What would have been the best trainer aircraft for the P-38?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    What trainer aircraft were used, and what would have been the best?
    It's been said that P-38 pilots generally received insufficient 2-engine aircraft training.
     
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  2. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There were only two TP-38L types made.

    They would have trained in an AT type and then qualified in the P-322 Lightning.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    P-38 drivers I met mentioned that they got time in B-25s that helped in preparing to fly the P-38.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The two main training twins were the AT-9 & AT-10. Unfortunately both were tail draggers and both used fixed pitch props and so could only provide minimal training to future P-38 pilots.
     
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  6. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    The transition from tail-dragger to tricycle is minimal, certainly easier that the other way around.
    Pilots transitioning to the P-38 would have come through another trainer with a CSU, so would have been familiar with the operation.

    Remember, these guys went from the AT-6 (two-seater) to a single-seat fighter after a briefing, so I think going from a fixed-pitch tail-wheel twin to a constant-speed, tricycle twin would have been well within their capabilities. The inability to feather a prop would have made the trainer harder to fly on one engine.
     
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  7. ww2restorer

    ww2restorer Active Member

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    Not many pilots received training in the TP-38L. In fact not many were even converted from the 'L' model to trainers. Of the approximate 4000 Ls that were manufactured, over 1600 were scraped or never built because the war ended. Lefty Gardner told me over 30 years ago he learnt to fly the P38 the old fashion way, with the IP climbing in the space behind him and yelling instruction's in his ear. In the publicly available DVD on "Learning to fly the p38" it even shows this practice. Most of the conversions during the war, for all Allies and Axis air forces was 'jump in and good luck', that's why so many were killed on first missions or at low hours.
     
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  8. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    The TP-38L was a reply to the "what would have been the best"

    ideally, you want to train on a two-seat version of the aircraft....
     
  9. ww2restorer

    ww2restorer Active Member

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    true, but they only built two TP38-L, the delay in getting conversion training would have been enormous.
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The P-322 was what the P-38 pilots qualified in.
    It was the final step in the process.

    For new pilots, the steps were:
    Primary
    54 hours military training
    6-8 hours flight with instructor (PT types)
    70 hours dual/solo time (PT types)

    Basic
    94 hours ground school
    70 hours flying (BT types)

    Advanced
    19 hours Military training
    60 hours ground school
    70 hours flying (AT types)

    Graduation (wings and commision)

    Transition
    5 week school including 10 hours flying P-322

    Squadron assignment
     
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  11. ww2restorer

    ww2restorer Active Member

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    Quite correct, the aircraft was the P322 or English P38. The aircraft was complex enough to fly so conversion with a model that had no turbochargers made it easier. The p322 was given that number when the RAF cancelled its order for their P38(no turbocharger and tighter cowling)
    Still a single seat.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Very true when the P-322 was available as a trainer.
     
  13. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    I graduated from pilot training in 1989 with 195ish hours, which is not much different than my predecessors. After pilot training came about 15 hours in AT-38s. Surprisingly similar.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
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  14. chuter

    chuter Member

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    ... and both propellers turning right-hand giving it a critical engine (the left one). So, the P-322 had easier to manage powerplants but was definitely trickier to fly.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Starting reading this wrong - very true, and engine out on take off killed a lot of butterbars.
     
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  16. XBe02Drvr

    XBe02Drvr Active Member

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    Many early P-38 pilots transtioned "in the field" or overseas from single engine fighters with no formal multi-engine training at all, just a few rides in a B-25 or B-26, then jump right into the Lightning with a (slightly more) experienced P-38 pilot scrunched in behind. Understanding of VMC and its importance was often poorly disseminated, runways were short with obstacles, density altitudes were high, and Lightnings were heavy, but they wanted to fly long before VMC was reached. Under the circumstances, keeping it on the ground or at least in ground effect to VMC ranged from unlikely to impossible. Right at rotation was the ideal time to FOD a tubocharger. If you're below VMC you're toast. If you're lucky the effected engine MAY give you a few seconds of (reduced) power before it packs in entirely. Maybe enough to save your bacon.
    Problem with the P-38 was, with conter-rotating props, instead of one critical engine, it had two. The engines were mounted wrong-way-to by modern multi-engine practice. The aerodynamic reasons why are a bit involved to get into here. Just ask any current Multi Engine Instructor. I don't think Kelly Johnson and the skunk gang were ignorant or misinformed; I think their choice was driven by the desire to keep fragments from propeller disintigration flinging away from the fuselage with its ammunition and pilot. Remember, retractable landing gear was not the highly developed science it is today, and electric props with all of their shortcomings were in vogue. In those days, the dual-acting, fast-feathering Hydromatic propeller was not available to you if your name wasn't Hamilton or Pratt or Whitney.
     
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  17. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    There is an earlier thread here about the rotation:
    Why propellers of P-38 Lightning rotate outwards?
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I've turned blue trying to explain that to some folks, thanks for the post! :thumbright:
     
  19. chuter

    chuter Member

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    Very true, the P-38 had TWO critical engines while the P-322 had just the one but the P-322 had less power as well.

    As for the rotation direction (I read through the link) while inboard rotation provides the best single engine performance outboard rotation provides much better controllability at high power and high alpha as the propwash rotation gave the inboard wing the greatest angle of attack and the outboard wing the least. With inboard rotation, the throttles wide open and the wing at max alpha the wing section outboard of the nacelle is at first risk of stall, and it's very much more difficult to control an airplane with an outboard wing stall than inboard. In other words, they were going for best combat maneuverability not "oh-my-god-the-engine-might-quit" performance.

    PS - As for the myth of the XP-82 not being able to fly with outboard rotation propellers due to the upward propwash being blanked by the wing on its way to the stab, the test pilot(s) simply tapped the brakes on takeoff roll to lift the tail. There are pictures of the XP-82 with outboard prop rotation in flight.

    -->If Rambler still made cars I would own one, I suppose.<---
     
  20. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    Or neither, as no one engine was worse than the other! (semantics, I know, but you get what I mean)

    I think that the left engine was considered 'critical' as there was only one generator?
     
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