P-38’s in Chino at Planes of Fame – Honey Bunny, Glacier Girl, and three others…

P-38 Honey Bunny in Chino at Planes of Fame

Last week  5 of the 7 still flying P-38s flew from Chino to the Sacramento Capital airshow at Mather for the weekend show.   John Maloney flew chase in a P-51!

The fighters joined up over Lake Mathews for a photo shoot and then climbed up and headed north to Mather.  Along the way Hinton decided they would buzz Shafter where his son was preparing “Stega” for the Reno Races.  The WWII  fighters went screaming by the hangar all in a row at about 300 MPH!   The Air Museums P-38  23 Skidoo cracked a head so they followed her to descent at FAT and then pressed on.   At one point in the flight Maloney came from behind in the Mustang and dove down the right of the formation and pulled up into a giant exaggerated barrel roll around the rather loose goose formation so the camera man could snap a photo thru the canopy of the Mustang as he was inverted over the P-38 flight.  Sounds like fun!

Other P-38’s that made it to Mather included Ruff Stuff, Thoughts of Midnight, and Tangerine.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

The P-38 was not just a pursuit fighter, it  was so versatile it could also be a bomber, a ground strafer, a reconnaissance plane, and an escort.  It flew at a very high-rate of speed and altitude for its time.   The P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. The multi-engine configuration reduced the Lightning loss-rate to anti-aircraft gunfire during ground attack missions.

That second engine was vitally important, single-engine airplanes equipped with power plants cooled by pressurized liquid were particularly vulnerable to ground fire. Even a small puncture in one coolant line could cause the engine to seize in a matter of minutes.

The firepower was equally as impressive consisting of one 20MM cannon and four .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the central nacelle.  These guns allowed for incredible precision and concentrated fire power when shooting at the target because they were all lined up right in front of the pilot.

In April 1943, America’s intelligence decoded a Japanese message that informed them that Admiral Yamamoto was going to visit the northern Solomon Islands on April 18th. Yamamoto was still considered to be a major figure in the Pacific War and the decision was taken to  kill him. Sixteen P-38 Lightning fighters from 339th Fighter Squadron were ordered to intercept and shoot down Yamamoto’s plane. They intercepted two G4M ‘Betty’ bombers escorted by six Zero fighter planes. Both ‘Betty’ bombers were shot down and Yamamoto was killed

By the end of the war, over 10,000 P-38 Lightning’s had been built in a variety of versions, and was the only American fighter aircraft in active production throughout the duration of American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.

The P-38 Lightning turned out to be a real “work horse” for the USAAF. It served around the world as a fighter, fighter-bomber, and photographic reconnaissance aircraft and will always be considered one of three great USAAF fighters of World War II.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Type: Fighter
Crew: 1 Pilot
Armament:(4) .50 cal machine guns and (1) 20 mm cannon

Length: 37″-10 inches;
Height: 12″-10 inches;
Wingspan: 52″
Max Weight: 17500 lbs loaded

No. of Engines: 2
Power plant: Allison V-1710’s
Horsepower: 1745 hp each
Range: 1100 miles
Ceiling: 40000 feet