List of Lockheed P-38 Lightning operators

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List of Lockheed P-38 Lightning operators
Lockheed P-38J Lightning - 1.jpg

The following are units which operated the Lockheed P-38 Lightning:



Royal Australian Air Force

The RAAF received five F-4s from August 31, 1942.[1] These aircraft were used for frontline photoreconnaissance sorties. Three served with No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit RAAF and two were attached to a fighter unit, No. 75 Squadron RAAF. The first to enter service with the RAAF, A55-1 was also the last to retire, following a crash on September 1, 1944.


Chinese Nationalist Air Force

Republic of China received 15 P-38Js and P-38Ls and, postwar, they also flew a similar number of F-5Es and F-5Gs.[2]


Geographic Institute Agustín Codazzi

 Dominican Republic[edit]

 Free France[edit]

Free French Air Force
  • Group 2/23 operated F-5As[3]
French Air Force

 Nazi Germany[edit]



Honduran Air Force

Honduras received 12 aircraft postwar.

 Kingdom of Italy[edit]

Regia Aeronautica

Italian pilots started to face P-38s from late 1942 and these fighters, with their long range, high speed and powerful weaponry, were quickly established as a more dangerous foe than the previously used Supermarine Spitfire. A few P-38s fell into the hands of Germans and Italians,[4] and, differently from captured Spitfires, these aircraft were tested and used in combat. P-38s were pitted against nearly all of the fighters in the Italian arsenal in tests at Guidonia and apparently, it fared well. Col. Tondi used a P-38, probably an 'E' version, that landed, because a navigation error, in Sardinia. Tondi then claimed at least 1 B-24 in his captured P-38, downed 11 August 1943. Shortly before Tondi attacked the bomber, an Italian Macchi MC.202 or 205 attacked, doing little damage. However, the heavy armament of P-38 proved devastating, indeed.

Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force
  • 3° Aerobrigata RT
  • 4° Aerobrigata

After capitulation, the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force flew F-5A photo-reconnaissance missions.[3] The Italian Air Force operated 50 late model aircraft postwar.


Italian Air Force
  • 3° Stormo
  • 4° Stormo

After the war, Italy received 120 P-38s [5]in an agreement dated April, 1946. Those heavy fighters, mainly P-38Ls, but also F-5s, were put in service in 4 Stormo. They flew reconnaissance missions over the Balkans, as well as ground attack, naval cooperation and air superiority missions. Delivered after a one-month refurbishing, they finally were all sent to AMI not before 1952. Other wings, like 3 Stormo, used the P-38 as well. Due at the big dimensions of this fighter, the old engines and pilot error, a very high number of P-38s, sadly, were lost in accidents. At least 30 crashes of P-38s in Italian service claimed a number of victims. Despite this, many Italian pilots liked the fighter, due to its excellent visibility on the ground and its stability at take off. Finally, P-38s were phased-out in 1956. Today, no Italian P-38s survive, nor even a single component from one, as these aircraft, with the value of light alloys, were quickly dismantled.


Portuguese Air Force

Two interned Lightnings were forced to land in Lisbon, Portugal, while on a ferry flight from England to Algeria. Both were used by PoAF.[2]

 Soviet Union[edit]

Soviet Air Force

Soviet Union operated few damaged and repaired ex-USAAF aircraft found in Eastern Europe.

 United Kingdom[edit]

Royal Air Force

The United Kingdom performed evaluation tests only.[2]

 United States[edit]

United States Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
United States Navy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crick, Darren. "ADF Aircraft Serial Numbers RAAF A55 Lockheed P-38E Lightning.", 2003. Retrieved: 2 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Baugher, Joe. "P-38s with US Navy and Foreign Air Forces." USAF Fighters, 13 June 1999. Retrieved: 6 February 2007.
  3. ^ a b Bodie, 1991, p. 240.
  4. ^ Harold Skaarup (23 May 2006). RCAF War Prize Flights, German and Japanese Warbird Survivors. iUniverse. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-595-84005-2. 
  5. ^ "Birth of Aeronautica Militare" Aeronautica Militare