Posts Tagged ‘P-38 Lightning


Great Warplanes Tribute Flight


A-10 Thunderbird II.


A-10 Thunderbird II in flight.


F-86 Saber, A-10 Thunderbird II, P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang.


During the salute to these great warplanes, I also kept on eye on the people around me.  A group of four stood about fifteen feet behind me; two boys, what I assumed was their father and their grandfather or perhaps great grandfather.  The grandfather looked old enough to have been part of the what I like to call the greatest generation.  You know, the generation that survived the Great Depression, fought World War II, drew the line against Communism, and eventually led us to the moon.  Some pretty tough folks to say the least.  He watched these planes fly-by along with the three others, and when they all had their backs turned to him, watching the planes, he reached up with his right index finger and wiped away a tear.


EAA Airventure 2009: P-38 Lightning "Ruff Stuff"






World War II American Fighters: Lockheed P-38 Lightning


Nicknamed the fork-tailed devil by the Germans, this American fighter achieved what many nations had hoped for in a twin-engine fighter — one that could actually fight.


Designed by Kelly Johnson of Lockheed’s Skunkworks, the twin-boom design with a center nacelle for the pilot created an effective gun platform that didn’t have the aiming problems of wing-mounted guns. 


The aircraft didn’t gain acceptance with US Army Air Corps pilots, however, until after Charles Lindbergh, brought on as a consultant, taught American pilots how to set the fuel mixture on the airplane.  After Lindbergh’s contribution, which greatly increased the range of the aircraft, this long range fighter began to dominate the air in both the Pacific and European theaters.


Sleek, fast and deadly, this warplane usually armed with four fifty caliber machine guns and a 20 millimeter canon, served as a bomber escort, interceptor, ground attacker, photo reconnaissance and as a radar equipped night fighter.


This particular P-38, which can be found at the EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was piloted by Richard I Bong of Poplar, Wisconsin, America’s Ace of Aces.  Shown here with 26 Japanese kills to his credit, Captain Bong would go on to shoot down 40 Japanese aircraft during World War II which leads all American aces in total number of kills.


SR-71 Blackbird





The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on Dec. 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in January 1966. The U.S. Air Force retired its fleet of SR-71s on Jan. 26, 1990, because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation.


Luftwaffe: Focke Wulf 190 (FW 190)


Arguably the best propeller driven fighter plane of World War II, the Focke Wulf 190 (FW 190) had superior speed and performance over the British Spitfire V and later FW 190 versions would stay a step ahead of its British contemporaries.  The brainchild of Germany’s legendary aircraft designer Kurt Tank, the FW 190-A originally had a top speed of 390mph, and carried four 20mm cannons in the wings.  Later versions with better engines and fewer guns, would be able to reach speeds around 470mph.  In the hands of a novice pilot the plane was forgiving and easy to handle, making the machine a match for experienced and seasoned allied pilots.  In the hands of a veteran Luftwaffe pilot the FW 190 was a devastating weapon capable of destroying B-17 Flying Fortresses, was an easy match for the P-38, P-47 and could go toe to toe with the P-51.  Fighting alongside the Messerschmitt Me 262, the Germans had discovered a very capable replacement for the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

This plane can be found at:

For more history on this type of plane follow this link:


WWII American Fighters: P-40, P-38, P-47


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P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 Warhawk, seen here painted with the famous sharks mouth of Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group (AVG) or Flying Tigers.  The P-40 Warhawk couldn’t outturn a Mitsubishi Zero, nor could it dive or climb better, but it was faster, had more firepower and could absorb more battle damage.  This rugged fighter took the fight to the Japanese in China.  Chennault’s Flying Tigers fighting for the Chinese, before America entered the war, learned the basic fighter tactics that American pilots would use throughout the war.  Pilots like Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington, officially credited with 22 kills, flew for the AVG .

The Chinese, without a modern air force, desperately needed the assistance the AVG provided.  It is estimated that 50,000,000 Chinese civilians starved to death as a result of Japan’s invasion and the chaos of the Chinese Civil War that followed World War II.

The P-40 didn’t fare as well in the European theater where it was outclassed by more modern German designs, but P-40s  remained active until 1944.




P-38 Lightning

My favorite war plane and I don’t have a good picture of it.  The best way to view the P-38 is from above in front of the nose, that way you can see the twin boom construction and appreciate the beauty of this twin engine fighter.

The P-38 was the first great design to come from Lockheed’s Skunk Works and Clarence “Kelly” Johnson.  The people who brought you such famous planes as the SR-71 Blackbird, the U-2 and more recently, the F-117 Stealth.

At 420 mph this was one of the fastest airplanes of World War II, and with four fifty caliber machine guns and one 20 mm cannon, all mounted in the nose, it delivered devastating and accurate firepower.  Richard I. Bong of Poplar, Wisconsin would rack up forty kills in P-38s to become America’s ace of aces.  The P-38 was instrumental in driving the Japanese air forces out of the Pacific theater.   Variants included a reconnaissance version with guns replaced with camera gear, and a ground attack version used for bombing and strafing.

P-47 Thunderbolt

P-47 Thunderbolt

Built by Republic, the P-47 did it all.  Fitted with drop tanks it served as long range escort.  Fitted with up to 2500 pounds of bombs, along with its six or eight fifty caliber machine guns, it served as a ground attack aircraft used to destroy locomotives, tanks, and anything else that got in its sights.

Dubbed the Thunderbolt by the US Army Air Corps (USAAC), it was nicknamed the “Jug” by those who flew it because its shape resembled that of a milk jug from that era.  It gets that shape from the eighteen cylinder two-row radial engine.  The P-47 was the only radial engine fighter used by the USAAC during World War II.  Rugged and dependable, very few “Jugs” were lost to enemy action.

These planes can be seen at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. ( )


On This Day, 4-18-08: One if By Land, Two if by Sea

Revere and Dawes warn of British attack


On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.

“Revere and Dawes warn of British attack.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:21

This story began my exploration of history.  What I remember is that I was very young and I was watching a movie on television with my parents and sister.  It began with the night the British marched out of Boston and how the warning would be relayed from the Old North Church to rebels waiting on the other side of the Charles River.  My dad repeated the signal before the TV show explained it.  I was amazed at my father’s uncanny ability to predict the TV story. 

“One if by land, two if by sea,” my father said.

I added onto his phrase because I knew my dad had been in the air force, “Three if by air.”

“No idiot!”  My sister exclaimed and my mother laughed.  “They didn’t have airplanes back then.”

Back then, I thought.  There is a difference between back then and now! 

I listened, confused, as my father explained about back then and how he knew about the signal from the American rebels.  I also knew I didn’t want to be an idiot, so I made sure to concentrate on History from that day onward, until finally, years later, graduating with a BA in History.

Allman Brothers:  Midnight Rider

1861 – Colonel Robert E. Lee turned down an offer to command the Union armies during the U.S. Civil War.

1877 – Charles Cros wrote a paper that described the process of recording and reproducing sound. In France, Cros is regarded as the inventor of the phonograph. In the U.S., Thomas Edison gets the credit.

1943 – Traveling in a bomber, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, was shot down by American P-38 fighters.

1955 – Albert Einstein died.

1978 – The U.S. Senate approved the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.

1989 – Thousands of Chinese students demanding democracy tried to storm Communist Party headquarters in Beijing.

2002 – The city legislature of Berlin decided to make Marlene Dietrich an honorary citizen. Dietrich had gone to the United States in 1930. She refused to return to Germany after Adolf Hitler came to power.


Luther defiant at Diet of Worms

Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, defies the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings. He had been called to Worms, Germany, to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire and answer charges of heresy.

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In 1517, he drew up his 95 theses condemning the Catholic Church for its corrupt practice of selling “indulgences,” or forgiveness of sins. Luther followed up the revolutionary work with equally controversial and groundbreaking theological works, and his fiery words set off religious reformers across Europe. In 1521, the pope excommunicated him, and he was called to appear before the emperor at the Diet of Worms to defend his beliefs. Refusing to recant or rescind his positions, Luther was declared an outlaw and a heretic. Powerful German princes protected him, however, and by his death in 1546 his ideas had significantly altered the course of Western thought.

“Luther defiant at Diet of Worms.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:16

The Great San Francisco Earthquake

At 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing hundreds of people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 miles long, and shock waves could be felt from southern Oregon down to Los Angeles.

“The Great San Francisco Earthquake.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:14

Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo

On this day in 1942, 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland.

“Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:17

Federal court decides to release Ezra Pound

A federal court rules that Ezra Pound should no longer be held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C. Pound has been held for 13 years, following his arrest in Italy during World War II on charges of treason.

“Federal court decides to release Ezra Pound.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Apr 2008, 12:47

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