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14 Things You Never Knew About The P-38 Lightning

  1. The P-38 was the first fighter to fly faster than 400 mph.
  2. and, it was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout the entire American involvement in WWII.
  3. The P-38 was nicknamed the 'fork-tailed devil' by the German Luftwaffe and 'two planes, one pilot' by Japanese fighter pilots.
  4. The P-38 was exceptionally quiet for a fighter, due to its exhaust being muffled by turbo-superchargers.
  5. The aircraft used nose-mounted guns, unlike most other us fighters. This meant the P-38 had better useful gun range than other aircraft, whose wing-mounted guns had crisscross trajectories.
  6. The P-38s guns were so effective, they could reliably hit targets at up to 1,000 yards. Most other fighters were only effective at 100-250 yards.
  7. The P-38 had counter rotating propellers, thus eliminating torque (left turning tendency when advancing power).
  8. The P-38 was the first American fighter to extensively use stainless steel and flush-mounted rivets.
  9. In 1939, one of the first P-38 prototype aircraft set a speed record from California to New York in 7 hours and 2 minutes, but it crashed short of its intended airport due to carburetor icing.
  10. The first active service P-38s were used as reconnaissance aircraft in april 1942 by the Australia 8th photographic squadron.
  11. However, the P-38 quickly saw battle, downing two Japanese flying boats in august 1942 off the Aleutian island chain.
  12. Charles Lindbergh was a key figure in improving the performance of the P-38. Working as a civilian contractor in the south pacific, he developed throttle settings and engine leaning techniques that significantly increased the range of the aircraft.
  13. The P-38 flew over 130,000 sorties in the European theater, and downed over 1,800 aircraft in the pacific theater.
  14. In total, over 10,000 P-38s were produced during the war, making it one of the most successful fighters and interceptors of its time.
- Special thanks to Col. Perry J. "PJ" Dahl for his revisions to this article. Read more about Col. Dahl >>.

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