The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a World War II-era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. Developed for the United States Army Air Corps,
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
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LockheedF-94 Starfire / Lockheed P-80 Shootingstar / Lockheed P-38 Lightning / Lockheed T-33 T-Bird
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Lockheed F-35A/B/C Lightning II special; Lockheed F-22A Raptor Special
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a World War II-era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. Developed for the United States Army Air Corps, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil (German: der Gabelschwanz-Teufel) by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" (2飛行機、1パイロット Ni hikōki, ippairotto) by the Japanese. The P-38 was used for interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.
The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the aircraft of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories) and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.
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The P-38's service record shows mixed results, which may reflect more on its employment than on flaws with the aircraft. The P-38's engine troubles at high altitudes only occurred with the Eighth Air Force. One reason for this was the inadequate cooling systems of the G and H models; the improved P-38 J and L had tremendous success flying out of Italy into Germany at all altitudes. Until the -J-25 variant, P-38s were easily avoided by German fighters because of the lack of dive flaps to counter compressibility in dives.
We had found out that the Bf 109 and the FW 190 could fight up to a Mach of 0.75, three-quarters the speed of sound. We checked the Lightning and it couldn't fly in combat faster than 0.68. So it was useless. We told Doolittle that all it was good for was photo-reconnaissance and had to be withdrawn from escort duties. And the funny thing is that the Americans had great difficulty understanding this because the Lightning had the two top aces in the Far East
Role Heavy fighter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Corporation
Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
First flight 27 January 1939
Introduction July 1941
Retired 1949 (United States Air Force)
1965 (Honduran Air Force)
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Free French Air Force
Number built 10,037
US$97,147 in 1944
Developed into Lockheed XP-49
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil (German: der Gabelschwanz-Teufel