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The first flight of the P-38 Lightning


In 1939, Air Force Lieutenant US Army test pilot Ben Kelsey crossed the United States in record time - 7 hours 48 minutes. The flight was carried out on a prototype twin-engine interceptor P-38 Lightning, becoming only the first in a long line of American fighter achievements.

Continued below:



At the end of 1935 the Air Force sent aircraft manufacturers request, a proposal for a new fighter aircraft. All military aircraft at the time had limited weapons payload of these aircraft in the mass does not exceed 500 pounds. Specification X-608 raised to a new level of standards interceptor: speed of at least 360 miles per hour at an altitude of 20 000 feet, the ability to fly at a maximum gas for an hour, take-off distance to climb 50 feet - 2200 feet, the engines with turbochargers, arms, at least two times more potent than the existing. "Model 22" project officially offered 13 April 1937.


American fighter P-38G «Lightning» Port Moresby Jackson Field to airport.

First Battle «Lockheed» company aircraft that went into production, was also the first twin-engine American fighter P-38 Lightning. Development of the machine was carried out under the direction of JL Hibbard and K. Johnson in the contest on the twin-engine high-altitude interceptor. For their aircraft designers have chosen an original circuit, double-girder with a central nacelle, which houses the cockpit and powerful weapons (gun 1 and 4 12.7-mm machine guns). The idea assumed location of the power plant in aircraft nacelles, which gradually becomes a narrow and long tail boom, ending vertical keels with rudders. As the engines were chosen 16-cylinder liquid-cooled engines Allison V-1710 turbo-charged, installed in the beams of the engines. All the trim, including trim control surfaces, fastened riveting countersunk. Another innovation is concerned Chassis - tricycle with a nose wheel.


The engine Allison V-1710 turbo.

Despite the cautious attitude of the customer to the unusual aerodynamic configuration of the aircraft, «Lockheed» project was the winner of the competition. The flight was made on the HP-38: prototype twin-engine interceptor P-38 Lightning, he reached a speed of 360 miles per hour. The prototype first flew on 27 January 1939, but was defeated by 11 February. Nevertheless, the military continued to cooperate with «Lockheed», ordered 13 YP-38 pre-production vehicles. The first of these was oblёtan September 16, 1940, and the construction of the entire party completed by June 1941. Sonorous name "Lightning" this aircraft of World War II gave the first British, and only after that it became the official name of the car in the United States. Initially, in the United States planned to call the new fighter, "Atlanta." In April 1940, the company "Lockheed" has received large orders from England and France - for a total of 667 fighters. But because of the capitulation of France and England, a heavy situation, aircraft were sent back to the United States.


P-38 Lightning in flight.

During the war, we developed many versions of this aircraft, carried the various sets of suspension arms and equipment (including a version of the P-38M - a night interceptor equipped with a radar). Opponents called the P-38 "devil with a forked tail", evaluating the fitness of the scheme with two engines and two spars for the beloved American tactics "boom-zoom" ( "hit-and-run"). P-38 fighters used by the US Air Force in all theaters of war, used it and other countries anti-Hitler coalition. The most famous victory, "Lightning" - the destruction of the Japanese aircraft G4M, transporting Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of Combined Fleet of the Japanese empire.


American night fighter P-38M Lightning, equipped with radar AN / APS-4.

P-38 operated in the Pacific as part of 8, 49, 374 th and 475 th FG. As demand for long-range, ideal for escort tasks in support of army compounds bombapdipovschikov over vast expanses of the ocean, they were often scattered around the islands in the form of individual squadrons. Their most frequent opponent was the company's Zero Mithsubishi, which was much slower and weaker armament. P-38 fuselage barrels required more precise targeting than kpylevaya battery, but in contact with lung injury Japanese planes were fatal. Large range P-38 made a nine-Ten departures almost commonplace, and he ended the war with a large number of downed Japanese aircraft than any other modern fighter him. It is on the P-38J commander of 49 Squadron, Major Richard Bong and Major Tommy McGuire took place leading aces of the war in the Pacific - 40 and 38 aerial victories, respectively.


American ace Richard Bong in his P-38 fighter "margin" at the airport. Photo signed by the widow of the pilot Marge Bong Drucker in June 1995.

It is in the Pacific P-38 found himself; here we were established tactics that used his strongest side. At the same time one can not deny that their power plants were more than enough cause for concern, as well as the fact that the "double-tailed devil" made a real contribution to the final victory Coyuznikov. Total produced more than 10,000 P-38, which made the "Lightning" one of the most popular combat aircraft in the history of American aviation.



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