|First flight:||1939 ?|
|Wingarea:||327.5 Sq Ft||30.4 Sq M|
|Empty Weight:||12,800 lbs||5804 Kg|
|Gross Weight:||20,700 lbs||9387 Kg|
|Max Weight:||21,600 lbs||9795 Kg|
|Armament:||Four .50-cal. machine guns and one 20mm cannon|
|No. of Engines:||2|
|Horsepower (each):||1475 hp|
|Range:||450 miles||724 Km|
|Cruise Speed:||290 mph||466 Km/H||251 Kt|
|Max Speed:||414 Mph||666 Km/H||360 Kt|
|Climb:||2857 Ft/min||870 M/min|
|Ceiling:||44,000 Ft||13,411 M|
The Lightning was designed in 1937 as a high-altitude interceptor. The first one built, the XP-38, made its public debut on February 11, 1939 by flying from California to New York in seven hours. Because of its unorthodox design, the airplane experienced "growing pains" and it required several years to perfect it for combat. Late in 1942, it went into large-scale operations during the North African campaign where the German Luftwaffe named it "Der Gabelschwanz Teufel"--"The Forked-Tail Devil."
Equipped with droppable fuel tanks under its wings, the P-38 was used extensively as a long-range escort fighter and saw action in practically every major combat area of the world. A very versatile aircraft, the Lightning was also used for dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing and photo reconnaissance missions. By the end of production in 1945, 9,923 P-38s had been built.
The P-38L on display is a fiberglass replica of S/N 44-27231.
Click here to visit either the P-38 National Association, or the 475th Fighter Group Museum websites.