Lockeed’s P-38 "Lightning"The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, in addition to being Lockheed's first venture into the world of high performance military aircraft, was one of the finest WWII fighters produced. Lockheed responded to the USAAC's 1937 Request for Proposals (RFP) for a long-range interceptor with a twin-boom and central nacelle layout called the XP-38. Lockheed utilized butt-joined and flush-riveted all-metal skins (and flying surfaces) in the aircraft's construction. This was a first for a US fighter plane. The nickname "Lightning" was given to the P-38 by the RAF when the aircraft was ordered by them in 1940. The Americans adopted the same name the following year.The first P-38 production runs sold to the British did not include a supercharger fitted to their Allison V-1710 engines. The supercharger (turbocharger) was deemed to be classified equipment by the U.S. Government, and was thus restricted from overseas sales. These P-38's performed poorly, resulting in the order for 667 additional P-38s being cancelled by the RAF. P-38 models E, F, H, J, and L were fitted with turbocharged engines, improved Fowler flaps and additional fuel capacity. These P-38s proved to be more than a match for Axis fighters across the globe.This fighter filled many diverse roles. In addition to its primary role as a fighter aircraft, it was used for photo reconnaissance (F-4 & F-5), as a night fighter with added radar and a second crew member, an ambulance, a torpedo-bomber, and as a target tug. It made its first flight on January 27, 1939 from designs dating back to 1937. There were 9,924 of all versions of this aircraft produced.First Flight Date: 27 January 1939Type: Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber.Powerplants: Two turbocharged Allison 1,427 hp V-1710-89/91 (P-38J) or two 1600 hp V-1710-111/113 (P-38L/M) in-line piston engines.Max Speed: 414 mph at 25,000 ft.Range: 475 miles with internal fuel tanks, 2600 miles with improved fuel capacity tanks.Service Ceiling: 44,000 ft.Weapons: One 20mm cannon, four 0.50 caliber machine guns, up to 3,190 lbs. of ordnance - usually two 1,000 lb. or 1,600 lb. bombs, or 10x127mm hight-explosive rocket projectiles under the wings.Weight: Empty 37,485 lbs; Max (Take-off) 65,000 lbsDimensions:Wing Span: 52 ft 0 inches. Wing Area: Approx. 327 sq. ft. Length: 37 ft. 10 inches. Height: 9 ft 10 inches. The P-38 was the first American Army Air Corps fighter able to exceed speeds of more than 400 mph. The twin turbocharged engines gave it superb high-altitude performance, and at altitudes above 26,000 feet was one of the world's best fighters.The concentration of weaponry in the P-38's nose allowed it to bring immense firepower to bear on targets at all ranges. Lightnings could saw Japanese Zeros in half, or completely severe an enemy aircraft's wing with a long burst of fire._____________________________________________________________________________________References: Jane's Historic Military Aircraft, Aircraft of the World.Photos by George Villasenor, an Aleutian WWII Combat Photographer working out of Attu. Circa 1945.