P-38 Lockheed Lightnings

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P-38 Lockheed Lightnings
P-38 Lockheed Lightning.jpg
Reconnaissance P-38
Type twin propeller monoplane
Role fighter; fighter/bomber; aerial recon
Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
Manufacturer Lockheed COrporation
Produced 1941 - 45
Number built 10,037
Primary users US Army Air Force; Free French Air Force
In service July 1941


Designed to a 1937 specification calling for a high-altitude interceptor with heavy armament and a high rate of climb, no American engine then available produced sufficient power to satisfy the requirement, and designers Hall Hibbard and Kelly Johnson designed the P-38 around a pair of liquid-cooled in-line Allison engines, turbo-supercharged for high-altitude performance. For the airframe they adopted a unique “twin-boom” configuration, in which pilot and armament were contained in a central pod and the engines were mounted in mid-wing nacelles extending back into tail booms that mounted twin rudders and were joined by a horizontal tail.

The P-38 was also used as a bomber-pathfinder, guiding streams of medium and heavy bombers, to their targets. Used in the aerial reconnaissance role, the P-38 accounted for 90 percent of the aerial film captured over Europe. 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. In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the introduction of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.

The Lightning’s long range and high ceiling made it a natural for photo-reconnaissance, and cameras replaced guns in the F-5 version, which ranked second only to the British Mosquito as a workhorse of Allied photographic intelligence.

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 11.53m
  • Wingspan: 15.85m
  • Height: 3.91m
  • Empty weight: 5,806 kg
  • Max takeoff weight: 9,798 kg
  • Powerplant: 2 x Allison V-1710-113-V 12 Liquid cooled engines. One left hand rotation, one right hand rotation
  • Maximum speed: 666 km/hr
  • Range: 2,100 km
  • Service ceiling: 13,000m
  • Armament
  • Guns: 1 x Hispano 20 mm canon; 4 x 0.50 Browning machine guns, 4 x M10 three tube 112mm M8 rocket launchers
  • Bombs: 4,000 kg

Crew members

Ground crew