Talk:Lockheed P-38 Lightning/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Lots of detail, but the article could use a clean up


Great article and thanks to all the people who contributed a wealth of detail. The article could use a general neatening up to make it an easier read as there are an unending string of two sentence paragraphs in the middle.

I agree, much more detail than what is appropriate for an article of this type. Some of the more lengthy sections could be pared down by at least 2/3.Landroo (talk) 09:14, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Critical engine

I'm curious where you came up with "losing one [engine] on takeoff created "critical torque" due its long moment arm, rolling the plane towards the live engine's wingtip, rather than the dead engine's"? (The term "critical engine" really wasn't in vogue during WWII, but it's true that losing either engine would equally negatively effect performance) The reason I'm questioning that phrase is because when you loose either engine in ANY twin-engined airplane along the lines of a P-38 (that is not a centerline thrust twin), the dead side ALWAYS drops back due to the sudden loss of thrust & extra drag of the now windmilling prop. When that undesirable yaw occurs toward the dead engine, the live-engine side advancing wing has slightly more lift than the dead-engine side receding wing (a lot of "clean" airflow over the advancing wing, with "dirty" disturbed airflow coming off the yawing airplane over the receding wing). So now we've got the dead side dragging back due to loss of thrust/windmilling prop, along with a slight decrease of lift on that dead side, plus a slight increase of lift on the live-engine side; the airplane will naturally tend to roll toward the dead engine. Remember also, on production P-38s, the props rotate outward (this was changed from the prototypes as a hopeful solution to the tail buffet problem--which you did a very nice job explaining, by the way--it didn't change the tail buffeting, but they left the engines rotating outward anyway...kind of like the lead external mass balance weights they left on the elevator). The significance of that for this discussion is that the "p factor" for both props, no matter which engine had failed, would further aggravate the already adverse yaw/roll into the dead engine. The engine-out procedure you describe is exactly right, that is retard the live engine's power (at least in a low-speed high-drag situation like during takeoff climb or during a go-around), the reason being if you did leave the power up or increase power, not only do you face the natural aerodynamic tendency of all conventional twin-engined aircraft with an engine out to yaw/roll toward the dead engine, but you would exacerbate that tendency by now having a prop at full power trying to push the whole airplane even further into that yaw/roll. At low speed & high drag (like on initial climb out or during a go-around) that aggravated yaw/roll coupled with the full-power "adverse" p factor would be far beyond the aerodynamic effectiveness of the flight controls under the best of circumstances & certainly far beyond the capabilities of a fresh-from-flight-training second lieutenant, & the ship would uncontrollably roll over into the ground toward the dead engine. (The later F-82 Twin Mustang had inward rotating props that practically negated all of what I just described--I've read reports that it wasn't unusual for an F-82 pilot to not even realize that he'd lost an engine!) (talk) 10:10, 5 December 2007 (UTC)CBsHellcat
Feel free to rewrite the mention. I'm confident you'd do better than any changes I could make regarding critical engines. Binksternet (talk) 01:52, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Curious what you think of this as a replacement for that paragraph:
"Another unusual issue arose with the unique design of the P-38. When the airplane entered service, it was the first of its kind; there simply were no other high-powered twin-engine fighters from which to draw experience, and there existed no multiple seat training airplanes approaching its performance where an experienced instructor pilot could guide a freshly graduated fighter pilot (that would have carried out the vast majority of his training in single-engine trainers) through his first thrilling, albeit somewhat harrowing, hours of getting acquainted with the ship. A fatal deficiency in training soon came to light and had to be corrected to enable the up and coming thousands of young men facing possible engine failures, especially ones on takeoff, in the big fighter. When an engine is lost just after takeoff while flying most twin-engine aircraft, normal training would be to immediately push the remaining engine to full throttle; if an unsuspecting pilot followed that course in the powerful P-38 below an airspeed of 120 mph, the resulting extreme asymmetric thrust, exacerbated by the big outwardly contra-rotating propellers, produced such a sudden severe yaw, the aircraft would uncontrollably roll over and slam into the ground. Eventually, procedures were taught to allow a pilot to deal with the situation by immediately reducing power on the running engine to keep the yaw under control, then gradually bring the available power back up to keep the airplane flying while disposing of any external load (bombs, drop tanks, etc) and feathering the prop on the dead engine. It was also found by simply removing some of the radio gear and armor plate behind the pilot’s seat allowed for a “piggy-back” arrangement whereby a newly assigned P-38 pilot could receive an orientation demonstration of this and other procedures from an experienced instructor."
I realize this approaches the subject from a somewhat different direction. The "120 mph" figure, more accurate discription of the emergency procedure & "piggy-back" procedures are drawn from the Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions and Pilot Training Manual, & I know Warren Bodie discusses the "piggy-back" operations in his wonderful book. (talk) 07:45, 6 December 2007 (UTC)CBsHellcat
I'd say it's too conversational and florid; descriptive words like "thrilling" and "harrowing" aren't quite in the encyclopedic lexicon, though they do well in prose. The sentence containing "the up and coming thousands of young men" strikes me as seeking sympathy. I think a cold, calculated style might do the trick more appropriately here. Your style would work great in a book or magazine article. Just sayin'... Binksternet (talk) 22:08, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Here's how I'd rewrite it such that it incorporates your information regarding p-factor:
Another issue with the P-38 was that both engines were "critical" engines—losing one of two engines in any twin engine non-centerline thrust aircraft on takeoff creates sudden drag, yawing the nose toward the dead engine and rolling the dead side's wingtip down. Normal training in flying twin-engine aircraft when losing a critical engine on takeoff would be to push the remaining engine to full throttle; if a pilot did that in the P-38, the resulting engine torque and p-factor force produced a sudden asymmetric roll and the aircraft would flip over and slam into the ground. Eventually, procedures were taught to allow a pilot to deal with the situation by reducing power on the running engine, feathering the prop on the dead engine, and then increasing power gradually until the aircraft was in stable flight. Single-engine takeoffs were possible, though not with a maximum combat load.
How's that? Does the engine torque count as an unbalancing force? Should I call it a ground loop? Binksternet (talk) 22:38, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Honestly, after I had reread my offering, I found it 'wordy' & I didn't think it fit this venue either. I like your rewrite much better, but I still have slight issue with some of the terminology, specifically "critical engine" & "asymmetric roll" as used in this context. By definition, the "critical engine" (in simplified terms) is the engine that 'most effects performance of the airplane when inoperative,' & (I know it's been described this way in some texts, but) failure of either engine in the P-38 effected flight performance equally, so I can't see that it applies here (up until the later model P-38s, only the left engine had a generator, so one could argue that the left engine was the 'critical engine' due to the fact that eventual electrical failure would result if that engine was lost, causing problems with the right engine's electrically-controlled propeller, but that's not really what we are discussing here). Also, "asymmetric roll" connotates to me what we used to call in my military flying days (20-plus years ago) a "rolling pull-out"--that is to say, rolling the airplane while simultaniously pulling high G-forces which result in higher load on one wing than the other (which can readily over-stress the center-section of the wing & should be a maneuver entered into sparingly, if not avoided altogether).
How about something along the lines of (with a couple of parenthetical comments added here not to be included in the final product):

Another issue with the P-38 arose from its unique design feature of outwardly rotating counter-rotating propellers (I realize my previous usage of "contra-rotating propellers" was incorrect). Losing one of two engines in any twin engine non-centerline thrust aircraft on takeoff creates sudden drag, yawing the nose toward the dead engine and rolling the wingtip on the side of the dead engine down. Normal training in flying twin-engine aircraft when losing an engine on takeoff would be to push the remaining engine to full throttle; if a pilot did that in the P-38, regardless of which engine had failed, the resulting engine torque and p-factor force produced a sudden uncontrollable yawing roll (this realm of flight is described in the marvelously understated lexacon of modern military flying as a "departure from controlled flight") and the aircraft would flip over and slam into the ground. Eventually, procedures were taught to allow a pilot to deal with the situation by reducing power on the running engine, feathering the prop on the dead engine, and then increasing power gradually until the aircraft was in stable flight. Single-engine takeoffs were possible, though not with a maximum combat load.

I have to add that I still have doubts about that last sentence, "Single-engine takeoffs were possible, though not with a maximum combat load," because I cannot find any reference to it or provision for it (nor prohibition against it) in the pilot operating instructions or performance charts, but I have no doubt that those lads of the "greatest generation," with their 'unmentionable attributes' forged from steel (mixed with a little stupidity & bravado) would have tried it on probably more than one occasion, just to prove it could be done! As to your questions, I'm sure engine torque could be figured into the "loss of control" equation as a perturbation, but a "ground loop" is something completely seperate from this discussion, being a special kind of terror usually reserved for pilots of tailwheel-type airplanes (it can be said that there are two types of tailwheel pilots where ground loops are concerned--"them that have & them that will"...I humbly admit to being a member of the former catagory!). (talk) 09:14, 8 December 2007 (UTC)CBsHellcat

Single-engine takeoffs were performed routinely by Tony LeVier who showed this capability and many others bordering on the outskirts of the plane's performance envelope to the doubtful and dispirited pilots of the 8th (and maybe 15th) AF stationed in the UK in 1944. Warren Bodie describes LeVier's impressive aerobatic demonstration flights in his book "The Lockheed P-38". Just to get the attention of the guys on the ground, LeVier would first make his presence known to an airfield by diving noisily straight down at full speed toward the runway, bringing all the airmen out of their buildings at a run so they could see who was going to auger in. LeVier's plane had the dive flaps that theirs didn't; the airmen were certain they'd be witnessing some poor chap buy the farm. Binksternet (talk) 18:21, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
I should've remembered that (it's been a few years since I read Warren Bodie's book cover-to-cover; guess it's time to rectify that)! Tony LeVier definitely belongs in the catagory of "'attributes' of steel"! I appreciate your willingness to work with me on this change to what you wrote in the article. Thanks! (talk) 20:34, 11 December 2007 (UTC)CBsHellcat

According to Kelly Johnson the prop direction was chosen because gunnery tests showed it made a "better gun platform" Following quote is from Craig Wall

" I met Kelly in about '82 or '83 at a seminar in Norman, Oklahoma. I asked him about the P-38 props turning outboard at the top, giving two critical engines. I though I knew the answer: because the spiral flow off the props was opposite the tip vortices, the ship should be cleaner. And it is. But that wasn't the reason he gave....

He just said "it made a better gun platform".

That was it. The entire purpose of the airplane was to shoot, and anything that made it do that job better was the deciding factor in all decisions like the prop rotation, etc... He said they actually tried it in every possible combination of prop directions, and that's the one that worked best and gave the highest gunnery scores. " (talk) 02:22, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

That's what we have in the article, referenced from Warren Bodie's book. Binksternet (talk) 05:04, 8 July 2010 (UTC)


My High School girlfriends dad flew P-38s in the Pacific and he stated that if a Zero got on the tail of a P-38 the best was to bailout as you could not get away from the zero. He said the standard technique was to attack from altitude and put on enough speed to swoop up after the pass at the Zero. Saltysailor (talk) 16:50, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

The P-38 could pull away from a Zero in a climb. Its thick wing was designed to fill the role of high-altitude interceptor climbing up as fast as possible to meet the enemy. Even so, "boom and zoom" tactics like your pilot friend was describing were good survival insurance. They maximized the P-38's advantages. Binksternet (talk) 22:43, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Yeah I could see bailing out as an option, even with your greater performance in a climb, if that Zero has a bead and is close enough, yikes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:09, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

It all depended on the skill level of each pilot involved and on what the larger situation was like. There was one P-38 pilot in the Pacific who scored a kill by slowing the aircraft down almost to a stall, "hanging on the props" and pointing the nose at a spot he thought his opponent might show up at. Enemy performs as predicted, is surprised by the unusual tactic and is knocked out of the sky. Such a ballsy move wouldn't be very good for long-term survival if other enemy were nearby--the lack of speed would make for high vulnerability. Anyway, the P-38 could outclimb and outdive the Zero, so the guy getting shot at has some options. Bailing out when targeted would be a chickenshit move and doesn't sound like anybody I ever heard of. Binksternet (talk) 17:08, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. And the word "maneuverability" can mean many things. It isn't just sustained flat turns, though the P38 flown by a skilled pilot could turn astoundingly well--though the pilot might have to manipulate the throttles separately (throttle up right engine and throttle down left engine to increase sustained turn rate in a nose down left turn) and work the flaps and rudders to boost the aircraft's lift entering into the turn. Some P-38 pilots did this in combat and it worked well, though there were limits; it could also throw the aircraft into an unrecoverable inverted flat spin if mistimed. Even without such unsafe practices, the P38 turned better than the A6M at speeds above 250 kt (440 km/hr), where the A6M's controls, lacking mechanical assist, became extremely heavy. More to the point, "maneuver" means putting oneself in a position of advantage to kill the enemy. Below 20,000 feet (6km) the P38 had significant advantages in speed, climb, dive, and acceleration over the A6M which allowed the P38 pilot who understood his aircraft's strengths and weaknesses, and the enemy's, to put himself in the position of advantage, provided that he understood boom-and-zoom tactics.

I wonder what a P38 with twin supercharged Merlin or Griffin engines would have been capable of. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

The armament section does not fit the quality standards

The armament section is a mess. Someone seems to have turned it into an excuse to ramble on and on and on. Look at any other page on fighter aircraft. Armament is for listing purposes only! I propose all that pointless text is either deleted or moved and the armament section goes back to being just a list of what it had, nothing more. Rett Mikhal (talk) 02:58, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

The real world answer is more complex than the one you want to hear. There was never "a list of what it had, nothing more"—there was a range of different versions of the armament, depending on model, theater and command organization. I'm satisfied with the armament section as it stands. Binksternet (talk) 04:36, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
No, no. I'm not talking about the abundance of weapons, that's true to real life and any other combat aircraft article. What I'm talking about is the one spot that talks about the gun, because when it talks, it pours. It goes on and on about muzzle velocity, rate of fire, velocity, even the gun timing. I have no problem with this information being in the article, but it looks awful there. Find me one other article on combat aircraft that is like that and I'll accept it, but I think I've seen them all and this is the only one that looks so cluttered. The information just needs to be moved.Rett Mikhal (talk) 05:32, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Moved to somewhere else in the article? That's reasonable. Binksternet (talk) 15:04, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
There we go. Everyone can be happy with that. The information is preserved and it fits the same template as all the other fighter plane articles. Rett Mikhal (talk) 05:51, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Eglin Field 1942

This bit about test results in 1942 was removed from a list of stats, but deserves to be recast in better prose and repositioned in the article body:

  • Turn radius: an equal or tighter radius of turn above 15,000 ft (4,600 m) against the P-51, P-40F, P-47C-1 and P-39D
  • Roll rate: Testing at Eglin Field determined the rate of roll to be too slow at high speeds, causing a serious disadvantage because the P-38F could not transition from level flight to its tightest turn radius fast enough to keep up with fighters that could roll more quickly into their turns.

Reference: "WWII Aircraft Performance: P-38F Tactical Trials". Final Report on Tactical Suitability of the P-38F Type Airplane, 6 March 1943. At Eglin Field in 1942, with P-38F. The P-38G and later models further tightened the turn radius, especially the P-38L. Binksternet (talk) 20:43, 5 April 2010 (UTC)


Did the USAF actually have any operational P-38s at formation? Hcobb (talk) 17:40, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Interceptor aircraft?

I took out wikilinks to interceptor aircraft, as the intention of Ben Kelsey (as expressed in his book The Dragon's Teeth?) was to get a heavier fighter with a stronger punch, more capable of dog-fighting than the fighters of other nations. As defined at its article, an interceptor aircraft is for downing enemy attack aircraft such as bombers, but with a corresponding reduction in dog-fighting capabilities. Kelsey intended no such reduction, and the P-38 showed no such reduction. Kelsey used the word "interceptor" on paper to bypass Air Corps restrictions on the weaponry of pursuit planes. He did not think of the term as it is defined today. Binksternet (talk) 18:35, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

Cruising Speed

Could not figure out how to enter the cruising speed into the specs. Looks like the spec template, where that is defined, does not allow for cruising speed. The reference to the Air Force Museum says 275 MPH. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 1peterk (talkcontribs) 21:27, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Max Speed of Earlier Variants?

I'd be interested in seeing the max speed of at least one of the early-war variants, maybe the E or the F. I assume it was significantly less than the L? And if not, that would be interesting to know too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:40, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

P-38L supporting Normandy invasion?

Can anyone confirm this statement from the article:

"The P-38L was the most numerous variant of the Lightning, with 3,923 built, 113 by Consolidated-Vultee in their Nashville plant. It entered service with the USAAF in June 1944, in time to support the Allied invasion of France on D-Day."

My understanding was that P-38Ls only began arriving in front line units in June.

-- (talk) 16:30, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Engine Failures Part 3

There are two earlier sections in this discussion about the engine problems of the P-38 in the European Theater - "P-38 and engine failures" and "Critical Engine". In reading these sections, I was struck by the fact that people ignored some of the fundamental problems of the Allison V-1710 which were never corrected. And I see that in the current version of this article, there is almost nothing written about the engine problems of the P-38 contributing to its withdrawal from Europe as a front-line fighter. There is a lot in the current article about the P-38's compressibility problems and lack of turning ability, and one would go away from this article thinking that those were the only reasons that this long-range fighter failed at its role as an escort fighter in Europe. Which isn't exactly true because the P-38 worked fine as a fighter against the nimble Japanese Zero in the Pacific as long as pilots only limited themselves to "zoom and boom" tactics" since it could not turn very fast but had great straight line speed. The big difference was that the Pacific War was not fought at the freezing high altitudes of the European bombing campaign which is what seemed to be most related to the tendency of the turbosupercharged Allison V-1710 to blow up.

Several references ("Vees for Victory", "P-51 Mustang: Development of the Long-Range Escort Fighter") state that the P-38 was referred to as the "Allison Time Bomb" because of this tendency to blow up in flight.

When Allison and Lockheed investigated this problem, they essentially blamed the ground crews and pilots for not maintaining and managing the engines properly. Which is where all the previous comments about the failings of the pilots and maintenance crews come from ("Vees for Victory"). No doubt those were contributing factors, but very crucially, Gen. Doolittle's own investigation produced a very different conclusion. I wrote about this in a comment to my review of the book "Vees for Victory" on which you can find here:

Here is a revised reprint of what I wrote:

In the book "P-51 Mustang: Development of the Long-Range Escort Fighter", a letter written by Doolittle to Gen Spaatz dated March 1, 1944 specifically addressing the failures of the Allison V-1710 in the P-38s in Europe is quoted (p. 188-189). Here are the pertinent excerpts:
1. There have been 76 known Allison V-1710-89 and -91 engine failures in our P-38J aircraft during the few months they have been operating in this theater. It is not known how many more engine failures have occurred over enemy territory and prohibited the aircraft from getting home, but the high loss rate of this type of aircraft indicates that there have been many. The engine failures have been occurring with increasing frequency and the situation is now critical. The pilot's first indication of failure has, almost invariably, been a thrown connecting rod. This is often accompanied by engine fire in the air. Inspection of failed engines, torn down in the depots, shows that detonation, stuck or broken piston rings and scored cylinders have been present in varying degree. Detonation has been so bad in some cases as to burn off large portions of the piston head. Detonation had been most prevalent in cylinders four and six of the right bank, which cylinders have the poorest distribution and get the leanest mixture. Many engines which had not failed showed on overhaul that failure was imminent and would undoubtedly have occurred had the engine been operated longer.....
3. The trouble has been diagnosed as resulting from the abnormally low mixture temperatures (as low as -20 degrees C) augmented by the admittedly bad distribution characteristics of the V-1710 engine. The trouble cannot be entirely corrected until better induction system manifolding is provided for the V-1710-89 and -91 engines and a method of controlling mixture temperature is provided......
10. It is urgently recommended that a special batch of approximately 2,000,000 United States gallons of special aviation fuel be blended and delivered ..... The fuel should have an approximate knock rating of 110-130 instead of 100-130, and as flat a distillation range as specifications and available blending components will permit. In order not to introduce a possible additional complication at this time, this fuel should not contain more than the standard 4.6 ccs of lead per gallon. It is presumed that as it is desirable to raise the lean mixture knock rating and the lead susceptibility, isoparaffins rather than aromatics will be used as additives.....
On p. 190, the book states:
LeVier and Beman (the investigators from Allison/Lockheed) were also aware of General Doolittle's belief that the fuel "...was not acting like it should in Allison engines. Tests showed that the anti-knock tetra-ethyl lead was separating from the basic fuel in its path from the carburetor to the cylinders. This, in effect, caused the front cylinders to receive an over-abundance of lead which would foul the spark plugs at lower power and cause detonation, while the rear cylinders didn't get enough lead and would detonate at higher powers."
British aviation fuel (and German aviation fuel) was fairly low grade early in the war, around 87 octane. Tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) was the "secret formula", produced in America and shipped to Britain which boosted the octane rating of British aviation fuel and allowed the Merlin-powered Spitfires and Hurricanes to have an increased supercharger boost which led to increased horsepower and thus speed. Some people have even attributed the use of TEL to allowing the British to win the Battle of Britain.
The Merlin, both the single stage and the later two stage supercharger versions, was able to handle the British fuel mixed with the TEL. Pratt and Whitney's R-2800 with the GE turbosupercharger, used in the P-47, handled it just fine. So did all the Wright engines with turbosuperchargers on the American bombers in Europe. But not the Allison V-1710 - turbosupercharger combination.
I think that once Doolittle had discovered what he thought was the problem, it really behooved Allison to pay attention and fix the problem quickly and permanently with some sort of a redesign of the intake manifold. Instead, Allison (and Lockheed) went all out to point fingers in every other direction as to why the V-1710 was not at fault, saying essentially that it was the stupid ground crew and pilots who were not running and taking care of the engines properly.
Now, if the P-38 had been a true world beater, and the USAAF had no other choice, sure, Doolittle and the pilots would have had to stick with the P-38 and try to continue to work through the problems of its engine (sort of like the Panther tank with its faulty final drive which was never fixed during WWII by the Germans).
But that wasn't the case. Right around that time, the Merlin-engined P-51 was finally reaching maturity as the long-range air superiority fighter that Doolittle and his pilots were looking for.
The engineering cultures of Rolls-Royce and North American Aviation were totally opposite that of Allison. Whereas Allison refused to spend any of its own money to make new improvements or further develop the V-1710, NAA rapidly identified problems and potentials for improvements on its P-51 and quickly came up with design changes. It was thus that the P-51 beat out a large number of competitors that were in development to become the dominant USAAF air-superiority fighter of WWII.
In addition, the P-51 cost half of what the P-38 did, had fewer compressibility problems, and could split - S with the best of the German fighters. So, boy was that a no-brainer. Do you slug it out with Allison to get them to redesign and fix this balky engine, and in the meantime import specially refined gasoline all the way from America so it can fly without blowing up, or do you just switch to the P-51 with its Merlin engine? Which was why all the P-38 units switched.
Edgar Schmued, the chief designer of the P-51, was another brilliant engineer who became terribly frustrated with Allison.
The Merlin backfired, and needed a backfire screen. The V-1710 also started with a backfire screen, but it was removed after it was discovered that the single stage V-1710 could be tweaked to run without one, and its power rating improved. So Allison never put the backfire screen back, since doing so reduced the power rating of the engine (from "Vees for victory")
The problems came when Allison tried to add a second stage supercharger. Schmued states emphatically (in "Mustang Designer") that he thought the two stage V-1710s needed a backfire screen; he even had them installed on the V-1710s that NAA was testing. But no, Allison would not go back to the backfire screens. The relationship between the NAA engineers and Allison seemed to be beyond rocky - read "Mustang Designer" and you definitely get the feeling that Schmued thought the Allison people were idiots.
NAA during WWII was a very gung-ho engineering culture. Things got off to a bad start with Allison when NAA promised the British to deliver the P-51 in 100 days. NAA finished the airframe in time, but the Allison engine arrived late. Allison must have then gotten really pissed when NAA switched the P-51 to the Merlin engine. NAA's project with the P-51 powered by the two stage supercharger V-1710 got nowhere as there seems to have been zero help from Allison. Later, when NAA designed the F-82, they used the Merlin engine again, BUT the Air Force then turned around and forced NAA to use the two stage Allison. Did Allison help NAA make this engine work for the F-82? Hardly. Allison knew the engine had reached a dead end in the military market and couldn't care less about it anymore.
What exactly was so special about the intake manifold of the V-1710? Well, in "Vees for Victory", it is spelled out clearly that the reason a four-pipe "ram's horn" design was used was because it provided an extra boost in the manifold pressure. Again, I suspect that had Allison gone to some design with better fuel distribution, this extra boost effect would also have gone away and the engine's horsepower rating would have dropped.
Installing a fuel injector, which is what many of the German engines had would have solved the problem for the V-1710 also. Why didn't Allison do this? Probably would have interrupted production and taken too much R&D money, both not good for profits - Allison was like Curtiss-Wright - both companies cared only about profits during WWII.
Did the Merlin engine have problems during WWII? Of course it did, but Roll-Royce kept working diligently on them, and the Packard manufactured Merlins were much more standardized and reliable.
The Merlins ran with excessively rich mixtures - probably this is how the Merlins dealt with the problem of uneven fuel-air mixtures - just give all of the cylinders an excessively rich mixture of fuel, and you won't have any detonation problem.
Why couldn't that work for the Allison V-1710? Probably because Allison had taken out the backfire screen. It would have replaced the problem of detonation with backfires, which would have killed the turbosupercharger on the P-38.
The Merlins still had their backfire screens. And this must have been why Schmued was so angry that Allison wouldn't put a backfire screen back on their engines.
Every aircraft engine has developmental problems. Allison's mistake was in treating the V-1710 as a cash cow to be milked for profits rather than as a hi-tech design that needed constant engineering work to keep it up to date with its competitors. In search of maximum profits, GM/Allison refused to fund any developmental work on the V-1710 itself (one would think that those profits should be used for R&D on the engine?) and thus allowed its once promising design to wither and die on the vine, never to reach the potential of the Rolls Royce engines.
Whatever the problems and design flaws of the Merlin compared to the Allison, the bottom line was that Rolls Royce was willing and able to figure out how to get the Merlin to run reliably at high altitude while producing top levels of power, using standard available fuels and servicing, and Allison was not able or not willing to do the same for the V-1710. It is almost certain that the V-1710 was fixable. If you read Schmued's comments about the V-1710, he states that the NAA engineers had figured out what fixes the V-1710 two stage supercharged version needed, but they just couldn't get Allison to make those fixes.  :DarthRad — Preceding unsigned comment added by DarthRad (talkcontribs) 23:49, 7 October 2011‎ (UTC)

I would note that the facts that Doolittle liked to fly in a P-38 as his personal scouting aircraft, the successful use of the P-38 in Europe for photo reconnaissance, and the P-38's successful (? - the article mentions high casualties) use in the Mediterranean also have to do with the fact that none of these missions required flying at the freezing high altitudes of the European bombing campaign, which is the only place where the turbosupercharged Allison V-1710s tended to blow up. The later improved models of the P-38, often cited as examples of successful use of the P-38 in Europe, were not used as high altitude escort fighters, and their improvements did not include Doolittle's recommendations to fix the manifold induction system of the Allison V-1710. The USAAF may have eventually gotten its own special gasoline supply for the P-38, per Doolittle's recommendation, but otherwise, as far as I can tell, the inherent design problems of the "Allison Time Bomb" were never truly fixed as Doolittle wanted them to be. DarthRad (talk) — Preceding unsigned comment added by DarthRad (talkcontribs) 00:50, 8 October 2011‎ (UTC)

Fork-Tailed Devil

Luftwaffe did not call the P-38 a fork-tailed devil. They called it a preferred target, thanks to it's size and lack of maneuverability. P-38 was a much feared ground attack plane, and it's possible German ground forces called it that, but not Luftwaffe. The term first appears in a Stars And Stripes article about P-38Gs in North Africa, so it's possible the term has been coined for propaganda purposes by a journalist working for the magazine, or it has been heard from a German POW.

Please state your surname. Both the Germans and the Japanese had names that refered to hatred toward the Lightning, because of its effectiveness and speed. I dunno about "fortailed devil". Oyo321 23:48, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
I think I remember hearing that the name "Fork-Tailed Devil" was never actually used by the Germans to describe the P-38. I believe I read this in Eric M. Bergerud's book "Fire in the Sky," but I might be mistaken. This might be a story along the lines of the German's supposedly calling the U.S. Marines in WWI "Devil Dogs," when no historical record of this exists. SkipSmith 07:20, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Lack of maneuverability? Where is that documented? I guess noone told the pilots that became aces in the P-38. Another oversized fighter with lack of maneuverability "the P-47 would also claim over 20 Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters, and four Arado Ar 234 jet bombers in aerial combat". Galland's opinion is tempered by not being smart enough to see through Allied tactics. Protecting Allied Bombers was difficult. However German fighters were proven inferior when US Command told our fighter pilots to let the bombers fend for themselves and just go after the German fighter aircraft. General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe, 'The First and the Last,' "Adolf Galland said that the day we took our fighters off the bombers and put them against the German fighters, that is, went from defensive to offsensive, Germany lost the air war. I made that decision and it was my most important decision during World War II. As you can imagine, the bomber crews were upset. The fighter pilots were ecstatic. — General James H. Doolittle" ref: Shjacks45 (talk) 00:21, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

P-38 kill numbers

5th Fleet anThe line "The P-38 was used most extensively and successfully in the South West Pacific theater, where it was credited with destroying more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied fighter.[citation needed]" in the opening section, IMO, is misleading.

What is the basis for this statement?

The aircraft that destroyed the most Japanese aircraft was the Grumman F6F Hellcat, which is credited in Naval Aviation Combat Statistics World War II with destroying 5,163 Japanese aircraft in air-to-air combat.

The USAAF Statistical Digest, in tables 157 and 169-172, credits all USAAF fighters with 4,040 air victories over Japanese aircraft. Clearly, then, no single USAAF fighter type could have destroyed as many Japanese aircraft as the F6F.

Frank Olynyk's work on USAAF victory credits in the Pacific gives the figure for P-38 kills as exactly 1,700 (this may not include the CBI). John Stanaway in P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI says that "Over 1800 Japanese aircraft fell to the guns of the P-38s from the Fifth, Seventh and Thirteenth Air Forces in the Pacific and the Tenth and Fourteenth Air Forces in China and Burma." (page 6)

So the figure for P-38 kills against the Japanese is somewhere between 1,700 and 1,800, give or take a few - about one-third of the number of F6F kills.

Given this, how do we define "South West Pacific", and how do we assume that the P-38 had the most kills there?

Even if it can be proven, the wording is misleading, and gives the impression that the P-38 had the most kills of any allied fighter against the Japanese, which it did not. Baclightning 01:25, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree the text is questionable, as I knew the Hellcat had over 5000 kills. I'm not sure what the actual correct statement is, so I added the fact tag. The reason I reverted the change to the text was that no reason for the change was given in the edit summary. When an anonymous user makes a change with no explanation, I usually default to the previous version if I don't know the correct entry.
The same user also changed Over 10,000 Lightnings were manufactured in all; it was one of the few combat aircraft that had been in production throughout the entire duration of World War II, adding American involvement in. As the Lightning was ordered into production in August, 1939, the original statement is accurate. - BillCJ 03:27, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
The same confusion is still in the article. In reading this I wasn't sure if it was the Hellcat or the Lightning that has the most kills against the Japanese. Could some of the confusion be over carrier-based vs land-based fighters? SkipSmith 07:29, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

The person who changed the entry was me. What is your specific source for the August, 1939 date? Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, by Rene Francillon, Putnam, 1987, page 164, gives the date of September 20, 1939 for the first production order of 66 aircraft. I believe that the September 20, 1939 date, not the August, 1939 date, is accurate. Baclightning 03:44, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

The date I have is August 10, 1939. It's from The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of WWII, 1982. Reprinted 1996 by Chartwell Press.
Even if the September date is accurate, given that the war officially started on the first of that month, that's still pretty much the entire war. Given that the US entered in Dec of 1941, over 2 years later, just saying it was in production during American involvement is even less accurate. We could be specific and just use the dates, but that diminishes some of the impact of the statement.
On the other hand, given that deliveries didn't start until 1941, I think it would be best to change the whole statemetn to something more accurate altogether.
Sorry about reverting your edit, but it does help if we have an edit summary. You'd be surprised how much nonsense gets put in by anonymous users, well intentioned or otherwise. I hope you don't take it personal. Happy editing! - BillCJ 05:09, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
No, I didn't take it personally at all! I checked the David Mondey-edited book that you mentioned, and it does indeed give August 10, 1939 as the date of the first production order. I checked a couple of other books: Gene Stafford's P-38 in Action gives September 16, 1939; Bowers & Swanborough's US Military Aircraft since 1909 gives just September, 1939; William Green's War Planes of the Second World War: Fighters, Vol, 4 gives August 10; and Bowers & Angelluci's The American Fighter gives September 20. So obviously, there is much disagreement among the "experts".
My own feeling is that the Francillon book, which is a 566-page magnum opus on the Lockheed company, written with full co-operation from the company, is most likely to be right, but given that so many different authors give so many different dates, I cannot be sure. So in this case, I think it's best just to let it stand! Baclightning 05:37, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I think there is a misunderstanding here. Apart from the fact that Hellcats didn't see action until September 43, they were used primarily by the 3rd Fleet and USMC squadrons in the Pacific Ocean Areas, rather than in the South West Pacific Area, where the USAAF predominated, although operations did occasionally cross boundaries between the two theaters. Grant | Talk 02:14, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

List of aircraft of Japan during World War II lists 11,000 Zeros produced, I doubt many Japanese planes survived at the end of the war. Models actively built then were high altitude intercepters of B-29s. Older model, e.g. A5M, A6M, probably left in China (Flying Tigers > 23rd Air Group "its conversion to the North American P-51 "Mustang" aircraft in November 1943." F4F were replaced by F6F as carriers were upgraded ("reaching operational readiness with VF-9 on USS Essex in February 1943"), then came F4U Corsairs, "US Navy preferred the more docile flight qualities of the F6F compared with the Vought F4U Corsair," to land based duty. Army Air Corps (Air Force) bases were long range P-38, P-51, P-47, and some F4U. Generally WWII claims were double actual kills. Or 2900 kills, which according to ~10:1 kill ratio and 270 downed F6F seems spot on.Shjacks45 (talk) 03:30, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

compressibility stall?

In the chapter titled Design and development, a link titled compressibility stall connects to a page titled Compressibility. On that page, while there is (what appears to be) a good discussion of compressibility of fluids (including that of air, in relation to flight), the specific term compressibility stall, as used in this P-38 Lightening article, is never defined. It might be good to do so. I have no education or experience in this area, so I'll leave this as a suggestion to a writer more informed than I. Fagiolonero 23:50, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

I've got another issue with the claim. I've always understood the fillets were to solve flutter & had nothing to do with compressibility, which was solved by the dive flaps. Can somebody confirm or correct? Trekphiler 22:44, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Trekphiler, I've taken a shot at separating compressibility and buffeting. Flutter is a great description of what was experienced by test pilots but is technically incorrect a term for the P-38 since it's related to the kind of flexing of the empennage you'd see in a wood and fabric plane. The P-38's tail was strong enough for Kelly Johnson to say "no P-38 ever had 'tail flutter'." Binksternet 23:41, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Outstanding, Binksternet. That's the best explanation of the problem in a handful of words I've ever seen. And it actually explains how the flaps worked, which I don't think I've ever seen before. I can take this page off my watchlist (unless some dimwit puts back XP-49s as "variants" again...) Trekphiler 13:23, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the positive review. I wonder if I'm up to the task of writing an article about how compressibility plagued the development of P-47s, P-51s and just about every other hot airplane in WWII? Mach speeds were being approached and accelerated airflow over certain parts of the airframe was getting out of control. One source I have says compressibility accidents killed more pilots in other airplanes than in P-38s. It's just that with P-38s the problem was better documented. Binksternet 15:45, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Watching an interview with a P-38 pilot on YouTube, he talks about compressibility and how to handle it. According to him, you just rode the plane down to 10,000 feet and compressibility ceased to be a problem. The elevators and ailerons regained authority and you just pulled out of the dive. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 20:31, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Merlin Powered P-38 Part 2

Which naturally segues into this topic. An earlier discussion ended with comments that a conversion of the P-38 from the Allison V-1710 to the Merlin would not have had any advantages and would have disrupted production. "Vees for Victory" (which I have described as an apolegetica for the V-1710) comes to the same conclusion. The Allison did have advantages over the Merlin, mainly its greater fuel efficiency (see above comments on how that was accomplished - its manifold was designed to provide a ram-effect and ran on leaner mixtures which allowed for removal of the backfire screen - downside was that this caused an uneven fuel distribution and detonation problems at the high altitudes of the European bombing campaign).

However, the obvious advantage of such a conversion is never pointed out, which is that the P-38s could have been flying in Europe at high altitude and full combat power without blowing up. "Vees for Victory" concedes that ultimately, it was objections from Allison that caused the USAAF to quash beginning efforts to do this conversion. "Allied Aircraft Piston engines Engines of WWII" states the same thing - objections from Allison quashed this effort at converting a P-38 to the Merlin.

And the previous Merlin P-38 discussion was incorrect - the P-38K was not the Merlin engined P-38. The Merlin P-38 never had a designation as it was never completed, as far as I can tell and there are only stories of its existence. DarthRad (talk)

Changing the engines to the Merlin may have conferred some advantages but the downside would have been the extensive re-design of the nacelles and cooling systems necessary. The Merlin was supercharged and had no need of the ducting that the turbocharged Allisons had and so much of this pipework could have been removed. This would have saved some weight making the aircraft lighter, which in itself would have improved performance. However, ...
... for the exercise to have been useful the two-stage Merlin 60-series would probably have been needed, and that would have been good for an altitude of around 40-44,000ft, unfortunately this would have exacerbated the compressibility problems that had already plagued the Lightning, as the speed of sound becomes lower the higher one flies. So at the increased altitudes made possible by the new engines the aircraft would just have suffered the effects of the sound barrier even earlier (at lower airspeed) than the Allison-engined ones. The only way to resolve this would probably have been to design a new, thinner wing, with a higher critical Mach number. This was unlikely to happen as it would probably have been better just to start again with a clean sheet of paper.
Lower down the Merlins would probably have conferred no useful advantages (apart from reliability) over the Allisons anyway, with the possible exception of the Merlin being able to use 150 grade fuel. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:12, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
There's a 1943 Lockheed information film; "P-38 Flight Characteristics" on YouTube that some of you might like here: [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:06, 1 April 2012 (UTC)

P-38 shot down by a Fiat CR.42 in Croatia

Hello, I found in two Osprey books this information about an air combat between the P-38 and the Fiat CR.42. The information is important as it is one of the last if not the last dogfight of P-38 in Europe and moreover it saw the last kill by a biplane fighter in history. Binksternet deleted it regarding as "not important and trivia". I am still waiting he explain me why. I do ask for consensus to keep this information in the article even if I understand it could hurt the feelings of someone. Here is the text: At least occasionally, the P-38 was still employed in combat in European theater. On 8 February 1945, P-38 Lightnings of the 14th Fighter Group (FG) attacked Luftwaffe Fiat CR.42LWs from Nachtschlachtgruppe 7, bound to strafe partisans in Croatia, Yugoslavia. The American fighters shot down three Fiat biplanes, but two P-38s did not return to base, one of them claimed by a German pilot. [1] So the P-38 was most probably the last kill of a biplane fighter in history. Gian piero milanetti (talk) 21:34, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

I'd say it was more relevant to the CR.42 article than this one.GraemeLeggett (talk) 21:50, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
The problems I have with the addition are twofold: The claimed kill is not confirmed, so is unable to support an absolute statement about the last biplane kill in the world, and the emphasis on one unimportant action is not worthy of the larger topic. Binksternet (talk) 02:49, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
Not confirmed? It seems to me that saying so we are in the "kingdom of personal opinion": there was one claim and two losses! How can you say that is not confirmed? And where is the emphasis? We are speaking of few lines in front of an article very very long. Still, I think these are personal opinions, so the contribute should be put back. Gian piero milanetti (talk) 06:05, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
By "not confirmed" I mean exactly that. The kill was claimed by one German pilot, no name, no unit, his aircraft type not specified, the kill not confirmed. Binksternet (talk) 13:26, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
You should read before deleting: in the contribute were specified the unit and the name of both aircraft involved. Acting in that why you do not help to write a good encyclopaedya, in this case you do not seem to be driven by the interest of helping creating a reference article. May be You can get consensus from some other people here, but that does not mean that you are right, you simply know how to districate yourself in the labyrinth of wikipedia. As an aviation historian I do not appreciate what you are doing here. Gian piero milanetti (talk) 14:41, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
You're taking this rather personally, and getting rather personal in your responses. Please tone it down.
As for the issue at hand: I tend to agree with Binksternet. The claim is dubious and the incident not significant enough to warrant mention in this article. That's a matter of exercising good judgement in trying to keep Wikipedia usable. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information.. --Yaush (talk) 14:57, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
Why you say that the claim is dubious? If so, the articles of pilots in wikipedia are full of dubious claims (Beurling's, Pattle's etc) but still the claims are there... And why you suggest me to read the article WP: DISCRIMINATE? You mean that I am trying to do an indiscrimante collection of informations? And this is not Your personal point of view?! Ok, let's stop it, I give up, I know how it works, two or three people agree about something and this is called consensus... that's one of the major shortcomings of wikipedia. I do not insist, thanks God I have books where I can write history. Gian piero milanetti (talk) 17:24, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

zero-length rocket launchers. Huh ?

"The P-38L was the first Lightning fitted with zero-length rocket launchers." Huh ? This is an encyclopedia for laypersons. Please explain. Rcbutcher (talk) 18:12, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

There's a link to an article explaining this technology in the next sentence. --Yaush (talk) 22:17, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Hispano-Suiza HS.404

As a layman in these topics it strikes me as contradiction what's written here and Hispano-Suiza_HS.404#US_production. According to that article, the autocannons manufactured in the US never worked good enough to be put into use. So where were the 20 mm's for the P-38 coming from? --Pjacobi (talk) 10:52, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

The Lightning experienced in-flight failures of the autocannon, but not as much as some other aircraft with the same gun. Perhaps it was the central placement, subject to less g-force during aerobatics. The autocannon worked good enough if the pilot attacked with a straight approach, not so good in a swirling dogfight. Binksternet (talk) 14:44, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
According to this 1943 Flight article; [2] the P-38 had built-in cocking of the guns, so any stoppages in flight due to misfires could have been cleared by simply re-cocking the 20mm. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:00, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Plagiarized material

I just did a revert that I think needs explaining here. An anonymous editor ( removed a paragraph on the grounds that it is word-for-word identical with a paragraph in Petruscu and Petrescu's "The Aviation History." This book is listed at Amazon as a title from Books on Demand (which I believe is a self-publishing outfit) with a publication date of 15 February 2013. The Wikipedia history logs show this paragraph in substantially its present form in the Wikipedia article back to at least a year before this publication date.

In other words, it appears that it is the Petrescu book that is plagiarizing Wikipedia, not the other way around. I have therefore restored the paragraph here.

Wikipedia is, of course, rather freely licensed. Whether the Petrescu book has violated the license in any way I'll leave as an exercise for others. It certainly strikes me as shoddy scholarship, but that's a different issue. --Yaush (talk) 22:38, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Wow. Good work. I didn't even catch that. Reading the article I thought the line "More Lightnings were lost due to severe weather and other conditions than enemy action, and there were cases where Lightning pilots, mesmerized by flying for hours over gray seas under gray skies, simply flew into the water." was fairly unsustainable without some facts to back it up. I Googled the line, you know what I found, and, well, Bob's your uncle. Except he isn't.

"Shoddy scholarship." ??? Its Plagiarism, pure and simple, and pretty damn stupid plagiarism at that. I mean ... ripping off wikipedia!

That will teach you (and me.) If I want verifiable facts, I'm sticking to the printed word on the paper page. Just like grad school. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:30, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

It happens. I actually went looking for the Wikipedia editor who "plagiarized" the paragraph, and then it occurred to me ... but then I've been at this a while.
You do raise another good point about the lines needing sourcing. You can flag this by inserting [citation needed] at the end of the suspect statement. --Yaush (talk) 00:52, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
Amazon is chockfull of on demand printed books that are just Wikipedia articles repackaged, making traps for the unwary. GraemeLeggett (talk) 05:34, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
Right. This one isn't the first and it will certainly not be the last. It's slightly more brazen than most in having a prominent copyright notice on the cover. --Yaush (talk) 13:16, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Specifications (P-38L)

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)
 Done. Thanks for the note. Binksternet (talk) 19:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Distance units in Lindbergh section

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: [3] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Japanese nicknames

""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[4] 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)

Pacific Theatre

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)

BTW, if you look at the dates, I suspect that the reason the RAF cancelled their P-38 orders was due to the then-ongoing buffeting problems that were being encountered, and which would in RAF eyes have precluded the aircraft from being operated at the sort of altitudes then becoming the norm in Western Europe.
Also BTW, the solution, in the shape of the 'dive flaps' were IIRC originally suggested by the RAE, Farnborough.
    • ^ Håkan & Slongo 2012.