Tuesday, February 10, 2009



STANDARD DATA: Seat 1. Gross wt. 21,600. Empty wt. 12,780. Engines two 1,425-hp Allisons.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 414. Cruise mph 285. Range 460. Ceiling 35,000.

The P-38 Lightning was the first completely military air craft built by the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. It was produced in no less than 12 versions differing from each other by engine size, use, and armament. The most numerous model was the P-38L powered by the same 1,425-hp engine as the P-38H, but with improved performance ratings. When needed, the engine could produce a “war emergency” 1,600 hp. A bulletproof window was installed, the radiators in the twin tailbooms were increased in capacity, and fuel tanks were placed in the leading-wing edges. The Lightning’s armament included one 20mm cannon and four .50-caliber machine guns in the nose along with racks to carry up to 1,600 pounds of bombs. The P-38 was used as a single-seat fighter, a light bomber, a rocket carrier, and a photographic/reconnaissance plane. It utilized a unique fuel system with separate fuel tanks for each engine. Each tank was divided into three cells, all self-sealing. Two main tanks were in the center fuselage and one tank was in each leading wing edge. The entire system was interconnected so that fuel from any tank, except the outer wing tanks, could be routed to either engine.


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