Wing Span: 52' 0"
Length: 37' 10" Height: 12' 10" Gross Weight: 21,600 lbs.
Max Speed: 420 mph
Power Plant: 2 x Allison V-1710-111/113
Horsepower: 2 x 1,425 Fuel Capacity: 410 Gallons
Armament: One 20 mm Hispano AN-M2C cannon
and four .50 caliber Browning machine guns.
he P-38 first flew in 1939 after Lockheed was contracted by the USAAC to build a fighter-interceptor that could fly 360 mph at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Kelly Johnson led the design team at Lockheed. During the test flights, Lockheed engineers had trouble with compressibility which shows up during high speed dives. These speeds had never been attained before and there was little or no test data to work with. The Lockheed crew finally overcame the problem, but at least one test pilot was lost trying to recover from a dive.
The P-38 Lightning entered WWII in April of 1942 in the Pacific. The P-38s served in all campaigns of WWII and performed well in many roles. The Germans nicknamed them "der Gabelschwanz Teufel", or the Fork-Tailed Devil. P-38 pilots quickly learned to use the P-38's speed and climb advantage if they were caught up in a dogfight. The Lightning's firepower proved lethal to anything in its path. With all the guns in the nose, there was no convergence issues like in the P-51 or any other WWII fighter that had guns in the wings. The P-38 was a very stable platform, accurate and carried a punch that the enemy would soon fear.
Easily one of the most recognizable fighters of its time because of its distinctive twin-boom design, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the most famous American warplanes of World War Two and the mount of America's two top aces, Dick Bong, who scored 40 aerial victories, and Tommy McGuire, who was credited with 38 kills. However, although more than 10,000 Lightnings were built during the war, the big fighter did not fit into the Air Corps' post-war plans and was soon retired from service.
With an empty weight of 12,7801b, a standard Lightning is about twice the weight of contemporary single-engined Allison-powered fighters such as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. It has twice the number of engines, coolant systems, hydraulic and electrical lines.
The P-38 was also used in reconnaissance and ground attack roles. The two counter-rotating V-12 Allisons were supercharged and have a unique sound to them. Some call it smooth, others quiet, but whatever you call it, it is very distinctive. Once you hear it, you will always know that a P-38 is near.
Jack's Lockheed P-38L Lightning, NL7723C, was delivered to the Army Air Force as photo-reconnaissance F-5G Serial# 44-26981. Its construction number is 7985. Aero Exploration Company Incorporated of Tulsa, Oklahoma acquired it from the War Assets Administration at Kingman, Arizona for $1,250 on March 22, 1946.
It was registered as NX53752 on May 10, 1946 and then as N53752 in 1948. It was withdrawn from service in Tulsa, Oklahoma in July 1949. Spartan Air Services Limited of Ottawa, Ontario registered it as CF-GCH in December 1951. It suffered a landing gear collapse at Duluth, Minnesota on May 3, 1953. Hycon Aerial Surveys of Pasadena, California registered it as N5596V on November 8, 1956. It was retired and stored in the open at Las Vegas in December 1959. Don E. May of Phoenix, Arizona bought it on June 25, 1962 and sold it to Ben W. Widtfeldt and Desert Aviation Incorporated of Phoenix, Arizona on June 19, 1963. Aero Enterprises of La Porte, Indiana acquired it on September 9, 1963 and sold it to Laurel Walsh of Birmingham, Michigan on November 11, 1963. J.W. Bohmier and New London Airport of New London, Pennsylvania bought it on December 6, 1963 and sold it to Jim Cullen and Westair Company of Westminster, Colorado on Nov. 2, 1964. Troy G. Hawkins of Wichita Falls, Texas acquired it on September 9, 1965 and sold it to L. James Ausland and Sports Air of Seattle, Washington on April 20, 1967.
William E. Padden of Los Angeles, California bought it on April 20, 1968 and sold it to I.N. "Junior" Burchinal of Paris, Texas on August 19, 1970. It struck a car and trailer while landing and suffered a landing gear collapse at Paris, Texas on May 23, 1971. David M. Boyd and Eagle Aviation of Tulsa, Oklahoma acquired the wreckage on April 2, 1973 and sold it to John P. Silberman of Key West, Florida on January 4, 1979. It was rebuilt at Live Oaks, Florida and made its first flight in September 1985. The Museum Of Flying at Santa Monica, California acquired it in October 1989 and fitted it with a conventional fighter nose in 1990. William Lyons and Martin Aviation of Santa Ana, California bought it on May 20, 1990. It was damaged in a gear up landing at Winslow, Arizona in August 1992. David Price, Liberty Aero Corp, and the Museum Of Flying at Santa Monica, California acquired it on November 6, 1995 and traded it to the Commemorative Air Force in September 2002. Vintage Fighters LLC of Corona del Mar, California registered it as NL7723C on June 10, 2005.