Some P38 Lightning Information

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  2. Old Wizard

    Old Wizard Well-Known Member

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  3. IdahoRenegade

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  4. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    Regarding the P-38: What other USAAC aircraft used 20mm Hispano cannons? In the European theater flying out of England, I would imagine that RAF 20mm ammo was easier to get than U.S. made stuff.
    Also, did some planes have the 20mm removed?
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Small series of P-51s (no suffix; Mustang Ia was the RAF designation). Some field-modified B-17s, in the nose.
    Trialed under wigs if P-47, perhaps the ugliest aircraft cannon installation of ww2, if not of all the times.
     
  6. MildExplosion

    MildExplosion New Member

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    In the Pacific theatre, some fighter groups received Corsairs with four wing mounted license-built Hispanos.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The P-38 cannon was an Oldsmobile license built Hispano-Suiza 20mm. Having worked around people who built and flew P-38s, I never heard of any one removing the 20 mm and by doing so would have not only involved a major operational mod to the aircraft, but could have possible created C/G issues with the aircraft.

    Ammo was plentiful.
     
  8. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    Duh! I forgot about the P-61 and P-70 Havoc night fighters! They flew out of England but somehow I didn't think of them. They both had 20mm Hispanos as main armament.
    Also, looking at wartime photos, I think I saw some that had the middle gun port (20mm) covered up. Maybe they were post-war restorations.
     
  9. IdahoRenegade

    IdahoRenegade Member

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    I've been looking for a link without success. There is an archive of old "bulletin board"/Compuserve era posts somewhere. Obviously old, but had a lot of good info, including some posts from former pilots and crew chiefs (IIRC). Ring a bell with anyone?
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The P-51-1/F-6 and Mustang Mark IA plus XP-51B (total of 150) had the Hispanos, F4U-1C, P-38, P-61, P-39/P-400, F6F-3 variants, F7F, P-70 are the only ones I can think of.

    Tomo mentioned some external experiments including P-47
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Bill, don't forget that International Harvester also had a contract to manufacture the 20mm.

    Some other U.S. aircraft that had the 20mm were:
    A-26B (Douglas, not Martin B-26)
    A-20G
    YB-40
    XP-50
    B-17 (field mod.) like the 5 or so B-17Gs of the 97th BG, 15th AF that packed a 20mm in the tail for the "tail end charlie" position. The 99th BG also had a B-17G that was packing a 20mm in the tail position.
    There were also nose mounted field mods, like the B-17F with the 385th BG, but the recoil was tearing apart the nose. Another B-17 in the PTO had a field mod. 20mm installed.
    One of our forum members (Seesul) discovered a 20mm cannon at a B-17G crash site and it can be seen here: B-17G with a 20 mm cannon onboard!
     
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  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    B29 had a 20mm in the tail gun position.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dave I was focusing entirely on the Fighter/NF array as the context started with P-38 and the Hispano.

    That said, where was a 20mm mounted on the A-26 as a standard?
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    #14 GrauGeist, Feb 28, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
    One of the first instances of the 20mm applied to the A-26, was in the NF prototype stage, seen here:

    A-26_NF.jpg
    The A-26 NF would have most likely been adopted if it weren't for the P-61.

    Additionally, the A-26 was tested with a wide range of armament, including a 75mm cannon (that ended up being a feature on the B-25) although, unlike the B-25, the 75mm was mounted on the right side and was tested with additional nose-mounted .50 MGs or 20mm cannon. The cannon was never adopted and never saw combat service.

    What was used on the A-26, in the end, were .50 MGs in a variety of combinations like 6 or 8 in the nose and in some cases, additional .50 gunpacks mounted to the wings.

    I do recall seeing a photo of an A-26B with a 4 cannon setup, that looked a great deal like the A-20G's configuration and it was in Italy (9th or 12th AF?) late in the war. Not sure if this was an official "one-off" for field evaluation or if it was a field mod. made for the occasion.
     
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  15. IdahoRenegade

    IdahoRenegade Member

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    Figured I'd stumble across this sometime: The P-38 (C.C. Jordan; MakinKid; CDB100620)
     
  16. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I will comment on the article by Corey Jordan - a pilot I respect very much. Having said that it is curious regarding referencing Woods career as a major "P-38" reference. I am not denigrating Woods' record but will point out some facts missed by Corey.

    Woods flew P-40 and P-38 in PTO for a complete tour. He achieved 2-1-0 air VC's in 112 missions. He returned to States and then joined 479th FG (Olds/Zemke) to fly another tour of 48 missions P-38-J-15, plus 12 missions in P-51 and achieved 1-0 VC's on the ground before returning on Leave again. He joined the 4th FG in February, 1945 - flying only the P-51D. He achieved 5-0-0 Air (one mission) and 2-5 ground in 9 missions before hit by flak strafing on April 16, 1945 - POW.

    He was flying the P-38 in ETO in a target rich environment as Group Ops and PTO in a target rich environment as a Flight leader and Squadron CO.

    Total Record in P-38? 2-1-0 air, 1-0 ground in 172 missions. P-51? 5-0-0 air, 2-5 ground In 21 missions... for one loss to flak (himself).


    Questions about the narrative? The P-38 (C.C. Jordan; MakinKid; CDB100620)

    Quote from article

    "Sidney flew P-40s and P-38s with the 49FG. He participated in the Battle
    of the Bismark Sea. He flew 112 combat missions with the 49th. After a
    rest stateside, he went to the 4th FG in Europe. He flew 68 combat
    missions in Europe in P-51s. I don't know what he may have flown
    stateside.

    Sidney shot down two Japanese planes with the 49th and 10 with the 4th
    (one of these on the ground, as the USAAF in the ETO counted aircraft
    destroyed on the ground as kills. AAF in the PTO did not). Five of
    the air kills were FW-190s. Among the medals awarded him that I know
    about, were the Silver Star, the DFC, the Croix de Guerre and the Air
    Medal.

    So, more comments in bold below

    DSC, DFC(2),Croix de Guerre in P-51 in ETO; SS, DFC in P-38 in PTO

    ETO record as above was 0-0-0 air, 1-0 ground 479th, 5-0-0 air, 2-5 ground 4th) for total ETO of 5-0-0 air; 3-5 ground

    "Sidney described the Mustang as a super P-40. He did not consider it in
    the same class with the P-38. He often said that the P-40 and P-51
    represented pre-war air combat thinking, and that the P-38 represented the
    future. That's a broad statement, and I can't recall his specific reasons
    for making it, but it does give you a sense of his feeling for the
    aircraft.
    Sidney said that were he flying the P-38 in Europe he could have shot down
    more planes than he did. On more than one occasion, for example, he noted
    that while he was closing in to wing-gun range an FW would execute one of
    its fabulous snap-rolls and split-S away. Had he been in a P-38 he could
    have opened fire seconds earlier, gained strikes for certain, possibly
    destroying the aircraft."

    ]Woods flew P-38s for the entire operational P-38 experience for the 479th FG from May through September 28, 1944 - 48 missions in P-38 by him personally. He then transitioned to P-51s just like Zemke and Olds for his last 12 missions before leave to US in December, 1944. How could Woods forget that? or possibly did Jordan mis-remember the narrative? So, in 48 missions in the vaunted P-38J-15 described above, Woods scored 0-0-0.

    Sidney believed the poor showing of the P-38 in the ETO was the result of
    AAF brass, who, pre-war were wedded to the unescorted heavy bomber
    concept, and didn't dare admit, in the face of terrible bomber losses,
    that they had a perfectly capable fighter capable of escorting their
    bombers from day one to the farthest target they ventured to--but they
    chose not to use it. Instead, they mutually, if unconsciously, fixed on
    every reason they could find to discount the P-38 as a capable fighter.
    They could then say they had no choice but to go unescorted until the P-51
    came along. Had they said, Yeah, we had a good escort fighter in the P-38
    but decided not to use it, congressional committees would have been
    demanding to know who screwed the pooch (his phrase).

    Nope. The very first operational mission for the P-38 in ETO was the day after Black Thursday - October 14, 1943. After that experience following Regensburg/Schweinfurt the AAF RECOGNIZED that escort all the way to the target was required. Additionally the P-38H did not have leading edge fuel cells and could go no further than medium radius targets like Brunswick, Stuttgart until late February when the J-15s were in the 20th and 55th FG's just in time for Berlin. Even the J-15 was limited to 100+ miles shorter radius than the P-51B with 85 gallon tank. In summary, 8th AF commanders were Desparate for hoped for success in the P-38, but the P-38 was Never capable of flying escort to the farthest targets in ETO using combat tactics of fast but economical cruise above, and level with B-17 bomber altitudes. Neither Sidney Wood (nor Robin Olds)ever flew a mission past Berlin range (550 miles) while flying a P-38. Woods was, however, shooting up an airfield at Prague when he was shot down (~675 miles from Debden).

    The 'Brass' didn't 'have it in for' the P-38. It just couldn't do the escort job that the P-51B/D could achieve for 8th AF. The 9th AF and PTO were very happy with the P-38 because it did fit their profile of medium and low altitude. The P-38s were PLAGUED with major issues arising from cold, high altitude ops; compressibility issues and general unreliability as a result of both mechanical issues and maintenance complications in between missions.

    One more point to ponder on. The 332nd FG (Redtails) were the Lowest scoring escort Fighter Group in ETO/MTO combined, but They scored more enemy aircraft in the air from their first day of combat ops than ANY P-38 Group after that day. That includes the Very good 1st, 14th, 82nd with rich combat experience and leadership compared to the 332nd. The P-38s in the MTO had been relegated to Penetration and Withdrawal support for long range targets from Italy - just like P-47s in the ETO.


    As far as a combat type went, I recall Sidney talking about how it was
    impossible to overshoot an aerial target in a dive with the P-38. If you
    saw that you were overtaking faster than you liked, you popped the speed
    brakes. Couldn't do that with any other plane. He also liked the low
    speed maneuvering flaps, the hydraulically boosted ailerons, and the overall
    ruggedness of the airplane.

    The Dive Flaps were not available, in kit form, until June 1944. As for ruggedness it was a much bigger target for flak gunners and had two engines subject to fire after damage. The P-38 lost far more strafing per aircraft destroyed in ETO than the P-51. The P-47 was in between.

    He felt that the AAF made a mistake in not standardizing the P-38 as "the"
    fighter and having Republic and North American build it as well as
    Lockheed."

    Twice as expensive to buy, twice as expensive to operate, questionable performance and reliability above 20,000 feet, in adequate range until arrival of Leading Edge tanks (via kit) on P-38J after March 1944, made that a difficult choice given the foreknowledge.

     
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  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Always great stuff Bill!
     
  18. MrMojok

    MrMojok New Member

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    Can anyone recommend any good books by P-38 pilots, or about P-38 pilots? Something that has combat accounts. The only one I've read is "Aces High" about Bong & McGuire.
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    "Peter Three Eight" by John Stanaway
     
  20. MrMojok

    MrMojok New Member

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    Thank you sir, I have ordered this from Amazon.
     
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