Alaska and P-38: were there any issues?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    P-38 did have issues in ETO, bad heater and engine troubles being most commonly cited. So I wonder if those issues were encountered in Alaska. Any good info is appreciated :)
     
  2. marshall

    marshall Member

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    Have been wondering about it lately. All that talk that it's colder in Europe than in the Pacific region, but Aleutian Islands aren't very hot place.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I've seen little complaints written about the P-38 in Alaska. P-38 driver George Laven is mentioned in the book "Peter Three Eight" where he scores some of the first P-38 kills. We have an old thread about him.

    I think the weather took up up the complaints from pilots and maintainers!
     
  4. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    At what altitudes did the P-38's (and aircraft generally) operate at in the Aleutians ...?

    MM
     
  5. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Surely once your above say 20,000ft it doesnt matter where you are its going to be well below freezing. A few degrees either way arent going to make much difference.
     
  6. marshall

    marshall Member

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    So is it a myth that P-38 had a bad cockpit heater and that was one of the reasons P-38 didn't was as good as other fighters in the ETO?

    I remember reading in Wellum's "First Light" that when flying top cover (in Spitfires) they were literally freezing, so it seems the low temperatures were a common problem.
     
  7. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    I have read numerous times, from varouis sources, that the Lightning had a terribly cold cockpit so I don't think it is anything but true. I think the "gripes" about the P-38 performance are relative to where they were deployed, how used, what they faced, and what type of other allied fighters were available or also in theatre.

    That being said, from what little I know of that theatre that encounters were not numerous. We know the P-38 out performed most Japanese planes anyhow so there would be little to gripe about. And I don't recall reading about anything other than P39's and P-40's being used in theatre, so the P-38 was "it". No Mustangs, Spits, or Thunderbolts to compare to in that area of the war.
     
  8. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The Aleutians are not warm, but not especially cold. The average January high temp at Dutch Harbor is around 39F (4C). And the altitudes flown there were much lower than in Europe. The P-38 missions were usually escort of bombers which couldn't fly very high or else almost certainly have their targets obscured by cloud, or else acting as fighter bombers themselves. The terrible weather challenges in the Aleutians were mostly about sudden fogs and sudden extremely high winds, and the cause of the great majority of aircrew casualties on both sides, but not pure low temperatures.

    P-38 fighter combat in the Aleutians was limited to a few engagements with Type 2 Float Fighters, which by luck of draw and/or P-38's relatively poor manueverability and tactics employed, were not so successful. Quoting myself from an earlier thread: "9 [Type 2's] were downed in air combat with US a/c [in the Aleutians] (prorating claims and losses for each engagement, 1-1/3 by P-38's, 4-2/3 by P39's, 3 by P-40's), downing in return 8 US a/c (5 P-38's including two which collided in air combat; and 1 each P-39, B-17 and SOC)."
    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/japenese-airflield-attu-island-17285-2.html

    Joe
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    There is a very significant difference in the standard operational issues between Aleutians and Europe. First there was perhaps an average of 10,000 feet in standard bombing/escort for heavy and medium attacks on land targets - primarily because flak defenses were negligible in Japanese held Attu/Kiska. Anti shipping attacks were much lower for medium bombers.

    That means an automatic differential of about 35 degrees (higher) given same surface temps. That would be Huge regarding the Intercooler/Allison engine issues encountered in ETO.

    Joe, and Joe, are absolutely correct that flying and operational issues due to the charming weather in the Aleutians were dominant problems. Getting airborne on flooded pierced steel planking runways was problem number one, finding the target was problem number two and finding
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Many thanks for the answers :)
     
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