Talk:Lockheed P-38 Lightning

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Distance units in Lindbergh section[edit]

Under Charles Lindbergh are given stats on extending the range of the P-38.

I wonder about the use of "miles" --- indicated airspeed on an aircraft is calibrated in nautical miles per hour (knots), not statute miles per hour. Hence the mph figure cited is actually nm/h, or knots. The problem is compounded in calculating the equivalent speed in km/h. As presented here, it is based on ~1.60 km, which is per statute mile. If the miles are nautical, then the proper conversion is 1.85 km. In which case, the equivalent metric speed for 185 knots should be 342 km/h, not 298 km/h. In addition, the 2.6 mpg figure should be 2.6 nmpg, or 2.6 nm/gal. PhuDoi1 (talk) 15:37, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

The P-38, like all US Army airplanes of that time, did not show nautical miles on its speedometer. The mileage figures are fine as they stand. Binksternet (talk) 17:23, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
The use of the knot as a measure of speed in aviation did not become widespread on either side of the Atlantic until after WW II. Prior to this almost all non-metric air speed indicators would have been calibrated in miles-per-hour. The only exception I am aware of was the UK Fleet Air Arm which used knots, it making navigation easier over the sea as all nautical charts are marked using the nautical mile. IIRC, the knot entered western international aviation use in around 1946, possibly due to the ICAO.
So if you see speed figures for a wartime aircraft given in knots then someone would have needed to have converted them, as they would almost certainly have originally been quoted in miles-per-hour. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:03, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
"As the Crow Flies" - Aviation change to use of knots - a 1956 Flight article: [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Specifications (P-38L)[edit]

Maximum speed: 443 mph (713 km/h) (712 km/h)

Why are there two listings of the speed in km/h? Propose we remove the extra one. 313-matt (talk) 19:31, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done. Thanks for the note. Binksternet (talk) 19:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Japanese nicknames[edit]

""two planes, one pilot" (2飛行機、1パイロット Ni hikōki, ippairotto?) by the Japanese"

This sounds really unnatural in Japanese, so I googled it and of course it doesn't seem to exist in Japanese pages except adverts for a watch, which I think is referencing this page. The Japanese wiki page mentions its nickname was メザシ (mezashi), a type of skewered fish[2] and ペロハチ (perohachi), a pun on the name P-38 in Japanese. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:17, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. As far as I know, the more common nickname of P-38 in East Asia is "devil with double-body"(双胴の悪魔 in Japanese,双身恶魔 in Chinese). "2飛行機、1パイロット" sounds more like a description in Japanese text, instead of a nickname. Yogomove (talk) 13:09, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Or is that from US propaganda that called it fork tailed devil (as they also claimed the F4U was called "whistling death"), being picked up and replacing any actual nicknames? While these may be used now, is there evidence it was used when the P-38 was in service? NiD.29 (talk) 17:07, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
It's been years since I read about it, but the oldest mention of "fork-tailed devil" was in an issue of Stars and Stripes during the war, which claimed that German POWs had called it that. A POW would most likely have been Wehrmacht, not Luftwaffe, and it's possible they'd call it that because it made for a decent ground attack plane (of course the whole story could just be a propaganda fabrication). Luftwaffe pilots weren't impressed by the P-38, and it was removed from the European theatre after appalling losses in air combat. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:18, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
The Walter Boyne book Silver Wings: A History of the United States Air Force says on page 148 that "the Japanese pictograph represented it as 'two planes, one pilot.'" Boyne does not show the "pictograph", or any kanji characters—his text is found underneath a photograph of the P-38. Boyne is a Smithsonian expert on the USAF and on fighter aircraft from World War II, but his fighter expertise is centered on the European Theatre where he himself flew and fought. He is less knowledgeable about Japan. Nevertheless, Wikipedia considers him a very reliable source for the statement. Naturally, any source that discusses the Japanese name for the P-38 in detail will be useful as a rebuttal. What we need are published sources rather than conjecture. Binksternet (talk) 15:50, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Variants need review and correction[edit]

The variants list is referenced to a USAF museum factsheet but at max 50% of the data presented is covered by this. Conversion versions should be clearly marked as such. The F-5C association to P-38H seems wrong, these are supposed to be conversions from P-38J whereas the former F-5B were P-38J built as recons on the production line. Both are wrong in text, too. --Denniss (talk) 01:34, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Pacific Theatre[edit]

The P-38s usefulness in the Pacific has a parallel with the B.156 Beaufighter. Both were twin engined and had excellent range and weapons loads. The B.156 was often used to attack supply ships. Neither of them had the agility of a small fighter (Spitfire or a Zero), but that was not a great hinderance. The distance from Port Moresby to Rabaul (440nm), short by Pacific standards, was longer than the trip from Biggin Hill to Hamburg (403nm). Some spitfires saw action is Asia during WW2, but they were found to be of less value because of their small range, being intended as an interceptor. Delivering bombs from long range won the Pacific war. Hit and run was the best tactic, and dog fighting was not very frequent. (talk) 12:43, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Has anybody published this kind of comparison between the Beaufighter and the Lightning? If not, we must follow WP:No original research and refrain from mentioning it. Several significant differences between the two aircraft include the crew of 1 versus 2 (making the Lightning lighter). Binksternet (talk) 15:56, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
"Some spitfires (sic) saw action is Asia during WW2, but they were found to be of less value because of their small range, being intended as an interceptor." - well, once Spitfires had arrived in India and other parts of Asia they stopped Japanese bombing raids almost dead, the Japanese effectively ceasing bombing operations from then on. That's fairly valuable, especially if you were one of the people previously being bombed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

According to a 1943 RAF performance table at, the Spitfire VIII used in Burma and the Pacific had a theoretical range (at just over 6mpg at 220mph cruise at 20,000ft) of 740 miles on internal fuel only, 940 miles with the 30gal slipper tank normally carried and 1,265 miles with the 90gal drop tank. The RAF liked to knock off one-third to compute minimum practical range allowing fuel for climb, headwinds, misnavigation, combat and so on, but a Spitfire VIII could easily keep company with a Lightning. Got a picture here (Alfred Price, Late Mark Spitfire Aces, Osprey 1995, p82) of an Aussie Spitfire VIII escorting a USAAF P-38 off Morotai, in the Moluccas, in early 1945. Presumably the Lightning was acting as a bomb truck, in the lengthy mopping-up operation on that island, and needed cover. The article could perhaps make more of the Lightning's career as a bomber, for instance in Operation Frantic when Italian-based Lightnings appeared on the Eastern Front (and their Mustang escorts ran into Erich Hartmann a couple of times, which got interesting). Khamba Tendal (talk) 01:15, 30 September 2016 (UTC)