Lockheed P-38 Lightning


Lockheed pilot J. Mattern tests the P-38H
Lockheed pilot Jimmie Mattern has feathered one propeller for this P-38H test flight.
The P-38's design was quite unique for its time: when it entered squadron service, most of the features of this beautiful twin-engined interceptor were seen for the first time on an operational fighter: a metal flush riveted skin, tricycle gear, power-boosted controls and turbo-supercharged engine.
The P-38 was nicknamed the Gabelschwanz Teufel ("Fork-Tailed Devil") by the Luftwaffe. At the time it entered service, it was the fastest and longest ranged fighter in the world.

Development

Lockheed P-38F Lightning Lockheed P-38F Lightning
Engines (2x) Allison V-1710-49(53) liquid-cooled V12 (2x) 1225 hp
Weight empty: 5563 kg (12264 lb) - with full load: 8165 kg (18000 lb)
Armament Four 12.7mm guns plus one 20 mm cannon, all nose-mounted
Performance Max speed: 636 km/h (395 mph) Ceiling: around 12000 m (39370 ft)
Lockheed P-38J Lightning Lockheed P-38J Lightning
Engines (2x) Allison V-1710-89(91) liquid-cooled V12 (2x) 1425 hp
Weight empty: 5800 kg (12780 lb) - with full load: 9500 kg (20945 lb)
Armament Four 12.7mm guns plus one 20 mm cannon, all nose-mounted
Performance Max speed: 676 km/h (420 mph) Ceiling: 13410 m (44000 ft)
Lockheed P-38L Lightning Lockheed P-38L Lightning
Engines (2x) Allison V-1710-F30R(F30L) liquid-cooled V12 (2x) 1475 hp
Weight empty: 6396 kg (14100 lb) - with full load: 9798 kg (21600 lb)
Armament Four 12.7mm guns plus one 20 mm cannon, all nose-mounted
Performance Max speed: 666 km/h (414 mph) Ceiling: 13410 m (44000 ft)
For more wartime photographs, check my tribute page to the P-38 Lightning called Lightnings in the sky.

Stof's notes about this plane in iMOL's WarBirds

The opinions expressed below are only my own, and nothing more...
The P-38 offers a good compromise for speed, turning abilities, and firepower.

Strong points:

Weak points:


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(Plane photo from Squadron/Signal "P-38 in action")