P-38 (the plane) documentary

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P-38 (the plane) documentary

#1 Post by AJMD429 » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:28 am

Great documentary - about 45 minutes into it, one of the pilots is interviewed at length - pretty cool...


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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#2 Post by Bill in Oregon » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:42 am

Very cool! The Lightning is the one World War II American fighter I have never seen in flight -- just in museums.

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#3 Post by GunnyMack » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:06 am

There was a P38 that raced at Reno years ago, not sure if it still does or not. I wasnt as fast as the other war birds but it was an awesome platform none the less.

Adm. Yamamoto's transport was shot down by a P38.
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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#4 Post by Booger Bill » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:15 pm

I worked for Lockheed in Burbank starting in 1965. Tony Levier, the test pilot that first flew the P-38 was still there plus I knew other pilots that flew them both testing and in combat. One guy that was used to flying the P-38 told me he was given a P-51 to fly and on the first turn on his first flight he darn near broke his arm as it was so much more responsive and it surprised him. As I understand it the P-38 was for long range escort as the P-51 etc didn't have the very long range ability. I had one uncle that bummed a ride in one during the war (must have been a trainer with a back seat arrangement??) Anyway he said the road below looked like a fast unwinding ribbon.
I read where Charles Lindbergh taught our pilots how to lean them out and fly them to get far better range in the pacific. Also read that Tony Levier demonstrated them oversea`s to the pilots and rigged up a ice cream maker with a little prop to church it under his plane, would come down from high cold altitude and have fresh home made ice cream! I seen Tony's personal P-38 parked. His had YIPPEE wrote on the side. I found it interesting he hired in as a Lockheed test pilot on the day I was born, April 29, 1941 and still was there for a few years after I hired in!

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#5 Post by BlaineG » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:09 pm

I never knew that Charles Lindbergh/WWII connection....
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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#6 Post by Leverluver » Sun Dec 02, 2018 3:28 pm

Until the "higher ups" found out about it, Lindbergh (shaded as instruction) had gone on several combat missions. He was informally credited with a kill and shared a damage. Of course, there are no such credits in USAAF records because a civilian cannot have credited kills. When it was learned of his schenanigans he was immediately ordered to return to the US. For the Japanese to have shot down or worse captured such a world known aviation hero as CL would have been a huge (and intolerable to the US), coup for Japan.

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#7 Post by wecsoger » Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:54 pm

P-38, designed by the famous Kelly Johnson, one of many of his amazing designs

Fantastic performance, but way too complicated for anyone other than a highly trained pilot.

Something we didn't have in surplus at the time and the aircraft complexity got guys killed.

The 339th Fighter Squadron in the Yamamoto shoot-down was one of the folks I supported for maintenance when I was stationed at Moody AFB GA in the early '80's.

They were flying F-4E's then.

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#8 Post by piller » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:47 am

My Uncle who flew B24J Liberators in the Pacific was a fan of the P38. You could tell it was a friendly at a glance he said, and they had the range to stay with the bombers.

One legend is that after the Battle of El Alamein, one P38 came in overdue and turned to line up with the runway and the landing gear came down when the engines suddenly cut out to full stop. The plane landed roughly and didn't appear to be under control. When the emergency crew got there, the pilot was already cold and they had to break a couple of bones to get the corpse out. That was not the only time that the P38 showed a desire to make it home. There are plenty of stories about that plane refusing to crash when there was no apparent way it could stay in the air.

My Uncle claimed that his B24J had made it home a couple of times when it had holes in it that should have caused it to come apart. He landed one time and as soon as he shut off the engines, one wing fell off. He lost 2 total crew in over 50 bombing runs. As a flight Sergeant, he scored higher on the tests than any of the officers who flew the B24 bombers in the Pacific. Pretty good for a farmboy from the Cherokee Strip who had never seen an airplane until he was drafted.
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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#9 Post by COSteve » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:50 pm

Booger Bill wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:15 pm
I worked for Lockheed in Burbank starting in 1965. Tony Levier, the test pilot that first flew the P-38 was still there plus I knew other pilots that flew them both testing and in combat.
I also worked for Lockheed from 1966 until I retired in 2007, however, I first worked in Sunnyvale supporting the GELAC (Lockheed Georgia) C-5 Galaxy design team by designing the main landing gear fairing and aft cargo door. It turned out to be my only aircraft work as, after the Army (1967-1970), I transitioned to SCI programs which developed assets to, "Provide insight to the National Command Authority." I worked in Sunnyvale and later came to the Denver area in 1980.

While in college in 1971, working at Lockheed and going to school, I was also working on my private pilot's license and instrument rating and on one flight from the Reid Hillview airport in the Bay Area to Watsonville's airport, I got to talking to a pilot who was refueling his Reconnaissance Version P-38 he had restored. As part of the work, he removed the huge WWII era radio mounted behind him and added a second seat which was a common modification for many WWII fighters that were converted to civilian use. After chatting for a while, he offered me a ride in the back as he wanted to check out some recent work an A&P had performed. Of course, I instantly agreed and had the ride of my life at the time for about 20 minutes.
Booger Bill wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:15 pm
As I understand it the P-38 was for long range escort as the P-51 etc didn't have the very long range ability.
Shortly after the P-51 was deployed in Europe, it was also fitted with drop tanks under its wings to give it the capability to escort the 8th Air Force bombers all the way to Germany, freeing up the P-38 for use primarily in the Pacific Theater. The P-38, with it's high altitude capability due in large part to it's turbo-supercharged engines, was used for interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

It was most successfull in the Pacific Theater and the China-Burma-India Theater as the aircraft of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories) and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific Theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs with drop tanks under its wings like the P-38 that gave them the long range capability needed in the area.

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#10 Post by Booger Bill » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:02 pm

I was just a company security guard 1965 to 2000. Started in Burbank and transferred to Palmdale in 1969. They closed the original Burbank plant about 1972. I believe I still hold the #1 badge for all time length of seniority. I worked straight for Lockheed as a "inhouse" guard, meaning not a contract guard. However they now do have a contract outfit. I went back a couple months ago and ran into another old time co-worker. He was about the last to go, and had unkind things to say about the department forcing him out as they went to contractors.

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Re: P-38 (the plane) documentary

#11 Post by Mike Armstrong » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:15 am

When I was an undergraduate at UCSB, a former Marine fighter base, I used to hang around the Santa Barbara County Airport right next door when I had an afternoon free and talk to the mechanics and pilots. Talked myself into a couple of check flights (Imagine doing that now!), and the most memorable one was in the nose of a "droop-snoot" F-5, the pathfinder version of the recon version of the P-38. They were using two of them to do aerial surveys (of what they didn't say). What a view!

Speaking of Lockheed, my first memory of a plane is of a patrol bomber flying low over the beaches of Los Angeles County, it must have been shortly after VJ Day. It was either a Ventura or a Harpoon--I clearly remember the big radials and the twin tail, and the "radial roar" it made. Recently saw a restored Harpoon at a museum in SoCal (near Riverside). Talk about a sturdy platform!

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