and the others to unknown causes.” Another 16 Lightnings limped home with battle damage. Visibly different, with deep "chin" radiators, changing the profile of the engine nacelles. Early â¦ Hitler Hated This: Why Nazi Germany Feared the P-38 Lightning by Sebastien Roblin In 1937, the U.S. Army Air Corp called for proposals for an interceptor capable of â¦ The plane, equipped with two engines and relatively long wings, was a beautiful sight, and Nesmith worked hard to be in a position to fly it across the Pacific. Major General William Kepner, the fiery commanding general of VIII Fighter Command, wondered, as so many others did, why the P-38 wasn’t producing the results everyone wanted, and what to do about it. Celebrated as one of the Pacific War’s best fighters, Lockheed’s Lightning earned a less-than enviable reputation in European air combat. : America 's Workhorse during WWII in game, and gets excessive cylinder head temperature subsequent! Campaign against Hitler ’ s Jets ( which is reviewed on P. 61 ) P-38H Lightning aircraft in FLIGHT SILVER... They weren ’ t been certain the planes were German ( which is reviewed on P. 61 ) and,! 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