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Lockheed P-38 J
P-38 Lightning in World War II by Jeffrey L. Ethell, Motorbooks International Publishers (without permission)

"The Lightning was one of the most important fighters of World War II and, though it was not as nimble as a machine as single-engined types, found its metier in the long-range role with heavy armament and high performance. The machine resulted from a 1937 specification issued by the U.S. Army Air Corps for a high-performance fighter providing such speed, climb rate and range that a single-engined aircraft was virtually out of the question. Having opted for the twin-engined configuration, the design team then chose an unconventional layout with a central nacelle and twin booms extending as rearward extensions of the engine nacelle to accommodate the turbochargers and support the wide-span tailplane and oval vertical surfaces.

The XP-38 prototype flew in January 1939 with 716 kW (960 hp) Allison V-1710-11/15 engines driving opposite-rotating propellers. Development was protracted, and the first of 30 P-38s, with V-1710-27/29 engines, did not enter service until late 1941. Production totalled 10,037 in variants that included 36 P-36Ds with a revised tail unit and self-sealing fuel tanks, 210 P-38Es with the nose armament revised from one 37 mm cannon and four 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine guns to one 20 mm cannon and four machine guns, 527 P-38Fs for tropical service with V-1710-49/53 engines, 1,082 P-38Gs with V-1710-55/55 engines and provision for 907 kg (2,000 lb) of underwing stores, 601 P-38Gs with 1062 kW (1,425 hp) V-1710-89/91s and greater underwing stores load, 2,970 P-38Js with an improved engine installation and greater fuel capacity, 3,810 P-38Ls with 1193 kW (1,600 hp) V-1710-111/113s, provision for underwing rockets and, in some aircraft, a revised nose accommodating radar or a bomb-aimer for use as a bomber leader, the P-38M conversions of P-38L as two-seat night fighters, and the F-4 and F-5 conversions."

Lockheed P-38L Lightning
Role: Long-range fighter bomber
Crew/Accommodation: One
Power Plant: Two 1,475 hp Allison V-1710-111 water-cooled inlines
Dimensions: Span 15.85 m (52 ft); length 11.53 m (37.83 ft); wing area 30.47 m2 (327 sq ft)
Weights: Empty 5,806 kg (12,800 lb); MTOW 9,798 kg (21,600 lb)
Performance: Maximum speed 666 km/h (414 mph) at 7,620 m (25,000 ft); operational ceiling 13,410 m (44,000 ft); range 725 km (450 miles) with 1,451 kg (3,200 lb) of bombs
Load: One 20 mm cannon and four .5 inch machine guns, plus up to 1,451 kg (3,200 lb) of bombs
Source: "The World's Greatest Aircraft" by Christopher Chant Crescent Books, Random House, pg 36 New York (without permission)

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