Spectre07

What happened to the P-38K? -- Answered

Fate of the P-38K   10 members have voted

  1. 1. What became of the vaunted P-38K after it was axed by the War Production Board?

    • A) Converted to a P-38L model and ultimately crashed by a ferry pilot.
      3
    • B) Scrapped for pot-metal like so many other P-38s at the end of the war.
      3
    • C) Used as a test-bed for a Merlin engine conversion.
      1
    • D) Ultimately acquired by test pilot Tony Levier and used in the Cleveland Air Races
      3

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16 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Ever wonder what happened to the sole production example of the P-38K-1-LO? I just found the answer but am curious as to what members of the community would guess. I'll reveal the answer after we get some responses and hear some of the different speculation out there.

- Note, we're talking about the actual production version of the P-38K; not the prototype pictured below.

Xp-38k.jpg.c53420a016996b62869151f127e77

Edited by Spectre07
grammar and clarification
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Come on, guys. What are your ideas? I'm surprised no one has voted for the Merlin conversion yet. Actually, P-38K vs Merlin Lightning would be a great performance comparison.

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Merlin conversion doesn't seem improbable for an earlier lightning prototype, but for a production example late in the war? Nah.

The air racing thing likewise seems unlikely.

 

Conversion to a P-38L simply seems like the sensible thing to do with a war going on and all. There's no sense in letting a spare airframe gather dust in the States. As for if it crashed? No idea. It may have been scrapped, crashed, shot down, or something in between.

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24 minutes ago, Silavite said:

Merlin conversion doesn't seem improbable for an earlier lightning prototype, but for a production example late in the war? Nah.

The air racing thing likewise seems unlikely.

 

Conversion to a P-38L simply seems like the sensible thing to do with a war going on and all. There's no sense in letting a spare airframe gather dust in the States. As for if it crashed? No idea. It may have been scrapped, crashed, shot down, or something in between.

There are reports floating around about an 8th AF P-38 being sent to Rolls Royce at Hucknall Field in May of'44 to test an engine swap. However, various sources contradict each other as to whether the Merlin swap and flight every actually took place before powers in Washington caught wind and ordered an immediate cease to all such testing. - a big sarcastic 'Thanks, pal' to the man largely recognized as responsible for killing the project, Lt. General Knudson, former executive at General Motors and wartime Roosevelt appointee to the Office of Production Management, .

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Just a little background on the different answers to choose from. None of the answers I provided are fabrications. There is truth behind each answer option, but only one actually corresponds to the P-38K-1-LO.

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Posted (edited)

The correct answer for the ultimate fate of the P-38K-1-LO (serial # 42-13558) was A (the first option)

- "Converted to a P-38L (likely at Lockheed's Dallas Modification Center/Love Field), before ultimately being destroyed in a fatal crash during a ferry flight in North Carolina on 22 October, 1945.

http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbasn.asp?SN=42-13558&Submit4=Go

Edited by Spectre07
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Posted (edited)

Here's some info on the fourth option from the poll - pretty interesting stuff.

- Lockheed test pilot Tony Levier did purchase a pristine P-38L at the end of the war (SN# 44-53078) and placed quite well with it in numerous air races after the war. Here's a description of how he purchased a brand new P-38L for $1,250 (1945) and his use of it during an aerial display at the 1946 Cleveland Air Races. Also, Levier's Lightning eventually ended up in 'Lefty' Gardner's hands as 'White Lightning', and is now owned/operated by Red Bull.

https://www.iac.org/files/magazines/SA-2012-05.pdf.

58f76db3bd1e1_3LeVier46150.jpg.9df3491d6

 

58f76de25618f_P-38TonyLOW.jpg.c9fc35efc4

 

p38-4453254-main.jpg.2511f059d5ab82e5ee6

 

P-38_Lightning_Red_Bull_at_Paris_Air_Sho

 

Charles Walling accompanied Levier to the races in this modified Lightning. Despite the apparent modifications, Levier bested Walling with an average speed of 370 mph compared to Walling's 360mph over the 300 mile course. The key to winning these races was the pilot's ability to manage energy over the course. Levier's victory in a much more conservatively modified Lightning, compared to Walling's Sky Ranger, is a testament to his piloting ability.

58f76e1206aed_14SkyRanger.jpg.427e31ea0a

Edited by Spectre07
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And finally, here' a beginning to some info on the third option, a P-38J-10-LO that was provided to Rolls Royce at their facility in Hucknall, UK to be tested with Merlin engines.

- Some sources say this conversion absolutely never took place, but sn# 42-67488 might say otherwise. I'm sure with a little bit of digging we can find more info on this one.

http://cgibin.rcn.com/jeremy.k/cgi-bin/gzUsafSearch.pl?target=42-67488&content=

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40 minutes ago, PainGod85 said:

On a related note, when even the 38E mule has the new radiators, but the 38K ingame doesn't. *sigh*

Did you BR the 38K rads?

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Just now, PainGod85 said:

I mentioned it to Smin in a PM a few months ago. No idea what became of it.

Is your concern about aesthetics or how the radiator affects the performance? I remember reading, can't remember where, that the 38's later rads were actually quite efficient and that they even had a bit of their own Meredith-effect going on.

Do you think GJ ever intends to fix the cockpit of the later models 38s? - I assume they're aware there are differences.

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