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From: (CDB100620)
Subject: P-38 as best (was Re: Zero, P-40B...)
Date: 12 Aug 1996

I'm offering the suggestion that the P-38L (and later J models) was the
best all-around fighter aircraft of World War II, not based on the numbers
or book references, but on the views of two WWII pilots who flew the
aircraft--and others--in combat.  One was my father-in-law, Elliott Dent
(who posted once to this group when he was visiting me) and Sidney Woods,
a WWII buddy of my father-in-law who fought in both Europe and the
Pacific.  I'll refer to them as Elliott and Sidney.

Elliott flew P-40s in combat with the 49 FG before  switching to P-38s.
He liked the P-40.  His only complaint, and it was a major one, was that
the model he flew mostly, the N, was a pig at altitude.

The P-38, however, was a vast improvement.  Things he cited as making the
P-38 superior to other WWII fighters:

 First and foremost (although usually overlooked by nonpilots) was its
tricycle landing gear.  WWII fighters had landing speeds too high for
conventional gear.  There was always that critical point in landing when
speed had dropped such that the rudder was ineffective, yet the tail was
still in the air and trying to use wheel braking to control direction
would collapse a gear or lead to a ground loop.  Exhausted pilots
returning from multi-hour combat missions didn't need the final challenge
of a fast landing in a tail-dragger.  The P-38 floated in and planted
itself.  If you came in a little fast, you could use the dive brakes to
slow down before your wheels touched.  I'm sure everyone has seen the film
of that F4U landing at Guadalcanal that balloons and floats down the
runway forever.  That sort of thing couldn't happen with a P-38.

Second, two engine reliability.  Especially on long over-water flights,
the security of having a spare engine in case one quit, simply can't be
appreciated by a non-combat pilot.  As much as he liked the P-40, Elliott
recalls that the tension of listening intently to the engine--what was
that noise?  Was that a miss?  Did it just stutter?--soaked his flight
suit with sweat.  And many a compatriot who reported engine trouble and
broke out of formation was never heard from again.

Third, range.  The P-38 could go where the action was, or trade range for
payload and carry a bomber's load.  Only the P-51D and P-47N (which came
along very late in the war) were in its range playground.

Fourth, let's call steadyness.  With engines turning in opposite
directions, the P-38 was stable in all maneuvers and could roll equally
well right or left.  The big-engined, big-propped singles had torque and
P-factor problems that became increasingly pronounced as speed dropped, as
in a dog fight (which you shouldn't get into, of course, but sometimes you
do anyway).  They always rolled faster one way than the other.  The P-38
driver just rolled the way they couldn't to escape,  On the ground this
made them genuinely dangerous to operate.

Fifth, firepower concentration and range.  The P-38's nose gun arrangement
got rid of all the problems of wing guns, specifically the need to be
within a specific range for the fire to tell.  Anywhere within 1,000 yards
would give you hits.  Given the tendency for unexperienced pilots to open
fire too far away, the P-38 offered the greatest chance for strikes.  Much
wing-gun fire was wasted, especially by low-combat time pilots who fired
at twice or three times nominal range.  In head-on attacks, where it is
virtually impossible to hold your fire until you hit the "sweet spot"
where the wing guns converge, the P-38's advantage of pointing yourself at
the enemy and holding the trigger down was signficant.

Sixth, dive brakes.  Any aircraft that could reach the vicinity of 400 mph
at 20,000 feet would have compressibilty problems in a dive.  Only the
P-38J/L offered a solution.

Elliot was credited with six kills and five probables.  Among other
medals, he was awarded the DSC, the DFC, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart.
He flew 251 combat missions.
He piloted the P-40 and P-38 in combat, the P-39 and P-51 stateside.

Sidney flew P-40s and P-38s with the 49FG.  He participated in the Battle
of the Bismark Sea.  He flew 112 combat missions with the 49th.  After a
rest stateside, he went to the 4th FG in Europe.  He flew 68 combat
missions in Europe in P-51s.  I don't know what he may have flown

Sidney shot down two Japanese planes with the 49th and  10 with the 4th
(one of these on the ground, as the USAAF in the ETO counted aircraft
destroyed on the ground as kills.  The USAAF in the PTO did not).  Five of
the air kills were FW-190s.  Among the medals awarded him that I know
about, were the Silver Star, the DFC, the Croix de Guerre and the Air

Sidney described the Mustang as a super P-40.  He did not consider it in
the same class with the P-38.  He often said that the P-40 and P-51
represented pre-war air combat thinking, and that the P-38 represented the
future. That's a broad statement, and I can't recall his specific reasons
for making it, but it does give you a sense of his feeling for the
Sidney said that were he flying the P-38 in Europe he could have shot down
more planes than he did.  On more than one occasion, for example, he noted
that while he was closing in to wing-gun range an FW would execute one of
its fabulous snap-rolls and split-S away.  Had he been in a P-38 he could
have opened fire seconds earlier, gained strikes for certain, possibly
destroying the aircraft.

Sidney believed the poor showing of the P-38 in the ETO was the result of
AAF brass, who, pre-war were wedded to the unescorted heavy bomber
concept, and didn't dare admit, in the face of terrible bomber losses,
that they had a perfectly capable figher capable of escorting their
bombers from day one to the farthest target they ventured to--but they
chose not to use it.  Instead, they mutually, if unconsciously, fixed on
every reason they could find to discount the P-38 as a capable fighter.
They could then say they had no choice but to go unescorted until the P-51
came along.  Had they said, Yeah, we had a good escort fighter in the P-38
but decided not to use it, congressional committees would have been
demanding to know who screwed the pooch (his phrase).

As far as a combat type went, I recall Sidney talking about how it was
impossible to overshoot an aerial target in a dive with the P-38.  If you
saw that you were overtaking faster than you liked, you popped the speed
brakes.  Couldn't do that with any other plane.  He also liked the low
speed maneuvering flaps, the hydraulicly boosted ailerons, and the overall
ruggedness of the airplane.

He felt that the AAF made a mistake in not standardizing the P-38 as "the"
fighter and having Republic and North American build it as well as


From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P38 in Europe? A success?
Date: 17 Dec 1996

Thirteen P-38 FGs were deployed in Europe and Med Theaters:
1, 14, 20, 55, 78, 81, 82, 350, 364, 367, 370, 474, 479.

Photo recon versions of the P-38 (F-4 and F-5) served in Europe and the
Med in five PRGs:
3, 5, 10, 67, 68.

The 1FG and 14FG were first to receive P-38 in spring, 1941.

P-38s equipped a total of 27 FG and 10 PRG.

In Europe, the P-38 flew some 130,000 sorties.  That compares with about
214,000 for the P-51 and 423,000 for the P-47.

Aside from about 20 F-4/5s given to the Free French air force, only the
USAAF used P-38s during the war (a handful of non-turbo, non-handed
versions went to and were rejected by the RAF).  One of these proved the
coffin of Antoine de Saint Exupery, author of "Wind, Sand and Stars" and
other aviation literature standards, who disappeared on a flight over
southern France, 31 July, 1944.

The first German plane shot down by the USAAF in WWII is generally
credited to a P-38 on 14 Aug., 1942, an FW-200C downed by Elza Shaham of
342 Composite FG.

The first allied fighters over Berlin were P-38s of the 55FG on 3 March,

The 1FG was the only USAAF fighter group during the war to win two
Presidential Unit Citations in less than a week, for actions in the MTO.

On two occasions, once in the Pacific and once in the Med, a lone P-38
escorting a group of bombers succeeded in driving off numbers of enemy
fighters attempting to attack the bombers, in each case shooting down one
e/a that got too close.  The Pacific incident involved a P-38 from the
475FG, which shot down a Ki-61 from a gaggle going after B-25s, and the
Med incident invoved a P-38 from the 1FG that shot down an Me-109 from a
gaggle going after B-25s.  In each case, the lone P-38 had been late off
the runway, missed the rendevous and proceeded on alone hoping to catch up
to the rest of the squadron, which was, in each case, turned back by bad
weather that the late starter missed.

The leading P-38 aces in the Med were Micheal Brezas who shot down 12
German planes (2 Me-210, 4 Me-109, 6 FW-190)  while serving with the 14FG,
and William Sloan, who shot down 12 German and Italian a/c (6 Me-109, 2
Mc-200, 1 Mc-202, 1 Re-2001, 1 Ju-88, 1 Do-217) while serving with the

The 55FG began operations out of England on 15 Oct., 1943, one day after
Black Thursday when some 60 B-17s were lost on the second Schweinfurt
raid.  First encounter with Luftwaffe on 3 Nov., shot down 3 Me-109 with
no loss to selves.  On 5 Nov., down five Me-109s with no loss.  On 13
Nov., in a sprawling, large-scale battle, shot down 3 FW-190, 2 Ju-88, 1
Me-109, 1 Me-210 but lost 5 P-38s shot down.  Two more were lost due to
engine problems.  On 29 Nov. 7 P-38s were shot down for the loss of no
German planes.
Problems that surfaced with the P-38 in northern European theatre included
its poor performance above 30,000 ft compared to the Me-109, caused by its
lack of high activity propellers able to make use of the power the engines
were delivering at that altitude.  The F models used also had insufficient
intercooler capacity.  Some indication that TEL anti-knock compound was
not being properly mixed into avgas as well (at this time TEL was still
blended by hand into fuel shortly before use rather than being blended
when produced.  This was because in those days the compound tended to
precipitate out if left standing too long.  This problem later corrected.
Others believed either too much (leading to plug fouling) or not enough
(detonation) TEL was being added, causing engine problems.
Another problem that was revealed by the Nov. actions was that 55FG pilots
were attempting to dogfight e/a.  Their airplane may have been up to the
job, but the pilots weren't (many had as little of 20 hours total time on
the P-38, and little or no air to air gunnery training, and were
especially lacking in deflection shooting skills.  Many after-action
contact reports tell of repeated bursts of fire at deflection angles with
no results.  Most kills were the result of dead-astern shots). An 8th AF
report examining the failures of the 55FG noted one main problem was that
the P-38 as an airplane was simply too complicated and too demanding for a
low-time service pilot to fly skillfully, let alone dogfight in. It noted
that many pilots were afraid of the P-38.  55FG lost 17 P-38s in combat in
Nov., while being credited with 23 e/a destroyed in the air.
Morale in 55FG plummeted, and numerous pilots aborted missions claiming
mechanical problems--giving the a/c type a bad rep for mechanical
unreliability, although u/s reports reveal that in most cases the ground
crew could find nothing wrong with the aircraft.  In many instances the
ground crews hinted that the pilots were merely cowards.  In one u/s
report, the pilot had aborted the mission because he claimed the piss tube
was too short and he could not use it.  The ground crew chief wrote in his
report:  "Piss tube to spec.  Problem is pilot's dick is too short."

20FG entered N. Euro. combat at the end of Dec, '43. Did not appear to
suffer from the morale and leadership problems of the 55FG.  First
contacted Luftwaffe on 29 Jan. '44.  Downed 3 FW-190, 3 Me-110, 3 Me-210,
1 Me-109.  No P-38s lost.  3 FWs downed by Lindol Graham, who used only
his single 20mm cannon, 12 shots per plane. (Lindol later crashed and was
killed while attempting to kill the fleeing crew of an Me-110 he had just
forced down in a low-level fight.  The two men were floundering across a
snow-covered field and it appeared that Lindol attempted to hit them with
his props.  His plane seemed to hit the ground, then bounce back up,
soaring into a chandelle, then falling off on its nose and diving straight
into the ground.)
On 8 Feb. James Morris of 20FG downed 3 FW-190s in a single combat,
involving tight turns (in which the P-38's maneuvering flap setting [8
degrees extension] was used) and an Me-109 as returning home, the first
quadruple kill for an 8AF fighter.  All kills were made with dead astern
shots.  Morris missed all his deflection shots. Interestingly, two of the
FWs were first encountered head-on and Morris was able to reverse and
maneuver onto their tails while they tried with all their might to get on
his--and failed. Three days later he downed an Me-109, making him the
first P-38 ace flying out of England. (He would score a total of 8
victories before being shot down on 7 July, the highest score of any
UK-based P-38 pilot.)

364FG arrived in UK in Feb., '44.  Led by Col John Lowell, who had helped
develop the P-38 at Wright-Pat, on its first mission over Berlin on 6
March, he downed 2 Me-109s, and two more on 8 March.  On 9 March he downed
an FW-190.  He was eventually to tally 11 kills in the P-38, but several
were downgraded to probables after the war.
Col Mark Hubbel took over the 20th on 17 March.   He believed P-38
excellent fighter against Luftwaffe and proved it by promptly shooting
down 2 Me-109 and sharing a third with his wingman.  He may have downed a
fourth Me-109 which he was seen pursuing as it streamed smoke in a dive.
He was last seen chasing yet another Me-109,  this time through the door
of a church.  Neither planes nor church survived the encounter.
During the late winter of 1944 ocurred the famous dual between a
Griffon-engined Spitfire XV and a P-38H of the 364FG.  Col. Lowell few the
P-38, engaging the Spitfire at 5,000 ft. in a head-on pass.  Lowell was
able to get on the Spitfire's tail and stay there no matter what the
Spitfire pilot did.  Although the Spitfire could execute a tighter turning
circle than the P-38, Lowell was able to use the P-38's excellent stall
characteristics to repeatedly pull inside the Spit's turn radius and ride
the stall, then back off outside the Spit's turn, pick up speed and cut
back in again in what he called a "cloverleaf" maneuver.  After 20 minutes
of this, at 1,000 ft. altitude, the Spit tried a Spit-S (at a 30-degree
angle, not vertically down).  Lowell stayed with the Spit through the
maneuver, although his P-38 almost hit the ground.  After that the
Spitfire pilot broke off the engagement and flew home.  This contest was
witnessed by 75 pilots on the ground.

Ultimately 7 P-38 FG were operational in northern Europe.  The 474th was
the only one to retain the P-38 till the end of the war.  As pilots grew
used to the plane and developed confidence in it, it successes against the
Luftwaffe grew.  On 7 July, '44, P-38s of the 20FG downed 25 out of 77 e/a
destroyed that day, the highest of any group.
The last UK-based P-38 ace was Robin Olds of the 479FG.  On 14 Aug., '44,
while flying alone, he encountered two FW-190s and engaged them in a
dogfight, shooting both down.
On 25 Aug, P-38s from 367 encountered FW-190s of JG-6, a top Luftwaffe
unit.  Wild, low-level  battle ensued in which 8 P-38s and 20 FW-190s were
down.  Five of the FWs were shot down by Capt. Lawrence Blumer.   367
received a Presidential Unit Citation as a result of this battle.
On the same day, P-38s from 474 shot down 21 FW-190s for the loss of 11
P-38s.  The same day Olds' of 479 downed three Me-109s in a running battle
that saw his canopy shot off.
On 26 Sept., P-38s of the 479 downed 19 e/a near Munster.  Shortly after
that most P-38s were gradually replaced by P-51s.
The last long-range bomber escort in northern Europe by P-38s was on 19
Nov. '44 when 367FG escorted bombers to Merzig, Germany.  FW-190s
attempted to intercept.  P-38s downed six with no losses.  No bombers were
lost either. It was a good way to end the P-38s air-superiority role in
northern Europe

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P38 in Europe? A success?
Date: 19 Dec 1996

The cockpit heating problem was taken care of on the P-38L, the definitive
Lightning, which made up about half the production run.  But that didn't
help pilots in the ETO or MTO in 1943 and early 1944.  There were many
cases of pilots being forced to abort mission because their hands and feet
were frostbitten.

One problem the P-38 had in dealing with the Me-109, but not the FW-190
(which was more of a low and mid-altitude fighter) was the Me's high
altitude performace superiority.  Above 25,000 ft., cooling or
supercharger impeller or turbine speeds became limiting for the Lockheed,
and high speed capability started to fall off.  At low altitudes, the
plane could max out at about 330-340 mph.  This rose to well above 400 mph
between 25,000 to 30,000.  As the plane approached 30,000 ft, speeds over
Mach 0.60 could be sustained in level flight.  Thus, manuevering could
quickly give the plane compressibility problems.  At Mach 0.65 (290 mph
IAS, 440 mph TAS at 30,000 ft.; 360 mph IAS, 460 mph TAS at 20,000 ft.)
drag began to soar as the plane began to encounter compressibility.  At
Mach 0.67 shock waves began forming and buffeting began at Mach 0.675.  At
Mach 0.74 tuck under began. Buffeting developed at a lower Mach number in
any maneuver exceeding 1 g.
What this meant to a pilot in combat in say, a P-38H such as that used by
the 55FG or 20FG circa Jan. '44, was that if, at high altitude such as
Me-109s preferred approaching bomber formations, he locked on to the e/a
and it split-S'ed and dove away (typical Luftwaffe evasive maneuver), if
he attempted to follow, his P-38 would start to vibrate, then start
bucking like a rodeo bronco, the control column would begin flail back and
forth so forcefully it would probably be ripped out of his hands and begin
pounding him to crap.  Once the plane dropped down to lower altitude where
the speed of sound was higher, the buffeting declined and the trim tab
could be used to haul the airplane out of what seemed to be a death dive.
Recovery with trim tab resulted in 5 g pull-out.  Many a low-time service
pilot would be so shaken by this experience that he would never dive the
P-38 again, and might be so afraid of the airplane that his usefullness as
a fighter pilot was over.
The late J and L models solved this problem with the installation of a
dive flap.  Extend the flaps at the beginning of a dive and all problems
were eliminated.  Again, these models weren't available in the critical
period between fall 1943 and spring 1944 when the most desperate battles
against the Luftwaffe took place, and when the P-38s rep in Europe was
The reason P-38s were as successful as they were in Europe (and it should
be kept in mind they performed their escort role before it was decided to
free the fighters from the bombers to seek out e/a on favorable terms so
they were always forced to engage on unfavorable terms) was at least in
part because they were wonderful aerobatic airplanes with absolutely no
maneuvers restricted except the dive.  Loops, Immelmans, slow and snap
rolls, Cuban could perform them all with perfection.  It had a
wonderful ability to perform in the vertical, with an excellent rate of
climb, splendid zoom climb.  It could easily change direction while
executing vertical maneuvers.  It was also a very stable gun platform,
being stable and very smooth while executing maneuvers.

In contrast, the P-51, had far fewer compressibility problems at speeds
normally encountered in combat, including dives from high altitude.  The D
model was placarded at 300 mph IAS (539 mph TAS, Mach 0.81) at 35,000 ft.
In a dive, the P-51 was such an aerodynamically clean design that it could
quickly enter compressibility if the dive was continued (in reality, a
pilot could, as a rule, catch any German plane before compressibility
became a problem).  But, say, in an evasive dive to escape, as the P-51's
speed in the dive increased, it started skidding beyond what the pilot
could control (this could be a problem in a dive onto a much lower-flying
plane or ground target--couldn't keep the plane tracking on the target if
speed was too high).  As compressibility was entered, it would start
rolling and pitching and the whole plane would begin to vibrate.  This
began about Mach 0.72.  The pilot could maintain control to above Mach
0.80 (stateside tests said 0.83 (605 mph) was max safe speed--but
structural damage to the aircraft would result).
The P-51's quirk that could catch the uprepared service pilot by surprise
was that as airspeed built up over 450 mph, the plane would start to get
very nose heavy.  It needed to be trimmed tail heavy before the dive if
speeds over 400 mph were anticipated.  However, in high speed dives, the
plane's skidding changed to unintended snap rolls so violent that the
pilot's head was slammed against the canopy.  Depending on how much fuel
was in the fuselage tank, on pull-out stick force reversal could occur, a
real thrill that could totally flummox a low-time service pilot diving
earthward at close to 1,000 ft per second trying to escape a pursuer.
The P-51 was a good dogfighter, positively stable under all flight
routines.  A pilot didn't have to work hard to get it to the limits of its
flight envelope (that is, he wasn't sweating heaving and pushing and
pulling and kicking to get it to move its ass.)  It was important to burn
down fuel in the fuselage tank to avoid longitudenal instabillity.
Cranking into a tight turn with too much go-juice in the tank would mean
instant stick force reversal and the pilot had to brace himself to oppose
the stick slamming backward into his solar plexus, and shove hard to
prevent the turn from tightening till, if he was lucky, he entered a high
speed stall, or, if unlucky, the wing ripped off.
Turns above 250 mph IAS were the killers, because they resulted in g
forces high enough to black out the pilot so that he couldn't oppose the
stick reversal and the Mustang would, unattended, wind itself up into a

So, which plane would rather go into combat against the Luftwaffe in?

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: best ww2 plane survey
Date: 28 Aug 1997

>The P-38... had two heavy engines set
>out on the wings, way out from the center of gravity for rolling, with the
>result that it had a poor roll rate.

The P-38 did not want to roll at all when aileron force was first applied
(inertial resistance), so there was a heartbeat of hesitation, then the
plane would very sluggishly begin to roll.  This sluggishness persisted
through about 10 degrees of roll, after which the rate of roll became very
good; in fact, with the aileron boost of the later J and L models, the
faster the plane was going, the faster the rate of roll, giving the plane a
terrific advantage in high-speed maneuver combat.
The initial reluctance of the P-38 to enter a roll was easily
counteracted:  throttle back the inside engine briefly as as you turn the
wheel, then bring power back up.  The plane would snap into a roll so fast
it might knock your head against the canopy.  The trick was not to let the
plane get away from you when doing this.   It took praciice to get it right
and make it an automatic action, especially during the heat of combat.
The P-38 was splendidly maneuverable and had an excellent rate of climb
and rapid rate of acceleration.  And, of course, its concentrated nose
armament was a distinct advantage.  A good case could be made for the later
versions being not only the best American fighter of the war, but the best
piston-engine fighter, period.  It flew the longest escort missions of the
war (2200 miles round trip to the Borneo oil fields from bases in New
Guinea), successfully battling such very capable fighters as the Ki-44 over
the target.  A P-38 fighter group (the 1FG in the MTO) was the only USAAF
fighter unit  to win two Presidential Unit Citations within the space of 5
days (one PUC was for a long-range low level attack against Axis airfields
at Foggia, Italy flown from bases in North Africa, the other was for a
bomber escort mission during which some 30 P-38s fought off about 125
German fighters, not letting a single bomber be shot down).
The P-38's Achilles Heel was its high cost:  the Army could buy two P-51s
for the price of one P-38.  Lockheed had never expected to mass-produce the
design and did not engineer it for easy assembly, unlike the P-51, one of
the chief unsung virtues of which was its ease of manufacture. The P-38
was also more expensive and time-consuming to maintain than single-engine
Here's an excerpt of a Luftwaffe experte's  (Heinz Knoke, 52 kills, all in
the West) description of a duel with a P-38 (from "I Flew for the Fuhrer"):
"...At once I peel off and dive into the Lightnings below.  They spot us
and swing round towards us to meet the attack....  Then we are in a madly
milling is a case of every man for himself.  I remain on the
tail of a Lightning for several minutes.  It flies like the devil himself,
turning, diving, and climbing almost like a rocket.  I am never able to
fire more than a few pot-shots...."

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: BEST Piston Fighter
Date: 08 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

The "all-P-38 all the time"  (other groups had various types at different
times) 475FG is officially credited with destroying 547 Japanese aircraft in
aerial combat while losing just 27 planes to enemy air action.  That gives them
a kill ratio of 20.25:1.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 12 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

>Dick Bong flew against zekes and oscars.  The P-38 had a good record
>against the second division opponents in the east. In the west, where up
>to 1943 the luftwaffe was the yardstick, P-38s were not very good.  P-38
>units occasionally suffered severe defeats at the hands of the Luftwaffe
>in Italy in a way that P-47 or P-51 never did.

Greatest single loss of P-51s on a combat mission in the ETO for P-51s =
11(363FG); for the P-38 = 8 (55FG).

The first quadruple kill by the USAAF in the ETO was acomplished by a P-38,
which downed 3 FW-190s and 1 Me-109.  The three FWs were downed in a classic,
turning dogfight.

Re the P-47, Gen. Frank Hunter, commander of VIII Fighter Command, told Gen Ira
Eaker that the P-47 was not an effective escort fighter and did not want to
send his fighters on maximum-range missions until he had enough aircraft to
crush the Luftwaffe by sheer numbers.

USAAF boss Hap Arnold, discussing the P-38 vs. the P-47 in a letter to Eaker in
June, 1943, wrote:  "I can't help but compare the excellent results
accomplished with the P-38...and the meager results accomplished by your
Fighter Command equipped with [the P-47].
 Hunter himself described the P-38 as "a wonderful ship."   (This is similar to
the comment on the P-38 made by George Preddy, the leading Mustang ace.  In his
diary he notes of the P-38:  "This is a wonderful flying ship."  About the P-47
he wrote, "This is a nice flying ship." Later he wrote, "Sure getting
disappointed in the P-47."  About the P-51 he wrote, "It's a good flying
Demand was so great for the P-38 in North Africa and the Pacific, however,
that there was an insufficient supply and so, by default, the P-47 stayed in
the ETO.
Sid Woods flew against the Japanese with the 49FG (one confirmed kill).  He
flew against the Germans with the 479FG and as CO of the 4FG (nine confirmed
kills).  He considered the Japanese tougher foes than the Germans, the pilots
more skillful, aggressive and determined, the airplanes they flew formidable

A PTO ditty ran:

"Don't give me a P-51.
It was all right for fighting the Hun,
But if fighting the Jap you try,
You'll run out of sky.
Don't give me a P-51."

The success of SWPA army pilots against the Japanese was a result of good
tactics.  From the get-go, they flew free bomber escort, and ran fighter sweeps
ahead of bomber formations to break up intercepting fighter formations.  In
combat areas, they flew "loose goose" formations with 1,000 ft. between planes,
the element leader and wingman free to exchange positions as the tactical
situation warranted.
In Europe, tactics were much poorer.  In the MTO, throughout the war, pilots
were required to "beehive" around bombers, and were required to fly in units no
smaller than the four-ship flight, which did not break up into two-ship
elements.  This meant one shooter and three wingmen, the No 4 man being like
the last kid in a crack-the-whip game.  Once maneuvering began he could not
possibly maintain station and thus was frequently shot down.
In the ETO, while the two-ship element was allowed, the formation was very
tight, thus limiting ACM options.  And, especially in the early days of
long-range fighter escort, they were forced to stick very close to the
bomers--75 ft. at one time.
It's astonishing army pilots had any success in Europe at all employing such
poor tactics. Had army pilots fighting the Japanese used such poor tactics, the
Japanese would have mopped the floor with them.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 14 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

>despite the presence of the P-38, the
>Germans appeared to be relatively undeturred in their attacks on bomber

On 3 Nov. 1943 P-38s escorted bombers to Wilhemshaven.  While the German
fighters were, as a result of the efforts of the P-38 drivers, only able to
shoot down three bombers, German fighter losses were sufficiently heavy, II/JGS
suffering particularly badly  (curiously, the 55FG pilots only claimed three
e/a destroyed), that Gen. Galland held a special meeting with I Jagdkorps'
division commanders the next day.  One of the key decisions made at this
meeting was to have  the "wild sow" single-engine night fighter force
transferred to day jobs to counter the P-38s.  (Here we have  what could be
called "escort-once-removed"--P-38s were, in a way, performing "escort duties"
for RAF's Bomber Command--drawing fighters away from them.)  And it was
acknowledged that the era of the twin-engined interceptor as an significant
factor, was ended.
On Nov. 13,  45 P-38 escorted bombers to Bremen. Only two bombers were lost to
fighter interception.  Throughout Nov and Dec, although the 8AF was sending
double the no. of bombers against German targets it had in the fall, losses
were never more than about 5 percent of the attacking force, and were often
only a mere handful--on the Dec. 13, 1943  mission against Hamburg, for
example, out of a force of 648 bombers, only 5 were lost. Many German fighter
formations approached the bombers on this day, but when they saw the fighter
escorts, refused to engage.
  At the end of Dec. Galland and  the staff of Jagdkorp I admitted that their
tactics against escorted bomber formations had failed.
So before the P-51 became a significant factor in the air war over Europe, the
Luftwaffe was stymied.  It should be noted, of course,  that this was not due
to the P-38 being some sort of a "superfighter" as much as that it was good
enough to get the job done (just how good being a subject for debate), which
was all that was required.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 14 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

>Imagine youself in a
>fighter, flying towards a life and death combat situation knowing you
>couldn't dive vertically or exceed a certain speed limit or you might
>never recover from the dive?

That's pretty much true of any fighter of the era, and not unique to the P-38.
It's well documented that P-38 pilots in the ETO were afraid to dive after
German fighters, who quickly realized that fact, and took advantage of it.  The
problem was not so much the P-38 as the familiarization of the pilots with the
characteristics of the P-38 and how to handle them.  In the case of a dive from
high altitude in a P-38, the procedures was throttles to idle--let gravity do
the work--when buffeting begins, bank right and left to slow the descent (doing
this also helps you keep an eye on what's going on around you).  Pretty
straight forward.  Why this wasn't practiced in the ETO is a question, but much
the USAAF did, fighter-wise, in the ETO is questionable.
Note also that if a pilot is intent on following an e/a all the way down in a
dive, he doesn't necessarily have to have a superior dive speed to his foe (in
fact, if he does, he will very likely overshoot), but he does need to be able
to keep him in sight until his foe pulls out of his dive.  Actually, being some
distance behind your foe in a dive rather than being right on his tail is the
best position to be in, because it means he has most likely lost sight of you
and presumes himself safe, and, once he levels out or begins to climb, his
speed bleeds off rapidly while you still have the downhill advantage.  More
than one Lightning pilot in the Pacific was downed by a much slower diving Zero
that persisted in following him down and then reeled him in once he leveled
off.  That's why the veteran P-38 driver in the Pacific would immediately go
into a corkscrew climb at the completion of a dive in order to clear his tail
of any trailing e/a.
If the Me-109, for example, were able to outdive a P-38, the P-38 driver could
have reeled him in when he leveled out, or,  if he were so far ahead as
preclude that, the superior low-level speed of the P-38 would have brought him
into gun range.  Should the Me pilot have chosen to zoom climb, the P-38's
superior zoom ability would have come into play.
The real problem the P-38 pilot faced in the fall of 1943 in theETO was, on an
equipment basis, the fact that the Me-109, in particular, had very good initial
acceleration in the dive--even better than a P-40 (which, given time, could
overhaul a diving Me).  This would allow the Me driver to escape the attention
of the Lightning pilot, who was, in those days, constrained to stay close to
the bombers and so would not follow a diving Me 109 very far in any case.
Weather was another major factor. Limiting it to the situation in immediate air
combat, the superior initial acceleration of the Me over the P-38 would enable
it to disappear into clouds and escape.
Then there is the matter of training, with 55FG pilots having as little as 20
hours time in the P-38 before being sent on long-range missions in the European
winter, a time when, traditionally, fighter operations wound down.
The P-38 pilots faced an almost impossible job in the ETO with equipment that
had not yet been optimized for that job.  Merely flying a single-seat fighter
in the kind of weather they encountered on such a long flight was a major feat.
 To escort bombers and fend off fighters while being forced to employ incorrect
tactics made their job almost impossible.  Yet they acomplished the job they
were assigned--reduce bomber losses to fighter interception.

Even during the war, the P-38, P-47 and P-51 each had adherents who argued the
favorable points of each, sometimes quite vehemently, and, obviously, the
arguments continue today.  Capt. Jim Tapp was training supervisor of the 78FS
of the 21FG temporarily based at Bellows while it transitioned from P-47s to
P-51s.  One day, he was flying a P-47 in company with two P-51s when they were
bounced by two P-38s.  "They ended up chasing each other in a circle with the
performance pretty equal. I had the P-47 wide open and was turning inside all
of them, but they seemed to be making two circles to my one. The P-47 would
have done better high up, but even at altitude the 47 wasn't a match for the 51
or 38."
Later, the P-47 adherents challenged the P-51 buffs to a race.  A P-47D-26
belonging to the group CO, Col. Beckworth,  was stripped of bomb racks, gone
over with extra care by the ground crew and waxed till it shone.  Capt. Tapp
grabbed the first available P-51D he could sign out.  The duo met up over Kaena
Point at 30,000 and headed for Bellows.  When the P-47 was at full throttle and
full rpm, Tapp asked, "Is that all you've got?"  When he received an
affirmative, he opened the Mustang's throttle to "full goose bozo" position and
simply ran away from the Jug.  Tapp was back on the ground sipping a Coke when
the Col's. P-47 touched down.
In a mock dogfight between the  Mustang and the Lightning, the skilled P-38
driver would fight in the vertical, taking advantage of his superior climb
speed and aerobatic ability.  The skilled Mustang pilot would attempt to extend
away and come back unobserved.  Once either locked onto the tail of the other,
it would be very difficult to shake.  The P-38 driver in such a situation would
want to work the speed of the engagement down into the stall area where the
Mustang couldn't follow him.   He could also split-S, dive and zoom, probably
losing  the P-51. The Mustang pilot with a P-38 on his tail  had fewer options.
 At high altitude, he could point the nose at the ground and keep it there till
the the Lightning dwindled, then zoom climb into a fast, shallow climb to
extend away.
Interesting that the twin-engine fighter would have the advantage in a slow
turning contest, or in the vertical--loops, split-Ses.
What would typically happen if a Mustang bounced a Lightning would be that the
P-38 would split-S, the Mustang would follow through the roll but keep on
diving for some distance before pulling out, then circle around for another try
at a bounce.  The Lightning pilot would continue the split-S up into a loop and
scan the sky for the Mustang.  Typically, he would spot him some distance below
beginning a pull out.  The Lightning driver would finish the loop and fall on
the climbing Mustang, locking onto his tail.  The smart Mustang pilot would
reduce the chance of this by rolling out of h is escape dive into a climb in a
different direction.  He might do a corkscrew climb.  The "winner" of the
dogfight would be the pilot who better kept sight of his foe, who better
anticipated what his foe would do next, and who knew what to do with his own
airplane to counter that anticipated move; in other words, the better pilot
won--not the airplane.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?
Date: 14 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

> Specifically the strike to Regensburg and the two to
>Schweinfurt are good examples of catastrophic losses.

Through the first 10 months of 1943, 8AF bomber losses averaged 9 percent a
month.  Once long-range escorts began acompanying the bombers in November, the
figured dropped to 3 percent.  In 1944, sometimes the figure rose to the 5
percent level, but once the bombers had escorts, the unsupportable losses
ended.  The chief reason was that the twin-engined "rocket ships"--which took a
serious toll of the bombers--were no longer able to leisurely form up and
execute attacks unmolested.  Neither were single-engined fighters able to motor
ahead of the bomber formations and prepare  head-on attacks undisturbed.
The truth is that had a long-range P-47 been available, it would have achieved
the same result as the P-38 did initially in Nov and Dec and the P-51 did
later.  The key was fighter escort all the way to the target.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-38 - Best piston engine fighter ?/Better than Me 109
Date: 27 Jan 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

>>my impression is that the Messerschmitt was

>> worse in [landing accidents] than any other fighter in the war.
>More so than the P-38?

Other than a fairly high sink rate, the P-38 was a sweetheart to land (or take
off), thanks to its tricycle landing gear.  In particular, crosswind landings
were no problem at all.
The P-38 had so many positive attributes from a piloting perspective, from easy
taxiing to harmless power-on stalls, that it makes no sense to compare it with
the Me 109, which had so few.
It makes more sense to compare the 109 with the P-40, which, I would suspect,
was the AAF's take-off and landing crash champ.  It took a lot of rudder fed in
early on to keep it going straight.  Legions of pilots lost it on take off or
landing.  This was probably because the design was originally intended to have
a short radial engine ahead of the main wheels (P-36).  The substitution of a
long, heavy liquid-cooled engine, with all the plumbing up front shoved so much
weigh forward of the mains that the gear could barely handle it.
When the 49FG was equipped with P-40s after it arrived in Australia (most of
the pilots never having flown one), they busted up 140 of the 330 they were
issued, usually in spectacular ground loops.
Lt. Gen. Hal George and several others were killed as they stepped from a
transport plane that had just landed at Bachelor Field by a P-40 whose pilot
lost it on take-off.   The pilot, who was practicing T/Os and landings, simply
let the airplane get away from him when he opened up full throttle on that big
Allison and he veered into the parked transport and the jeep George was getting
into.  The result was a horrific accident that probably affected the course of
the war, as Gen. George was slated to take command of all the fighter forces in
the Australia/New Guinea area.
  The P-47 might be next in line for the crash on landing trophy, mainly
because the turbo exhaust vented where it could cook the tail wheel, leading to
blowouts which would throw the plane out of control.  That was more of a
problem in hot climate operations than in northern Europe.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Radial Engines
Date: 25 Mar 1998

>Finally, the P-38 pilot executed something he refers to as a
>"cloverleaf" turn (which I assume is some form of Yo-Yo).

The cloverleaf was a horizontal maneuver that took advantage of the P-38's
exceptionally gentle stall characteristics.  It was a low-speed maneuver.  The
pilot would tighten his turn until he actually stalled out, ease off and let
the plane unstall itself, then tighten back up into a stall, ease up....
Viewed from above, the pattern the airplane flew through the air looked
something like a cloverleaf, and this simile was used in teaching the maneuver.
 No  German fighter could stay with the P-38 in a turn.
Of course, this manuever was useless against Japanese fighters like the Ki-43
and Zero, because they stalled out something like 30 mph slower than the best
theP-38 could do.
In Europe, the first quadruple kill in one combat by the 8AF was scored by 2Lt.
James Morris of the 55FG on Feb. 8, 1944.  He traded head-on passes with a pair
of FW 190s then turned and got on their tails while they were turning trying to
get on his.  He easily outturned them and shot them down.  Another FWs 190
broke away and tried to run.  Morris overtook him and shot him down.  Then he
tangled with an Me 109 which tried to outdive him.  Morris fell on him like a
cast-iron stove.
Capt. Robin Olds while flying alone when he was bounced by two FW 190s.  He
outturned them and shot both down.
 In a scrape with the vaunted II/J.G. 6, Capt. Lawrence Blummer of the 367FG
shot down five FW 190s.  He was part of a melee that began when 40 FW 190s
bounced 12 P-38s straffing an airfield and the Lightnings' top cover of 12
bounced them in turn.  The German pilots claimed 11 Lightnings (seven actually
went down) and the Americans claimed 20 FWs (16 actually went down).  The
German unit was so badly mauled that it was withdrawn from combat.
The P-38 was a complex aircraft, and required time in the cockpit to learn to
operate it well, but in the hands of a skilled pilot, there was very little it
could not do.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Radial Engines
Date: 31 Mar 1998

>Or is it that the turn was all in horizontal plane with no
>vertical maneauvering ?

Your understanding of the manuever seems spot on.
It was not a common maneuver, but a sort of last ditch hole card.  Gerry
Johnson, ops exec of the 49FG used it to break contact with a Ki-44 he was in a
rough one-on-one with on a mission to the oil refineries of the DEI in the fall
of 1944.  As he told it, he had fought the Tojo from 24,000 ft. down to the
deck, where it had latched onto his tail.  He didn't dare straighten out and
try to run, because it was too close.  He couldn't dive.  He was forced to try
to out-turn it because he didn't have anything else to try.  He started
clover-leafing and, to his great relief, the Tojo was unable to stay with him
and broke off contact, whereupon Johnson, master fighter pilot that he was,
turned the tables on the Tojo and shot him down.

>	Whew ! Outdive a P-38 ? The compressibility King ?

It's been pretty well documented that many P-38 drivers were often afraid to
follow German planes into a dive, especially the 109, which routinely broke
contact by Split-S-ing.  This has always puzzled me, because the 109 had a
practical dive limit of about 400 mph--well within the P-38's dive
range--because its controls became too heavy.  Much has been made of the cold
weather of the northern European winter being a factor, along with the higher
altitudes the ETO boys flew at.  But P-38ers in the MTO also seem to frequently
have been afraid to dive after 109s, and they flew in warm weather and at
moderate altitudes, doing a lot of medium bomber escorting.
In the SWPA, the Ki-61 had similar--if not somewhat better--dive
characteristics to the Me 109, yet no P-38 driver ever hesitated to plunge
after a Tony.  The trick in the dive was:  throttles to idle before dropping
the nose below the horizon, bank left and right to slow when buffeting began.
Pretty straightforward.  In any case, compressibility was not a problem for any
model P-38 if the dive were entered from below 25,000 ft.
One thought is that most P-38 drivers in the SWPA transitioned from the P-40, a
diving sonofagun if there ever was one, or P-39 (also a good diver), and they
were used to making terminal velocity dives to save their hides.  Both these
planes would yaw quite badly as speed built up in the dive and could otherwise
be disconcerting.
Aside from buffeting, which could easily be controlled, the P-38 was a
sweetheart in a dive compared to a P-40, so PTO pilots  who had cut their
combat teeth on the Curtiss or Bell never had reason to fear it.  If the ETO
boys were entering combat in the P-38, all the shock and confusion of
first-time combat would have been throw onto the P-38, and its quirks
magnified.  Just a guess.

>	Do you know what version P-38 this was ?

Many pilots considered this the worst of the Lightings, despite the much better
intercooler situation.  Some preferred the G and--especially--the H, which was
substantially lighter than the early J.  Their lighter weight and somewhat
better streamlining gave them excellent initial acceleration and a general
nimbleness lacking in the first of the  J series.  In the Pacific, at least,
these early models were able to follow the half-roll-split-S and dive of a
Japanese fighter such as the Ki-61, whereas the early Js, being heavier,
generally would not be able to, and if the pilot tried, he could get in
trouble.  The later Js and especially the Ls had no such trouble.
My guess is that what happened with the P-38 in the ETO was some pilots dove
after e/a without throttling back first, and when they ran into compressibility
didn't understand or notice (perhaps being mentally fixated on the aircraft
they were pursuing), then became alarmed and confused when the control column
began slamming them in the gut as the whole plane began to shake, the dive
steepened all by itself, and the plane did not respond to their control imputs.
 Definitely a scarey situation.  If they survived, they told their buddies of
their experience in very graphic detail....
They also might have lost a nimble plane like the 190 when it rolled into a
split-S and gotten shot down (or at least shot at)  by the FW's wingman who
would have no trouble rolling with them into the split-S.  That certainly
happened with Japanese fighters like the Ki-43 and Ki-44 in the Pacific
especially with the early Js.

The handful of exceptional fighter pilots who made multiple kills in air combat
were generally superb fliers who easily understood and mastered whatever
airplane they were assigned to fly.  Morris was obviously such a one.  I
suspect he would have been a formidable opponent even were he in a P-26.  As
luck would have it, he was shot down by the rear gunner of an Me 410 while on a
mission over Germany, remaining a guest of that country until the war ended, so
his final score was not as high as it might otherwise have been.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Airacobra question
Date: 16 Apr 1998

>I'm not so sure about the "improved survivability of 2 engines".
>If you lose an engine on a P-51, you're certain not going to
>get home.  If you lose an engine on a P-38, you _may_ get
>home but the odds are stacked against you.  The problem is, you've
>got twice as many opportunities to lose an engine on a

The P-38 flew just fine on one engine (it wouldn't taxi worth a damn, however).
 It was *the* preferred fighter in the Pacific because of the extra margin of
safety it provided.

In his journal, Charles Lindbergh recounts one mission when he was low cover
for B-24s and lost an engine.  He climbed up to fly with the heavies and noted
that he had to throttle back to stay with them--even though he had one windmill

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Airacobra question
Date: 16 Apr 1998

>nearly as serious. Lose your only engine and you are not going home.
>Lose one engine in a twin and you have a fighting chance. I'll take the
>second option every time.

During the second Philippines campaign, some P-38 pilots heard a desperate
pilot calling on the radio in a voice on the edge of panic: "I'm losing
coolant!  What should I do?"  Assuming he was a new Lightning pilot with little
experience, they called back and told him to relax.  Just feather the prop and
he'd get back okay.  There was a moment of silence, then he responded, "Feather
it, hell!  I'm in a P-51!"
There was a corollary experience.  Returning from a long mission one day, a
bunch of P-38s, all flying on fumes, were jockeying to land first when a firm
voice came over the radio:  "I'm coming in on one engine!"  Naturally he got
priority clearance, and everybody looked around to see who was in trouble.
What they saw was a Tac Recon smart ass in a P-40 slipping in on final.
Everybody started swearing--and then started laughing.

From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: P-51D Escort (Was Re: ME-262 in 1942)
Date: 23 Apr 1998

>Berlin approximately 900 miles round trip from central England, the P-38F
>would have to fly at 195 mph with 600 gallons of fuel on board to make
>the round trip .  Was that fast enough to escort bombers?  Airspeed
>increased to 305 mph with 230 gas, but range decreased to 350

In the SWPA the P-38H radius of action was considered to be 575 miles for
mission planning purposes (this was pre-Lindbergh).  That was the absolute
outside max, with a provision for 10 minutes of combat power settings. The J
could add 100 miles to that.  Typical missions would range from 4.5 to 6.5
hours.  After Lindbergh, the J and L could do 9.5-hour missions.
Apparently the 8AF never focused much on fuel management techniques.  The
ranges mentioned in the quoted post would appear to have been flown in auto
rich at relatively high rpm.  Also, I believe the P-38s were based in the west
of England, meaning they had to fly considerably farther than fighters based in
the SE of England.
Never heard of anyone cruising a P-38 (or any other piston fighter) at over 300
mph.  Since the heavy bombers cruised at anywhere from 130 to 170 mph, a 195mph
cruise would be more than adequate to escort them.
Close escorts at 195 mph would be at a big disadvantage because they would have
an energy deficit compared to any attacking fighters.  The advantage of a
free-ranging escort is that it can fly at fuel-conserving speeds until combat
could be "reasonably expected" as the phrase of the day had it, then pick up
speed, say, moving from 185 to 250, then when about to engage, the enemy in
sight, go tanks off and balls to the wall.

>If a B-24 can fly 100 feet off the hard deck, why can't a P-38 do it as

In the SWPA, P-38s did indeed fly escort on the deck.  This was not the
preferred option--that being to have height to dive on any intercepting e/a.
But weather sometimes forced close escort.  On one of the Rabaul raids in the
fall of 1943, the cloud base was at 700 ft.  The B-25s flew below that and so
did their P-38 escorts.  So did the intercepting Japanese fighters.  Quite a
furball ensued.
The preferred method of escorting an on-the-deck strike was a fighter sweep in
advance of the bombers to stir up action and suppress it before the dump trucks
That was also the policy when escorting heavies as well.

>> The P-51D was far from an excellent climbing fighter as
>> well.  It's acceleration was rather poor in comparison
>> to many of it's contemporaries.

True.  The P-38 was the best climber in active USAAF inventory and could easily
leave a P-51 choking on its heel dust.  It also had brute acceleration the P-51
could not match (although the P-51 could accelerate very well indeed, the P-38
was better).  The best accelerating  P-38 was the H.  Later models were
heavier, although the L got some more beans to play with.
The turbo really came into its own on the P-38 in the climb, providing sea
level horsepower to very high altitudes, so climb was smooth and consistent,
with 100 percent power being available at all altitudes.  In earlier models,
inadequate intercooling limited the effectiveness of the turbos at high
altitude. This was corrected from the J.  The P-51's two-stage, two-speed
mechanical supercharger caused it to lurch upstairs in a series of steps, HP
beginning to fall off immediately after a "gear change."  The switch from the
first stage to the second stage of the supercharger occurred at about 17,000
ft.  Just before the shift, the P-51 had performance about on par with a P-40N
at the same altitude.  Then when the second stage kicked in, it became a tiger.

>A fighter in the
>interceptor role at 14,000 ft?

The bombers dictate at what altitude an interceptor must perform best. If the
bombers come over at 14,000 ft., having a fighter that performs best at 30,000
ft. won't be of much use--that's one reason why the P-39 did well in Russia and
poorly in New Guinea (the Germans came over at low level, the Japanese at high

>> It's [P-51] handling could be downright nasty with violent departure
>> and very little accelerated stall warning.

The P-38's stall was a gentle as a J-3's.  Power-on stalls, usually fatal in
P-51s (and other single-engine fighers), were a piece of cake in the
Thirty-Eight.  It gave plenty of stall warning.
>How many pilots disliked going from the P-40 to the P-38F?

Many pilots liked the P-40, but none ever objected to transitioning to the
P-38; doing so was a dream come true.

> anything new was at first resisted by men and
>viewed with suspicion until men were trained and confidence rose.

Quite true.  And pilots became quite loyal to whatever they flew.  But their
confidence could be sapped by negative comments from their own superiors.  If a
squadron or group CO blamed poor performance in combat on the airplane the
squadron was equipped with (rather than, say, his own poor planning, training
and leadership), morale could slip badly and pilots could come to view their
aircraft as jinxed. Once morale was down and confidence in the airplane eroded,
aborts increased, willingness to engage the enemy decreased.  In such a
situation, the only way to turn a group around might be to give it a new
airplane and tell the boys it was the very best in the world.

>The MTO was a sideshow by the time Clark took Rome just before D-Day.
>The presence of the Luftwaffe was nil in the MTO by that time.

But not before.  The 1FG flying P-38s from North Africa to Italy in the summer
of 1943 won two PUCs in the space of five days in engagements against the
Luftwaffe.  The first PUC was for a long-range, low-level strike against the
Foggia airfield complex and the other was for outstanding escort work
protecting B-26s striking the Aversa marshalling yards.  The PUC for this
mission reads:
"Crossing the Italian coast, their formation of 34 P-38s was intercepted by 75
highly aggressive and persistent enemy aircraft. Alone and unaided, the 1FG
engaged them, beating off wave after wave of enemy planes attempting to pierce
the fighter defenses and break up the bomber formation.  These courageous
pilots fought a brilliant defensive aerial battle....  Through their highly
effective cover, the bomber formation was able to complete a highly successful
bombing run unmolested and returned to base without the loss of a single

(Incidentally, Bob Vrilakas, who, as Blue Flight Leader, 94FS, on this mission,
played a major role in the fight, has participated in discussions in r.a.m. in
the past, and may lurk in this newsgroup.)

> [The P-38]  was better suited to the relatively low-level
>island-hopping strategy of the PTO where it escorted medium bombers, like
>the B-25 Mitchell, and flew low-level ground attack and interdiction
>missions.  Very few aerial encounters were fought above 20,000 ft.

The P-38 wasn't much used in "island hopping"--that was USN and USMC air for
the most part.
While the P-38 escorted a lot of B-25s and A-20s, which flew on the deck, it
also escorted plenty of B-24s flying at high altitudes.  On one of the fall,
1943, Rabaul raids, for example [and illustrating the versatility of the
Lightning], the B-24s flew at 26,000 ft. and the P-38s had high cover above
The P-38 also did lots of high altitude interception work in the SWPA; on one
April, 1943 raid on Port Moresby, 45 G4M bombers came over at 30,000 ft., their
A6M high escort at 33,000 ft.  The P-38 CAP was stooging around at 21,000 ft.
when the visitors were spotted and "Tanks Off!" was called and the Lightnings
shot skyward like the proverbial homesick angels to extend greetings.
Air combat above 20,000 ft. was, in fact, routine for P-38 pilots in the SWPA.
As was combat at medium altitudes, low altitudes and at altitudes that were, as
the saying went, "lower than the shortest tree in New Guinea."
P-38s didn't fly ground interdiction missions until after the Japanese air
strength was vitiated.  That job was mostly handled by P-40s and P-47s, as well
as A-20s and B-25s.
It's worth noting that when the FEAF began receiving P-51s in the fall of 1944,
 they used them to replace P-40s and P-39s in Tactical Reconnaissance
units--they did not use them to replace P-38s in Fighter Groups.

>I don't recall seeing P-38's accompanying
>B-29's to Tokyo.

That was an HQ decision based on rationalizing fighter plane procurement (Both
the P-38 and P-47 were considered for phasing out, along with the P-39, P-40
[both actually phased out] and P-63).  The P-38 would have had no difficulty
escorting B-29s to Tokyo, or cleaning house when it got there.
The last dogfight the AAF fought in the war, on the afternoon of Aug. 14, 1945,
was fought between P-38Ls and Ki-84 Franks over the Bungo Straight between
Shikoku and Kyushu. Five Lightnings of the 35FS tangled with eight Ki-84s of
the 47th Sentai and sent four of them down for the loss of one of their own.

The L-5 was considered by those who flew it to be the very best fighter plane
the AAF had; there was simply nothing it could not do, from landing in a strong
crosswind--try that in a P-51--to flying the longest bomber escort missions of
the war (Biak to the DEI oil field refineries), to intercepting Dinah recon
planes at 40,000 ft. to chasing down Kamikazes coming in on the deck.
That's not to say the P-51 was not a very good airplane, extremely versatile
and capable.  But the P-38 was better.

>"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old,
>bold pilots."

Not a maxim fighter pilots ascribe to.

From: CDB100620 <>
Subject: Re: P-51D Escort (Was Re: ME-262 in 1942)
Date: 05 May 1998

Re climb and altitude performance of the P-38 vs. the P-51:
It has been stated in this thread  that the performance of the P-38 declined
rapidly above 20,000 ft.  This is not true.
The pre-J models could maintain sea-level power up to 25,000 ft., where
intercooler limitations began to reduce power.  The J/L models could maintain
sea level power up to 30,000 ft., where turbo impeller speed limitations began
to reduce power.  In neither case was power reduction sudden or dramatic.
(Incidentally, the turbocharged P-47 could also maintain sea level horsepower
up to 30,000 ft.)
This means the P-38H would have close to 2500 horsepower (military power)
available at 25,000 ft and the J almost 2900 horsepower (military) at 30,000
ft.  (The P-47 would have 2000 hp [military] at 30,000 ft.)  The use of War
Emergency Power would boost those figures.
  No WWII fighter--bar none--had as much available horsepower at altitudes of
25,000 ft and above as the P-38.
The P-51D with its multi-stage mechanical supercharger saw horsepower
(military) peak at a bit less than 1700 at 8500 ft.  At 13,500 ft., it  was a
bit over 1300 hp, then it jumped to about 1375 or so at 21,500 ft., after which
it declined steadily.  At 25,000 ft. it was down to 1200 hp and at 30,000 ft.
power was only a little over 700 hp.
(This engine performance deterioration was typical for any mechanically
supercharged aircraft engine, whether the P-51, Spitfire or Me 109.)
The P-51D had only about a third the horsepower available to the P-38H at
30,000 ft. and only about a fourth of that available to the J.  Of course, the
P-51 was a lot lighter than the P-38, but still, at a normal gross weight of
17,700 lbs or so for the P-38J/L (about 1,000 lbs less for the H) and 10,200
lbs for the P-51D, the power loading for the P-38J at 30,000 ft. was 6.2
lbs/hp. (For the P-38H it would be a bit less than 6.7 lbs./hp.) For the P-51D
it was 10.6 lbs/hp.  Even at 20,000 ft., where the P-51D was at its performance
peak, power loading for the P-51D was about 7.5 lbs per hp, while the J was
still 6.2 lbs./hp [6.7 for the H] (because the turbocharged power was operating
at sea-level efficiency.)
(P-47D power loading (military)at a gross wt. of about 14,500 lbs was 7.2
lbs./hp at all altitudes up to 30,000 ft.)
This means that at 20,000 ft. the P-38--early or late model--could walk away
from the P-51 and at 25,000 ft. and above, it could run away from it.
Because of this power advantage, the P-38, whatever the model, could easily
outclimb the Merlin P-51, hands down, no contest.  At military power, the P-38J
could beat the P-51 to 10,000 ft. by about 2 minutes and to 30,000 ft. by about
four minutes.  The P-38H figures would be somewhat less but still superior.
In fact, in fun and games stateside, it was not uncommon for a P-38 driver to
challenge a P-51 jockey to a dogfight to begin at brake-release on the runway,
the airplanes side by side.  The Lightning would be wheels up before the
Mustang had left the ground.  It would climb to 20,000 ft., the Mustang puffing
along farther and farther behind, whereupon the P-38 driver would commence a
relentless series of bounces from above, booming and zooming the Mustang until
he got bored, the Mustang driver never having a chance to do little more than
dodge--if he could spot the Lightning coming out of the sun.  The higher up the
fight took place, the greater the advantage to the P-38.
The P-38 could also easily out-accelerate the P-51, thanks to the brute
horsepower it possessed, leaving it behind in a throttle-up contest.  At
mid-altitude mid-speed contests, the P-51 would do best against the P-38.  But
even then, roll and turn rates would be about the same for the two airplanes,
with the Lightning having the advantage in acceleration, climb and initial
dive. At lower or higher speeds, the P-38 could out-do the P-51, using manuever
flap setting at low speeds, and having greater control authority at high
speeds.  Of course, at any time, the P-38 driver could push the contest
into--and through--the accelerated stall, which the P-51 driver dared not do:
the P-51 would depart controlled flight suddenly and violently, while an
accelerated stall in a P-38 was scarcely noticeable--a little mushing and the
nose dropping a bit.

The bottom line is that the P-38 was one hell of a fine airplane.  It was
complex for its day, and required the pilot to spend some time with it before
he was fully qualified to take advantage of its capabilities.  But once he
understood the airplane and how to use it, there was no other fighter in the
air that could match the P-38.

Re range of the P-38 vs the P-51 in the ETO, the VIII Fighter Command's own
figures (available at AFHRA) show the P-38J with two 150-gal. drop tanks having
a range of slightly more than 600 miles, the P-51D with two 75-gal. drop tanks
slightly less than 600 miles.  So both had a range sufficient to carry them
some 100 miles beyond Berlin.  (Based on those fuel consumption levels, the
P-38H would have probably had a range comparable to the P-51D or slightly

Re reliability of the P-51's Packard Merlin engine vs. the turbo Allison in the
P-38, it has been stated in this thread that the P-51 brought a trouble-free
powerplant to the theater, replacing the troublesome engine in the Lightning.
This is not true.  The early Mustangs suffered their own share of troubles,
with many being lost to mechanical problems during the winter and early spring
of 1944.  Biggest problems seem to have been with the cooling system.

If you want to discover why the P-38 was replaced in VIII Fighter Command by
the P-51, you will have to look elsewhere than aircraft performance or

From: CDB100620 <>
Subject: Re: P-51D Escort (Was Re: ME-262 in 1942)
Date: 13 May 1998 22:20:48 -0400

>You put two supercharged Merlins in the Lightning and you have a war winner
>THose Damned Allisons!!

The Allison engines in the P-38 were just fine, and turbosupercharging beats
mechanical supercharging any day.

As a matter of fact, in 1941, Lockheed did an analytical study pitting the
Allison against the Merlin.  This showed that converting to the Merlin would
add 1,000 lbs to the weight of the plane, while reducing rate of climb and
service ceiling.

The only place and time the P-38 encountered serious engine problems was when
flying out England in the fall of 1943.  Brig. Gen. Benjamin Kelsey, who was
chief of the Fighter Project Branch at Wright Field (and the first person to
fly the P-38) and deputy chief of staff of the 9th Fighter Command in England,
then chief of the Operational Engineering Section of the 8th Air Force, looked
into the Allison engine problem in that theater and reported that the problem
lay with the "poor aromatic fuels" available in England at the time.   Once the
cause was known, the problem was corrected, the troubles ended.
Problems with the turbosupercharges encountered in that theater were another
matter.  These were solved with the introduction of the core-type intercooler
on the J models.

From: (CDB100620)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: P-38 why effective in Pacific and not in Europe
Date: 16 May 1998 00:41:31 GMT

>...[T]he P-38 was a difficult plane to fly with some
>handling characteristics that were dangerous,

Other than knowing how to handle an engine-out situation on take-off (the usual
VMC business), the Lockheed offered no trouble.  A complex airplane?  For its
day, yes.  A dangerous airplane?  Not at all.
This P-38 debate is endless, but some things about the P-38 that made it such
an marvelous design haven't been brought up that probably should be:
To achieve high-speed capability, an airplane will  have high wing-loading
(gross weight to wing area) and low power loading (gross weight to horsepower).
 The P-38 had very high wing loading (which provides other benefits, such as
when penetrating weather, etc.), higher than anything other than one-off
record-breaking and racing planes when it was introduced.  And it also had
unusually low power loading; in fact it had the lowest power loading of any US
design (maybe any design) of WWII.  Turbocharging ensured this power loading
would remain constant to very high altitudes.
This meant the airplane would be fast.  But high wing loading would normally
degrade turning, climb and ceiling.  With such high wing-loading, the P-38
should have been a dog in all but top speed.  It wasn't because of two other
 One is its aspect ratio (span to chord ratio; that is, the relationship of the
length of the wing to its width).  Another, related, factor is its span loading
(ratio of airplane weight to wingspan).
In turns or climbs, a plane's drag tends to increase and its speed to decrease.
 A way to counter this is to increase the wingspan.  For any given wing area,
increasing the span decreases the chord, providing a higher aspect ratio.  For
structural and other reasons, most WWII-era fighters had aspect ratios of 6 or
less.  The P-38 had an amazing aspect ratio of 8, meaning that it could gain
the advantage of high wing loading for speed and still not lose in
maneuverability, climb or ceiling.
A large wingspan, however, generally degrades a plane's rate of roll because
the wing surface is so far out from the fuselage and center of gravity.  Making
the wing tips narrower by tapering the plan form does a lot to counter this.
Normal fighter configurations had a taper ratio of about 2 (the wing tip being
only about half as wide as the wing root).  The P-38 had a taper ratio of 3.
So, you had an airplane that was fast yet a good climber, a good turner and
good roller.
But wait--there's more:
Power has to be converted to thrust thru a propeller.  Big powerful engines
need big propellers to handle that power, but the diameter of a prop is limited
by tip speed.  So power has to be absorbed by adding blades or increasing their
width.  But a prop working harder on a given volume of air has inherent
aerodynamic inefficiencies requiring performance compromises.  Bottom line
being that propeller inefficiency limits the value of engine power.
But because the P-38's power was in two "sections" (engines), each with its own
propeller, it was able to use its power as efficiently as a much lower-powered
airplane operating at lower speeds.  And the increased propeller disc area of
the two props ensured that the plane's power and thrust would be maximized
throughout the maneuver range.
This thrust efficiency made for an airplane that leaped into the sky on
take-off and could accelerate in the air like a drag racer.
Pretty neat, huh?
But wait--there's more:
Ordinary fighters of the day had a tail length ratio (number of times the wing
chord goes into the distance from the center of gravity to the tail surfaces)
of between 2 and 2.5.  This ratio might be compared to wheelbase on a car.  A
shorter wheelbase makes for a choppier, less stable ride.  The P-38's tail
length ratio was a whopping 4.  This means it had excellent damping, or the
tendency to slow the rate of departure from a trimmed position.  This made it a
great plane for flying long distances in, with one finger on the wheel, or for
instrument flying, or as a steady gun platform or for dropping bombs.
The large tail length ratio required a smaller than normal tail surface area
because of the increased arm at which the surface worked.  This reduced drag
and made for a truly excellent flying airplane.
Not bad, huh?
But wait--there's more:
The width of the horizontal tail surface was determined by the spacing of the
booms.  The result was a very high aspect ratio for the tail plane.  The
endplate effect of the two vertical fins and rudder surfaces on the end of the
booms produced an aerodynamic apparent aspect ratio that was even higher.  This
had the effect of providing very rapid changes in force with small changes in
the aircraft's angle of attack.  This great sensitivity, combined with superb
damping, meant that less trimming force was necessary for stability and that
there was a wide range of CG position or stability available without
degradation of flying characteristics.
Like, wow, man!
But wait--there's more:
The high aspect ratio of the horizontal tail also produced narrow chord
elevators, which in a turn meant light control forces for maneuver.  Ditto for
the vertical tail surfaces and rudders. Net effect, the pilot could dance the
airplane all over the sky without breaking a sweat, while bellowing out the
latest tunes from "Oklahoma!" to drown out the curses in his headphones of any
other pilot in some lesser machine that he chose to sky-wrassle with.
Because the engines rotated in opposite directions, they produced a symetrical
slip stream flow which eliminated the need the carry rudder displacement, thus
reducing a source of drag.  And there was no change in trim with changes in
speed, which was a pure blessing in maneuver combat, er, dogfight.
Then there is the Fowler flap system which actually increases wing area,
tricycle landing gear, centerline fire guns, plenty of internal fuel, a roomy
The P-38 also had an amazing degree of detail refinement compared to other
planes.  All its external surfaces were smooth with no distrubances from rivets
or lap joints, for example.
One negative was necessarily small ailerons because of the wing taper, meaning
large aileron displacement would be necessary to initiate a roll. That meant
high aileron forces.  That's why the control wheel was used, and why the later
models had aileron boost.  Savvy pilots would blip the inside throttle when
they wanted a smart roll ASAP.  Less savvy pilots did lots of pushups. And
there was the cockpit heating and defrosting thing (by the way, it's just as
cold at 25,000 ft. in the tropics as in Europe), which did get solved about as
soon as it became apparent.  Cooling was never as effectively solved.
But, all in all, a pretty damned good flying machine.
As pilots of the day said, if Jesus came back as an airplane, he would be a

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: P-38 why effective in Pacific and not in Europe
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 13:24:34 GMT

On Sun, 17 May 1998 05:47:01 GMT, polo <> wrote:

>Because of my interest in military aviation, I read and research
>as many aircraft that I can [ which does not make me an authority],
>but if a number of historians each confirm a fact, I am prepared
>to believe them. I am also prepared to be proven wrong.
>I will then add the facts that proved me wrong to my collection
>of information.
>Having said that, I would like to ask you, if you wouldn't mind,
>to give me the identification ISBN number so that I can track it
>down, and buy it.

Here it is: "The Lockheed P-38 Lightning" By Warren M. Bodie.
ISBN 0-9629359-0-5, published by Wideing Publications, distributed
by Motorbooks international. Price? About $40.

If you want another Bodie book of equal value, his monster study of
the P-47 ( really of Seversky and Republic Aviation ) is a must.
"Republic's P-47 Thunderbolt, From Seversky to Victory."
ISBN 0-9629359-1-3, also published by Widewing Books and
distributed by Motorbooks International. The price is also about $40.

>There were many books written shortly after WWII, that do not stand
>up to scrutiny today because of the the release of facts that
>were protected by the ...Secrets Act.

In the case of Jane's Fighting Aircraft of WWII, I think the rush to release
the volume greatly contributed to the errors of fact or data not listed.

>One example of this pertains to Ultra, Enigma and Bletchly.
>After about 20 years the story of Ultra [et al] was revealed
>to the public by a person who had been associated with Bletchly
>but in fact did not have access to the total operation.
>Because of the errors and ommissions the British war department
>asked a historian to write the whole story about ULTRA.
>All wartime [ secret] information was made available to him.
>This was done so that a comprehensive and accurate
>picture could made of the total operation at Bletchley.
>> Factory sources are far more reliable. Save the Jane's for coffee table
>> decoration. The most accurate source for P-38 data is Warren Bodie's
>> "The P-38 Lightning" and our friend CDB, P-40 and P-38 ace of the 49th
>> Fighter Group.
>Why is Bodie's fact list the most accurate??? I would believe that
>he is a historian, and his facts have been confirmed by other
>reputable historians. Do  you suppose that all
>the contributors to Jane's are spinning tales???

Bodie obtained the full endorsement of Kelly Johnson and Ben Kelsey
prior to publication. Both men contributed to the book, Kelsey wrote
the prologue and Johnson, the forward. Bodie was the founder of the Split-S
Society which led to today's P-38 National Association. To most of the
P-38 community, Bodies is looked at as "the keeper of the flame".
Bodie is also a remarkable aviation historian. Bodie had access to
Lockheed's wartime records, likely due to his friendship with Johnson
and Kelsey. A great deal of what Bodie presents, has never been
published before. Why? Because no one has had access to the records
to the extent that Bodie has.

As to Jane's: No they were not spinning tales. They did however, lack
a great deal of information, most of which was indeed available. Their
publishing deadline, undermined the gathering of that information.

>Jane's must have gotten their information from
>the manufacturer, or from people who were closely associated
>with the P-38. Jane's was able to publish photos
>of most of the aircraft, including thr P-38.

The data presented by Jane's could have been found in a WWII
era edition of Popular Mechanics. Just about everyone who was
stationed at an airfield had taken photos of P-38's.

By the way, Border's Books frequently has both of Bodie's books
on the shelf. Bodie has teamed up with Jeffrey Ethell to release
a stunning photo book ( of early Kodachrome photos ) depicting
America's golden age of aviation, as well as WWII. I don't recall
the title, however, I was fortunate that my local library obtained a

C.C. Jordan

"Passion and prejudice govern the world; only
 under the name of reason".
                             John Wesley
Aerodyne Controls: A division of Circle Seal Corporation.

From: CDB100620 <>
Subject: Re: Pilots' Favorite Fighter
Date: 21 May 1998 13:40:50 -0400

> [The P-38] was a "bear" of
>an aircraft to control on one engine.

No.  Using the rudder tab, it could be trimmed to fly quite well on one engine.
 In fact, at normal continuous power setting on the remaining engine, the P-38
had a ceiling of over 26,000 ft., and could cruise at over 250 mph.  You could
even do go arounds in the landing pattern on one engine as long as you didn't
employ full flaps or didn't descend below 500 ft. before initiating the

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: RR vs Packard Merlins (was: The Ultimate piston Engine fighter ?)
Date: 11 Nov 1998 05:44:42 GMT

On Mon, 09 Nov 1998 23:23:48 -0500, Bob Andrew <> wrote:

>"C.C. Jordan" wrote:
>> <snip>
>> >Twice?? I very much doubt it, no matter which model of P-38 you
>> >compare to which model of P-51.  I think climb rates between the two
>> >were generally similar, with the edge going to the P-51 against most
>> >models of the P-38.
>> Obviously Mike was overstating. Nonetheless, ANY model of the P-38,
>> from the F through the L could outclimb the P-51B, C or D. That is not
>> even debatable. The P-51 was at best, a mediocre climber. The L model
>> (the most common variant) held an 800 fpm advantage from sea level, and
>> it only got greater as they went up. That is the result of the
>> turbocharged engines making constant power whereas the Merlin made
>> power in steps, so to speak, due to the two speed, two stage
>> supercharger. The P-38L also accelerated notably better as well.
>I only have book figures:
> P51B-1-NA    --   3.6 min to 10,000ft;  7 min to 20,000ft
> P38F-15-LO   --   4 min to 10,000ft;    8.8 to 20,000ft

There are lots of published figures bouncing about in various books. The
problem with most of these is that there is never a source listed.

The USAAF did a great deal of testing with every variant of the P-38. Most of
the data generated is available through the USAF Historical Research Center.
This requires one to travel there and perform a search. You can usually hire a
student to do your research if you don't mind parting with some green stuff.

The following climb figures appear in various test documents from several
different test facilities.

Time to height:
P-38F from sea level to 10,000 ft at 48 in. Hg. MAP, 2,900 rpm: 3.56 min.
P-38F from brake release to 10,000 ft.: 4 min, 35 sec.
P-38J sea level to 23,800 ft, 60 in. Hg. MAP, 3,000 rpm: 6.19 min., still
maintaining 2,900 fpm at that altitude.
P-38L sea level to 20,000 ft. 60 in. Hg. MAP, 3,000 rpm: 4.91min, still
maintaining 3,450 fpm at that altitude.

>This book also shows P38J climb very similar to P51B climb, no figures
>for P38L climb. If the great superiority in climb of the P38 over the P51
>only occurred at sea level, then perhaps that should have been stated.
>But it is debatable.

No debate at all.... The P-38 was the best climbing USAAF fighter, period.

>> Let's review a few facts.
>> 1) The P-38F was a bit faster than the Bf-109F (406 mph vs 388 mph)
>Well, my book shows 395 mph for the P38F.  Perhaps showing different max
>speeds at different altitudes would be more meaningful here, but I don't
>have enough of these figures either.

The 395 mph figure comes from a test series done at Elgin in 1942. The maximum
manifold  pressure utilized was 44.5 in. Hg. At 48 in. Hg. 406 mph was attained.
The lower MAP was selected for the test to reduce the danger of detonation due
the limited cooling capacity of the intercoolers. In combat, not such low limit
would be adhered to.

>> 2) The P-38, any model, could easily out turn the Bf-109F.
>Easily?  Bt what criteria, at what speed and at what altitude?

Yeah, easily, at any altitude or speed.

>If the Bf109F could take on
>the Spitfire it could surely take on the P-38.

Says who? The P-38F was about 35 mph faster than the Spitfire Mk.Vb
It could disengage from a Spitfire at will. The P-38, with its fowlers deployed
could turn with the Spit initially and flying the classic yo-yo, remain behind.

>Turning is not the only measure of an aircrafts manuverability.
>Roll rate, acceleration, and energy retention are also important.

Roll rate in early models was directly related to pilot skill. Proper use of
differential throttle would induce a remarkable high roll rate (in either
direction) not attainable by aileron alone. Acceleration was always very
good with two airscrews generating thrust. As for energy retention,
the P-38 was a difficult aircraft to slow down. It did not bleed energy
as fast as most of its contempories.

>If the LW had found the 109F lacking against an ungainly twin, they would have
>ordered a completely new fighter design.

There was nothing ungainly about the Lightning. At 250 mph it could turn
with the A6M Zero. At 275 mph, it could turn inside the A6M. Try that with
any Bf-109 variant. One problem faced by the 109 was ill effects of torque.
Torque could limit roll rate in one direction while enhancing it in the other.
The P-38, with its engines and props turning in opposite directions, did not
suffer from the P factor. The 109, on the other hand could induced to snap
spin out of a tight turn. The P-38 could maneuver on the edge of a stall with
good control. Not so the Bf-109.

The Bf-109 was clearly outclassed by the P-38, especially the J and L models.

>> 3) The P-38F could climb as fast as the Bf-109F.
>If the P-38F could not outclimb the P-51, it surely couldn't outclimb the
>109.  I seem to recall the 109F climbed at around 4,000 ft/min at sea
>level, but I can't find the figures now.  What climb figures do you have
>for the P-38 which are so impressive?

Above 25,000 ft, the P-38F climbs better than the 109F. Below that, the 109F
has the edge, with the exception of a zoom climb.

>> 4) The P-38F was better armed.
>> 5) The P-38F had a vastly greater range.
>> Obviously the Bf-109F was not "superior in every way to the P-38F".
>Actually, I said superior in every way except range and firepower.
>> Most of the mission profiles in the MTO kept the P-38's below 15,000 ft.
>> Down there, the Luftwaffe had nothing that could handle the Lightning.
>Except the Bf-109 and the FW-190.

Unsupportable rubbish. P-38's killed Luftwaffe fighters, over their own
airspace at a rate of 4 to 1 in air to air combat. The P-38L achieved
a kill ratio of 6 to 1.This excludes losses not related to aerial combat.

When the P-38L arrived in the ETO and MTO, the Bf-109 was, for all
purposes, obsolete. The Fw-190A series was not far behind. Only the
Fw-190D and Ta-152 series were "state of the art".

>> >
>> >I agree with the earlier post which stated that it took too long for
>> >the P-38 to get up to snuff in the ETO.  The USAAF needed range and
>> >performance when it entered the war, and the P-38 was the best it
>> >could find in a pinch.  It had more than its share of teething pains,
>> >though.
>> The only thing that prevented the P-38 from getting up to snuff in
>> the ETO was the 8th AF command. It was "the" fighter in the MTO
>> and SWPA before being replaced by the cheaper and easier to
>> maintain P-51.
>It was very successful in the SWPA, no question there.
>Cheaper and easier to maintain are important attributes, don't you think?
>> The Mustang held no edge in performance.
>Range and speed are performance elements.

The P-38 was faster than the P-51 above 30,000 ft, and just as fast below
15,000 ft. As far as range goes, the P-38 had a significantly greater range
that the Mustang.

>However, over the Pacific it is understandable that pilots prefered 2
>engines to 1, especially when the P-38s weaknesses at high altitude were
>not a problem in a theater where most of the air combat was at mid and
>low altitude, against significantly slower planes.

P-38s routinely flew above 25,000 ft in the SWPA, and it's just as cold
at that altitude in the south west pacific as it is in the ETO. The
problems encountered in the ETO could be largely laid at the feet of the
8th AF command.

>Most of the P-38s problems were solved with the L model, but reading
>about the teething pains of this aircraft is in itself painful.

Every aircraft suffered problems taht were not corrected until they were
discovered in actual combat service.

>> Ask the
>> guys who flew both in combat. I did.
>I would be more interested in knowing what the guys who flew against both
>in combat say. I've never heard of a German pilot referring to the P-38
>in any particularly reverential way.

You need to read more.

>In 'The First and the Last' Galland refers to a B-17 raid on
>Wilhelmshaven on 27 January, 1943:  'The bombers of the Eighth AAF were
>escorted by P-38 Lightnings.  This was a twin-engine long-distance
>fighter which had similar shortcomings in combat as our ME-110. Our
>fighters were clearly superior to it'.  This from the General whose job
>it was to know such things.

You want an honest opinion, read Steinhoff. You want to read a Luftwaffe
apologist, read Galland's self justifying nonsense. If the P-38 was clearly
inferior, why did they kill four Luftwaffe fighters for each of their own lost
to German fighters? P-38's were rarely encountered in the ETO. I doubt
if Galland ever faced them himself.

>The P-51 and the P-47 were both respected by the LW pilots, especially at
>high altitude. In 'The Final Hours' Steinhoff refers to the P-47 and P-51
>as being superior to the German piston engined fighters.

The P-38 was the hot fighter in the MTO, where it did better than the P-47 and
the P-51. I'm sure there are a lot of dead German pilots who had great respect
for the Lightning.

>Now I'm really digressing, I just wanted to say that the P-38 couldn't
>climb twice as fast as the P-51.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

Now online - Flying Prototypes by Erik Shilling:
The Curtiss YP-37 and the Bell YFM-1.
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
the lack of the former and reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 14 Nov 1998 21:20:07 GMT

On 14 Nov 1998 18:31:03 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:

>A thing that stands out in the P-38 record is the number of bad days that even
>the good groups had. For the Med groups it was Ploesti 10 June 44 (date?). Some
>9AF groups had bad days too. This doesn't seem to be the case with the other
>two fighters,  excepting the first missions of a group.

There are some important considerations to be weighed before any conclusions
are drawn. A great many fighter groups transitioning to the P-51 had already
logged many missions flying the P-47 and the P-38. They were not novices at
aerial combat as were most of the P-38 squadrons when they arrived.

Additionally, P-38's were the prime long range escort in the MTO, meaning that
they encountered far greater numbers of Luftwaffe fighters.

Even some of the very best outfits had bad days. The 56th FG lost 16 aircraft
on September 18th, 1944. An additional 26 were damaged. All were lost to flak
on a low level sweep.

It must be remembered that the bulk of the P-51 squadrons arrived after the
Luftwaffe had been significantly degraded by the P-47 and P-38 squadrons
that were in combat before them.

There is one very good comparison between the P-38 and the P-47 in the SWPA.
The 49th FG entered combat in March of 1942 with three squadrons. The 7th, 8th
and 9th FS. Initially, all three flew the P-40. The 9th squadron was re-equiped
with the P-38F in November/December 1942. The kill rate soared. In December
1943, the tired, worn out P-38's were replaced by P-47D's. Down went the kill
rate. Those pilots who had "cut their teeth" on the P-38 were not at all happy
with the "Jug". Sure, it was faster than the Lightning, rolled better, and it
could be pushed into a dive at high altitude without the terror of the P-38.
Nonetheless, the pilots of the 9th found it to far less forgiving than the big
Lockheed. It couldn't climb nearly as well. And, what about turn rate? The
"Jug" was not nearly as agile. The pilots complained that they missed the
firehose like concentration of guns in the nose. They found that the P-47
required 3 times the ground run to get airborne, not a calming experience
on their short packed earth runways. The pilots complained that the big
Thunderbolt could not fight worth a damn in the vertical. Whereas the P-38
could be hung on her props at speeds as low as 85 mph, and still have
good control in all axis. In general, the P-47 was considered a step back
from the Lightning. Several pilots requested a transfer to the 7th or 8th FS
where they could fly their old faithful P-40's.

Kills broken down by types:

7th FS
P-40 - 114
P-38 -   66

8th FS
P-40 - 152
P-38 -   55

9th FS
P-40 -   39  (1942)
P-38 - 130  (1942-43)
P-47 -     8  (1943) **Only 8 kills in 19 weeks**
P-38 -   77  (1944-45)

Headquarters pilots
P-40 -     8
P-38 -   19
Total    668

Meanwhile, Gen. Kenny, a strong advocate of the P-38, and a commander
who listened to his fighter pilots, requested and received more Lightnings.
In April of 1944, the 9th once again transitioned to Lightnings, this time,
P-38J's. The entire Group eventually got P-38's by September '44. The kill
rate went right up again.

How good was the 49th Fighter Group? Real good, when you consider they
flew mostly P-40's until late 1944. They scored a confirmed 668 kills in air to
air combat. Compare that to the 354th FG of the 9th AF with 701 (suspected
to be about 65 too high) and the 56th FG with 674. The 357th Fg was the only
other to top 600 air to air kills. In addition to the 49th's 668 kills are 105
probables and 61 damaged. Another 336 are believed destroyed on the
ground. However, unlike the ETO, pilots were *not* given credit for aircraft
destroyed on the ground. That gives the 49th a grand total of 1,004 enemy
aircraft destroyed. The 56th FG, with ground kills, has 1,006.

So, who flew for the 49th? No one special unless you consider the following:
Dick Bong  40
Gerry Johnson 22
Bob DeHaven  14 (perhaps 16)
George Preddy (in P-40's before transfer to the ETO) 26
John Landers 10
Joel Paris 9
Arland Stanton  8
Bob Aschenbrener 10
Grover Fanning  9
Wally Jordan  6
Elliott Dent  6
Ernest Harris  10
Fernley Damstrom  7

Any many more.......

Ask the guys from the 49th or the 475th if they thought the P-38
was inferior to the Mustang or Thunderbolt. You already know
their answer.

My best regards,

C.C. Jordan

Now online - Flying Prototypes by Erik Shilling:
The Curtiss YP-37 and the Bell YFM-1.
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (MakinKid)
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 20 Nov 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

I'll throw in my 2 cents in this debate, for what it's worth.

1. In 1942/1943 there was a critical shortage of shipping to handle all the
operations the allies were engaged in.
1a.  Many aircraft, including US fighters were in tight supply.
2.  The US was committed to supporting the British effort in the Med., although
this was largely a waste of crucial resources.
   2a.  Because of the shortage of shipping, fighters needed to support the US
part of the Med war had to be able to fly to that theater.  2b.  While both
P-47s and P-38s were in England, only the P-38 was capable of flying nonstop
from England.  So the P-38s were the airplanes to go.
3.  The 8th Air Force was controlled by strategic bomber advocates who had
spent their careers developing the concepts of long-range heavy bombardment.
They were eager for a chance to prove their concepts, including their belief
that heavily armed unescorted bombers could penetrate enemy airspace with
acceptable losses.
4.  The US Army had picked the P-47 to be its primary fighter plane, and when
doing so had not considered very long range capability to be important.

These four items set the stage for a near-disaster:
1.  Unescorted bombers, no matter how heavily armed, suffered catastrophic
losses.  1a.  A whole generation of general officers who had successfully
career- tracked based on their theories vis-a-vis unescorted strategic bombing
now had the task of explaining to America's mothers--and the politicians they
voted for-- why the War Dept. was having to send out all those "We regret to
inform you...." telegrams thanks to those theories.
2.  The chosen main US fighter in the theater did not have the range to provide
2a.  All those general officers who signed off on that particular fighter now
looked criminally incompetent.
3.  Should anyone care to notice, while unescorted B-17s were being destroyed
by the score over Germany because no fighter was available that could escort
them to and from their targets, in the Med P-38 fighters were flying
thousand-mile fighter sweeps from North Africa to Italy as part of a major
effort in an irrelevant theater of war.

Enter the P-38.
It finally begins bomber escort operations out of England in November 1943.  US
heavy bomber losses to fighters drop dramatically when escorted by the
fighters.  This fact is demonstrated when on some raids the fighters fail to
meet up with their bomber charges.  The unescorted bombers are butchered as
Why is the P-38 effective at cutting bomber losses?
Against unescorted bombers:
1.  The Luftwaffe uses twin engine fighters and even twin engine bombers as
very effective anti-bomber weapons.
2.  The Luftwaffe single engine fighers are equipped with extra guns that
degrade flying performance but increase hitting power.
   2a.  The single engine fighers are able to form up into large formations
ahead of the bombers and execute devastating head-on attacks unmolested.

When the American bombers have fighter escort:
1.  The twin engine German fighters and bombers become extremely vulnerable and
lose much of their usefulness.
2.  The single engine German fighters are no longer able to position themselves
ahead of the bomber formation and arrange themselves for attack unmolested,
losing much of their effectiveness.
  2a.  The additional gun packs the German single engine fighters carry make
them vulnerable to attack by the American escort fighters, limiting their
2b.  Some single-engine fighters have to be stripped of these weapons and
directed to protect the anti-bomber fighters from the American escorts
fighters, reducing the total number of German fighters sent against the
American bombers.

The P-38 proves effective at protecting American bombers.  Is this good?  For
bomber crews, yes.  For certain career military professionals, no.
It's bad enough that they are forced to acknowledge that the theory of
unescorted bombers sucessfully fighting their way to the target is wrong.  But
to admit that they had a fighter available that could have, from the beginning
of European bombing operations, been escorting those bombers and thus helped
prevent those losses--but they shipped it off to an unimportant theatre....
Well, can you spell "senate investigating committee"?

Far better to waffle and say that, yes, the P-38 was, technically, available
when needed, and yes, theoretically, could have been escorting bombers all
through 1943, reducing bomber losses substantially.  But, look at all these
problems it had.  Look how the pilots complained about about it.  In practice,
it really couldn't have done the job, so there is no blame to allocate.  Our
hands are clean.  There was nothing we could have done until the P-51 became
available, and as soon as it was, we used it.  We are innocent of errors of
judgement that killed thousands of our own aircrew.
(Never mind that both the P-47 and P-51 had their own teething problems, some
quite severe. Never mind that many pilots positively loathed the army's chosen
fighter, the P-47, and that RAF types ridiculed it.)

Every statement in this post is based on evidence in published material readily
enough available that, on becoming interested in this thread, I was able to
find it, flip through it and jot down the points noted above, all of which are
supportable by this published material.

I grant that this may not be the truth of the matter.  But knowing that the
military (any military) is first and foremost a vast government bureaucracy
inhabited by great numbers of drones the chief aim of which is to dodge blame
for anything while steadily advancing up the ladder to that golden
prize--retirement at the highest possible rank at the earliest possible
time--it has a ring of truth to it.


From: (MakinKid)
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 20 Nov 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military

Art Kramer wrote:

>As a guy who flew those missions,

You flew unescorted 8th air force B-17 missions in 1943?  You sig doesn't
indicate that.

>You  quote an unnamed source.

No.  I said I was able to find every point I made in published material so
readily available to the general public that I was able to find it quickly and
pick out those points.  I was indicating that these conclusions were not the
result of serious research but merely what appeared evident from a cursory
examination of published material.

Here are some of the sources I used:
Thunderbolt by Warren Bodie
The Lockheed P-38 by ditto
The 56th Fighter Group in WW2 by William Hess
JG26 by Donald Caldwell
Luftwaffe Fighter Aces by Mark Spick
1000 Destroyed by Grover Hall
An Escort of P-38s by John Mullins
Carl Spaatz Master of Air Power by David Mets*
The Luftwaffe War Diaries by Cajus Bekker*
The Fundamentals of Aircraft Combat Survivability Analysis and Design by Robert
Courage and Air Warfare by Mark Wells
America's Pursuit of Precision Bombing by Richard Hallion*
Big Week by Glenn Infield
The Luftwaffe by Williamson Murray*
To Command the Sky by Stephen McFarland and Wesley Newton*
Peter Three Eight by John Stanaway
And on and on....
*Indicates especially pertinent.

>outragous and unfounded charges?

I was merely presenting a theory.  Don't become cranky if you disagree with it.
 Adduce evidence to refute it.  If you're right and I'm wrong, I'll be happy to
acknowledge the fact and count myself a little more educated.

I don't hold a position on the P-38.  But I do find it curious that a
long-range escort fighter _was_available and carrying out combat operations in
the Med at the same time bombers were sent unescorted over Germany.  The first,
disasterous Schweinfurt raid of unescorted 8th air force bombers took place on
Aug 17, 1943.  If memory serves, 55 heavy bombers were shot down.
 On Aug 25, 1943 some 140 P-38s flew a mission of over 1,000 miles from North
Africa to Italy to bomb and straff airfields.  Is it outrageous to speculate
what would have been the affect of those 140 long-range fighter planes had they
been based in England rather than Africa and escorted the B-17s on the August
Schweinfurt raid?  I think not.  I believe it is a legitimate question to ask.
In Sept and Oct 1943 8th air force heavy bomber losses were horrendous.  The
one Sept raid deep into Germany--Stuttgart--lost 45 bombers.  On Oct 8 the 8th
hit Bremen and lost 30 bombers.  On Oct 9 28 bombers were lost on raids to
Danzig. On an Oct 10 raid to
Munster, another 30 were lost.  On Oct 14, the second Schweinfurt raid, 60
bombers were shot down.  As a result of these losses, there was an outcry in
the US press and Gen. H.H. Arnold was put in the public hotseat.
On Nov 3, 1943 P-38s of the 55 fighter group escorted B-17s to Wilhelmshaven.
Only 7 bombers were lost, just THREE to German fighters.  German fighter losses
were so heavy (II./JGS was virtually wiped out) that Gen Galland held a special
meeting with  his fighter corps division commanders on Nov 4 and meetings
continued for the next several days in which it was decided to use the single
engine night fighter force (wild boars) to try to protect the twin engine
fighter force while it attacked the US bombers, among other desperate measures
(sacrificing an effective anti-Bomber Command force to combat the P-38 escorts
of the 8th air force was a serious step, indeed).
On Nov 14 45 P-38s escorted the heavy bombers all the way to Bremen.  Only TWO
bombers were shot down by the German fighters.  On Nov 26 the 8th was back at
Bremen and suffered fairly high losses (25, but only 5 percent of the total
bombers compared to about 20 percent at Schweinfurt when unescorted).  Only
seven were lost to fighters, however.  As a result of actions combating these
three raids the German air force lost 21 percent of its entire fighter force in
the west.  This is astounding and is in a significant part attributable to
operations of the P-38--sortying in in fairly small numbers.  If 45 P-38s could
have such an influence, what would have been the effect of 200?  That figure
could easily have been possible had the P-38s assigned to the Med been instead
assigned to England.  The summer 1943 unescorted 8th air force raids that
suffered so terribly--30 percent crew losses for three months in a row--not to
mention the Sept and Oct disasterous raids--could all have been escorted by the
P-38 groups that were operating quite effectively out of North Africa at the
same time--and winning Presidential Unit Citations.  Had the P-47 been assigned
to North Africa (where a lot of ground attack work was being done anyway) and
the P-38 retained in England for bomber escort work, the evidence suggests that
bomber losses would have been much lower.  To me, the evidence suggests that
somebody screwed the pooch.

What evidence do you have that suggests otherwise?


From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 20 Nov 1998 10:07:02 GMT

On 20 Nov 1998 05:05:59 GMT, ceullers51@aol.comWingCO (Ceullers51) wrote:

>Makin commented--
>> To me, the evidence suggests that
>>somebody screwed the pooch.
>You got that right.  The Big Friends needed some Little Friends but SOMEBODY
>had sent them all on a Club Med "vacation."
>Have a fondness for the P-51 however.  But it just wasn't around in the summer
>of '43.  The P-38 WAS.  Only in the wrong theater.  SNAFU.  What else is new?

In retrospect, isn't it rather stunning that the P-38 was not second sourced
until 1945? The Lightning was in heavy demand everywhere in early 1943.
You would think that one of those factories producing such utterly unwanted
aircraft such as the Vultee Vengence would have been utilized to manufacture
the one fighter everyone needed. Had a second source be established in
mid 1942, there would have been adequate numbers of Lightnings to provide
for all of the long range escort needs by early '43.

Certainly two or three groups of P-38's would have made a huge impact in
reducing heavy bomber losses early in the ETO bombing campaign. When you
study the effectiveness of the P-38 in minimizing bomber losses in the North
African theater and the MTO, it is plainly obvious that the same results could
have been obtained in the ETO. No longer could the Luftwaffe concentrate
its fighters just beyond the P-47's escort radius with impunity. The system that
worked so effectively in 1944/45 could have been in place by the summer of
1943. That is, P-47 and RAF escorts to the German border, with the longer
ranging escorts taking the bombers to the target and the Thunderbolts and
Spitfires picking them up again on the way out. At this point, the P-38's could
have been released to hunt down the Luftwaffe as they shuttled back and forth
to their respective airfields to refuel and rearm. The Luftwaffe could have been
hammered into impotence 9 months sooner.

When one considers that the 5th AF was still flying the P-40 as its primary
fighter as late as July/August 1944, it is obvious that second sourcing the P-38
would have had made a great impact throughout the AAF. So we can safely conclude
that stupidity as per the P-38 was not confined to the 8th AF but went far
higher to at least the War Production Board. Nonetheless, hindsight allows us to
see that the AAF was  clearly negligent in its failure to utilize the P-38 for
long range escort in the ETO in 1943. I believe that the once the 8th AF
received their two groups, they were equally negligent in their training and
usage of the aircraft. The P-38 suffered far more from neglect than from defects
in design.

My best regards,
C.C. Jordan

Now online - The P-38: Was its size and shape a disadvantage?
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII vets.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 20 Nov 1998 18:47:10 GMT

On 20 Nov 1998 12:38:06 -0500, wrote:

> (C.C. Jordan) writes:
>> >You have not only dismissed what Zemke said, but you also seem to
>> >dismiss what German pilots thought of the P-38. Generally, they
>> >didn't think much of the P-38 either when compared to the Mustang
>> >and Thunderbolt.
>> I have little regard for the turthfulness of many of the postwar Luftwaffe
>> apologists. If the P-38 was such an easy kill, perhaps these characters
>> could explain why, in air to air combat, the P-38 pilots shot down 4, yes,
>> I said 4, Luftwaffe fighters for every P-38 lost to German fighters? In the
>> MTO, the ratio was closer to 5 to 1.
>why would the postwar luftwaffe be any less truthful than the postwar
>usaaf? because we won, and they are bitter? i don't think so. i find
>it very difficult to find any unbiased opinions. trying to find the
>"truth" is one of the things that makes this hobby interesting. ;-)

Many of the Luftwaffe survivors, especially some of the major figures,
overstated  their case unabashedly. Moreover, their embarrassment
at being swept aside as they were, by overwhelming air power and
superior technology in manufacturing made many of them very bitter.
The Luftwaffe myth has evolved much like that of Gen. R.E. Lee
and the Confederate States of America. The famous lost cause mentality
that claims that the south lost to the Union because they were out-manned
not out-fought. This effort at justification does nothing but reek of self-
delusion. And so it goes for the Luftwaffe apologists. To this very day,
you can certainly find former Luftwaffe pilots who believe that their
largely obsolete Bf-109's were not inferior to the P-38, P-47, Spitfire and
Mustang. How valuable is the opinion of someone with such a myopic
view of reality?

>i'd be careful when you quote kill ratios. you have no real basis for
>where those numbers originated.

I have a very real basis. The numbers are commonly known.

>are they inflated? most likely yes,
>every air force overclaimed to some extent. even if not, are you sure
>they were against LW fighters? what about bombers, etc., which were
>active in the MTO? what about italian planes in the MTO, a lot of
>which were inferior? what about the number of Bf-110's, or rocket
>carrying Ju-88's, or SE fighters with wing packs? and, most
>importantly, what about the quality of pilots? after march 1944, this
>would be heavily in favor of the allies.

Inflated? No more that Luftwaffe claims, and possibly less so. As to
how many bombers and Italians are included: About 6-8% of the air
to air kills were bombers or non-Luftwaffe, as best as I can determine.

>my point is that kill ratios are not all that meaningful. there are
>much more objective ways to compare the ACM of different
>a/c. energy-maneuverability charts, for example. (for those that don't
>know, they essentiall combine a V-n, veloctity vs g-available, with a
>Ps, excess power, graph. they are very useful to compare different a/c
>in different flight regimes).

I was responding to the statement that Luftwaffe pilots claimed that the
P-38 was an easy kill. That statement is directly in opposition to the loss
ratio. Ultimately,  the effectiveness of an aircraft will be determined by its
contribution to the air war. As per the performance aspects of the P-38,
you will find few who are more aware of this aircraft's performance (short
of an actual P-38 pilot) than me. I have well over 1,000 hours in powerful
radial powered military twins. As a result, I also have more than a passing
understanding of the skills required to extract maximum performance from
such a platform.

>as far as the P-38 goes, i actually believe that the later versions
>(J-25 and higher) were perfectly capable a/c. i don't think that its
>"better" than a mustang, but i think they are close enough that its
>the pilot that matters.

This is precisely the point of those of us defending the Lightning.
In overall capability, I feel the P-38 has an edge. However, that
edge is offset by various quirks and its high maintenance requirements.
The P-38 was a complex aircraft and was a bit more difficult fighter to fly
well. Pilots of average skills benefited being in the P-51. Talented,
naturally skilled aviators could extract the full potential of the P-38.
Performance levels were above that which the Mustang could obtain.
Yet, those pilots were not in the majority. Therefore the P-51 or P-47
was the better choice for them.

>| Kevin Serafini         | Phone: (412) 742-7317 |
>| FORE Systems           | FAX:   (412) 742-7300 |
>| Test Automation Group  |                       |

C.C. Jordan

Now online - The P-38: Was its size and shape a disadvantage?
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII vets.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 22 Nov 1998 12:42:58 GMT

On 22 Nov 1998 10:33:27 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:

>>I have yet to see a single poster in the anti-P-38 side of the debate say
>>anything about the fact that the P-38 had the best weapons package and was
>>best gunnery platform of any of the fighters being debated.
>Yes, but all three were good enough to take on german fighters. and the quality
>of the guns matters not if you never get the sights on the target, because he's
>long gone, downwards ,adn you can't chase him. Zemke agreed the 38 had the best
>gunnery platform.

Just a couple of points, if I may........
Generally, Luftwaffe pilots would stay in the fight until they found a fighter
had gained position on them, Then, sometimes, they would elect to split-s
to escape. The use of a split-s was a standard tactic used successfully
against Spitfires since 1940. If the Spitfire followed he was likely to find
himself below the Bf-109. Why? Because the 109 with his injected engine
had full powered available inverted, and would accelerate better, extend
and then convert its speed into altitude. How does this relate to the P-38?
The P-38 supposedly could not be put into a dive from high altitude because
of its rapid entry into compressibility. That's what most P-38 pilots in the ETO
believed and that is what the Germans assumed or learned from captured
pilots. However, it really wasn't true.

You could dive the Lightning safely if you understood the rules.
The P-38 has a relatively low critical Mach, and it reaches that speed
in an incredibly short time. To avoid getting into the range of speed that
induced compressibility tuck, you could do several things.
1) Pull off the power.
2) Set the props to fine pitch.
3) Maneuver (roll) while beginning the dive and continue until below 20,000

This entire exercise is unnecessary if below 20,000 ft. Here you can follow the
German down without undue drama.

>>Or we have the issue of combat radius performance in which the aircraft was
>>basically unchallenged, even by the Mustang.
>Well, I'm not too sure about that, references vary according to model. I've
>certainly got a USAAF doc which gives the 51D the biggest radius, even against

The P-38L could carry in excess of 530 gallons of avgas per engine. It could
fly about 200 - 300 miles farther than the Mustang. Yet, the maximum range of
either was such that time in the cockpit was excessive and no one would want to
fly 8 to 10 hour combat missions.

>>Or even the ability to limp home on one engine, which none of the single
>>fighters could do.
>They all could, I'm very sure about that. Is that what you meant to write??????

Adrian got ya on that one Carlo ! :-)

I think he meant to say the the P-38 would get you home with one engine

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

Now online - The P-38: Was its size and shape a disadvantage?
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII vets.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: The P-38 record
Date: 23 Nov 1998 00:09:54 GMT

On Sun, 22 Nov 1998 11:07:08 -0500, Bob Andrew <> wrote:

>Carlo Kopp wrote:
>I have yet to see a single poster in the anti-P-38 side of the debate say
>anything about the fact that the P-38 had the best weapons package and
>was the best gunnery platform of any of the fighters being debated.

Most of the folks involved in this discussion would quickly concede these facts.
Also, most are aware that the P-38 found a very productive vocation as a first
rate fighter bomber, even in the ETO. There was no better aircraft for dive
bombing. As a strafing aircraft, the concentration of guns in the nose was
devestating, assuming you could bring them to bear. The P-47, with its expanding
cone of fire was more likely to hit the target, if not do as much damage to it
as the P-38. Against enemy troops, the P-47 tended to be more effective.
Against harder targets, such as trains, the P-38 was more effective.

>'Anti-P38' is a bit strong, most posters are simply disagreeing with the
>contention that the P-38's weak record in the ETO (compared to its record
>in SWPA) was because of official ineptitude rather than the plane's
>weaknesses.  As far as armament, 6 or
>8 .50 cal machine guns was adequate, 4 .50s and 1 20mm in the nose was
>indeed more than adequate.  I don't think the US military was ever
>dissatisfied with the .50 cal wing-mounted configuration, later fighters
>designed to go up against Japanese fighters went back to 4 .50 cal (F8F,
>> <snip>
>> Or even the ability to limp home on one engine, which none of the
>> single engined fighters could do.
>There are probably no stats to answer this question, but I wonder how
>many pilots were killed by the twin-engined configuration.

Quite a few pilots died in P-38 accidents. Indeed, it was a handful when losing
an engine shortly after lift off. Nonetheless, as Milo Burcham and Tony LeVier
proved, proper training could eliminate virtually all of these accidents.

>It is well known that early in its
>deployment the P-38 killed many pilots when an engine failed on take-off
>and control was lost.  More training solved this problem, but even a well
>trained pilot could conceivably spin in if an assymetrical thrust
>situation occurred suddenly at low altitude.  A pilot losing his engine
>in a single-engine fighter at low altitude may have a chance to bail
>safely without having to fight for control first.

The first thing the P-38 pilot must do when losing an engine/prop was to pull
off power to the healthy engine. If very near stall speed, one had to push the
nose over to maintain airspeed while **slowly** adding power to the remaining
engine. Do it any other way and you **will** make a big hole. Do not attempt
to feather the prop until you have enough altitude to make the field in a glide.
Do not lower the landing gear until you are certain to make the field. Lower
the flaps in increments.

>In other words, I wonder if the twin configuration was a life saver for
>some and a killer for others.  Obviously, those pilots who were saved by
>the 2nd Allison would swear by the twin configuration, but those who were
>killed by it never got a chance to give their opinion.  Does anyone have
>stats to compare the loss rates of ground attack units flying the P-38
>with those flying the P-47?  This might be a better way to compare the
>real value of two engines in combat, as actual rather than hypothetical
>survivability is the issue.

I don't have such data, and I suspect that it was likely never to have been
compiled. But, I would offer this theory: I suppose survivability was very close
with these two types. The P-38 with redundant systems and the P-47 with its
remarkably durable R-2800 radial, both could suck up a fair amout of abuse and
still wobble on home. The Mustang certainly suffered more from triple A than the
other two.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

Now online - The P-38: Was its size and shape a disadvantage?
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII vets.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: P38 vs P-51 vs 109 vs 190 (was Re: Lindbergh in...))
Date: 10 Jan 1999 20:44:15 GMT

On 10 Jan 1999 11:43:40 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:

>>There are published figures on sustained roll rate. In this regard the early
>>P-38's were comparible to the single engine fighters of the day.
>True. But the first 180 degrees took 1.5 secs longer than with a Fw190. Pilot
>reports speak of applying aileron and waiting for the roll to come in. At
>speed, neither differential throttle nor rudder make that much difference.
>George C was definite in his insistence that you left the throttles alone,
>possibly because the combo of inconsistent turbo response and prop response
>(curtiss electric) could result in overspeeding.

To quote George:
"Regarding the various comments about throttling back or up a P-38 engine to
increase maneuverability I can only repeat that this was not practiced as far
as I know.  When I was overseas in 44 and 45, flying the J winter thru summer,
the policy was to drop tanks and push up MP to 45 inches when German fighters
were spotted in a position where an engagement was likely.  When you actually
went for them, throttle up to WEP, 60 inches or so, rpm all the way up too, up
past 3000 rpm.  And there it would stay until the engagement was over and you
remembered to throttle back.  You could easily be at WEP for 20 minutes or

As far as he knows....  Several of the 475th and 49th FG veterans wrote about
being instructed by some of the hot pilots about the use of differential
throttle to induce a roll faster than merely cranking in right or left yoke.

You mention the term, " at speed". What speed? Most aerial contests took place
at speeds between 200 and 300 mph IAS. Frequently, even slower. Why was this?
Because WWII fighters did not accelerate like modern jet fighters. High speeds
usually required pushing the nose below the horizon. Because all swirling
dogfights eat up airspeed, the term "at speed" is not applicable. Rudder
effectiveness, while related to speed, was important at 200 mph. Likewise,
the effects of torque were obvious at these airspeeds.

At 200 mph, torque is a significant problem for the Fw-190 or the 109. At the
same time, Torque can be, and was used by P-38 pilots to induce roll at these
speeds. Combining rudder input with throttle settings can induce the P-38
to roll rather smartly. To rely only on aileron input is unrealistic. The proper
coordination of the controls is essential. I suspect that your calculations tend
to ignore multiple control inputs and rely only on ailerons for roll rate. You
are defining a snap roll. Snap rolls do little, other than scrub of valuable
airspeed. Even rolling faster into a turn is of dubious value when the enemy
(in this case, a P-38) while a tad slower rolling, can easily cut across your
best turn and gun you down anyway. Worse, the P-38 can add a little elavator,
pulling into a high yo-yo, snapping out above the German in perfect firing
position. That's the benefit of the P-38's superb low speed, high of attack
handling. No single engine fighter in Luftwaffe service can match this without
snap-stalling out the turn.

I have no idea where you live, however, I suggest you save you dollars, pounds,
or Deutchmarks and buy yourself a ride in dual-control P-51. You can experience
the effects of torque on low speed roll rate for yourself. You can also get a
far better feel for how the controls stiffen at high speed. Roll rate at high
speeds is, of course, less than at low speeds. In some designs, high speeds
nearly freeze the ailerons, the A6M and Ki-43 being two good examples.

>>The overwhelming majority of
>>Luftwaffe fighters were shot down by an unseen enemy.
>Why did unseen p-47s and 51s shoot down so many more LW fighters? Were the
>P-38s seen? Or was there a difference in what constituted 'too late'? ie a P-38
>in your six could be avoided if seen late, but a mustang could not.

Does the fact that there were a hell of a lot more Mustangs and T-Bolts than
Lightnings mean anything to you?

As to being able to avoid the P-38 and not the Msustang....
That depends on several factors. Altitude, model and orders. Below 20,000
the P-38 could follow the Germans on down. If flying a dive flap equipped
J model or an L, diving away is no longer safe. These P-38's can chase
you down into the trees. However, they were under orders to stay with the
bombers. Until Doolittle released the fighters from close escort, the P-38 was
stuck staying close to the bombers.

>>Even if the German saw a P-38 sneaking up on him, so what? What are his
>>options? Roll into a turn? This won't work. The P-38F,G,H makes up for a
>>slower initial roll rate by having a markedly faster initial and sustained
>And slower sustained roll than Fw190, which was one of the best rollers of them
>all. Its turn was not good, with its high wing loading (only exceed by P-38?).
>>If the German rolls into the engine torque, the P-38 will have
>>no trouble matching the initial roll rate.
>At medium speed, the engine torque is 25% (or less) as much as the aileron
>torque.  Roll acceleration is 12 times higher than the 38 one way, 20 times the
>other. Differential torque for the P-38 has less effect than this on roll
>acceleration as one allison (throttled back, but not reduced to zero) has less
>torque than a BMW801, and P-38 ailerons more torque than Fw190's.

Why would the P-38 have a higher roll acceleration in one direction? There is
no torque effect as both the engines and propellers turn in opposite directions.
Explain please.

>>Assuming the German will split-s for the deck, who cares? He's out of
>>the fight for some time, if not altogether. He won't be attacking the
>>heavies, so mission accomplished.
>He'll be back in five minutes. Against the next bomb wing. Or tomorrow. The
>idea of escort is to kill interceptors.(In the 8th AF 1944 context). He doesn't
>need to go to the deck unless the 38 pursues. In which case he (the 38) is out
>of the game too.

No he won't. He'll be 20 miles away and far below the bombers. To try to climb
back up is suicide. Once you bug out for the deck, your day is done.

Quoting George:
" As krauts got to know the 38 they would tend to dive sharply away from it,
convinced it would not follow.  But that was just fine, because the 38's job was
to protect the bombers.  If a gaggle of 109s approached the bombers, escorting
P-38s turned to engage them and the 109s bugged out for the deck, the 38's job
was done.  Those 109s wouldn't have enough gas to climb back up to altitude,
chase the bombers and position for an attack.  And if they did, the 38s would
turn in to them and the process would repeat."


"About the 38 and the 190, the 38 could handle the 190 at any altitude.  All the
190 had going for it was a great split-S.  But that was an escape maneuver.  If
the kraut wants to run away, let him.  The early J could not do a good split-S.
 About all it could manage was a jenny immelman.  But the models with dive
flaps and aileron boost could follow a 190 through a split-S, surprising the
bejesus out of Herr Uberman."

>>By Sept. 1944, the Fifth AF was flying four full groups of P-38's. They were
>>BETTER trained than their ETO counterparts.
>The ETO groups had plenty of time to learn the 38. Didn't some outfits in SWPA
>change straight into 38s from P-40, with no training, and do OK?

Sorry, it didn't happen that way. There was always transitional training.
Another important factor to consider was that there was a wealth of combat
experienced P-38 pilots to learn from in the SWPA. Not so in the ETO.

>>The better fighter, in terms of high
>>altitude was clearly the Me-109.
>109 units used to sit above the 38s, threatening the bounce and paralysing the
>38 groups ability to act.
>The old 1935 dog could operate in formation at 35,000ft.

Once again let George speak to the issue:
"The krauts figured this out pretty soon and knew they had to hit the 38s.  They
would climb very high (109s, the 190s weren't seen at very high altitudes) and
bounce the 38s, who would be cruising at around 220 or so if they hadn't
spotted the krauts.  Most losses were the result of surprise bounces, the
krauts keeping on moving so there was no chance for retaliation.  The 38
formation would be broken up, with guys turning looking for the enemy, leaving
a way open for other German fighters to hit the bombers.
The only solution to the surprise bounce was to open up the escort fighter
formation, have high cover several thousand feet above the bombers and close
escort, and keep your head on a swivel. Of course, simply having MORE escorts
also helped.  (I would wager that was a big problem for the two early 38
groups.  They just didn't have enough people to play both the infield and the
outfield.)  The trick was to spot the Germans as they maneuvered into position
for a bounce.  >>That's where having outstanding eyesight mattered, mattered a
LOT more than dive flaps or a few more horsepower.<<  One man in a squadron with
exceptional eyesight was a real lifesaver.  If a high group of krauts was
spotted, some of the escort would be tapped to go after them.  They didn't have
to shoot them down to succeed.  All they needed to do was break up their party
and force them to dive away."

>>As to the Japanese.... The Ki-84 was at least as good as the Fw-190A and
>>a good match for the Dora as well. The Hayate was as fast, climbed better
>>and could turn rings around any Focke Wulf. It was certainly better than the
>>P-38F. A good pilot in a Ki-84 could give a P-38L all it wanted. Had the
>>Japanese been able to supply higher octane fuel, the Hayate would have
>>been even faster. On 100-130 avgas a Ki-84 reached 426 mph when
>>tested by the USAAF.
>But it did 388 on the fuel they had. And was not effectively piloted. In fact
>the game was all one way before the Ki-84 arrived. Shiden too. I do appreciate
>their qualities.

Some sources quote speeds of 392, 406 and 385 mph respectively. The really
impressive fact is that the Ki-84 was capable of reaching 380+ at 5,000 feet.
That's cookin'. Faster than the P-51D down on the deck. Once down on the deck,
the Mustang could not out-turn, out-run nor out-climb the Hayate. It was
American style teamwork that overcame the Ki-84 down low, not any performance
edge. Much the same for the Shiden, which wile a bit slower than the Ki-84, was
more robust airframe capable of more abuse.

>>. When he does extend, you leave. This can work even if
>>being pursued by a large number of 190's.
>P-38 units in MTO had to use defensive circles against LW fighters. They were
>unable to disengage. Unit tactics for the LW faced with P-38 in s spiral climb
>should be to split. Some follow (losing ground) and some extend, to return with

A high speed spiraling climb is tough to counter with the Fw-190. It doesn't
climb very well, especially above 15,000 feet. Below 15,000 feet, the P-38
can easily out-turn the 190 or the 109. Down here a lone P-38 is plenty
dangerous. A well oiled team of two or more is more than most Luftwaffe
pilots will want to deal with.

Any group of P-38 pilots who assume a defensive circle are obviously very
green and lacking in confidence. Experienced fighter pilots would not even
consider such tactics while flying the faster, better handling aircraft.
>>Which why is some groups were soldiering on with the P-40N as late as mid
>>summer 1944 in the SWPA.
>They were doing OK with P-40 too. Would they have done so in the ETO? Hmmm.

They did well against the Japanese. Largely because of superior tactics. How
would they do against the Luftwaffe? Below 15,000 feet, a well flown P-40N
was a match for the Fw-190A of the Bf-109. It could out-turn either, and rolled
as fast as the 190. In terms of speed, the lower altitude the better for the
P-40N. About 365 mph at 5,000 feet, fast enough to keep up with the Germans.
As seen in the MTO, When protected by a high cover of P-38's, the P-40's
could, and did give the Luftwaffe all they could handle. In the hands of pilot
who knew how to use the P-40, it was formidable. Obviously, it was unsuitable
for high altitude escort work.

>I think that after 1943 the pacific was the USAAF equivalent of the eastern
>front for the Luftwaffe. Think of all those ostfront experts who went home and
>got shot down by the allies.

That was not the case with the USAAF. Pilots going from the SWPA to the ETO
found it less demanding. Pilots coming from the ETO found that they still had a
steep learning curve in the SWPA. The tactics that defeated the Luftwaffe
were less suitable in the Pacific. The tactics developed in the SWPA, speed,
speed, more speed, altitude, altitude and more altitude were effective against
the Germans. Moreover, they finally had an enemy in the Luftwaffe that they
could out-turn in a close-in knife fight.

>Did any USAAF pilots move from pacific to ETO in 44? (not Jim Howard, he didn't
>serve in the easy time against japan).

Howard was with the AVG in 1942.

>On the P-47s tanks, it was possible to fit more tankage, as it was done later.
>This would be far less of a task than re-engineering the 38 for different
>engines. I have no idea why these changes (bigger drop tanks) were left to
>in-theatre initiatives in every case.

The USAAF didn't grasp the fact that the heavies were going to need escorts
until well into 1943.

>>The roll and dive problem were minimal concerns, offset by intelligent
>You say that. Hub Zemke says different.

What exactly did Zemke say? This is what our fiend George says:
"Somebody mentioned the FW 190 being able to outdive the 38 by 60 mph and be
five miles ahead very quickly.  It would depend on the aggressiveness of the 38
pilot and how desirous the 190 jockey was to get away.  In the days when the 38
was introduced into the long range escort role in the ETO, whenever a 38 pilot
was likely to encounter a German he was among a lonely few Yanks and a LONG way
from home.  Plus he had orders to stick close to the bombers. Plus the Germans
he was likely to encounter were still pretty sharp then.  Would YOU have gone
balls to the wall chasing some guy to hell and gone who absolutely positively
has friends of his lurking around that you haven't spotted?
By the time of the 51's heyday (and a fine little airplane it was), there was a
lot more of the guys in white hats around, fewer of the guys in black hats and
they were beginning to lose their edge.
Was the 38 worse than the 51?  No.  Just different.  Did more pilots have
better luck in the ETO with the 51 than the 38?  Seems so.  Why?  Tactics was
one reason.  Freed from the bomber formations to chase the wiley kraut back to
his lair, corner him and finish him off, they were able to rack up more kills.
Another reason was the K14 gunsight.  You could make kills using that sight in
situations where without it firing your guns would be a waste of ammunition.
I grant you that a lot of people preferred the 51 to the 38.  The 51 was a
wonderful airplane, so it is easy to understand why. But then, believe it or
not, there were some people who preferred the P-40 to the 51. I've talked with
people who served in the 325 who were heartbroken to trade their Peter 4-0s for
Jugs.  And there were some who got postively sick on their first mission in the
51 after trading their 47s for them.  The spamcan seemed so insubstantial after
the Jug.  Then there were those who had motored along in whatever they had been
flying, doing OK until one day they got to plant their feet on the rudder
pedals of a Mustang and suddenly they realized that THIS was what they were
born for.  This was their airplane, and they really went to town with it.
Maybe that was the way it was for Bong with the 38 or Johnson with the 47.
Some things are beyond facts and figures."

>>The big problem in the ETO was reliability
>I don't agree. I have criticized the 38 on its record in contact with the
>enemy. I dismiss the cold and engine troubles as things used as an excuse by
>unsuccesful units, or rather as consolation for the fact that other groups did
>far better with other equipment.(I don't mean to criticize the guys who flew
>P-38s, I think they were as good as anyone else. When they got 51s they proved
>it.) The early V-1650 was unreliable too. P-51 units had as many aborts as P38
>untis AFAIK.

there is faster way to kill confidence than to suffer from mechanical failures
combat, hundreds of miles from safety. Remember,  Mustangs did not suffer aborts
from engine failures. They simply crashed. Most mustang aborts were do to
less catastrophic problems.

>>The Merlin would have largely eliminated these problems.
>Not in early 44. It would also have reduced the range, but not made the 38
>faster. Low alt climb would be better, high alt worse. Worst of all it would
>deprive the USAAF of two mustangs per merlin P-38.

Lockheed did its Merlin proposal in 1940. Obviously in plenty of time to
make the big show in 1943. As to costing two Mustangs per P-38...
Didn't you ever hear of increasing production? Building engines is
easy to do. The auto industry could have been producing Merlins
within 90 days.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: P38 vs P-51 vs 109 vs 190 (was Re: Lindbergh in...))
Date: 23 Jan 1999 20:23:32 GMT

On 23 Jan 1999 18:14:54 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:

>>ast, the 38 couldn't turn better than
>>> the fw190.( ref AFDU test of captured 190 vs P-38F).
>>There is a big difference between a P-38H/J and a P-38F Adrian,
>>especially in WEP output and hence power loading and thus sustainable
>>turn performance.
>The P-38F was tested against the captured 190A-3 with de-rated engine. That
>sub-type had been in service for a year when the 38F came out. Later the 190s
>de-rating was removed, and it got MW50 boost. The power loading differences
>aren't so great, and have little effect on sustained turn because none of the
>fighters of the time could sustain much of a turn anyway. A well-flown 190
>wouldn't go near the best sustained speed of a P-38. I've read hundreds of
>accounts of ETO combat. I'm sure you have too. I've seen very few accounts of
>long turning fights or scissoring matches , or yo-yos.  The account of the 38s
>turning over Ploesti in their defensive circle (not a bunch of nuggets, but one
>of the top MTO groups), has the 109s ducking in and out of the circle taking
>snapshots, and the 38s unable to do anything but hang on. You'll find it in
>Price's WW2 fighter combat book.
>>Why is it that
>>instantaneous turn performance was not an issue for the P-38 in the
>>Pacific where the opposition was exceptionally good at rolling/turning
>>manoeuvres and highly inclined to practice aerobatically oriented
>>manoeuvres ?
>See the current Zero/P40 thread. Boom and zoom is the answer. It's easy to
>excel when you have a 80mph speed advantage.  That's what the 38 did not have
>in the ETO. Although it was not much different in max speed compared to 190
>below say 22,000 ft, its dive was inferior. At height the formations were
>paralyzed by higher 109s.

Actually, the P-38 was notably faster than the 190 above 21,500 ft. At these
altitudes, the BMW radial was running out of breath. The Turbo Allisons, OTOH,
were still pumping out maximum power.

As to 109's paralyzing the P-38 Squadrons with greater height: That is far too
strong a word. The pilots who flew those mission would use a different term.
Harrassed, perhaps.

One other point, the P-38 did not have an 80 mph speed advantage over the
Ki-44, Ki-61, Ki-84, Ki-100, N1K1, N1K2, or the J2M. Especially below 20,000 ft.
were most PTO/SWPA/CBI combat took place. Furthermore, all the above listed
could dive with a P-38.

     Typical speeds              Avg. climb rate to alt. at left
Ki-44    378 mph @ 17,500 ft. / Climb: 3,700 fpm.
Ki-61    362 mph @ 16,400 ft. / Climb: 2,380 fpm.
Ki-84    392 mph @ 21,325 ft. / Climb: 3,790 fpm.
Ki-100  366 mph @ 19,700 ft. / Climb: 2,750 fpm
N1K1   363 mph @ 17,700 ft. / Climb: 2,510 fpm.
N1K2   371 mph @ 18,400 ft. / Climb: 2,675 fpm.
J2M3   365 mph @ 17,900 ft. / Climb: 3,570 fpm.

P-38G  345 mph @ 5,000 ft. / 402 mph @ 25,000 ft.(METO) / Climb: 2,885 fpm.avg.
P-38H  352 mph @ 5,000 ft. / 409 mph @ 22,000 ft.(METO) / Climb: 3,070 fpm.avg.
P-38J   360 mph @ 5,000 ft. / 421 mph @ 22,500 ft.(METO) / Climb: 3,585 fpm.avg.
P-38L   365 mph @ 5,000 ft. / 442 mph @ 22,500 ft. (WEP) / Climb: 3,750 fpm.avg.

The point of this chart is to illustrate that the speed advantage of the P-38
over many of the Japanese fighters was far less than 80 mph. Note that several
of the Japanese fighters held an advantage in climb rate up until the Late J
model and the the big L. Every one of the Japanese fighters could match the
P-38 in a dive. The Ki-44, much like the Fw-190 could dive away from the
Lightning above 20,000 ft.

Your 80 mph claim is based upon the Ki-43 and early A6M. These two aircraft do
not accurately reflect the entirety of Japan's fighter forces. If anyone should
desire specific Japanese production numbers, I can post that data as well.

>>There were obviously difficulties with training and tactics (read
>>experience) in the ETO. Blaming it on aircraft handling idiosyncrasies
>>is avoiding the issues.
>Performance, not handling. Dive speed and allowable angles mean a BnZ surprise
>attack was not always easy to achieve. (15 degrees dive angle limitation before
>the brakes).

This is not accurate. The P-38H could be dived vertically if the following were
1) Pull the power off.
2) Props to fine pitch.
3) Maneuver to kill excess speed.
4) Below 15,000, adding power is safe.

In the J-25 of L, simply pop the dive flaps and go get 'em.

>Roll performance meaning the 190s anti-Spitfire tricks worked
>against the 38. The tactics should have been the same as for the P-47. Dive,
>zoom, don't mix it up.
>The groups were unable to make the formula work. Even Zemke had trouble. They
>had plenty of experience by mid-44, but no improvement in kills ( they did
>learn to survive a bit better than at the end of 43.).

Let's let Arthur Heiden address some of these issues. Via e-mail Art writes:

"Aug 43, 8thAF has retrieved some Bomber Gps and has several original
Spitfire/P-47 FGs. Two P-38 FGs, 1-P-51 FG that will not be operational till
late Oct and have to workout tactics and maintenance problems, which all are
severe. Highly inadequate supply of A/C."

"Nov. 43, P-38Hs and P-51Bs beginning ops.Find themselves in a climate
environment none had experienced before and a superior opponent with 10 times
the numbers. Forced to take the bombers to, over and withdraw them. Lucky to
get half of what they had to the target after aborts/early returns. Sometimes
as few as four fighters made it to target under attack continuously going and
coming. Five minutes of METO power was planned into the profile. Meaning that
if you fought over five minuets you wouldn't make it home. Remember, you were
being bounced continuously."

"Feb 11, 44, 357thFG goes on Ops (P-51). 4thFG converts to P-51s. 2-weeks later
and other groups are converting by end of Feb. Now fighter groups don't have
to go the whole to, over, and from target. The escort is now Penetration,
Target, and Withdrawal, each leg is assigned to only one FG. and many
operational problems are being resolved. Internal fuel on P-38s has been
greatly increased with Wing and Leading edge tanks. P-47s are starting to
get external fuel tanks."

"The last half of 43 brought horrendous loses, had forced German manufacturing
underground and had forced Germany to go to synthetic oil. This had increased
the cost of war to increase exponentially to the Germans."

"Feb 44 we went back to Schwienfurt with acceptable loses. March 3rd the 20th &
55thFGs went to Berlin--Bombers were recalled. March,  April, and May brought
vicious battles, often with heavy loses. However, Germany were throwing their
valuable flight instructors and 100hr students in to the battle. The Luftwaffe
was at last starting to die."

"The 8th was, at last, being flooded with Mustangs and well trained pilots. The
Mustang was a delight to fly, easier to maintain cheeper to build and train
pilots for, and had long legs. In those respects you can rightfully call it
better,>>> but it could not do anything better than a P-38J-25 or L.<<<
Just remember who took the war to the enemy and held on under inconceivable
odds. Enough of the crap."

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: P38 vs P-51 vs 109 vs 190 (was Re: Lindbergh in...))
Date: 24 Jan 1999 05:44:52 GMT

On 23 Jan 1999 18:39:59 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:


>>What speed? Most aerial contests took place
>>at speeds between 200 and 300 mph IAS. Frequently, even slower. Why was this?
>It's unlikely that a properly flown 109 or 190 would want to engage at low
>speed. 300 IAS is fast though. It's 450 at 25,000ft, isn't it? That's a dive
>speed only for these guys. Over on the P-40/Zero thread you explained how the
>P-40 is in no danger of losing the fight if he keeps his speed up. Why can't
>our 190 pilot do the same?

I typed IAS by error. I should have written TAS. After one 360 degree turn, one
would be fortunate to being carrying 200 mph TAS into the next maneuver.

The Fw-190 is up against a faster machine. The P-38J-25-LO or the P-38L-5-LO
can out-run, out-climb and out-turn the 190. The old split-s doesn't work very
well against these P-38's either. They can and will follow. The P-38 can beat
the 190 at whatever game the German wants to play. BnZ, stall fighting, either
way the German is in serious danger.

Even the 190's faster roll rate, in a turn or even a split-s, the P-38 will be,
what, 1/2 second behind in a 180 roll? That isn't anything to crow about.
Why? Because, the Lightning accelerates very quickly in a dive. Or if the
190 rolls to some other vector, the P-38, while beginning in a lag pursuit
postion, will quickly pull through to a lead pursuit. About all the 190 driver
can hope to do is roll and pull, roll and pull, hoping that the P-38 pilot loses
sight long enough to allow the 190 to extend away. Note also that all this
rolling and pulling will be downhill. Uphill, the P-38 will eat him alive.

>>t 200 mph, torque is a significant problem for the Fw-190 or the 109.
>If it's equal to aileron torque at 100mph, which it has to be for low speed
>safety, then it's 25% at 200mph. Enough to affect roll rate, sure, but who's
>gonna roll to the right given a choice. and even if they do, they'll be
>inverted before a P-38.

That's assuming he does not snap stall.

>(Single-engine planes have rudders too.)

Yes and they are trimmed to counter torque. Something the P-38 does not
need to do.

>>Even rolling faster into a turn is of dubious value when the enemy
>>(in this case, a P-38) while a tad slower rolling, can easily cut across your
>>best turn
>Get him rolling, then reverse.

But, the smart 38 driver can counter with a tightened chandelle/high yo yo,
coming out on the Fw's six with altitude to covert to speed. This is an
excellent counter to being beat on the reverse. Do it right and you have
maintained the tactical advantage. Do it wrong, and the Fw gets away.

>You know all this perfectly well. What your
>saying is that once a 38 is in your six, in range, with a little overtake, he
>has a shot.  Wouldn't that apply to any fighter? You still have a better shot
>at a break turn against a 38 than any other US fighter.

I decided to ask a P-38 pilot about this comment. His response:

"No way. The 190 was a great roller, but not much better than a 38J-25.
Even flying my J-10, I could hang on to him good enough. Let the Kraut
reverse all he wants. The more reverses, the slower he gets. The slower he
gets, the sooner he gets drilled."

>But you only break long
>enough to lose him. Then you're gone.

The problem is, you won't lose him.

>The way a P-40 might handle a Zero in his six.
>The way the BnZ fighter always has, when bounced.

Here's the problem with you arguement. If you wait until the Zero is close
on your six to break, he just might shoot you down, or at least make some holes
in your P-40. Why? Because a break turn will eat your energy, and the Zeke will
jump all over you unless you pitch over and run. If you make more than one
or two break turns, the Zero will break you down to a stall and kill you dead.

You had better spot him before he gets close enough to fire. That way you can
break into his attack, creating a meeting engagement which will allow you to
extend some to gain airspeed after passing.

Another reason this does not apply is that the P-40 is 30 mph faster than the
A6M2. The Fw is slower than the P-38. Therefore, it has no speed advantage
to exploit.

>>Does the fact that there were a hell of a lot more Mustangs and T-Bolts than
>>Lightnings mean anything to you?
>Two things. One, that they were prefered to Lightning because of better

I have spoken with and read the writings of a fair amount of pilots who flew
both the P-38 and the P-51 in combat in the ETO. Not one of them, not
Heiden, nor Ilfrey, nor Ceuleers, agrees with that statement. Even the guys
who preferred the Mustang will tell you that the P-38, especially the later
variants, gave nothing up to the P-51 in ACM.

>Two, when there were two groups of 38s and two of 51s, the 51s
>out-scored the 38s, on the SAME MISSIONS, by six to one, taking slightly higher
>losses. And as you know, I've quoted kills and losses per sortie. Groups would
>operate in their own area, so the presence of more P-47 groups elsewhere
>wouldn't affect kils/sortie for any one group.

I have posted Art Heiden's answer to this. Only the P-38 flew the entire mission
on most deep penetrations.

>>Until Doolittle released the fighters from close escort, the P-38 was
>>stuck staying close to the bombers.
>Same missions, same rules, mustangs out-scored 38s by six to one. SIX. 6. They
>outscored the 38 in the MTO too, probably by a lesser factor.

By May of '44 the P-38's were detailed to far more pre-invasion ground work
than the Mustangs, who were escort fighters first and foremost.

>>No he won't. He'll be 20 miles away and far below the bombers. To try to
>>climb back up is suicide. Once you bug out for the deck, your day is
>Not so. He's under orders to go to the nearest field , refuel and join a
>scratch group to engage again. Before the close escort rule ended he could
>climb back to the next bomb wing say five miles out parallel to the bomber
>stream and the escort was forbidden to bother him. See your own post.

Much of this depends on where he is in relation to the target and the egress
route. If he is within 100 miles of the target, he will will be hard pressed to
return. Figure on 90 minutes to land, refuel, rearm and climb out to altitude,
at a minimum. All of this assumes he has not suffered any battle damage.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: What is the weakness of Zero?
Date: 26 Jan 1999 00:22:51 GMT

On Mon, 25 Jan 1999 18:57:47 GMT, wrote:

>In article <>,
>  Carlo Kopp <> wrote:
>[...list of other "myths" contradicted by pilots deleted]
>> We have had some prime examples on this NG, which I will cite without
>> naming the guilty parties (regulars will know who the guilty are):
>> 3.Use of differential throttle, power boosted ailerons, and rudder could
>> not accelerate roll entries on the P-38J/L. This despite some very
>> detailed discussion of the handling issues and the performance
>> attributes of the aircraft.
>Wait a minute.	Though I don't question the possibilities of this for
>peacetime aerobatics, I thought we got a very concrete negative answer from
>George Cuellers, who as a wartime pilot of BOTH the P-38 and P-51 could
>hardly be accused of being an "NP".  In
>XT= 917263101.1354760313&hitnum=23> he wrote:

Well Mike, I hadn't planned to bring this up because I was hoping to catch him
in the act.... But it seems that George is gone for good, so I will spill the
beans on ceullers51.

There is no George Ceullers. Never was. The author of those posts was a
fraud. The REAL George Ceuleers (note the spelling difference), former
CO of the 383rd Fighter Squadron, did not write any of those posts. He
can't. George is very ill and in a nursing home in Denver. I spent a great
deal of time conversing with his terrific wife, Eleanor. She assures me that
George has no access to a computer, much less an AOL account. And
even if he did, he is no condition to be writing long posts to a usenet group.

Now, if he were the real George Ceuleers, you would think that he would know
how to spell his own name wouldn't you?

[By the way, the proper way to pronouce the name is Sa-leers. I wasn't sure
till I spoke with Eleanor.]

I found far too many irregularities in his manner, so to speak. His e-mail
account refused mail. The writer displayed far too much detail. I have
interviewed scores of WWII pilots, and most were getting a bit vague on
the details of events 55 years ago, as is to be expected. There were other
oddities, such as his arrival out of nowhere.

If you remember the CDB100620 episode last summer, you will recall that
I (with the help of Tim Savage) exposed CDB as a fraud pretending to be
Elliott Dent. This past fall, a number of the regulars posted requests that
CDB return to enthrall us with his tales. Guess what? They got their wish.

In this instance, I was determined to find out if this guy was the real McCoy.
Although, I must confess to using his material in a debate even though I had
strong doubts about his identity.

His material was so good, that I was strongly tempted to use it in an article
to be posted to my website. However, I decided that once bitten is twice
cautious and set out to locate George Ceuleers. His account is still open
with the Social Security Admin. So, he was at least alive somewhere.
After several hours searching online databases, I finally found an address
and telephone number. The phone number is unlisted, so finding it was a
bit of a challange.

The good news is that Eleanor kindly offered me copies of any of George's
papers and photos. I will except the offer and plan to write a fitting tribute
to George, who by the way will be 80 on May 15th. Wait till you hear about
George's pursuit of an Me-262 half way across Germany. He finally caught it
over Leipzig and shot it down. An epic chase. George was also a founder
of the American Fighter Aces Association.

In conclusion, I would take anything written by ceullers51 as historically based
fiction. You would be wise to do the same.

Oh yeah, my contacts with 5th Air Force 38 drivers say that, yes, the throttles
were used to induce or assist a roll. I am querying my 8th AF contacts for
their recollections as well.

My regards to all,

C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 4 Feb 1999 10:40:32 GMT

On 4 Feb 1999 06:51:17 GMT, (DBSDESIGN) wrote:

>Carlo Kopp <> wrote:
>> DBS you are always strong on rhetoric yet seldom seem to post content,
>> funny that, eh ? You exhibit all of the behaviour which is common with
>> the better known trolls on this NG :-(
>Obviously you didn't read the monthly group loss statistics posted
>recently. Which dismantles your original position about attrition in
>general and the way you "guessed" at the number of long term pilots
>lost by 55th FG. As usual your original declaration has crumbled and
>collapsed again, so you are trying to start a different argument to
>cover it all up. This is becoming the predictable pattern with you.

One important factor that has been overlooked by this debate is the effect
of mechanical failures on the effectiveness of the 20th and 55th FG's.
Additionally, the missions of late 1943 and early 1944 were often flown
with the majority of the aircraft being the P-38H. This is important to
the results. Worse still, was the policy of placing pilots without regard
to their previous training.

After talking to several of the pilots involved in these early missions, some
simple conclusions can be drawn.

1) On the typical mission (deep escort) as many as 60% of the fighters
were forced to turn back due to engine failures and related problems.

2) It is impossible to generate high kill numbers when the Group can only
put as few as 12 fighters over the target.

3) The P-38H had considerably less fuel capacity than the P-38J. The net result
being that these fighters had considerably less reserves for combat. On some
missions, spending more than 5 minutes at METO power meant that you would not
have enough fuel remaining to cross the Channel on the return trip. Thus, the
pilots were forced to fly at reduced power settings or break off combat and
head for home.

4) Replacement pilots. One veteran reports that not one replacement pilot
received by his unit had any twin engine time. All were single engine trained.
Therefore, the learning curve was very steep. New pilots arriving in Britain
and slated for P-47 and P-51 Groups were first assigned to ground school
and spent many hours being instructed in the in's and out's of combat flying.
Those earmarked for P-38 units were simply delivered to their squadron and
any training received was usually limited to a quick checkout. They learned
how to fly the 38 on actual missions. The 8th AF did not provide ANY training
for the P-38 designates, while those destined for single engine fighters went
through an extensive ground school and at least 40 hours of training flights.

Therefore, when you lost your experienced pilots, you went back to square
one. What is even more remarkable is that several hundred pilots coming
from stateside P-38 RTU's, were assigned to P-47 and P-51 squadrons!!
But, they at least got some training in Britain before venturing out to combat.
Whereas those pilots trained on T-Bolts and Mustangs in RTU's were suddenly
thrust into complex multi-engine fighters without much more than the standard
"good luck Mac". So remember, when an experienced P-38 pilot was lost,
they were almost always replaced by a pilot WHO HAD NEVER EVEN SAT
IN A P-38. Arthur Heiden was one of the exceptions. He, at least, went thru
an P-38 RTU prior to being assigned to the 20th FG in Feb. '44. Perhaps that
is why Art survived well over 300 hours in combat in the 38. Add to that another
40 to 50 combat hours in Mustangs.

This illustrates the error of simply citing stats to make a case. Without an
understanding of the circumstances that produced the stats, the wrong
conclusions will, almost always, be arrived at. Moreover, many of the pilots
who flew these aircraft are available to provide the circumstances. Not
to use their knowledge and experience to provide context for the statistics
is the ultimate "blunder".

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 6 Feb 1999 03:17:51 GMT

On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 23:20:35 +0000, "Paul J. Adam" <>

>In article <>, C.C. Jordan
><> writes
>>4) Replacement pilots. One veteran reports that not one replacement pilot
>>received by his unit had any twin engine time. All were single engine trained.
>>Therefore, the learning curve was very steep. New pilots arriving in Britain
>>and slated for P-47 and P-51 Groups were first assigned to ground school
>>and spent many hours being instructed in the in's and out's of combat flying.
>>Those earmarked for P-38 units were simply delivered to their squadron and
>>any training received was usually limited to a quick checkout. They learned
>>how to fly the 38 on actual missions.
>At this point, I swear loudly and profanely; startling my wife, scaring
>the cat and scorching the paint on the walls.
>I've been scanning this thread with interest but without depth, since
>it's being handled by people far more expert than I in the period and
>the aircraft, but this I could not let pass.
>CC, I don't doubt your posting, it's just that what you say is all but
>incredible to me. Probably it's too much hindsight,  but were the 8th
>Air Force really throwing in pilots at the level of Derek Robinson's
>fictional RAF replacements from "Piece of Cake"?
>"How many hours in Hurricanes?"
>"Twelve, sir."
>"Do much gunnery practice?"
>"Well... they said we could learn that at our squadron, sir."

Paul, I spent a great deal of time on the phone and scanning through e-mail
gathering facts from the guys who flew the fighters. By March 1944, the 8th AF
was not very careful about who was assigned to the P-38 Groups. These pilots
had better that 100 hours in fighters, but most had zero time in the 38. The 8th
managed to create a situation which they then tried to rectify by juggling
around Group leadership. The whole episode was badly handled from the
outset. Doolittle decided that the quickest solution was to get rid of the 38's.

Remarkably, the 20th and 55th Groups were barely able to get 5 to 10 hours
in the Mustangs before they went operational. They simply climbed aboard with

I'll let Art Heiden explain;
"P-51 Transition: We got the TO's and especially the Flight 01, tried to
memorize it, sat in the airplane till able to give each other blindfold checks
and cranked up and went flying. We were to get 5hr's flying time before

One can see the lack of emphasis placed on fighter pilot training in the 8th.
Especially when it came to the P-38 Groups.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 7 Feb 1999 02:52:59 GMT

On 6 Feb 1999 16:16:32 GMT, (C.C. Jordan) wrote:

>On 6 Feb 1999 13:13:58 GMT, (Bejewelled) wrote:
>>>However, in late '43 to early '44 the 20th and 55th did not lack for targets.
>>>Their problem was one of too many German figthers. They were so badly
>>>out-numbered that they were totally defensive for most of the mission.
>>I'd like to see the German reaction figures, on what were often over-sea
>>missions to coastal targets.
>>I'd like to compare this out-numbered thing with, say, Battle of Britain,
>>Malta, Java, Bataan, Guadalcanal, JG27 in the desert, whatever you like. When
>>the 354th had aborts in Dec-Jan 44, same missions as the 55th and 20th, they
>>seem to have got a lot of kills. Remember that as late as October 43 they were
>>in the USA flying P-39s.
>Adrian, you never cease to amaze me with your fixation for numbers.
>Never mind that the combat reports and mission debrief records show
>P-38 pilots reporting "at least six large groups of fighters of at least 50
>planes each." You tend to discount comments such as " After they came
>through our formation I didn't see anyone except my wingman until we reached
>the Channel. I did see a hell of a lot of 109's. They were everywhere, dozens
>of them." Or, " I was too busy trying to shake them off of my tail to do much
>else. I did get a few snap shots at a couple but I didn't see any strikes."
>When one pilot was asked by a debriefing officer, "Didn't you pursue the
>Messerschmitts?" He responded with anger: "Listen Major, I had five of 'em
>on my tail. So, the last thing I was thinking about was chasing the other
>Those are but a few of many reports that all indicate that the P-38 Groups
>faced very lopsided odds over Germany during the time span in question.
>Besides, I'm quite sure that the Luftwaffe records will show 200 to 400
>fighters opposing deep penetrations during that same time window.
>As to your comparisons...
>The Battle of Britain: Escorting German fighters were within 100 miles
>of a friendly air field, frequently much less than that. We should also
>remember that the Brits did not have a significant advantage in numbers
>of fighters. What hurt the Luftwaffe was being required to fly close escort.
>The 8th AF would make the same mistake three years later.
>The rest of your selections are not applicable because in each case
>the defending and out-number fighters fought in close proximity to their
>own air fields. The Lightnings were hundreds of miles inside enemy
>air space. That is a major stumbling block to any attempt at making
>comparisons. It does, however, clearly illustrate how statistics can be
>removed from context and mis-applied. Please don't take this as an
>insult Adrian, it's not meant to be one, but.... I honestly don't think you
>have yet developed the tactical perception to correctly apply the numbers
>that you have so far crunched. Don't be surprised that I say this. Most of
>the kind people who inhabit this group have not developed that same
>tactical perception either. That is another advantage of the combat
>pilot, he understands that once in combat, all bets are off, all plans fall
>apart and statistical analysis is of no value. Luck, both good and bad,
>supersedes skill and courage much of the time.

Some additional citations as to the ratio of Luftwaffe fighters to AAF

Bob Johnson:
"I was on three of the early Berlin raids. I was the lead airplane on
March 6. I had only eight airplanes to protect 180 bombers."

Later he spotted fighters heading towards the heavies. At first he thought
that they were P-47's from the 56th. They turned out to be Focke Wulfs.

"We were line abreast, all eight of us and we just opened fire and went right
through some 60 or so 190s and 109s. As we turned to get on their tails, we
saw another 60 or so above and another 60 or so to their left. Probably
175 - 180 German aircraft. Eight of us."

After the fight erupted into a free for all, Johnson comments:

"I didn't have to think about the situation, it was there. I thought only of
survival, and hitting the enemy. If there are crosses, shoot at 'em."

An additional citation about the training given pilots reporting to P-38 Groups:

Max Woolley of the 364th FG says:

"I had about four or five hours of training in England before I went 'active'.
A pilot learned combat by being in combat."

On March 15th, Woolley's squadron ran into what he estimates as 120 German
fighters. The rest of the Group was about 5 miles away when his squadron C.O.
led them into the Germans. Only 12 P-38s taking on ten times as many of the
Luftwaffe. This was Woolley's first combat mission. After surviving by
out-turning several 109s who had worked onto his tail and shredding the
rudder of one 109, Woolley noted that the fight had been "a great lesson."

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 11 Feb 1999 14:31:58 GMT

On Thu, 11 Feb 1999 10:31:26 +0200, Yama <> wrote:

>C.C. Jordan wrote:
>> On Tue, 09 Feb 1999 00:30:26 -0500, Bob Andrew <> wrote:
>> >
>> >The Merlin powered P-51 was faster than the P-38L at all altitudes.
>> This is incorrect. The L was capable of 442 mph in WEP at 22,500 ft.
>> Futhermore, the L was still producing 1,320 hp per engine at 30,000 ft.
>> The Merlin was down to 1,090 hp at this height. The turbos were more
>> efficient than the Merlin's blower.
>All figures I've seen about top speed of P-38J/L are in the range of
>660-680km/h, that is 410-422mph. In what configuration L was
>supposed to break 710km/h (about same than P-51D)? Painted, guns
>loaded, all equipment onboard? How much fuel? Italian and French
>manufacturers, for example, almost always presented performance
>figures which were 5-10% better than in real life, because they used
>'Reno configuration'.

The most commonly printed max speed numbers for the P-38L state
414 mph. How interesting. Consider that the L was fitted with the -30
Allisons, as opposed to the -17 on the J. There is a big difference, and
I'll go into that a little later.

The typical numbers presented for the J are 421 mph IN WEP.
The typical numbers presented for the L are 414 mph IN METO.
This is one of the pitfalls of using commercially available data. It
usually isn't researched very well. The difference between METO and
WEP is 600 hp. The -30 produced a minimum of 1,725 hp in WEP.
As opposed to 1,425 hp in METO.

The -17 installed in the P-38J had the same METO rating as the -30
at 1,425 hp. However, the -17 only made 1,600 hp in WEP. The
additional power could push the L to speeds over 440 mph. Warren
Bodie concludes the maximum speed in WEP as 443 mph at altitudes
between 20,000 and 23,500 ft. Bodie obtained his data directly from
Lockheed, where he was employed as an engineer on the U-2 and
F-117 programs. Therefore, I tend to except Bodie as a more credible
source than Green and Swanborough et al.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 12 Feb 1999 03:28:49 GMT

On Fri, 12 Feb 1999 02:07:08 GMT, wrote:

>In article <>,
> (C.C. Jordan) wrote:
>> The most commonly printed max speed numbers for the P-38L state
>> 414 mph. How interesting. Consider that the L was fitted with the -30
>> Allisons, as opposed to the -17 on the J. There is a big difference, and
>> I'll go into that a little later.
>> The typical numbers presented for the J are 421 mph IN WEP.
>Which J, with or without leading edge tanks?  This looks like a -15 with them.
>> The typical numbers presented for the L are 414 mph IN METO.
>> This is one of the pitfalls of using commercially available data. It
>> usually isn't researched very well. The difference between METO and
>> WEP is 600 hp. The -30 produced a minimum of 1,725 hp in WEP.
>> As opposed to 1,425 hp in METO.
>> The -17 installed in the P-38J had the same METO rating as the -30
>> at 1,425 hp. However, the -17 only made 1,600 hp in WEP. The
>> additional power could push the L to speeds over 440 mph. Warren
>> Bodie concludes the maximum speed in WEP as 443 mph at altitudes
>> between 20,000 and 23,500 ft. Bodie obtained his data directly from
>> Lockheed, where he was employed as an engineer on the U-2 and
>> F-117 programs. Therefore, I tend to except Bodie as a more credible
>> source than Green and Swanborough et al.
>C.C., a couple of points.  First, in addition to being heavier (so more
>induced drag), IIRC the L had the APS-13 tail warning radar, which had an
>external antenna.  This had to add a parasitic drag component, and at the
>speeds in question it may have been significant (I don't know).  Second,
>judging by an anecdote recounted in the Osprey book on the F-101, Lockheed
>seems to have had a bit of a reputation among other manufacturers for
>overstating their performance data.  Whether this is true in this particular
>case, I don't know, but until we get official air force performance numbers
>at WEP, I'd hold off judgement.

The WEP numbers for the P-38J ARE USAAF numbers. From the Experimental
Engineering Division, Fighter Branch. 421.5 mph@25,800 ft. The aircraft was
a J-10 # 42-67869. Takeoff weight was 15,597 lbs with ammo ballast.

As to drag, I doubt that APS-13 antenna made any more drag than a couple of
static wicks or a single unsnapped Dzus fastener.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: U.S. 55th Fighter Group (was: something else)
Date: 12 Feb 1999 03:54:38 GMT

On Thu, 11 Feb 1999 17:35:16 -0500, Bob Andrew <> wrote:

>"C.C. Jordan" wrote:
>> <snip>
>> The typical numbers presented for the J are 421 mph IN WEP.
>> The typical numbers presented for the L are 414 mph IN METO.
>> This is one of the pitfalls of using commercially available data. It
>> usually isn't researched very well. The difference between METO and
>> WEP is 600 hp. The -30 produced a minimum of 1,725 hp in WEP.
>> The -17 installed in the P-38J had the same METO rating as the -30
>> at 1,425 hp. However, the -17 only made 1,600 hp in WEP. The
>> additional power could push the L to speeds over 440 mph. Warren
>> Bodie concludes the maximum speed in WEP as 443 mph at altitudes
>> between 20,000 and 23,500 ft. Bodie obtained his data directly from
>> Lockheed, where he was employed as an engineer on the U-2 and
>> F-117 programs. Therefore, I tend to except Bodie as a more credible
>> source than Green and Swanborough et al.
>If Lockheed was testing its own aircraft, I would call this commercially
>available data  :)

It should be obvious that Lockheed would do exhaustive testing on their
own aircraft. Lockheed's internal test reports were not released publically.
Nor were Allison's.

>Without knowing how this plane was loaded or configured (ammo, bombracks,
>fuel load), or how its engines were tuned and prepped for the test, I
>would stick with the figures which at least claim to be measured 'under
>typical combat loads'.

The testing in question is always performed at combat weight with ballast
added for ammmunition. In other words, full load, clean configuration.

>I'm sure Lockheed could get a P-38L to hit 443 mph, but I wonder how fast North
>American could get a P-51D to go?  :)

443 in WEP.... That means you have about 5 minutes of maximum horsepower.
The above speed is not sustainable. Nor, for that matter is METO sustainable.
Why? Overheating. Even for the Mustang, METO was not sustainable for long

>Also, the published WEP hp for the -30 is 1600, where does 1725 come from?
>The difference represents 9% of a power setting which is already supposed to
>be extremely high.

There's that word again: "Published". Published by who?

Allison spent a great deal of time and money on the "dash thirty" program.
They produced volumes of dynometer data for Lockheed and the AAF.
Lockheed did their own testing and confirmed the Allison numbers. Hence,
the installation of the -30 in the L model.

The following are the CORRECT stats for the Allison V-1710F-30.
Write 'em down somewhere....

Ratings [minutes]          Power    RPM  Manifold [in.Hg]  Altitude [ft]
Normal (no limit)          1,100    2,600        44                 30,000
Take Off (5)               1,475    3,000        54                    SL
Military (15)              1,475    3,000        54                 30,000
WEP (5)                    1,725    3,000        60                 28,700

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII online magazine
A member of the WWII Web-ring.
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

"In reality, there exists only fact and fiction. Opinions result from
a lack of the former and a reliance on the latter."

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Subject: Re: P-51/Merlin
Date: 7 Jul 1999 00:11:54 -0400

On Wed, 07 Jul 1999 18:38:32 GMT, (Gavin Bailey)

>On 6 Jul 1999 03:56:46 GMT, (C.C. Jordan)

>>I think you are confusing the Lockheed model 322 program with a Merlin
>>powered P-38. The 322 was ordered by Britain. Unfortunately, they insisted
>>on deleting the turbochargers and wanted the engines to rotate in the
>>same direction. Both requests were remarkably short sighted and in simple
>>terms, stupid.

>Why?  The turbochargers had numerous problems when deployed in USAAF
>P-38's later in the war, and the Mosquito and Lancaster and almost
>every other British aircraft apart from the Hornet managed fine with
>single-rotational engines.

Gavin, the turbochargers were remarkably reliable. Even in the cold of
30,000 feet of Germany the turbos were seldom a problem. There were some
problrms with frozen turbo regulators, but they were not excessive. The
big problem was the Allison engines coming apart due to burned pistons and
valves. This was rectified by reformulated higher octain fuel and a
redesign of the intake plenum.

The main reason for right and left "handed" engines was to eliminate
torque.  You could change power settings in the P-38 and not have to
retrim the airplane.  The P-38 did not require generous amounts of rudder
when advanciing the throttles on takeoff. To quote one notorious P-38
pilot: "Because the engines rotated in opposite directions, they produced
a symmetrical slip stream flow which eliminated the need the carry rudder
displacement, thus reducing a source of drag.  And there was no change in
trim with changes in speed, which was a pure blessing in maneuver combat."

Lanc's and Mossies were not dogfighters. Sorry Mossie fans, it was a great
aircraft, but it could not hold a candle to a Lightning as a fighter.

>The later versions of the P-38 were very potent aircraft, but that
>doesn't detract from the fact that the earlier versions were somewhat
>less successful (although still good operational aircraft).

All combat versions of the P-38 were potent aircraft. The P-38F beat the
hell out of the Luftwaffe in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. The G was
better than the F. The H was better than the G. The J was better than the
H and the L was the best of the lot, fully equal to anything flying
(piston engine) in the ETO. However, the P-38F was still a match for the
FW-190A and better than the Me-109F or G.

The P-38 was the most successful fighter in the Pacific war. In the Med,
it had no equal until the the P-51D arrived. And the Mustang's only edge
was in speed between 22,000 and 27,000 feet. The P-38 was a better
dogfighter and climbed at a rate 20% better than the P-51D. The P-38 had a
greater range than the Mustang too.

Early war P-38 ops proved beyond any doubt that it was a first rate

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII Internet Magazine
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Subject: Re: P-51/Merlin
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 01:22:53 GMT

On 18 Jul 1999 12:06:44 -0400, (Gavin Bailey) wrote:

>On Thu, 15 Jul 1999 19:00:40 GMT, (DBSDESIGN) wrote:
>>Anyway, the Spitfire pilot was supposed to land after the
>>engagement to lecture on the excellence of his ship except
>>that he never landed. He returned to his base and was never
>>heard from again.
>Interesting, if true.  However, most sources give the Spitfire XIV a
>better performance than this account would give credit for - e.g. the
>rate of climb for the P-38L and Spit XIV were similar.  In fact the
>earlier, single-stage supercharge Griffon II-powered Spitfire XII had
>comparable (in fact slightly better) performance figures at low and
>mid-altitudes than the P-38L (372mph @ 5,700ft and 397mph @ 18,000ft).

The basic performance figures for the P-38L are as follows (from Lockheed
factory test logbooks):

Max speed at sea level: 352 mph
Max speed at 5,500 ft : 369 mph
Max speed at 23,500 ft. 440 mph (WEP) 5 minutes max.
Max speed at critical alt: 444 mph @ 25,800 (WEP) 5 minutes max.

>It might be worth restarting the relevant performance figures of the
>Spitfire XIV with the improved Griffon 65 at this point - climb to
>20,000ft in just over 5 mins, 40,000ft in 15 minutes and a maximum
>speed of 447mph @ 25,600ft (approx 370mph @ 2,000ft) and a service
>ceiling of 44,500ft.

The P-38L, continued

Max climb rate at sea level: 4,225 fpm (50% fuel, normal ammo)
Max climb rate at 23,400 ft: 3,940 fpm
Time to 23,400 ft: 5.94 minutes
Time to 30,000 ft: 8.86 minutes
Service Ceiling: 44,000 ft.

Add to this the ability to carry up to 4,000 lbs of underwing ordnance
and an absolute maximum range of just over 3,000 miles, and one can
see that the P-38 is a superb fighter. By the way, the bomb max bomb
load and max range are, naturally, mutually exclusionary.

>So far as I am aware, all of these figures exceed the performance of
>the P-38L Lightning, although I would say that both aircraft were
>broadly in the same category in terms of performance.  Too much
>attention tends to be paid to paper performance figures in this kind
>of debate, but then these debates are usually fuelled by
>(understandably) individual subjective prejudice more than anything

As you can see, the Spitfire Mk.XIV is in a virtual dead heat with the P-38L.
One of the major misconceptions to evolve since the war was that the P-38
was generally inferior to the other major American and British fighters. This
unfounded belief is difficult to overcome because of 54 years of status quo
aviation and history writing.

Great fighters have certain characteristics that if exploited, can be
overpowering to an enemy. Bob Johnson showed that the P-47D could
easily over-match the Spitfire IX if one avoided a turning engagement and
used the superior roll rate, dive acceleration, speed and zoom ability
of the Thunderbolt.

Remember this rule, it is the gospel (prior to missiles):
"The faster fighter determines the rules of engagement."

In the case of a P-38L vs a Spitfire Mk.XIV, the fighter carrying the
greater speed into the fight will likely win, pilot skill being equal.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII Internet Magazine
Honor and remember the WWII veterans.

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Subject: Re: Mosquito vs Fortress (again) (was: Lancaster)
Date: 25 Feb 2000 08:39:34 -0500

On 24 Feb 2000 00:16:01 -0500, Harri Pihl <> wrote:

>"C.C. Jordan" kirjoitti:
>> When we look at a resin impregnated, molded plywood such as that
>> used in the Mosquito, we will see that the material's modulus of rigidity
>> and modulus of elasticity is substantially below that of the commonly used
>> aluminum alloys of the time. Moreover, the yield strength of the plywood
>> is much lower as well.
>Well, this is partially true but Mosquito was made from plywood and
>balsa composite. This stuff was much thicker (20-30mm) than conventional
>moulded plywood (3-10mm) but still lighter. And overall molded plywood
>is very rigid if stress can be divided to large area, this is why
>plywood molded fuselages were generally pretty light and strong.

Yes, molded plywood can be quite rigid, but as I said above, the yield
strength is relatively low. Under localized stress, the plywood will fail
before alloy.

>Infact my opinion is that Mosquitos fuselage was probaly lightest possible and
>light alloy construction could not have been any lighter. BTW De
>Haviland used this sanwich system even in their jets (Vampires front
>fuselage) despite there was no shortage of light alloys.

Again, this is a given. lightly stressed areas of the airframe can be
constructed of wood. However, the problem with the material is its
inability to handle high stress. The Mosquito was not certified for the
g loads commonly experienced in fighters. IIRC, the Mossy was stressed
for 6.5 g momentary, and only 5 g's sustained. That is a direct reflection
on its construction material.

>But in wing construction situation is different;

Indeed it is. The tail surfaces are another area where high stresses
are encountered. Again, that is why the Mosquito was g limited.

>> Let's look at a comparible aircraft, in terms of size. An Me 110 has similar
>> dimensions and wing area. Yet, the 110 weighs considerably less empty
>> than the Mosquito, empty.
>This kind of comparision is plain bogus. Mosquito is faster, it has
>longer range, normally it carries heavier bomb load and so on...

How is this bogus? Speed has nothing to do with the issue. Neither
does range. Bomb load?

>Why don't you compare the P-38J and the Mosquito? P-38J was smaller and it
>had higher empty weight than Mosquito (6400kg vs. 6000kg).

You have overlooked several important factors.
1) The P-38s gun suite weighed 621 lbs. A normal ammo load weighed
in at 712 lbs., not counting the links. So, you already have 1,333 lbs.
Remove another 245 lbs of armor and the P-38 is now actually lighter than
the Mosquito. You need also understand that the P-38J was stressed for
7.5 g continuous. Therefore, it is constructed for far higher stresses than
the Mossy. Comparing the P-38J to the Mosquito is a true apples
and oranges equation. Actually, the Me 110 is a better choice because
of the closer match in size and designed stress considerations.

>Overall the Mosquito was pretty light aircraft and very good evidence
>which proves that wooden aircraft can be light and strong if right
>construction techniques are used.

More importantly, the Mosquito was designed as a bomber, not a fighter.
It was not designed for the extreme g levels of high speed aerial combat.

> Another good example is lightened LaGG-3 from 1943.
>Well Mr. Jordan, seems that you have learn something about aircraft

I can always learn something. However, I was trained in aircraft maintenance
and repair in the military. I have participated in the building of three
home-built composite construction aircraft. 24 years ago, I was part of a design
team that developed a successful Formula car chassis (aluminum monocoque
tub). I am not ignorant of the subject of aircraft construction.

>last summer you wrote something about benefits of the high
>wing loading ;)

Stable gun platform, superior weather penetration, stable bombing platform, etc.

Two can play this silly game......

I seem to recall that you argued that the P-38, with dive flaps deployed was
still all but out of control. You argued despite my having Tony LeVier and Jimmy
Mattern's test reports right in front of me. Mattern said that the P-38 was "as
docile as a kitten when the dive flaps were out." Corwin "Corky" Meyer agrees.

You wrote:
"In this thread I have seen parts of Le Viers test report and I agree
that with dive brakes P-38 could dive better than without them. But
Le Viers test report is also very clear prove that diving qualities
of the P-38L were still far from acceptable; plane was hardly under

Get a copy of the WWII Fighter issue of Flight Journal magazine and
read Meyer's test report on the P-38 with dive flaps. Corky was Grumman's
chief test pilot (after Bob Hall).

My regards,
C.C. Jordan - The Planes and Pilots of WWII Internet Magazine - Cradle of Aviation Museum

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Subject: Re: P-38 with Merlin Engines
Date: 17 Aug 1998 04:05:37 GMT

On 16 Aug 1998 20:25:09 GMT, "Edward L. Prichard" <> wrote:

>OK. so Warren Bodie's book on the P-38 "Lightning" was right:  General
>Motors' political influence kept the P-38 from having the wretched Allison
>engines replaced by the Merlins.  Is this new news?  Politics and money do
>not care about death. But Bodie has a tantalizing look at the Lockheed test
>of a Merlin 60 powered Lightning.

Bodie describes a Merlin powered P-38. However, no sample was ever built.
Re-read what Bodie has written. Lockheed went as far as designing an
installation package in the hope that the Brits would want to try the
conversion. They didn't and neither did the U.S. War Production Board. All
numbers cited by Bodie are PROJECTED performance figures, not actual test data.

>Think about that:  Not a crappy Allison
>V-1710 with its inability to handle high-altitude temperatures, forcing many
>P-38's to return home before their escort mission  with 8th. AF.
>But--without the turbo-superchargers, and the attendant plumbing, (and
>weight) and huge frontal area for air-to air intercooling....???

Crappy Allison??!! Hardly.
First off, let's look at the facts before we start making unsupportable claims.
1) When used in the Pacific and MTO, the Allison engine proved to be at
least as reliable as the Merlin 61 used in the P-51B, C, D, and K.

2) It is just as cold at 30,000 feet over Leyte as it is at 30,000 feet over
Germany in the dead of winter. So why weren't they having problems
at altitude anywhere but the ETO?. Two big reasons. Low grade fuel.
Turbocharged engines cannot survive long on 87 octane dishwater. Once
the problem was traced to poor fuel, detonation failures were non-existent.
The second problem was turbocharger/oilcooler related. It seems that the
turbos require consistant oiling or the bearings fail very quickly. Earlier
model Lighnings were mostly afflicted with this type of failure. I spoke to
a crewchief of a P-38 about a year ago. He claims that up to half of the
turbo failures were due to pilots flying at cruise setting with the cooler doors
wide open. The oil temperature would drop below recommended levels
and the viscosity would rise significantly. Worse, the pilots normally cruised
at very low MAP and relatively high RPM. This would reduce cylinder head
temps to the operational minimum. The combination of the two would almost
always lead to turbo failure. Had the pilots used high MAP / low RPM cruise
settings, cylinder head temps would have remained in the center of the gauge
and would have kept much more heat in the engine, and by extension, the oil.
Add to this the relative crudeness of 1940's turbocharger technology.
Turbocharger overspeeding was one problem that would occur. Spin too fast,
and it will eventually come apart.

As to the reduction of frontal area. Yes, a Merlin installation would be
cleaner. It would likely resemble the export model Lightning I that the Brits
ordered without the turbos. The so called' "castrated Lightnings". Except, the
thrustline was higher on the Merlin and would have required a slightly taller
nacelle. Please take note that the Merlin originally considered for the
conversion was the Merlin XX. This is the same engine that powered the
Hurricane Mk.II series. This engine was not a stellar performer above
25,000 feet. Using the Merlin 61 would have been far better. However,
this engine was not available in 1941 when Lockheed looked at the concept.

>What I want to know is this:  where is the test report of the P-38 test with
>Merlins on board?

As stated, no test report exists because the plane was never built.

>That would mean no air-to air intercolers, but air to
>liquid and the smoothing of the P-38 forward nacelles--increasing the
>critical Mach number.

The critical Mach of the P-38 was not related to the intercooler installation.
The cleaner Brit export model had the same critical Mach as any other
variant. What limited the critical Mach was the airfoil design. This is why
the P-38 would get into compressability trouble so quickly. The dive flap
installation on later "J" models and all "L" models prevented the airflow
across the underside of the wing from reaching supersonic. This allowed
the P-38 to dive at high speed and retain control. It did not, however,
significantly raise the critical Mach. It only allowed some control within
that regime.

> And the Merlin never had a problem with high altitude!

The Merlin XX sure did ! By late 1943, all of the problems had been worked
out of the V-1710. With the introduction of the P-38L, there was no reason
to consider the Merlin. Not even the Merlin 61. Why? Because the Allison
V-1710F-30 engine handily out-performed the Merlin 61 in the Mustang
at all altitudes, and especially above 25,000 feet. The late model Allison
engines were superb. Remember, they were selected (supercharged version)
for the P-82 twin Mustang. The P-38L was making up to 1,725 hp per engine
in WEP, and at 30,000 ft, was still making 1,390 hp in Military power. Whereas,
the P-51's Merlin V-1650 was down from 1,520 hp to about 1,030 hp. At these
heights, the P-38L would simply walk away from the Mustang. We must not
forget the Allison powered P-38L could out-climb the P-51D by a factor of 30%,
at any altitude. Few aircraft, from any nation, could out-perform the P-38 above
30,000 feet. The P-47M was faster. So was the Ta-152H. But neither of these
could survive a turning fight with the P-38L, again, at any altitude.

>(If only General Bullmoose would have allowed it: "What is good
>for General Motors is good for the country."  And thank you Al Capp.)
>Did General Motors sacrifice American aviators to sell engines--and junk
>engines at that--to maintain market positions?  No one but a nazi-communist
>would think that!  Meanwhile, does anyone know where I can get a copy of the
>Lockheed report on the flight tests of the Merlin-powered P-38?

Nowhere. None exists. Sorry.

However, if you really want to get you hackels up, read about the P-38K and
why the War Production Board killed it. The P-38K would have been the best
fighter available to the USAAF during the war, had it been built beyond two
prototypes. To read about this fighter, visit the "Planes and Pilots of WWII"
website at the address in my sigfile. Click on "Whatever happened to the P-38K"
on the main index page. The reluctance of the War Production Board to work
with Lockheed will make you heartsick. And could anyone hope to explain why
a second source / manufacturer for the Lightning was not in place until 1945?
Had not millions of dollars and countless manhours been wasted on useless
underachieving junkers like the Fisher XP-75, Lockheed could have built the
superlative P-38K.

You are correct, GM had / has too much clout with the Fed's procurement people.
Just think how many "real" fighters could have been made with these wasted
resources. GM should have limited itself to proven Naval aircraft, instead of
wasting taxpayers time and money on the Edsel of WWII fighters.

My best regards,

C.C. Jordan

Now online - Hawker's "storm" fighters at:
The "Planes and Pilots of WWII" website.
An online WWII aviation history magazine.
Where veterans can publish their memories
on their own webpage.Veterans are encouraged
to submit articles, stories and essays by
e-mail. Write me for details, or click on
the "Submission guidelines" link on the index
page of the website. A member of the WWII

From: (C.C. Jordan)
Subject: Re: 15 planes of ww2
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 16:28:25 GMT

On Wed, 24 Nov 1999 08:45:21 GMT, R SVEINSON <> wrote:

>Louis Capdeboscq wrote:
>> Besides, my point is that the Americans would eventually have developped a
>> long-range fighter (and the P-38 could have gained air superiority over
>> Germany if the United States had had to produce it instead of the P-51
>> P-47).
>	In his book"The First and the Last" Adolf Galland, who fought
>them said that the P-38 was no better than the ME-110
>so called fighter.
>	If P-38s with better performance had been built they may
>have had a better chance.

We have had some exhausting debates on the merits of the P-38; both
here and over at rec.military.aviation. Much of the effort in these debates
has been to overcome the post war myth that the P-51 was best fighter
to emerge from WWII. Let's establish a few undisputed facts. Undisputed
by those who have done the research. Frequently disputed by those who have
not. I'll provide ten reasons why Galland's comments should be dismissed
as mere piss and wind.

1) Adolf Galland has never been accused of being the standard of objective
writing, or public speaking. A fine pilot and tactician, Galland frequent wrote
and spoke about things, of which, he had minimal firsthand knowledge and
understanding. About 15 years ago he got into a discussion with several
former P-38 pilots about his comments in the First and the Last. Pressed,
he admitted that his comments were not so much his own, but those of
some of his pilots. He also admitted that a well flown P-38 was a very
dangerous foe. One of the P-38 pilots involved in this discussion is still alive
today and a personal friend.

2) Any P-38 pilot was eager to encounter an Me 110. They were very easy
kills for the Lightning.

3) From the P-38J-25-LO on, the Lightning was likely the finest fighter package
flying in 1944. It offered versatility unmatched by any other fighter in any
theater, flown by any nation. There was virtually no mission beyond its means.

4) In terms of range, a properly flown P-38J or L (this means using the correct
power and propeller settings) out-ranged the P-51D by as much as 200 miles.

5) The Japanese considered the P-38 to be a far greater adversary than the
P-47 of the P-51.

6) The TRUE maximum speed of a P-38L was not the much published 414 mph.
This reflects Military Power, not War Emergency Power. In WEP, a clean P-38L
could exceed 440 mph. The P-38J with its lower rated engines could pull speeds
in the low to mid 420's.

7) At corner speed, any P-38 model could EASILY out-turn any fighter in the
Luftwaffe inventory.

8) The P-38L could out-climb the P-51D and Fw-190D by better than 30%.

9) Most Luftwaffe pilots felt that it was suicide to make a head-on attack
against a P-38. The P-38's four .50 caliber MGs and one 20mm cannon
concentrated in a 30 inch circle was devestating.

10) The P-38 was the only fighter in the ETO that could be flown into an
accelerated stall at 1,000 ft. without fear of torque-rolling into an
unrecoverable attitude. Nothing in the ETO could stay with a P-38 down
in the tree tops. Absolutely nothing.

I should give 10 reasons why the P-38 a problematic fighter, to balance the
scales a bit.

1) Early models had only one generator. Suffer a failure of the associated
engine and you were in deep trouble, especially at high altitudes where the
battery had been cold-soaked and produced inadequate power. Without power,
it became impossible to control the Curtiss Electric propellers, which would go
into feather.

2) Models prior to the P-38L-5-LO had terrible heaters and defrosters.

3) Models prior to the P-38J-25-LO lacked dive flaps and were dangerous
to dive at speeds beyond Mach .68. This allowed German pilots to escape
in a steep dive and P-38 pilots were reluctant to follow.

4) At high altitudes, P-38s prior to the P-38L-1-LO tended to suffer engine
failures. This was related to a poorly designed intake manifold, intercooler
over-efficiency and poorly formulated avgas.

5) The lack of automatic engine controls in early models.

6) Poor roll response in early P-38's. Roll rate in later models with
hydraulically boosted ailerons was outstanding.

7) The P-38 required nearly twice the man-hours to maintain the fighter.
It also consumed 80% more fuel than a P-51D for a given distance.

8) Access to engines and systems was poor due to the tight fitting
cowling and crowded booms.

9) Unreliable turbocharger regulators in early models.

10) Poor rear vision, especially below .

The P-38 was not without serious problems. However, as a combat
plane it was among the very best. Galland was wrong, and he knew it.
Perhaps there was something about a big twin out-flying his 109 that
caused him to refuse to acknowledge what he KNEW to be true. Of
course, that is just speculation. Nonetheless, the fact that Galland could
not stand up to the challange of the P-38 pilots indicates that he was
being less than honest in his memiors. Another fact, that he himself barely
escaped with his scalp from a lone P-38L, should settle any arguments.
That P-38, by the way, had to break off due to fuel limits being exceeded.
The U.S. pilot was from the 364th FG. Galland was flying a Fw-190D.
Galland avoided discussing this event unless pressed hard.

My regards,
C.C. Jordan

The Planes and Pilots of WWII Internet Magazine - Cradle of Aviation Museum

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