List of surviving Lockheed P-38 Lightnings

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P-38L 44-53232 at the United States Air Force Museum

Lockheed P-38 survivors highlights the history of many well known flying and static displayed P-38 Lightnings in the United States. A list is also provided of other P-38s on display around the world; including location, model and serial numbers, brief history, nicknames/markings, and conditions.


In late 1945 when the last P-38 came off the production line, 9,923 aircraft had been delivered to the USAAF. The P-38 was quickly declared obsolete in 1946 and the last USAF flight was in 1948.

This was an extremely complicated aircraft to maintain. The P-38 Lightning has been consistently on the civil registry since 1946 since the first aircraft were released from the military. It does remain a demanding aircraft with numerous crash incidents; several of the surviving planes have been rebuilt many times.

A considerable number of late model Lightnings which had been converted by Lockheed to Photo Reconnaissance (F-5) models found a niche with photo mapping companies and until the middle 1960s these aircraft earned their keep through photo mapping assignments around the globe. Additionally, the latest military use of the P-38 was with several South American air forces, the largest of these being Fuerza Aérea Hondureña which operated the Lockheed Lightning until the early 1960s. There were also a small number of P-38s that were purchased after the war for civilian air racing. It is from these sources that until the early 1980s all the remaining stocks of the P-38 Lightning could be drawn from.

One historic note was that in 1948, representatives of the then-new country of South Korea attempted to purchase the brand new P-38L Lightnings stored in the Philippines (approximately 100 aircraft). Instead, the USAF persuaded them to accept AT-6s modified to ground attack role as well as worn out P-51D Mustangs; the brand new P-38s were destroyed.

As with all remaining warbirds, collectors began scouring the world for forgotten aircraft. From the jungle of New Guinea, the wildness of Alaska and under the ice of Greenland are but some of the places previously-unrestorable wrecked airframes are being recovered and being restored for both static display and airworthy exhibition.

Individual histories[edit]

P-38 Glacier Girl
  • Glacier Girl (41-7630), this P-38F-1 flown by 1st Lt. Harry L. Smith, Jr., 94th Fighter Squadron, was one of six P-38 fighters of the 1st Fighter Group escorting two B-17 bombers on a ferry flight to the United Kingdom as part of Operation Bolero on 15 July 1942. While en route over Greenland, bad weather caused the eight aircraft to turn back, the entire flight attempting to land together before they ran out of fuel. Although one P-38 overturned, the flight successfully belly-landed. The crews were rescued within a few days, but the airplanes were abandoned and, over the years, covered by ice. A few attempts to salvage the airplanes were made but were unsuccessful. Eventually, Roy Shoffner—a businessman from Middlesboro, Kentucky—acquired the salvage rights and in 1992, 50 years after the planes landed, a P-38 recovery mission was undertaken. Using photos taken by the original crews while they were awaiting rescue as well as modern seismographic equipment, the salvage workers located the buried squadron and selected the least damaged of the planes. They reached it by boring a hole using hot water through the layer of ice 268 feet thick. The airplane was transported to Middlesboro, where a ten-year restoration began using many parts from late model aircraft. Nicknamed Glacier Girl, the restored P-38F Lightning made its first post-restoration flight on 26 October 2002.[1]
  • Maid of Harlech (41-7677) P-38F-1LO ex-49th Squadron, 14th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, in the summer of 2007 this aircraft was discovered on a beach in Wales, having been buried in the sand for 65 years. A wingtip had come off the aircraft during its belly landing, but the pilot—Second Lt. Robert F. 'Fred' Elliot—escaped unhurt. Elliot was on a gunnery practice mission when a fuel supply error forced him to make an emergency landing. American airmen salvaged the nose guns but were unable to fly the fighter off the beach, abandoning it in place where it became covered by naturally shifting sand. Elliot was shot down less than three months later while flying combat missions over Tunisia. His body and aircraft were never found.[2]



On display




Under restoration

United States[edit]

On display
Under restoration or in storage

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Glacier Girl. Access date: 21 January 2007.
  2. ^ 41-7677 Welsh Lightning
  3. ^ "P-38H Lightning/42-66841" Classic Jets Fighter Museum Retrieved: 13 April 2012.
  4. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53254" The Flying Bulls Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  5. ^ "FAA Registry: N25Y" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  6. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-25786." Museum of Aviation Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  7. ^ "P-38F Lightning/41-7630" Lewis Air Legends Retrieved: 01 October 2013.
  8. ^ "FAA Registry: N17630" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  9. ^ "P-38F Lightning/42-12652" WestPac Restorations Retrieved: 13 April 2012.
  10. ^ "P-38F Lightning/42-12652" White 33 First Flight Retrieved 18 October 2016
  11. ^ "P-38J Lightning/44-23314" Planes of Fame Retrieved: 01 October 2013.
  12. ^ "FAA Registry: N138AM" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  13. ^ "FAA Registry: N7723C" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  14. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-26981" Allied Fighters Retrieved: 19 August 2014.
  15. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-27053" War Eagles Air Museum Retrieved: 01 October 2013.
  16. ^ "FAA Registry: N577JB" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  17. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-27083" Erickson Aircraft Collection Retrieved: 31 July 2014.
  18. ^ "FAA Registry: N2114L" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  19. ^ "P-38 Lightning/44-27183" Yanks Air Museum Retrieved: 01 October 2013.
  20. ^ "FAA Registry: N718" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  21. ^ "FAA Registry: N79123" Retrieved: 21 April 2011.
  22. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-27231" Fagen Fighters WWII Museum Retrieved: 17 July 2014.
  23. ^ "FAA Registry: N38TF" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  24. ^ "P-38G Lightning/42-13400" Retrieved: 23 February 2015.
  25. ^ "P-38J Lightning/42-67638" Hill Aerospace Museum Retrieved: 13 April 2012.
  26. ^ "P-38J Lightning/42-67762" National Air and Space Museum Retrieved: 13 April 2012.
  27. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53015" Retrieved: 23 February 2015.
  28. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53087" EAA Airventure Museum Retrieved: 8 October 2012.
  29. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53097" Museum of Flight Retrieved: 8 October 2012.
  30. ^ "Lockheed P-38L Lightning" National Museum of the USAF Retrieved: 5 September 2015.
  31. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53236" Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center Retrieved: 10 February 2014.
  32. ^ "FAA Registry: N66534" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  33. ^ "P-38J Lightning/42-103988" WestPac Restorations Retrieved: 13 April 2012.
  34. ^ "FAA Registry: N38LL" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  35. ^ "FAA Registry: N2897S" Retrieved: 10 May 2011.
  36. ^ "P-38L Lightning/44-53186" Collings Foundation Retrieved: 1 September 2016.


  • United States Air Force Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975.

External links[edit]