P-38 Lightning


Source: Peter J Markham

“AirExpo 2012 – P-38J Lightning “Ruff Stuff”” by pmarkham is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By: Joe Lam, Journalist

If the P-51 Mustang was the Luke Skywalker of the sky, then the P-38 Lightning is certainly the Obi-Wan-Kenobi of the sky because, if nothing else counts, the P-38’s design is older than the P-51!

Flying Bull's Lightning

The P-38 Lightning was created by Lockheed Aircraft Co. for a 1937 specification from the Army Air Corp who called for a interceptor that can travel at high-altitude and come with heavy armament with a high rate of climb. Because there is no American engines that was powerful enough to do a high rate climb, so designer Kelly Johnson and Hall Hibbard, the people who is responsible for designing the P-38, decided to design the P-38 around 2 liquid-cooled, turbocharged Allison engines to increase the power and the altitude climbing. Because they used 2 engines, Kelly Johnson and Hall Hibbard have to design a twin tail in order to balanced the plane so it won’t tilt backward. The P-38 was 9 feet and 10 inches high, it was 37 feet and 10 inches long, 52 feet wide from wing span to wing span, and weighted about 21,600 lbs when fully loaded. It was armed with 4 Browning 50 caliber machine guns and a 20 mm cannon,making it have a better firepower than the P-51 Mustang. It was versatile and rugged, streamlined for better speed, and is was an excellent fighter-bomber (it’s 20 mm cannon can also cause havoc in case the P-38 ever ran out of bombs). It had a very good combat record of beating countless ground targets senseless and shredding air targets to bits. The German was afraid of it so much, they respect it greatly and they have a name for P-38, called theĀ der gabelschwanz Teufel, meaning the fork-tailed devil (which is kind of true because the P-38 have 2 tails and have destructible power). In the Pacific theater of the war, the P-38 also raise chaos on the Japanese (they called it two planes,one pilot, as saying that a P-38 pilot have the firepower of 2 fighter planes), the P-38 executed a mission which eventually killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. They did it by shooting down a plane that was carrying the admiral. The Americans pilots loved the P-38, but the RAF (Royal Air Force, the air force of Great Britain) hate it, mainly because the P-38 they got from the Americans were low-quality products with 2 useless, outdated Allison engines. After the war, the all the P-38 were dropped from services, many were scrapped. A few went to private collectors and/or museums.

For more info go to following links.