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Published by John Herlosky
Revelations about the design of the finest fighter of WW2.
Revelations about the design of the finest fighter of WW2.

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Published by: John Herlosky on Jul 15, 2013
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Specifications (P-38L) P-38 Perspective and notes

Lockheed P-38L Lightning at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, marked as a P-38J of the 55th Fighter Squadron, based in England.[101] M2 machine gun armament in the nose of the P-38.
Data from Lockheed P-38 Lightning Pilot's Flight Manual[102]

General characteristics
• Crew: One • Length: 37 ft 10 in (11.53 m) (11.53 m) Wingspan: 52 ft 0 in (15.85 m) (15.85 m) • Height: 12 ft 10 in (3.91 m) (3.91 m) • Wing area: 327.5 ft² (30.43 m²) Airfoil: NACA 23016 / NACA 4412 Empty weight: 12,800 lb[103] (5,800 kg) • Loaded weight: 17,500 lb[103] (7,940 kg) Max. takeoff weight: 21,600 lb (9,798 kg) Powerplant: 2 × Allison V-1710-111/113 V-12 piston engine, 1,725 hp [N 7] (1,194 kW) each Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0268[103] Drag area: 8.78 ft² (0.82 m²)[103] Aspect ratio: 8.26[103]

Maximum speed: xx443 mph (713 km/h) (712 km/h) on War Emergency Power: 1,725 hp at 64 inHG and 28,000 ft (8,530 m)[N 8][N 9] Stall speed: 105 mph (169 km/h) (170 km/h) Range: 1,300 mi (2,100 km) combat (1,770 km / 3,640 km) Service ceiling: 44,000 ft (13,000 m) (13,400 m) Rate of climb: 4,750 ft/min (24.1 m/s) maximum (at WEP) Wing loading: 53.4 lb/ft²[103] (260.9 kg/m²) Power/mass: 0.16 hp/lb (0.27 kW/kg)

Lift-to-drag ratio: 13.5

• 1× Hispano M2(C) 20 mm cannon with 150 rounds • 4× Browning MG53-2 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with 500 rpg. • 4× M10 three-tube 4.5 in (112 mm) rocket launchers; or: • Inner hardpoints: • • 2× 2,000 lb (907 kg) bombs or drop tanks; or 2× 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs or drop tanks, plus either • • • • • 4× 500 lb (227 kg) bombs or 4× 250 lb (113 kg) bombs; or

6× 500 lb (227 kg) bombs; or 6× 250 lb (113 kg) bombs

Outer hardpoints: • • • 10× 5 in (127 mm) HVARs (High Velocity Aircraft Rockets); or 2× 500 lb (227 kg) bombs; or 2× 250 lb (113 kg) bombs

Early variants did not enjoy a high reputation for maneuverability, though they could be agile at low altitudes if flown by a capable pilot, using the P-38's forgiving stall characteristics to their best advantage. From the P-38F-15 model onwards, a "combat maneuver" setting was added to the P-38's Fowler flaps. When deployed at the 8° maneuver setting, the flaps allowed the P-38 to out-turn many contemporary single-engined fighters at the cost of some added drag. However, early variants were hampered by high aileron control forces and a low initial rate of roll,[79] and all such features required a pilot to gain experience with the aircraft,[26] which in part was an additional reason Lockheed sent its representative to England, and later to the Pacific Theater. The aircraft was still experiencing extensive teething troubles as well as being victimized by "urban legends", mostly involving inapplicable twin engine factors which had been designed out of the aircraft by Lockheed.[26] In addition to these, the early versions had a reputation as a "widow maker" as it could enter an unrecoverable dive due to a sonic surface effect at high subsonic speeds. The 527 P-38Fs were heavier, with more powerful engines that used more fuel, and were unpopular in the air war in Northern Europe.[26] Since the heavier engines were having reliability problems and with them, without external fuel tanks, the range of the P-38F was reduced, and since drop tanks themselves were in short supply as the fortunes in the Battle of the Atlantic had not yet swung the Allies' way, the aircraft became relatively unpopular in minds of the bomber command planning staffs despite being the longest ranged fighter first available to the 8th Air Force in sufficient numbers for long range escort duties.[26] Nonetheless, General

Tilley.. than one that won't go like hell and has a few things wrong with it. but these were omitted on early P-38J blocks due to limited availability. USAAC. and required only 17 percent of the previous stick forces.[82] Lockheed manufactured over 200 retrofit modification kits to be installed on P-38J-10-LO and J-20-LO already in Europe. . That turn was nothing more nor less than a controlled stall. The leading edge of the outer wing was fitted with 55 gal (208 l) fuel tanks.(4) ". although the indicated air speed was later corrected for compressibility error. using low RPM and high boost (eg: P-38H 2. a USAAF pilot reported a dive speed of almost 600 mph (970 km/h). In the P-38J model.h. I was on the deck. and the actual dive speed was lower. and the yoke was bucking and shuddering in my hands. These consisted of ailerons that were operated by a hydraulically-actuated bell-crank and push-pull rod. This boosting system was one of the first applications of powered controls to any fighter. It proved too little too late because the decision had already been made to re-equip with Mustangs. With these improvements. the streamlined engine nacelles of previous Lightnings were changed to fit the intercooler radiator between the oil coolers. Speed was up to 426 m. The P-38J-25-LO production block also introduced power-boosted ailerons. The turbo-supercharger intercooler system on previous variants had been housed in the leading edges of the wings and had proven vulnerable to combat damage and could burst if the wrong series of controls were mistakenly activated.[81] The final 210 J models. P-38Js with power-boosted ailerons proved to have the highest roll-rates of any fighter. the new core-type intercooler more efficiently lowered intake manifold temperatures and permitted a substantial increase in rated power. While the P-38J used the same V-1710-89/91 engines as the H model. and best climb to 3. said of the P-38F: "I'd rather have an airplane that goes like hell and has a few things wrong with it. and until 1944 this was the art of individual units and pilots. It would climb to 20. 475th FG.[83] Unfortunately the loss of the kits came during Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier's four-month morale-boosting tour of P-38 bases. filling the space formerly occupied by intercooler tunnels./min. forming a "chin" that visually distinguished the J model from its predecessors. the big old P38 actually turned inside that nimble little Oscar.. in 5. designated P-38J-25-LO. The hydraulic aileron booster system vastly improved the roll rate and thereby increased the effectiveness of the P-38 in combat."[59] The P-38J was introduced in August 1943.900 ft. The key to extracting range from the P-38 was very much in flying technique.John A. alleviated the compressibility problem through the addition of a set of electrically-actuated dive recovery flaps just outboard of the engines on the bottom centerline of the wings.p.300/34 for 215 kt at 146 USG/hr for 600+ NM radius).Miracle of miracles.9 minutes.Spaatz.[84] 1. making it easier for the pilot to maneuver the airplane at high airspeeds.000 ft. in a vertical bank. but the USAAF C-54 carrying them was shot down by an RAF pilot who mistook the Douglas transport for a German Focke-Wulf Condor." -. LeVier captured the pilots' full attention by routinely performing maneuvers during March 1944 that common Eighth Air Force wisdom held to be suicidal. then commander of the 8th Air Force in the UK. Flying a new Lightning named "Snafuperman" modified to full P-38J-25-LO specs at Lockheed's modification center near Belfast..

but he also spoke with them on all the positive aspects of the aircraft as well. He disliked the P-38.000 ft. The pilots were shown that they would be able to pursue a German fighter diving out of trouble. the most common sub-variant of the P-38L. Also. LeVier went "all out" in his demonstrations. . low-level upside-down passes on one engine. LeVier believed too little testing at high altitudes was done before sending the P-38s to Britain. and was honest with the pilots he met with. LeVier demonstrated several dives. and for extra emphasis. such as recovering from a dive. This staggering number was the main reason for the transfer of the P-38s out of the ETO. He also believed that too many experienced pilots were spread too thin in the pilot ranks. These pilots originally came from a P-47 outfit in the States. LeVier proceeded to take up his P-38 (equipped with the new dive flaps). and this dramatically lowered the amount of engine failure problems experienced at high altitude so commonly associated with European operations. and the pilots rushed out to see what they thought would be a crash. and reduce visibility. Virtually everyone on the base came out to watch the "air show". The next stop was in Andover. but he was attempting to showcase the new features. and that the cockpit heat was a serious problem. He convinced them that the problem was inadequate training.. and the pilots under his command reflected that opinion. Goxhill was home to a commander who could easily be considered a P-40 man. LeVier was not spreading propaganda. LeVier's demonstration tour was an overwhelming success. home of the 20th Fighter Group. not an inadequate aircraft. which would be arriving soon. LeVier won over the opinions of the commander and the pilots. These Lightnings also received the uprated V-1710-111/113 (F30R/L) engines. they were not in a good flying condition when encountering enemy aircraft.The P-38L-5. had a modified cockpit heating system which consisted of a plug-socket in the cockpit into which the pilot could plug his heat-suit wire for improved comfort. At 25. It was not just the comfort of the pilot. and circled the base upside-down several times. He arrived at the 364th Fighter Group at Honington. He easily pulled out without any problems. LeVier continued his demonstration tour and arrived at Kingscliff. The pilots of the 20th were not overly impressed with his lecture. The current P-38s in the ETO were not equipped with this flap. an estimated 2. the windows would fog up. and were having difficulty transitioning to the twin-engine P-38. LeVier dove straight down. the headquarters of the 9th Fighter Command. but when the pilots were cramped in a small cockpit under extreme cold situations. During the four months he was in Britain. The demonstration was indeed successful. he preformed several low level one-engine rolls.000 engines were replaced on the P-38s. In his seminal work on the Allison V-1710 engine. accelerated stalls. Manual demonstrations were performed. Daniel Whitney analyzed in detail other factors that made the P-38 a disappointing airplane in combat over Western Europe. They were informed about all the known limitations of the aircraft.

The P-38s flew 130.201 P-51s lost to all causes by the 8th AF over Europe (data credited to the AF Statistical Data Files).000 sorties at a loss of 1. These devices greatly reduced manifold temperatures but this encouraged TEL condensation in manifolds during cruise flight and increased spark plug fouling. Of those the 9th AF had 3 P38 FGs the 474th. Levier was using his special P-38.000 sorties over Europe. which not only included combat. causing detonation (destructive explosion of fuel mixture rather than controlled burning). but that was mostly when flying outnumbered. The problem was after he demonstrated the P-38s ability to recover from dives. and shot it down. 1.500 kills at the loss of about 1.1%. This power setting required better maintenance between flights.000 sorties. the others were disbanded in September and October I don't have .425 for earlier H model Lightnings. a British pilot mistook the aircraft for a German aircraft. and usually limited to escorting duties. In combat.750 P-38s. TEL (tetraethyl lead) fuel additive appeared to condense inside engine induction manifolds. It appears this work was not done in many cases. A C-54 cargo aircraft was loaded up and sent to Britain. • The quality of fuel in England may have been poor. Lockheed quickly loaded up 400 sets of dive flaps for installation in the ETO. Being outnumbered. • J model rated at 1.• Many new and inexperienced pilots arrived in England during December 1943. the pilots had to go back to flying the older P-38s in their units. 367th and the 370th. The 474th flew from April '44 to April '45 having flown just shy of 14. The loss of the flaps was the final blow to the P-38 in the ETO. The P-51’s loss rate was 1. A more realistic kill ratio was 2:1. However. The P-38 flew 127. • During stateside training. experienced pilots flying the P-38 were able to cope with the best German fighters. This was very hard on the engines. These losses included losses of all types. the P-38s scored over 2.3 lost P-38s for every 100 missions flown). General Doolittle had previously started the transition to only P51s and P-47s. and not in keeping with technical directives issued by Allison and Lockheed.3% (1. According to the web page of 8th AF losses 8th Air Force Combat Losses in World War II ETO Against the AXIS Powers there were 451 P-38s and 2. The results from the installation of the flaps would be tremendous and many pilots and aircraft would be saved. during the flight. Lockheed would never get a chance to reproduce the dive flaps. but also accidents and mechanical problems.600 horsepower vs. Heres another aspect that is rarely looked at. • Improved turbo supercharger intercoolers appeared on the J model P-38. Lightning pilots were taught to fly at high rpm settings and low engine manifold pressure during cruise flight. and none were installed on P-38s in the ETO. along with the new J model P-38 Lightning. which was equipped with the newly designed dive flaps.

Pilot and ground crew learning curve.01). Morale was high in the initial escorting missions of the 55th Fighter Group. Col. and could not pursue their targets.201 (same source). Not everybody looked at the P-38 favorably. He argued that compressibility and incorrect intercoolers eliminated the positive aspects of this aircraft. it would be an easy target for a P-38. Mark Hubbard openly disliked the aircraft.000 sorties over Europe. Nov . and the NASA blocked progress for months for fear that the extreme testing would damage their wind tunnels. The problem with the intercoolers could be easily attributed to the original design specifications. The P-38 flew escort alone for 2 months. mission profiles. The best German pilots 5. To put it simply the P-38 lost 451 aircraft to all causes to 100.000 sorties (loss rate of . 4. Missions were successful. and mechanical problems were on the rise. Bad flying weather posed many problems for the fighters. In 1944. Extreme cold cockpits when flying at high altitudes was making effective combat flying extremely hard. It was very limited. During a November 29 mission. The P-38s teething problems for the first 3-4 months. He thought the amount of hp would not exceed 1060 hp. Lt. There were more than twice the P51s lost per sortie as P-38s over Europe by the 8th AF. 1. The P-51 flew 214. Actual combat missions did not allow the P-38s to freely attack German fighters. Outnumbered 5:1 by the Germans initially 6. If they were too focused with a bomber. 3. From May '44 on a high percentage of pure G/A missions 7. Pilot morale was on the decline. Several aspects that are attributed to the problems experienced by the P-38 are the following. and were only able to destroy three of the German fighters. The P-51 losses of the 8th AF were 2.0045).sortie numbers yet but they would have flown approximately half of the sorties of the 474th. Now lets factor in conditions: 1. Close escort period The P-51 program benefited directly from all that when it came into service. What he did not account for was the newness of compressibility. Kelly Johnson had no idea the P-38 would be generating the amount of hp in the later models. The P-51 lost 2. and reduced the aggressiveness of the pilots. the winter weather was turning mostly bad.201 aircraft in 214. and losses were on the rise. By mid-November 1943. New tactics. Virtually all the top scientists had no experience with this phenomena. The German fighters were not able to focus only on the bombers.Dec '44 2. The 9th AF also had some P-51s but I will ignore the added sorties here giving the benefit of the doubt to the Mustang. seven P-38s were lost. they had to stay with the bombers. That would leave the 8th AF with ~100. .000 sorties (loss rate of .000 sorties. The P-38 did show that it had the ability to go the distance and tangle equally with the enemy. They were either providing close escort for heavy bombers. and the bomber losses were being effectively reduced. the P-38 engines were generating 60% more power than envisioned back in 1938. When flying escort. or were flying at low levels attacking ground targets.000 ft. location etc. Were forced to operate above 30.

6. Many theories exist as to the reason why. Morris quickly downed three German fighters. a locomotive. Weather could be deadly. the P-38 was on the way out in the ETO. They proceeded to destroy ten at the loss of only two P-38s.000 ft. In other theaters.000 ft. the P-38 was superior in many ways. the Allison engines were fairly reliable. the P-38s flew at lower altitudes. The unique physical look of the P-38. Germans would easily perform a Split-S maneuver to get out of trouble. were constantly soaked with moisture on the grounds. There were instances of pilots flying much lower just to warm up. Flying above 30. The 20th took had another good mission on April 8. the 20th Fighter Group engaged a force of German fighters. when below 20. 4. In fact. When operating with the British fuel. The P-47s were beginning to get some problems in that design worked out. and the longrange P-51s were arriving. To make matters worse. The pilots would not be in good fighting condition when they encountered German fighters. Several German fighters intercepted the P-38s. Whatever the reason for the engine problems. Landing gear shocks would leak when it got very cold. and took down yet another fighter on his way back home. and were responsible for hundreds of targets destroyed. the P-38 was a definite match for German fighters. Extreme cold cockpits would hamper pilot effectiveness. Very tight cowled engines made it difficult to ground crews performin maintenance. James Morris had a good day on February 8 1944.2. this theory states that the turbochargers would become more volatile and cause terminal engine failures. the turbochargers only had two settings. He quickly dispatched it. and in the process. exposed themselves to AA fire. Morris was flying at a low altitude when he spotted a German aircraft. When the equipment was working properly. The P-38s were also hard to maintain. Lt. mainly the tail-booms.. The problem was that the Germans rarely engaged American fighters at lower altitudes. Turbochargers would freeze up at high altitudes. and were not operating in the same weather conditions. General Doolittle was especially fed up with all the engine problems. the P-38s would have tremendous success. especially in the fall/winter months. They attacked several targets of opportunity and also attacked an airfield near Salzwedel. In January 1944. but were forced to retreat after suffering some losses. conditions were ripe for engine failures. In the months leading to invasion of Normandy. Another possible theory was the nature of the combat and weather. Some of the P-38s were transferred to the 9th Air Force and mostly started carrying out tactical strikes. enabled the German pilots to easily recognize them as enemy aircraft. and spotted another German. The aircraft. They were on a sweep with no bombers to escort. 3. . low (not enough to sustain high altitude flight) and high (more likely to blow up). would increase chances of engine problems. 5. Combine that with flying at extreme high altitudes. In other theaters. One theory was that the quality of the British aircraft fuel was not a high as the American developed aircraft fuel.

Normally they achieved good results. E. This method of attack created better results than engaging in pure dog fighting. They destroyed many of the Germans without any significant losses. He just completed a bombing attack. so dive flaps were not needed. It also required close teamwork between the American pilots. When flying low. Field Marshall von Runstedt and Reich Marshall Goering cited the communication system takedown was the most important factoring the defeat of the German forces in the west. The German pilots would also not be able to dive out of trouble. he came to the assistance of another squadron of P-38s and proceeded to shoot down five German fighters. the low-level advantages of the P-38 would come into play and give the American pilots the advantage. Blumer was flying with the 367th Fighter Group on August 25. If the German fighters decided to engage the P-38. high-tension towers. They preferred to take either German fighter to low altitudes. The relentless attacks also instilled terror and despair into the German troops. At the end of the day. The 55th Squadron destroyed eight FW-190s and three ME-109s without taking any losses. The 20th Fighter Group protected attacking B-24 bombers. On the way back. small factories. A couple of drawbacks of flying low-level missions was the exposure to AA fire from the ground and the height advantage the German pilots would possess. radar installations. twenty-one German aircraft were destroyed to the loss of only one P-38. On July 9. Shot down seven Germans for the loss of only one P-38. boats. The P-38 was able to take advantage of its speed. Captain L. Their aggressive attacks on German targets essentially paralyzed their communication system. Between April 8 and July 24. the P-38 did not have nearly as many problems with engine problems than if flying over 20. and hangars The P-38 did more to inflict damage onto German forces while operating at low-levels than they would have flying at high altitudes.The P-38s continued supporting the invasion forces after D-day. The P-38 could out-dive and overtake the German fighters. the P-38s were out in force and engaged a large force of German aircraft. the 20th destroyed the following: • • • • • • • • 315 locomotives 100 ammunition cars 87 oil tank cars 1000 freight cars 370 motor vehicles 89 German aircraft in flight 39 German aircraft on the ground Many barges. It could make quick attacks and gain altitude for another attack. . The P-38s played an important role in the invasion.000 ft. These tactics were based on the P-38 having better speed than either German fighter.

turning.. (Heinz Knoke description of a duel with a P-38 (from "I Flew for the Fuhrer"): ". and it was essential to prevent them manoeuvring into a position from which they could bring their guns to bear. If some P-38 pilots decided to go for the "easy" kill. the rest of the German fighters would have the altitude advantage and pounce on the P-38s. Here are some Germans opinions: 1) "Johannes Steinhoff. flying Bf 109s."P-38 Lightning. They closed so quickly that there was little one could do except roll quickly and dive down. perhaps.. 2010 .At once I peel off and dive into the Lightnings below. said the P-38s "could turn inside us with ease and they could go from level flight to climb almost instantaneously. Our old Messerschmitts were still. I am never able to fire more than a few potshots. The P38s were on them at once. The machine guns mounted on the nose supposedly produced a concentration of fire from which there was no escape. that no one ever tried that type of attack more than once. a little faster. 1984Pages 21. 3. Our opinion of this twin-boomed." P-38 Lightning. That was suicide. Kommodore of JG 77 in North Africa..... American pilots quickly learned to leave some P-38s flying topside cover in these instances to prevent a German surprise attack. and by then we would already be gone. it rolled very slowly through the first 5 or 10 degrees of bank. SMAIAA.22. for while the P-38 could turn inside us. by Jeffrey Ethell/The Great Book of WWII Airplanes. One cardinal rule we never forgot was: avoid fighting a P-38 head on. page 21. We lost quite a few pilots who tried to make an attack and then pull up. Sicily and Italy. 'I had encountered the long-range P-38 Lightning fighter during the last few days of the North African campaign. Bonanaza Books.it is a case of every man for himself. diving. Certainly the effect was reminiscent of a watering can when one of those dangerous apparitions started firing tracer. twin-engined aircraft was divided.. I remain on the tail of a Lightning for several minutes. Then we are in a madly milling dogfight. SMIEEE. and climbing almost like a rocket. a 28 victory ace in the Bf 109 with JG 27 in North Africa.. 2) "Oberleutnant Franz Steigler.. Their armament was so heavy and their firepower so murderous.. 1984. Bonanaza Books. But pilots who had fought them said that the Lightnings were capable of appreciably tighter turns and that they would be on your tail before you knew what was happening. by Jeffrey Ethell/The Great Book of WWII Airplanes. had this to say about the P-38.Common German tactics would use a lone fighter flying low as bait. They spot us and swing round towards us to meet the attack." Der Gabelschwanz Teufel Assessing the Lockheed P-38 Lightning Technical Report APA-TR-2010-1201 by Dr Carlo Kopp. PEng December. It flies like the devil himself.

inflicting heavy damage on the German and Italian air. the Lightning repeatedly succeeded in catching its opponents off guard. destroying 11 transports and 2 fighters. On the 5th April 26 P-38s engaged a convoy of 70 Ju-52s escorted by 24 Luftwaffe fighters. On the 10th April. In the ETO. for the loss of 3 P-38s. the 8th Air Force was still working up and the bomber commanders initially saw little use for the Lightning. a notable highlight being an Allied . long range fighter sweeps deep into hostile airspace and interdiction of surface targets. Nearly all P-38F/Gs were deployed to North Africa. in that critical phase of the daylight bombing offensive. Me-323s and SM. Both in the Pacific and the Mediterranean. The Lightning's combat radius was exploited repeatedly and surprisingly. The P-38s flew air superiority and ground attack missions in the MTO. the P-38 wings initially provided long range escort for the 8th Air Force. The presence of the P-38 allowed the offensive to continue at a point. as they still believed in the concept of unescorted daylight bombing. and US bomber losses began to reach unsustainable proportions. the following day 26 Ju-52s and 5 fighters were destroyed for no loss. which experienced a painful and protracted development phase and in the end.Additions by Corey C. where it may have been scaled down due disproportionate attrition. the P-38 provided long range escort for heavy bombers. to support the Torch landings in Morocco and Algiers. The Allies applied the long-legged P-38 to cut this air bridge from Sicily. the Axis had a force in excess of 500 Ju-52s. In the UK. providing escort for bombers well out of the range of the RAF Spitfires. the P-51.82s dedicated to reinforcing the theater. when Luftwaffe strength was at its best. its combat radius in excess of 700 NM (1) had no equivalent in either camp. and in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. sea and land convoys attempting to reinforce the theater. some measure of the intensity of this battle can be gauged by three notable sorties. 1999 Carlo Kopp. 41 transports and 8 fighters were dispatched. This becomes all the more apparent upon closer examination. By mid March 1943. The P-38 excelled in that design parameter which is pivotal to fighting a strategic air war. Updated 2010 The contribution of Lockheed's twin-boom P-38 Lightning fighter to the crucial air battles of World War II has been consistently understated for the last five decades. the big twin fought the most important air battles of the 1943 to 1944 period and was a key element in breaking the back of Axis air power over Germany. Text and Diagrams © 1999 Corey C. Jordan. The P38 was the only US fighter capable of engaging the Bf109G and Fw190A on equal terms. was denied the credit which it deserved for the importance of its role. Receiving far less publicity than its single engined stablemate. Jordan. using innovative technology. Text and Diagrams © 1992. The Allied landings in Sicily and Italy saw further successes for the P-38 force. 1999. The Lockheed P-38 was a complex aircraft.

a stopgap while production of the P-38J was being organised. Fuel too. or 80 in. equipped with the P-38H. The rotund Thunderbolt would suffer from a lack of range until the arrival of the P-47D-25-RE later in 1944. and turbocharger regulators froze at 10 in. JG51. with Mustang numbers building rapidly from February 1944. Tasked with bomber escort at high altitude. NJG2. They were just beginning to be equipped with belly mounted drop tanks. truly an excellent high altitude fighter. The Allisons misbehaved quite consistently. NJG6) equipped with Bf110G available to defend the continent. deploying from McChord Field in Washington state. the B-17s and B-24s suffered up to 30% attrition on some raids and the P-38s were the only aircraft with the radius to the task. This model had 100 gallons of increased internal tankage and provision for three external drop tanks. JG3. Yet. with 8 JagdGeschwaders (JG1. 1944.convoy escort CAP on the 9th October. JG106) equipped with Bf109G and Fw190A and 3 NachtJagdGeschwaders (NJG1. B-33 turbochargers and automatic oil cooler flaps. The more powerful V-1710F-17 hit the design limits of the leading edge intercoolers. Leverette shot down 7 Ju-87 dive bombers. Even with the arrival of the P-38J. With a large proportion of Pacific and Med P-38 operations flown at medium to low altitudes. it is believed by many knowledgeable people that the majority of fuel used in Britain was improperly blended. the anti-knock lead compounds coming out of solution (separating) in the Allison's induction system at extreme low . The H model. which limited military power output to 1. At this time the Luftwaffe was at its peak. only late build aircraft with improved oil coolers could maintain the nominal 1. was a source of trouble. Unescorted. swallowing valves and fouling plugs' while the intercoolers often ruptured under sustained high boost. JG26. Lockheed and Allison had little operational experience with the aircraft at high altitude and low ambients and this was quickly revealed. 1944. oil coolers and radiators. JG11. Even with the arrival of some P-51B Mustangs. was saddled with its limited range. these were still inadequate for flying beyond the German frontier. During the critical late months of 1943 the P-38 stood alone. and differed primarily in the use of more powerful F-17 engines with automatic engine mixture controls (autolean/autorich). and the 479th as late as May 1944. Typically. These were applied to the long range escort role. in October. followed by the 357th and 4th FGs in February. supplanted the G in May. 1943. The P-51B equipped 354th (9th AF) went operational in late December. 1943. The P-38 equipped 264th went operational in March. 1943. of boost. which escorted bombers over the Channel. another of his pilots downing another 5 aircraft.L. the single group of P-38s provided deep escort outside of the range of the seven P-47 groups and numerous RAF Spitfire squadrons.425 HP. 500 NM deep inside hostile airspace. where it was a training unit periodically stripped of squadrons to reinforce MTO and SWPA FGs. the P-38 was to bear the brunt of deep penetration escort duty for the next several months. The 55th FG became operational with the P-38H at Nuthampstead in the UK.350 HP. JG2. engines and turbochargers continued to fail. W. The P-47.Col. the latter often resulting in catastrophic failures. during which Lt. It is not surprising that German pilots nicknamed the P-38 Der Gabelschwanz Teufel (the Fork-Tailed Devil). and a new AN-M2C cannon. each JG/NJG with typically 3 Staffels (Squadrons) per JG/NJG. 'throwing rods. The new intercooler/oil cooler design was actually too efficient and the enlarged radiators became a new problem. The outstanding success of the P-38 in the Med and the Pacific was not matched by units of the 8th AF in the UK. The P-38s were all that stood between the Luftwaffe and the bombers.240-1. P-47 Thunderbolts provided fighter cover to and from the German border.

poor tactics and the 8th had a serious problem in the making. Oil coolers that could congeal the oil to sludge. The technical problems were not resolved until the introduction of the P-38J-25-LO. and the scoring performance of the P-51B equipped 4th FG in the early March raids into Germany.temperatures. The initial roll rate was not spectacular and the easily recognized planform provided the Luftwaffe with yet another advantage to play. Many of the P-38's assigned to escort missions were forced to abort and return to base. To aggravate these problems. These problems could have been fixed at the squadron level. dropped to about 1:1. This could lead to detonation and rapid engine failure. Most of the aborts were related to engines coming apart in flight. Poor serviceability and engine problems meant that initially 50 or less aircraft were available for such missions. The large number of engine failures deep inside enemy airspace exacerbated the problem. and more experienced pilots made available to crew the P-38. The common conclusion that the P-38 was inadequate for the needs of the 8th is frequently based upon comparisons of the scores achieved by the 20th and 55th FGs during the late February "Argument" raids. thus further damaging the aircraft's reputation. Aircrew morale dropped. including the first escorts over Berlin. The Luftwaffe quickly learned to position the bulk of their fighters just beyond the range of the Thunderbolts and repeatedly flew aggressive small unit ambushes against the handful of P-38s tied to close escort and thus denied the freedom to engage at will. There is little wonder that loss rates were relatively high and the kill to loss ratio was below that of the P-47's which could be massed by the hundreds (700 P-47's flying escort was not uncommon). and therefore the 55th and later also 20th FG usually fought the JGs outnumbered between three to one and five to one. by which time the 8th had decided that the new Merlin powered P-51B/C was a better choice for the mission. with German pilots evading the P-38s by executing a split-S at high speed. equipped with a mixed inventory of P-38H and P-38J-5/10-LO did not dramatically improve the situation. inadequate cockpit heating resulted in severe pilot frostbite. Radiators that could lower engine temps below normal operating minimums. Yet. they were not. moreso due to the large number of single engine landing accidents.5 in favour of the Lightning by 1944. It took the P-38J-25-LO and L model to eliminate these headaches. in comparison with the P-51B equipped 354th FG (9th AF) and the 357th FG (8th AF). It is safe to say that were larger numbers of the P-38 available to offset Luftwaffe numbers. The 4th FG comprised the former RAF Eagle Spitfire . The factor which is ignored by critics of the P-38 is tactical and aircraft/powerplant handling experience. as noted previously. leading to eventual air superiority by the middle of 1944. especially at the higher power settings demanded for combat. with intercoolers that chilled the fuel/air mixture too much. Add sub-standard fuel. the last quarter of 1943. when the P-51's reached full strength. while the Luftwaffe quickly learned about the compressibility problems in dives. Having had their numbers seriously reduced by aborts. the remaining fighters were all the more hard pressed by vastly superior numbers of Luftwaffe fighters. The single inexperienced 55th FG often fought the JGs outnumbered 5:1. the overall result would have looked far better. while the P-38H and early J variants may not have performed to expectations in the ETO. green pilots. and the operational debut of the 20th FG in late December 1943. and the aggregate exchange rate. In hindsight. accidents inclusive. what is overlooked is that their presence alone allowed the daylight offensive to proceed at the most crucial phase of the battle.

1943. and was by far the most experienced USAAF FG in the ETO. and both units had taken heavy losses during the early escort missions. impacting both morale and the rate at which experience could be accumulated in these FGs. In summary a valuable pool of tactical experience and engine handling experience for the Merlin equipped P-51B existed in the 4th FG. someone probably took him up in a multi-engine transport or bomber and demonstrated engine shutdown a couple of times after skimming the tech order. In this event. Gruppenkommandeur of II/JG26. was the British version of the airplane. Only a limited number of MTO pilots were made available for the 20th and 55th. have a more confident pilot than the ones who flew off to war in the P-38. Seifert (an "expert" with 57 kills). and they came with assorted equipment and things on them that nobody could predict.squadrons. After sixty hours of this. 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. he blasted off. The 55th accounted for 7 Luftwaffe fighters of the 13 claimed. and then ignoring the check list (not for real fighter pilots!). since AT-6s were in short supply. No such experience existed for the turbocharged Allison powered twin engined P-38 in theatre. in the company of better known pilots such as Jack Ilfrey. 4 FW-190s were claimed for the loss of one P-38H. who flew the P-38 during the Spring of 1944. The valuable tactical and handling experience of the SWPA FGs was a theatre away. Many of the P-38 handling techniques developed in the SWPA to counter the highly manoeuvrable and skilled Japanese opposition. 1943. Other sorties were much less successful. All three FGs drew on the initial long range escort experience of the 55th." "At this point he had his chance to fly the RP-322 for another twenty hours." . The 354th was being led by Blakeslee. A heavy price was exacted for the deployment of inexperienced pilots in a very demanding theatre in the hitherto untried long range escort mission profile. On the 3rd November. 56th and 78th FGs clashed with the elite JG 1. The 357th drew directly on the experience of the 4th and the 354th FGs. The first way.000 hrs of flying time: "The quality of multi-engine training during World War II bordered on the ridiculous. formerly of the 4th FG. a blindfold check. were never practiced widely in the ETO. On the 25th November. which had the unhappy feature of having propellers you couldn't feather. A second way to get into the P-38 was to transition from single engine fighters. Perhaps the best critique of the ETO record of the P-38 is that by former 20th FG Capt. and after the war went on to log in excess of 25. Arthur Heiden. later instructed on the P-38 and P-51. the student received ten hours of AT-6 gunnery. the 55th in concert with the experienced 4th. The 322. was twin-engine advanced training in Curtiss AT-9s. Despite these difficulties the 55th did well on a number of sorties during this period. and heavy losses were suffered on a number of occasions. although he might get his gunnery training in the AT-9. one of the Focke-Wulfs belonging to Major J. and in ten hours. A P-38 pilot usually got his training in two ways. and this experience could be directly applied to the P-51B. More than one neophyte has described his first "launch" in a P-38 as being hit in the ass with a snow shovel. Upon graduation from the RP-322 he was assigned to a P-38 Replacement Training Unit (RTU) or an Operational Training Unit (OTU) for 100 hours or more of fighter training. as you know. and Ernest Fiebelkorn. such as differential throttle and rudder assisted roll entries. of course.

VIII Fighter Command. That was about it until shortly thereafter the old Allison time bomb blew up. Army. He had swam in glue during a couple of prop featherings while in formation with his instructor. but the damage had been done. He is cruising . APO 637."Either method of training. he had been warned about the magic number of 120 miles per hour his Vme (editor:Vmca) or single-engine control speed. U. "Some people lucked out if the runway was long enough. usually with horrible results. 2. He is on a deep ramrod." "Tony Levier's spectacular demonstrations were an attempt to rectify all these problems. let us assume that we have a pilot fresh out of flying school with about a total of twenty-five hours in a P-38. we present a previously unpublished letter from the Commanding Officer of the 20th Fighter Group. and never to go around with one caged. Right on takeoff. taking full consideration just how little combat training our pilots have before going on as operational status. As a typical case to demonstrate my point. never did change its pilot training. The letter spells out the problems faced by the P-38 Groups in clear. warned never to turn into a dead engine. Army (E-2) 3 June 1944 Subject: P-38 Airplane in Combat. penetration and target support to maximum endurance. True. I want to put strong emphasis on the word 'average. The following observations are being put in writing by the undersigned at the request of the Commanding General. also. Here it was possible to up-date training to the latest information and for individual commanders to put their special stamp on things and develop new tactics. "But and this is giant towering BUT this was all for the P-51 pilots. 20th Fighter Group Headquarters APO 637 U. They are intended purely as constructive criticism and are intended in any way to "low rate" our present equipment.S. made little difference as neither guy knew that much about multi-engine operations and procedures. To: Commanding General. as far as I knew. never put down the gear until he had made the field." "For perspective. 3. starting out on a combat mission. is too complicated for the 'average' pilot. After flying the P-38 for a little over one hundred hours on combat missions it is my belief that the airplane. The most important of all may have been the training units set up by the combat organizations themselves. probably. Such happenings would make a son of a bitch out of any saint." "What would have happened if the P-38 pilots and their units could have been blessed with the same wonderful opportunity?" For context. as it stands now. unambiguous terms. Theater indoctrination at Goxhill in England had received the same overhaul that had occurred in the States. and he was in business the hard way. 1. VII FC.S. it must also be remembered that two other significant events had taken place in training (in England). to the 8th Air Force Headquarters. He was. The Air Corps. Some overshot or undershot and they bent the whole thing. Some tried a single-engine go-around anyway.

His gun heater is off to relieve the load on his generator.along with his power set at maximum economy. I believe that pilots like Colonel Ben Kelsey and Colonel Cass Huff are among the finest pilots in the world today. This is the signal for everyone to get into auto rich. gun heaters on. 6. The logical assumption is that they were so busy in the cockpit. They all ask about our troubles and then proceed to tell us about the marvelous mechanisms that they have devised to overcome these troubles that the Air Force has turned down as "unnecessary". Or. His sight is off to save burning out the bulb. It is obvious that there is a crying need for a device like that in combat. turn drop tank switches on. we have lost as least four (4) pilots. RPM and mixture by use of a single lever. Every last motion when you get bounced is just another nail in your coffin. turns on his gun heater switch (which he must feel for and cannot possibly see). what to do flashes through his mind. turns on his combat switch and he is ready to fight. puts the mixture to auto rich (two separate and clumsy operations). It is also felt that that much could done to simplify the gas switching system in this airplane. 8. cannot readily appreciate what each split second means when a "bounce" occurs. what are you going to do about it? It is standard procedure for the group leader to call. Allison representatives and high ranking Army personnel connected with these two companies. however. increases his manifold pressure. The toggle switches for outboard tanks are almost impossible to operate with gloves on. and if properly handled. Most common error is to push the throttles wide open before increasing RPM. At this point. are obviously very necessary to make the P-38 a really effective combat airplane. He is auto lean and running on external tanks. It is easy to understand why test pilots. Flying along in this condition. which will control power. who when bounced. But it does need simplifying to bring it within the capabilities of the 'average' pilot. He must turn. trying to get organized that they were shot down before they could get going. Chief among these is a unit power control. My personal feeling about this airplane is that it is a fine piece of equipment. What is the answer to these difficulties? During the past several weeks we have been visited at this station time and time again by Lockheed representatives. he has probably been shot down or he has done one of several things wrong. does 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. The switches {valve selector handles} are all in awkward positions and extremely hard to turn. He is pulling 31" Hg and 2100 RPM. difficult gas switches {valves} to main . His combat switch may or may not be on. which frequently gives out (under sustained heavy load). and gets excessive cylinder head temperature with subsequent engine failure. took no immediate evasive action. presses his release button. takes a back seat for nothing that the enemy can produce. Any device which would eliminate any of the enumerated above. But I also believe . 7. he forgets to switch back to auto rich. The question that arises is. combat and sight switches on and to increase RPM and manifold pressure to maximum cruise. he suddenly gets "bounced". increases his RPM.turns on his drop tank switches. 4. incorporating an automatic manifold pressure regulator. This causes detonation and subsequent engine failure. he must increase power and get rid of those external tanks and get on his main. 9. he reaches down and turns two stiff. who have never been in combat. So. This procedure. five minutes before R/V and tell all the pilots to "prepare for trouble". 5. In my limited experience with a P-38 group.

then return to the airfield for landing on one engine. RAU Colonel. new pilots were trained to fly the P-38 at altitudes below that height.. and that on the left engine) for a "tail chase" which included loops. There were disastrous incidents of ignition breakdown because of high-tension leakage. Heiden continues: "These new pilots made their attempts to go to altitude. Most P-38 pilots were completely unprepared for high altitude operations nor the technical problems involved. Make a typical fighter approach on the deck. Gad! I love that bird. No brains. Some of my P-38 combat time was while I was a 20 year old snot-nosed kid. This is what they put into the airplane and the pilot in the cockpit was stuck with he had.. Climb to 10. then some flaps. The exercise was to instill confidence in the pilots ability to control the aircraft on one engine. a roll or two. high speed stalls. Keep in mind that most of my P-38 flying occurred just after my 20th birthday. Very few pilots had flown the Lightning at the altitudes required by 8th Air Force mission profiles and were loath to do so.000'. Air Corps. the high priority given to providing escort fighters determined that nearly all the incoming pilots were destined for the 8th. Take-off on two engines. in my opinion. had done the vast majority of their combat flying below 20. Many of the P-38 trained pilots arriving in Britain requested assignment to the 9th Air Force in order to fly at lower levels where they had both experience and confidence in the ability of the airplane to do the job. the way they were set up. HAROLD J. pitch out. Captain Stan Richardson of the 55th Fighter Group recalls some of his experiences as an instructor (before his tour with the 55th) at a stateside RTU. No one liked 30. feather the right engine shortly after take-off. This is what the curriculum called for and they gave it their best.that it is difficult for men like them to place their thinking and ability on the level of a youngster with a bare 25 hours in the airplane. only a single generator. and just generally having a good time. He points out that all the combat instructors who gained their experience in Africa or in the Pacific. propeller operation in fixed pitch (simulating electrical failure). slow and barrel rolls. but those early airplanes. Therefore.. Heiden went on to discuss some of the problems inherent with high altitude escort missions over Europe. going into his first combat. I had to return once from Berlin on one engine. Commanding.. drop the landing gear. Demonstrate various emergency procedures (landing gear and flap extension). My area of "expertise" while instructing at Muroc was single-engine demo's in a piggyback P-38. No problem." Capt. It just wouldn't do the job. The oxygen systems were woefully inadequate. It was a dandy flying machine in instrument conditions associated with poor weather. on occasion the instructor and three students (four ship flight) would each feather the right propeller (remember. Capt. For a short period in my life flying P-38's I had as much time on one engine as I did on two. finally full flaps and plunk it onto the runway.000 feet . The airplane was a "dream" on single-engine. While I was instructing in P-38's at Muroc AAF. That is the sort of thinking that will have to be done. to make the P-38 a first-class all around fighting airplane. just wouldn't make it. a loop. Nonetheless. lotsa luck.000 feet.

that everyone and everything must have. It was miserable. This meant that everything flyable went and everything that still had wings would be made flyable. This simple problem did not receive attention until April. Being sure everything electrical was also turned off -. The forgotten thing was you were at altitude and the OAT was -60degrees and the little old battery was cold soaked. There had never been any need for it. Frost on the windows got thicker than ever. but there they were at 30." "Despite these revolting developments." . If a generator was lost or a low battery the Curtis Electric prop would lose the Dynamic Brake and go to extreme Low Pitch. you were in up to your eyeballs. a pilot will need to get down to 20K or below.000' and above. Result. outrun and outfight anybody's airplane in the air so they set about rectifying their problems. Most disgusting of all was the leisurely way the German fighters made their get-aways straight down." "Then things really started to come apart. and if he needs more than cruise power he will have to get way down low." "Every one of these problems was solved with the introduction of the P-38L. with a lot of altitude you have less than an hour with one or two props in RUNAWAY. turbochargers were running away. and once when the boost pump circuit breakers popped while we were engaged with some 109s. Since you couldn't feather. suddenly. It could happen on Take Off with a low battery. 100 percent combat capabilities. No matter what. Now. It was too cold and the windows frosted up. This in effect was the same as demanding. So there I was holding in the circuit breakers with my right hand while flying with my left. Procedure was to SET the Props then turn off all electrical power. Intercoolers were separating the lead from the fuel and the result was lowered octane. the pressure was all the way up without any margins whatsoever. by direct order. This is the need of boost pumps to maintain fuel pressure to the engines at around 20. No boost pumps. I have no statistics to back me up on this. it set up a lot of drag making it difficult to make it around to land. They were blowing up engines on the basis of one engine blow up every seven hours. Then momentarily turn it back on to reset the props as needed. outclimb." "This leads us to another vague fact. Like Casey Jones. immediately if not sooner. was of course the runaway prop.000 feet plus and sixty below zero. Hands and feet were freezing. pilots were calling their airplanes airborne ice wagons and they were right. hoping to get to a lower altitude before something burned up. There had been no training for it. '44.No Radios." "All this piled up on the 8th Air Force pilots. No two ways about it. No time to shake things out." "Another problem seldom mentioned was the single generator problem. to discover your problems.anyway. The Killer situation was to lose the Generator or lose the engine with the Generator on it while 2 or 3hrs into Germany." "P-38 units from the moment of going on initial operational status were committed to MAX EFFORT. that more P-38s were lost from this than any other factor including combat. This was called a RUN AWAY. You got there and zap. dead as a dog. but believe." "My only experience in these problems. the pilots of the 8th knew that the P-38 could outturn. Hence.

the design engineers must have realized that P-38's didn't have great roll capability. Unfortunately. and inability to dive after the Bf-109's and FW-190's from high altitude. The complaints were relayed to the Lockheed factory. he heard a common thread of complaints from the pilots. for field modifications of the "J" model Lightning then arriving in the theater. Of course the nose "pitch-up" resulted in increased aerodynamic drag. and was not a mystery to aeronautical design engineers. to these pilots. At very high IAS it took plenty of muscle to roll the airplane. It can never be emphasized too strongly. Roll Rate? Ha! Nothing would roll faster. visited the 55th FG. "The P-38 was a large fighter with much mass. the slower the response." Arthur Heiden observed first-hand how tight a well flown P-38 could turn. The Luftwaffe soon recognized the slow roll rate of the "H" and early "J" model Lightnings and used it to their advantage. Whatever the German could do. The higher the indicated airspeed. It makes up the Gospel Word. When Tony Levier. the Fowler flaps of the P-38 allowed very tight turning radius. You just couldn't get away from the P-38L. Early P-38J-5-LO's were modified at Langford Lodge by the addition of the replacement kits. 52' wingspan and long. . Lockheed test pilot. many modification kits were shipped to Langford Lodge. the American in the P-38L could do better. Prior to the arrival of the "L's" at Wormingford. an early shipment aboard a DC-4 was lost at sea when the Brits shot the cargo plane from the sky."Let me repeat this again and again. The dive recovery flaps ameliorated the "compressibility" (Mach limitation) of earlier Lightnings." (cited from [8] with permission from Arthur W. An added benefit of the dive recovery flaps was their ability to pitch the nose 10-20 degrees "up" momentarily when trying to out turn the Luftwaffe's best. after the hard winter of 1943-44 could be more beautiful than a P-38L outrolling and tailgating a German fighter straight down. poor "flick" roll rate. The kits added dive recovery flaps under the wings." "Nothing. wide-chord ailerons that contributed to slow response along the longitudinal axis of the early airplanes. North Ireland. High speed is generally preferred over low speed in combat situations. Sometime in the development of the P-38. outboard of the engines. and design changes were incorporated in the P-38L. The P-38L's were now coming down the production line with the aileron boost and "speed boards" installed. P-38's from the J-25's onward were what we should have had when we went operational in October 1943. The P-38L. It took several months to replace the lost modification kits. The compressibility problem of the P-38 was also experienced by P-47 Thunderbolts. Captain Stan Richardson comments on the slow initial roll rate of the early P-38H and J models deployed with the 8th Air Force. The P-38J25-LO and P-38L's were terrific. Now there was the airplane. following a spin or split-S or whatever gyration a startled. Properly flown. and must be used cautiously. Heiden). even when using the flap combat position on the selector. Cold cockpit. and a 3000psi hydraulically boosted aileron system. It also learned of the dive restrictions caused by "compressibility" and used that advantage also. panicked and doomed German might attempt to initiate. I don't believe that a joystick would have improved matters over the wheel.

rather than the P-38L. 44. The 38 was an interceptor and if both engines were healthy. Before I could think. you were being bounced continuously. Two P-38 FGs. This had increased the cost of war exponentially to the Germans." The decision to replace the P-38J in the 8th AF with the P-51."I remember an amusing incident. Sometimes as few as four fighters made it to target under attack continuously going and coming. and many operational problems are being resolved. Forced to take the bombers to. it is way more comfortable in a 38 with its power and stall characteristics and. We had run into a real mess and the Luftwafe was bouncing everybody. old #4 was in the lead of that flight. over. and from target. and the Luftwaffe kept on going. you could outclimb any other airplane. I saw this other flight get bounced. Internal fuel on P-38s has been greatly increased with Wing and Leading edge tanks. the rash of rough engines from fouled plugs. each leg is assigned to only one FG. 357thFG goes on Ops (P-51). 2-weeks later and other groups are converting by end of Feb. Remember." "Feb 11. and cracked heads which dumped the coolant. Capt Heiden notes: "Aug 43. Now fighter groups don't have to go the whole to. P-38Hs and P-51Bs beginning ops. and that's what wins dog fights. Highly inadequate supply of A/C. "The P-51 was a new airplane and we were eager to fly it and were happy with it." "The last half of 43 brought horrendous losses." . While I was on guard. especially if fuel was in the fuselage tank. Apr '44. meant that the 8th never got to exploit the full performance and combat potential of the P-38. We were disappointed with the 51's rate of climb and concerned with the reverse stick. and Withdrawal.he was off to a good start. P-47s are starting to get external fuel tanks. Lucky to get half of what they had to the target after aborts/early returns." To summarise the performance of the P-38 in the 8th AF. old tail-end Charlie's P-38 emitted a cloud of exhaust smoke (thought he had been hit). It was so easy and comfortable to fly. While the rest of that flight did a halfhearted break. Five minutes of METO power was planned into the profile. Heiden makes some further interesting observations. My flight had just been bounced. The escort is now Penetration. 4thFG converts to P-51s. Target. 8thAF has retrieved some Bomber Gps and has several original Spitfire/P-47 FGs. Impressed the hell out of me. saw his nose come up and wrap up his turn. over and withdraw them. Capt. When you are in a dog fight below tree tops. did the break. had forced German manufacturing underground and had forced Germany to go to synthetic oil. Meaning that if you fought over five minutes you wouldn't make it home. find themselves in a climate environment none had experienced before and a superior opponent with 10 times the numbers. Turned out to have been Fiebelkorn -. 1-P-51 FG that will not be operational till late Oct and have to workout tactics and maintenance problems. With the 38 you could be at altitude before landfall over the continent. The P-38 had kept us on our toes and constantly busy--far more critical to fly." "Nov. You never could relax with it. but with the 51 you still had a lot of climbing yet to do. for that matter at any altitude. which all are severe. 43.

The L was reported better.8mph/sec @ 15. However.6 . and cost. being flooded with Mustangs and well trained pilots. check the John Tilley story where he out turned a Zero at 90mph and 1.range . P- less and wasn't up to the job until the D model was introduced.2.37min to 20. and P-51(the best handling Mustang model) above 15. often with heavy loses.443mph P-38L .effective to 1.range .000ft and the P-38F better that the P-40. The P-38 out performs the P-51D in all but top speed." "The 8th was. and could dive after anything.3.000ft. and May brought vicious battles. I don't have it so Its just a possible at this time. and automatic control of the intercooler vent. An AAF test puts it at 4. In those respects you can rightfully call it better.Top Speed .442mph (I have a Lockheed graph and have been told there is an AAF test confirming this) however I think until more solid data surfaces (the AAF report) I'll go with 431mph. Enough of the crap.320ft/min (7. The new nacelle chin provided increased oil cooling capacity.Acceleration .600 HP War Emergency rating of the F-17 powerplant. March.000yrds.000ft from cruise P-38L . in later build aircraft additional outboard leading edge tanks.5 min to 20.000ft) P-38J .50 M2 guns .000lbs . Cost was not an issue durring the war. The L model had compressability slats deployable at any speed and could momentarily pop the nose up 20deg at any speed. 1 cannon 20mm . The P-38J resolved the intercooler efficiency problems of the earlier subtypes via the use of a core type intercooler in the forward nacelle chin.50 M2 guns. but it could not do anything better than a P-38J-25 or L." P-51D .2. at last.000 P-47s which ranged from $500 less to ~$8.gun package . and cruise speed.load . P-38H production continued.best climb is at 5. including enlarged glycol radiators in the tail booms. P-51D . and with maneuvering flaps deployed was reputed to be able to turn with anything.000ft . and had long legs. P-39. Maneuvering capability.Acceleration .000ft. P-51D .91min to 20. Germany were throwing their valuable flight instructors and 100hr students in to the battle. April.sited at 250yards P-38L ."Feb 44 we went back to Schwienfurt with acceptable loses. easier to maintain cheaper to build and train pilots for.gun package .000ft.000ft from cruise P-51D .best climb at SL . resulting in the full availability of the 1.000ft ave climb to 20. These were hydraulically boosted ailerons which decreased control forces by a factor of six.4.000 to 15.2. and two major control system changes.2.4 .Top speed .2mph/sec @ 15.000ft) 'Planes and Pilots of WWII' site. The Mustang was a delight to fly. Other design changes were introduced.5600lbs reported from the field.200mi P-38L . P-51D .2. While prototypes were being tested in early 1943. March 3rd the 20th & 55thFGs went to Berlin--Bombers were recalled. The Luftwaffe was at last starting to die.300 mile mission carried off in early '45 (see Smithsonian site) P-51D .000lbs P-38L . Just remember who took the war to the enemy and held on under inconceivable odds. and electrically actuated dive flaps . With the aileron boost could out roll anything above 350mph (I can post a graph) or its available at the 'Planes and Pilots of WWII' site. they made ~18.000ft .724ft/min I have a P-38L graph that matches this 5.load . the AAF considered the F model as good from 10.

With ability to carry two 2. The latter were fitted standard from the P-38J-25-LO. the 5th and 13th AF's used the P-38J to its fullest. until the P-38J-25-LO. and repeatedly raiding the Rumanian oilfields at Ploesti. which was nearly identical to the penultimate P-38L. Too late to affect 8th Air Force thinking as the die had been cast in the ETO and the 8th began to phase in the P-51B and C from early 1944.under the wings which cured the dive compressibility problems. having flown mostly P-40s and P-38s. Satan's Angels. with some P-47Ds thrown in for good measure. A much publicized event in the Pacific was the 1944 visit by Charles Lindbergh. while further extending the type's radius performance. although some P-38J-10/15-LO aircraft were retrofitted in the field. Bong with the 49th Fighter Group and McGuire with the 475th. the 475th had destroyed 551 for 56 losses. P-38 strikes however reduced production to a fraction of full capacity. Although the heating and defrosting problems were not fully cured until the arrival of the P-38J-25-LO. strafing railway locomotives and Flak sites in areas once the inviolate domain of the Luftwaffe. The P-38s became a familiar sight all over Europe. who widely disseminated the knowledge of range performance improvement through optimal cruise control technique (discussed above). the P-38J-25 did not arrive until July of 1944. This score ranked them third of all American Fighter Groups behind the the 354th and 56th in the ETO. sadly almost all retrofit kits intended for earlier P-38J subtypes were lost in a friendly fire incident in early 1944. and the 475th FG. 7th. Almost 3. and the two highest scoring US pilots of the war. yet was not incorporated into production aircraft for another six months. formed at Ipswich in mid 1943 with a mixed force of G/H models. In the Pacific. 1943. Deliveries of the P-38J commenced in August. The 475th was a late entry.000 lb bombs to substantial radii the P-38 became a major battlefield interdiction asset. however. The 49th. The result was an aircraft which could well exceed the Luftwaffe fighters in performance. Many aces flew with the Fifth Air Force. The P-38s were gradually shifted to the ground attack and Flak suppression roles. The Ploesti oilfields were the target of many a B-24 raid. a ratio of 10:1. 11th and 13th AF's. attacking targets as far North as Vienna and Prague. with increasing numbers to the MTO with the 15th AF. Richard Bong (40) and Tommy McGuire (38). playing a key role in the 1944 invasion. Curiously.000 were built and deployed to every theater. with four squadrons of P-38s led the scoring contest. getting the message to pilots and unit commanders throughout the theater. and Burma/India with the 10th and 14th AF's. out scored the 475th with 668 air to air victories. The invasion of the Philippines saw redeployment from New Guinea to the Philippines. where their superior payload radius performance easily outclassed the single engined types. the control wheel was changed and proper cockpit heating and defrosting fitted. with questionable results. The electrical fuses were replaced with breakers allowing the pilot to reset the breaker in flight rather than suffer the loss of a system. By the end of the war. thereby delaying the introduction of this important modification to theatre units by several months. the P-38Js flew from Italy on escort and fighter sweep missions into Southern and Central Europe. well ahead of the mixed FG's. the windscreen was changed to flat armour glass plate. In addition. . the modification entered production as a kit in late 1943. both flew the P-38.(4) In the Med. the Pacific with the 5th.

4) There has been much written on Charles Lindbergh's contribution to increasing the range of the P-38. The Strategic Perspective Combat radius helps to win air wars. By the time Mustang numbers built up in the ETO. Lindbergh's purpose in the SWPA was not originally to instruct P-38 pilots in fuel conservation methods. Today only a small handful of aircraft remain. firepower and resilience to ground fire than the F-51.200 2. deliveries of which commenced in June. 1944. Equipped with 310 gallon drop tanks. With the 8th AF. an environment where the P-38 would doubtless have thrived in its tactical interdiction role. The P-38 outranged its contemporary versions of the P-51. It is interesting to note that the haste with which the aircraft were disposed of prevented their use in the subsequent Korean war. were fought by the P-38 force. The critical air battles. deep inside hostile airspace against a numerically superior enemy. almost 4. with even fewer flyable. where land based air grappled with the Japanese. with better payload/radius. had shifted to tactical ground support largely due to the absence of serious fighter opposition. The last operational P-38s remained in service with several US aligned Third World countries. the operational career of the P-38 reached its final stage. 1) Ultimately. the long range escort load was shared equally by the P-38 and P-51 throughout the decisive first half of 1944. and slightly larger fuel tanks. The air battles over New . the Lightning was the foremost fighter. which is clearly at odds with the established mythology. but spares availability and operating costs soon led to their demise. the F-51 Mustang assuming its role.400 rpm in auto-rich.W. Expensive to maintain and fly. combat range of the P-38 grew until it easily exceeded the endurance of its pilots. and also why this aircraft must be considered the single most significant fighter in the US inventory in W. the P-38 was capable of a combat radius in excess of 1.The P-38J was followed by the P-38L. By the end of 1944. He soon discovered that the pilots were not being efficient with fuel. the role of the P-38. most P-38s were phased out soon after the end of hostilities in the Pacific.300 miles.000 were built by the end of hostilities. Lindbergh lectured on using 1. the Luftwaffe had already crossed the knee in the Lanchesterian attrition war curve and defeat was inevitable. Detail changes included the first tail warning radar in a fighter. He arrived in the area as a consultant for United Aircraft. While the much admired P-51 made a critical contribution. The P-38L was fitted with F-30 engines. with booster pumps in the wings. In the Pacific. The P-38 manual called for cruise settings of 2. Much of this falsely states why he went to the SWPA. it was the radius of the Lightning which allowed the ETO daylight bombing offensive to succeed at a time when losses were high and long term success questionable. when Allied strength was still building up and Axis strength was at its peak. He visited the 5th Air Force Headquarters and managed to convince the brass to allow him to observe P-38 combat operations.600 rpm in auto-lean. destroying more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied fighter. over 1. like that of most Allied fighters. it is worth noting that cumulative deployments of the Merlin powered P-51 matched the P-38 only as late as the end of 1944. delivering equal or better power to higher altitudes. All other parameters being equal.030 gallons in total. As the Third Reich crumbled and the Japanese retreated into their final defensive perimeter. This simple observation sums up much of what distinguished the P-38 from its contemporaries.II.

I quickly got the impression of being buried in ." When the day arrived. P-38 perspective by Jeff Ethell " ppppnnnnn "As the speed dropped below 150mph. and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. the Lightning is very complex indeed. shoved right rudder pedal. This took more getting used to than flying the plane. I threw the flap lever back to full up. but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the ****pit. so this P-38â€"after about 13 hours total time since restorationâ€"it was operating virtually fault-free. Preflight is very easy. With a flick of a small lever. the 109 pilot. one pull and it swings the ladder down then locks it into place. the Solomons.500 pounds. left foot into the next rung and grab the handhold to pull forward for all you're worth while swinging the right leg up onto the wing. I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. you can walk under every part of the airplane. The P-38 was without doubt the strategically most important American fighter of World War II. I was taken with the vast expanse of airplane around me. at full power with the right rudder all the way down. Sitting deep within the center gondola and wing. With twin. The perception of the P-38 as a mediocre aircraft is clearly the result of wartime propaganda run unchecked. the handle for the boarding ladder pops out of the upper rear of the central gondola. The 109 would have been a sitting duck. Once I was settled in the cockpit. or more if needed. The historical record clearly indicates that the big twin was there when it really mattered and there can be no greater a compliment for its designers. which sits some 10 feet off the ground on massive landing gear. I stood transfixed before the newly restored olive-drab-and-gray P-38L-5. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. The P-38 defines the word "big" for WW II fightersâ€"52-foot wingspan with operational weights up to 17. so there is plenty to check. It was the aircraft which allowed the USAAF to play an offensive strategy almost from the very beginning of combat operations. evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine. falling down and scrambling for the handhold just forward of the ladder handle. Getting up onto the airplane is then a series of embarrassing tries at sticking feet into the rungs. Museum maintenance chief Ted Ryder is as much a fanatic on mechanical perfection as Jack.Guinea. four oil coolers and the maze of hydraulics to run landing gear and flaps. As the nose came through 180 degrees. Fortunately. liquid-cooled engines. four radiators. and lay interpretations of period statements. pull forward on the handle to get centered over the ladder. Everyone had his laugh for the day watching me try to cope with this thing. Not only did it turn on a dime. would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. At this point. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine. The final system boils down to right foot into the first rung. the invasion of the Phillipines and later Okinawa were all campaigns where the radius and performance of the P-38 were fundamental advantages over Japanese air assets.

mixtures idle cut-off. "Give it a try. coolant-flap override switches off (auto).the machine. I was quickly familiar with the layout‚¬"absolutely mandatory before flying. gave me a few last-minute pointers like how to start it and what was different from a stock P-38. and the labeling is often hard to read.50s and single 20mm like a fire hose. round throttle knobs are an ideal size for the left hand. Pilots have often selected a position either between the detents or the off/drop tank position with no tanks. Jack. Putting both hands on this thing brings a sense of complete authority. starter switch hold forward (left engine) with middle finger of right hand until maximum inertia. magneto both. both biceps are working. intercooler flaps open. The layout is a myriad of switches. The cockpit is just about perfect in size: not too small. I can see why wartime instructors required a blindfold cockpit check before turning people loose. the third finger pushes the engage switch forward at the same time the index finger holds the primer! At first. The fuel-tank selectors are mounted on the floor. prop selector switches auto. red. Engine start begins with the left. not too large and very comfortable. ignition master on. The ergonomics of the wheel are also years ahead of their time: the grips are canted inward to the exact position of one's hands when they're relaxed and held out in front of you. starving the engines of fuel. right wing fuel aft. so I carefully went over each lever. generator switches on. I can see why it was so easy to haul the aircraft into tight turns. fuel-quantity check. throttles 3/4-inch open. then the right engine boost pump on and normal. but they are not hung today. a flywheel is spun up and then engaged. Before-start checklist: battery on. then he said. With nothing else to look at. I took several minutes to look down and memorize the positions and the feel of the selector handles. switch and propeller circuit breaker (these are Curtiss electric propellers). Dad absolutely loved the wheel instead of a stick. Not only can one get confused about which tank one is selecting. slid down the wing and climbed down the ladder. if carrying drop tanks. While still holding the inertia starter. props full forward. which I could hear retract with a firm clunk. but the five detents include an off position that also doubles for the drop tank. Like most Allison-powered WW II aircraft. this would intensify in flight. this is a real comedy of twisted fingers and contorted muscles because you have to reach under or over the control ." He turned around. Having memorized the Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions. The most obvious difference from other wartime fighters‚¬"other than having two of everything for the engines‚¬"is the dual pistol-grip control wheel. to the left of the seat‚¬"left wing fuel forward. The large. the inevitable had arrived. He really must have had confidence. oilcooler flap switches auto. the bomb selector switches go on with arming switch to safe. fuel selectors reserve (the carburetor vapor line returns several gallons an hour here). (continued) The engine controls sprout from the left pedestal in all directions. This has been the cause of most P-38 accidents in the past 30 years. as if he'd come straight out of WW II as a transition instructor. one in front of the other. completing the sense of total control given by the wheel grips. particularly because most of the switches sit behind the control wheel. because he could maneuver and point the four .

In the P-38. Dad would confound his students by starting both engines at once. dive flaps up. and what a great thrill to hear the "rrrRRRRUMMMPP" of the exhausts with each application of throttle. but this was usually due to corrosion when the aircraft were left outside. the props were known to run away. glance at the engine instruments. I quickly discovered that the rudders pick up the prop blast at low speed. fuel tank selectors reserve. just push the rudder pedal. Looking at those spinning props. the most important thing is to have the nosewheel straight. I have no idea why. I brought the mixture up. During the War. wing flaps up. Sitting there with both turbos whirling. Differential throttle is the primary means of steering. Before takeoff: top hatch locked. even at low rpm. unlike in the tailwheel types. they create enormous turbulence across the horizontal surfaces). The first thing I noticed was absolutely no torque and perfectly straight tracking‚¬"heaven with 3. The view forward is wonderful. . rudder trim 0 degrees. runway visibility is a totally unobstructed. open the throttles. pull back to decrease rpm a few hundred. they were very reliable. see if the props were going to run away.300 and flick the switch back to automatic.000 red line. Once lined up on the runway. It must have been like a rocket because all I did was go up to 30 inches manifold pressure. the drill was to go to full power. side windows rolled up (they're like car windows). props full forward. boost pumps on and emergency (this gives about 10 pounds more fuel pressure). I had to be dreaming. those Allisons start about as easily as a car engine. so it casters in response to throttles or brakes. Hold the brakes. aileron boost on. and engage the locking ratchet (if left open. Over the next several days of flying. let the turbos stabilize. then let go. the sequence became quite natural without a single mis-start.000hp screaming into my ears and a wonderful feeling of being pressed back into my seat. Off the brakes and the Lightning moves easily away. deep-throated growl coming from the top of the booms (on either side of the ears) is absolutely mesmerizing. but one can get a bob and weave going when pushing on them too hard. mixtures auto rich. Repeat this for the right engine (except the starter and engage switches are held rearward). the Allison started very smoothly. this had to be a real trick. feeling and hearing the satisfying. Run-up at 2. prop selectors auto. On the whole.300rpm (once each engine has at least 40-degree C oil temp) is simple because the propeller selector switches are behind the prop levers: switch to manual. across the broad wings. elevator trim 3 degrees up. Much to my delight. Like all WW II tricycle gear types. The brakes don't have the bear-trap power of the B-25. and release‚¬"wham! The P-38 shot out from under me as I kept moving the power up to 54 inches and 3. so very little brake is needed. and the engine settled down into that distinctive P-38 collected exhaust rumble.000rpm. During the War. push back up to 2. There is no sound like it. but part of the drill is to be ready to reach up and pull them out of automatic to manual if the rpm go above 3. and the same satisfying start takes place. the slightest deviation to one side will make it really lurch when the power is applied.column to get to all this stuff while the left hand is poised on the left mixture control. the nosewheel is non-steerable. and it steers as if the nosewheel is hooked up. but they are more difficult to get going in the P-40 and the P-51A.

My first few turns were effortless. pull back. on the whole. One of the weak points of the design comes across right away: the engines and wings on each side really block the view down. feet on the floor.000 feet‚¬"quite impressive indeed. A Lightning will fly single-engine at 255mph true air speed at 20. What a sight! Within the wing. high-speed climb. get the nose down and maintain control while trimming out the yaw and bringing the power back up on the good engine. After a few tentative turns. noting a steady 3.000rpm. Unlike with a jet. but eventually. which are stiffer than both ailerons and elevators. The specter hovering over this exhilaration is loss of an engine on takeoff. fuel selectors to main tanks. With one hand on the wheel and the other on the throttles. And what a wonderful experience not to have to hold strong right rudder. I thought I'd take a look at the airspeed indicator for an update‚¬"YOW!! I was passing through 130mph! Unlike a tailwheel aircraft. weren't they? In short order. or it will simply stay glued to the runway. it's just as easy. I was able to react quickly enough to get the nosewheel off the ground at the recommended speed and rotate the fighter. Best climb is somewhere between 140 and 180mph. they had. with absolutely no pressure from the ailerons. I decided to do the one thing I had wanted to do more than any other: a barrel-roll‚¬"Dad's favorite maneuver. (continued) [img]http://www. After what seemed like a few seconds. This may sound a bit daunting. Another.flightjournal. I pulled back. They were fighter pilots. the turns have to be coordinated with a firm push on the rudders. even better. I can see why mutual scan among flight members was so critical. The only way to keep one's scan up is to roll the airplane into a steep bank and then roll back. It took a couple of takeoffs to get used to this. perfection. I found the P-38 responds wonderfully to each input and flies away without a whimper. shot into the air and fumbled for the gear handle on the lower portion of the engine control pedestal. mixtures to auto-lean. The wartime technique was a shallow.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/cockpit. Tony LeVier. boost pumps to normal. which would outdistance almost any enemy fighter. absolutely no twin-engine time. I was beginning to comprehend why everyone loved the Lightning so much: it flies like a jet with no vibration and light controls. Soon. the Lightning must be rotated off the ground. pilots were getting killed when one engine quit and the P-38 rolled over onto its back and into the ground. Without wasting any time. relaxed. Lockheed test pilots Milo Burcham. With both . when Dad and his 14th Fighter Group friends transitioned into the P-38. and this plane really climbs. In early 1942. which doesn't do wingmen much good in formation.jpg[/img] Level off. I was in paradise. retract the gear and accelerate to 120mph safe single-engine speed. Jimmy Mattern and others were showing new P-38 pilots how to bring back both throttles.The manual recommends easing back on the control column at 70mph. The P-38 glided through just as wonderfully as I thought it would. Another. Nose down for a little extra speed. feathering the prop of the dead engine and accelerating to 120mph.000rpm. I felt as if I were being absorbed by the machine‚¬"becoming a part of it rather than riding in it. The P-38 immediately clawed for altitude as I brought the power back to 44 inches and 2. turn the wheel and push the rudder pedal. but during a few single-engine drills at altitude. power back to 30 inches and 2. the aileron boost makes an enormous difference. lift off between 90 and 100mph. It must have been a superb short-field aircraft when taking off with the flaps halfway down.600rpm for climb.

The single dominant impression is this thing is smooth and effortless to fly‚¬"quite unlike the more complex warbird types. his P-38F. In turning and twisting with 109s and 190s. The generational circle closed around me as I soared above the Oregon coastline and I began to talk to him. I could hang the P-38 on its props. At a 15. His recollections of handling the P-38 in combat became my own. I pulled it into a tight turn and was delighted to find the elevators almost as light as the ailerons. As the speed dropped below 150mph. even though he was 2. his hands were my hands. Making tight turns and loops was so easy that I grinned involuntarily. Managing both engines quickly becomes second nature. just a rumble as the airflow starts to break up and move toward the wingtips‚¬"no tipstalling tendencies. it would come out on the short end. As the nose came through 180 degrees. Stalls are docile. This transitional performance is what made the Lightning great in a dogfight. Dad never got a bullet hole in Tangerine. shoved right rudder pedal. I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. and gently move the rudder to slide side to side. freedom and effortless control movement is so visceral the machine becomes a part of you. I was entering his preferred combat maneuver. and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. When going over the top of the loop. The 109 would have been a sitting duck. Erv Ethell. At 100mph. The wings seemed to get smaller. just relax backpressure and fly away while shoving the throttles to full power with no worry of a snap-roll. at full power with the right rudder all the way down. This was becoming far too easy. Not only was I more than comfortable. At this point. just keep the feet on the floor. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine. the 109 pilot.000-pound gross weight. hanging on the ragged edge of a reduced power-on stall. As this dawned on me.hands on the wheel. I pictured a 109 on my tail and began an increasingly steep right-hand climbing turn. I was abruptly sharing the cockpit with young Lt. To recover. I held a bootful of right rudder. Within an hour. no right rudder was needed at all. (Clover Leaf Manuever) Without much thought. evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. power up. Not only did it turn on a dime.500 miles away. I threw the flap lever back to full up. pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine. feet on the floor. The sense of power. but the airplane also began to "shrink" around me in my mind. and I was soon flying only the central pod with its guns sticking out front. it gave it far more versatility than a single-engine fighter. would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. the engines went almost unnoticed. I was full of trepidation. No doubt. a power-off gearand flaps-down stall is 70mph! Those Fowler flaps are superb. While flying formation with the Cherokee Six camera ship. but when a pilot learned to use everything available to him. but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. The last time I did that in a Mustang. if it were flown like a single-engine fighter. it . something quite astonishing and totally unexpected began to happen.

add full flaps. Both throttles to idle and pull the wheel back.was stunningly dangerous to the enemy. Another bugaboo with the Lightning was bailing out and hitting the horizontal stabilizer. . the P-38L had dive flaps‚¬"large electrically driven surfaces under each outside wing that deflected no matter what the speed. the plane pulled out and pitched up into a shallow climb.000 yards away. Absolutely amazing. the nose-heavy condition will become more pronounced. actually. it becomes rapidly nose-heavy and starts to buffet as if it were about to stall." Many never pulled out. we haven't gone much more than 2. Unfortunately.600rpm. I never got there. If this condition is allowed to develop. and it will be very difficult to pull out. partially reduce rudder trim. (3) at high speed. once going downhill. I hit the switch on the wheel and. approach no slower than 130mph. you must land as it will not make a goaround. They had no hesitation at going round and round with Zeros and Oscars. 50 percent flaps at 150mph and settle into the downwind. The Pilot's Instructions state. 50 percent flaps at 140mph. Lockheed said you'd miss the horizontal stabilizer by four feet. Convinced they were flying the finest fighter of the War. boost pumps on and emergency. Fortunately. When I retracted the flaps. just pop the hatch and get sucked out. props to 2.600rpm. then lower the nose. Reluctantly. the P-38 will barely hold altitude with gear down and flaps up and will not hold any altitude even with some flaps extended. Initial for an overhead fan break: 360 degrees overhead approach at 250mph. (2) roll over with elevator trim forward and fall out. Hold the wheel back for aerodynamic braking. which were supposedly more maneuverable. the other Achilles heel of the Lightning comes out: compressibility. dive flaps did not come along until the late J Series‚¬"about the same time as the aileron boost‚¬"but far too late for most who had flown the P-38 in combat.000 feet. fueltank selectors on main or reserve (whichever is fullest). That first landing at around 80mph felt like setting a baby carriage down with a satisfying squeak‚¬"way too easy. However. crawl out of the cockpit and slide headfirst down the wing. "As the airplane approaches the critical speed. the nose pitched down into level flight‚¬"all with no input. Bong and McGuire were sold on this combination. after beating up the west coast of Oregon. There were several methods: (1) slow down to around 110mph with full flaps if possible. mixtures to auto rich. With the field made. With one engine out. There's a dive-limit placard in the cockpit. with no pull on the wheel at all. it wasn't that prevalent. over the fence at 100 to 110mph. Racing across the numbers. bleed airspeed down to 120mph. but never exceed 100mph on touchdown or the P-38 will really eat up some runway. I had to head back to Tillamook. From base to final. Move flap handle to the maneuver stop. Below 500 feet with full flaps. Do not extend full flap until closing the throttle on the good engine for landing. bring the power back to 18 inches and stabilize at 140mph. and observing it was absolutely mandatory. One final characteristic made all this worthwhile: there was no converging fire from the wings. I had run out of ideas. A P-38 pilot could get all of his guns on target whether it was 10 feet or 1. the landing technique is similar with the following exceptions: 160mph and 1. but I passed 400mph in a dive without much time to think about it. aileron boost off to conserve hydraulic power.600 feet on downwind. I pulled up and left into the break. At 44 inches and 2. gear down below 175mph.

throttles up to 1. Reining back some obvious prejudice from growing up with Dad's memories. I have come to see the P-38 in a far different light. I have come full circle. at last. coolant flaps full open. that siren song. boost pumps off. It may have taken a little more time to master and certainly was more complex to maintain in the field. but the options available to the Lightning pilot were impressive. stabilize temperatures. flaps up. A talented. mixtures to idle cut-off. I count myself fortunate to have heard.200 rpm. mags off. Back to the parking area.Off the active. There is little doubt in my mind I have flown the finest American fighter of WW II. . brake to a stop. aggressive fighter pilot could clearly make the P-38 sing. battery off.

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