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Lockheed P-38 Lightning

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Ohio Exopolitics

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The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Named "fork-tailed devil" (der Gabelschwanz-Teufel) by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" (2????1????? Ni hikoki, ippairotto?) by the Japanese,[6] the P-38 was used in a number of roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground-attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance missions,[7] and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.

The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 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 toward the end of the war.[8][9]

The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, the exhaust muffled by the turbo-superchargers. It was extremely forgiving, and could be mishandled in many ways.[10] The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.

 

The American ace of aces and his closest competitor both flew Lightnings as they tallied 40 and 38 victories respectively. Majors Richard I. "Dick" Bong and Thomas B. "Tommy" McGuire of the USAAF competed for the top position. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

 

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