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Old Aug 17, 2011, 09:30 AM
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one of my favorites; Ive built two P-38s and one of these days I will build a big one.
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Old Aug 23, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Good video from AirVenture 2011...

Hope you all enjoy this one. I've gotta go there one of these years.
http://www.twaseniorsclub.org/Oshkosh.html
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Old Aug 23, 2011, 03:21 PM
Evasive maneuvers boys!
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Great video Joel! That's quite a diverse selection of aircraft. I have a friend who regularly attends this show and he says it's a blast.
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Old Aug 23, 2011, 10:17 PM
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I feel like I should know the answer, but I don't. So what was the primary role of the p38 and what theatre did it see most action? I would love a 5 or 6 ft wingspan electric model someday.
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Old Aug 24, 2011, 06:20 AM
Evasive maneuvers boys!
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Hey Rich - Good questions! I hope you will forgive a long winded reply from a history major and retired research professional (a deadly combination for those inclined to brevity).
- Mike

Well, here goes:

Origins

The P-38 Lightning was designed by Lockheed’s resident genius, Kelly Johnson, in response to a U.S. Army Air Corp specification issued in February 1937. The specification called for a twin-engine, high-altitude "interceptor" having "the tactical mission of interception and attack of hostile aircraft at high altitude."

Lockheed’s winning proposal, the “Model 22”, was an unusual design that featured a twin boomed airframe, a center nacelle housing the aircraft’s cockpit and armament, tricycle landing gear, and twin liquid-cooled Allison V-1710 engines with turbo-superchargers.

Lockheed began production of the Lightning in July 1938. The last P-38 was delivered in September 1945, making it the only American fighter plane produced throughout the entirety of World War II.

The P-38 was used in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation. Its intended role in both combat zones, in keeping with its original specification, was to help gain and maintain air superiority for Allied operations.

European Theater

In Europe, the Lightning achieved only partial success. P-38s were plagued with engine problems as a result of having to use poor quality British fuels. The Lightning's performance, though admirable, was easily matched by German Me-109s and Fw-190s. On the other hand, their extraordinary range made them the only Allied fighter, until the deployment of the P-51B, capable of escorting heavy bombers all the way to their targets and back. The Lightning’s performance in the escort role was, at best, only adequate and the P-38 was ultimately withdrawn from escort duty and replaced by the P-51.

The P-38 found greater success in Europe as a fighter-bomber. Beginning with the invasion of Normandy and throughout the Allied advance through France and into Germany, Lightnings proved especially effective in ground attack missions: bombing rail yards and ammunition dumps, strafing enemy troops and airfields, and destroying German armor and artillery.

The P-38’s finest role in Europe was as a reconnaissance aircraft. The recon variant, designated the F-5, was unmatched as a camera platform. Flying completely unarmed, the F-5's typical mission profile involved diving from a high altitude to build up speed, screaming across the photographic target, and exiting with all possible haste. Using this tactic, the F-5 had one of the lowest loss rates of any recon aircraft in the war.

Pacific Theater

The P-38’s performance in the Pacific theater was the complete opposite of its European experience. There, the Lightning was the preferred fighter of the USAAF. Using superior American fuel, the Pacific P-38’s had better performance and fewer maintenance problems than those in the European theater. The P-38’s capabilities, particularly its combination of high performance and long range, were ideally suited to Pacific conditions. From its initial deployment in the Aleutian Island chain in May 1942 until the end of the war, the Lightning remained the most effective and successful USAAF fighter in the entire Pacific. P-38s downed over 1,800 Japanese aircraft and more than 100 Lightning pilots became aces. The two top American aces of WWII, Major Richard Bong with 40 credited victories and Captain Thomas McGuire with 38 credited victories, both flew the P-38 in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Ironically, Maj. Bong considered his gunnery skills to be poor. To compensate he used all the advantages that the P-38 could provide. The P-38 could not out-turn most Japanese fighters, particularly the A6M Zero, so Bong and other USAAF pilots utilized the P-38’s superior speed and rate of climb to make multiple diving passes at enemy aircraft. These high-speed attacks were very effective, especially combined with the Lightning’s concentrated firepower. Unlike the wing-mounted guns common to most WWII fighters, the P-38’s guns were all located in the nose of the central nacelle. Wing mounted guns, of necessity, have to be bore sighted to converge at a predetermined range in front of the aircraft. The P-38’s nose mounted guns are converged at any range. This gave the Lightning a longer effective gun range and a more powerful punch than other fighters. Thus, a P-38 attack on a lightly armored Japanese aircraft often had the effect of a high caliber buzz saw.

The P-38’s long-range capability made it perfectly suited for missions over the vast stretches of open water in the Pacific. This was no more evident than in the most famous P-38 mission of WWII. On April 18, 1943 a flight of sixteen P-38s flew from Guadalcanal to Bougainville to intercept a Japanese transport plane carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japan’s Chief of Naval Operations and the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Arriving with precision timing, the P-38s ambushed and downed Yamamoto’s plane then made the long return trip back to Guadalcanal. The entire mission covered a stunning 1,000 miles, a distance beyond the range of any other U.S. fighter at that time.

Summary

The P-38 was not a perfect aircraft. Like most complicated weapons, the Lightning had its advantages and disadvantages. But weighed in the balance, the P-38’s many virtues exceeded its faults. The Lightning was really a standard fighter with two engines instead of one. Almost all single engine fighters of WWII were designed primarily to achieve air superiority. Most had the secondary capability of attacking targets on the ground with guns, bombs, and rockets. Some were modified to perform reconnaissance and other specialized missions. Of all the twin-engine aircraft to come out of WWII, the P-38 was the only one that was designed along these same mission requirements and that actually performed all of them once it became operational. It was easily the war's most effective twin-engine design engaged in aerial combat, and without question it was the most successful tactical photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the war.

In short, the P-38 will always be remembered for its unique design and its significant contribution to the Allied victory in World War II.
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Old Aug 24, 2011, 09:38 AM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
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I could not resist as the P-38 has always been a long-time favorite; great overview Mike.

I was not sure, but I also thought that with its twin turbo-supercharged 1000hp engines, this was one of, if not the first American fighter plane to go faster than 400mph.

I have built several of these when I was gettin into RC and look forward to my next on....
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Old Aug 24, 2011, 02:28 PM
Evasive maneuvers boys!
mdunn30's Avatar
United States, GA, Atlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsbauman View Post
I could not resist as the P-38 has always been a long-time favorite; great overview Mike.

I was not sure, but I also thought that with its twin turbo-supercharged 1000hp engines, this was one of, if not the first American fighter plane to go faster than 400mph.

I have built several of these when I was gettin into RC and look forward to my next on....
One of my favorites as well Bradley. And you are absolutely correct about the P-38's status as the first fighter over the 400mph mark. Incidentally (and less importantly), it was also the first fighter to have a bubble canopy.

I'd love to build a P-38 some day. Any recommendations?

Mike
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Old Aug 31, 2011, 06:33 PM
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Joel Shreenan's Avatar
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More P-38...

Here's a pretty good P-38 video for y'all:

P-38.Lightning.mov (24 min 17 sec)
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Old Sep 01, 2011, 11:03 AM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdunn30 View Post
One of my favorites as well Bradley. And you are absolutely correct about the P-38's status as the first fighter over the 400mph mark. Incidentally (and less importantly), it was also the first fighter to have a bubble canopy.

I'd love to build a P-38 some day. Any recommendations?

Mike
I never knew that about the canopy Nice info.

I really enjoyed assembling several e-flite P-38s, but dont really have any idea on who makes the best kit P-38.

I have not really searched for one, but does anyone make a larger 60+ inch P-38 in ARF form? I have seen the 1.4m foamy one from HK, but no woodies...
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Old Sep 01, 2011, 12:03 PM
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Joel, that is totally awesome!!

Mitch
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Old Sep 01, 2011, 01:07 PM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
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Originally Posted by warwickcorvette1 View Post
Joel, that is totally awesome!!

Mitch
+1... I have been trying to watch bits and pieces while I am at work... only at the 10 minute mark; two thumbs up
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Old Sep 05, 2011, 06:36 PM
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I was not sure, but I also thought that with its twin turbo-supercharged 1000hp engines, this was one of, if not the first American fighter plane to go faster than 400mph. .[/QUOTE]

I love the P-38, It's the plane that got Yamamoto.

But the distinction of being the first fighter above 400 mph in level flight was, the xF-4U-1

http://www.voughtaircraft.com/herita...ml/xf4u-1.html

Great video Joel. Thanks!
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Old Sep 05, 2011, 08:16 PM
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Great Video, I have been lucky and have seen a few fly in person, there is nothing like the sound of huge horse power twin engines. My fav twin the F7-F at Reno just out of turn 4.
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Old Sep 05, 2011, 11:50 PM
Evasive maneuvers boys!
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United States, GA, Atlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allert View Post
I love the P-38, It's the plane that got Yamamoto.

But the distinction of being the first fighter above 400 mph in level flight was, the xF-4U-1

http://www.voughtaircraft.com/herita...ml/xf4u-1.html
While the Corsair was an outstanding aircraft in its own right, awarding the status of first fighter over 400 mph to the XF4U-1 is a miscalculation. As respected aviation writer Barrett Tillman, in his book Corsair - The F4U in World War II and Korea, notes:
Quote:
“Since 1940 the claim has been made that the Corsair was the first American fighter to exceed the magical 400 mph mark in level flight. This was not strictly accurate. The Army Air Corps’ Lockheed P-38 Lightning is the legitimate holder of that title. The Corsair was the first U.S. single-engine fighter to break the 400 mph barrier.” (emphasis added)
Tillman, Barrett. Corsair — The F4U in World War II and Korea. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979. p.6

(Tillman's Corsair [including page 6] can be viewed on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=JqR...page&q&f=false )

Warren Bodie, in his excellent book The Lockheed P-38 Lightning: The Definitive Story of Lockheed's P-38 Fighter, gives a detailed account of the Lightning's first venture into the 400 mph zone. On February 11, 1939 Lt. Benjamin Kelsey, an aeronautical engineer and test pilot (who had also co-authored the original specifications for the P-38), made a speed record attempt in the Lightning prototype - the XP-38, flying from March Field, California to Mitchell Field, New York. The flight ended just short of Mitchell Field in a forced landing caused by engine problems, most likely the result of iced-up carburetors. Unfortunately, the XP-38 was a complete write off.

The XP-38's performance en route however had been remarkable. On the day after his crash landing Lt. Kelsey submitted a mission synopsis in which he reported:
Quote:
"With a helping tailwind, the ground speed from Enid, Oklahoma, to St. Louis, Missouri, was over 400 mph. Pittsburgh was reached from Wright Field in 33 minutes, giving a speed of 400 mph including the climb, while at altitude the airplane was actually making 420 mph."
Bodie, Warren M. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning: The Definitive Story of Lockheed's P-38 Fighter. Hayesville, North Carolina: Widewing Publications, 2001, 1991. p.40

The Corsair prototype, the XF4U-1, did not take to the air for the first time until May 29, 1940, some fifteen months after the XP-38's foray into 400 mph territory. After preliminary flights (and a crash landing of its own), Vought was ready to show off the Corsair's abilities.
Quote:
"On 1 October 1940, Lyman Bullard demonstrated the XF4U-1 for USN officials. He flew from Stratford to Hartford, Connecticut at a speed of 405mph (652kmph), making the Corsair the first single-engine single-seat Navy fighter to fly over 400mph (644kmph)." (emphasis added)
Bowman, Martin W. Vought F4U Corsair. Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press Ltd., 2002. p.14

Although not the first fighter over the 400 mph mark, the Corsair's achievement of that speed using only a single engine is a remarkable and historic accomplishment. Like the P-38, its status among the "planes of fame" is well deserved.
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Old Sep 06, 2011, 03:50 PM
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Wow! mdunn30, you know your planes! Thanks.
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