GrogHeads Forum

History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: LongBlade on January 27, 2012, 06:23:04 PM

Title: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: LongBlade on January 27, 2012, 06:23:04 PM
OK, so I was watching one of these WWII programs on the Military Channel.

They were covering the history of fighters and escorts of bombers. In passing it was mentioned that the P-38 was never seen as a good air superiority fighter in the ETO.

I have always loved the look of the P-38 and wondered why we didn't hear more about it in the ETO. Anyone have any thoughts on why it wasn't successful there?
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: Jarhead0331 on January 27, 2012, 06:33:48 PM
I'm assuming it has something to do with performance, or lack thereof in the cold dry air over the skies of europe???
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: LongBlade on January 27, 2012, 08:05:58 PM
I do not know. There are several books published about the P-38, but I have yet to buy one and read it.

Somewhere out there has to be a few WWII aircraft gurus who know. If not, I'll figure it out eventually and will post it here.
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: Staggerwing on January 29, 2012, 08:02:57 AM
I'm no guru but IIRC there were issues with it's high speed maneuverability when facing Fast AC such as 109Fs and Gs.
P-47s and Merlin-powered P-51s were more effective escort fighters due to the nature of that kind of combat. I also
seem to recall that the earlier Lightnings had some kind of stabilizer or elevator problem when diving. My guess is that
by the time all of the kinks were worked out the Jugs and Ponies had already become the USAAF sweethearts. The British
also disliked it and only used it for recon.
Slugging it out with the fragile and slow (though nimble) Zekes was more suited to it's style. Also, it had phenomenal
range which suited the many miles of open ocean flight needed for patrols in the PT.
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: LongBlade on January 29, 2012, 09:11:26 AM
That makes sense. Thanks!
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: MIGMaster on February 01, 2012, 06:46:06 AM
+1 for Staggerwing - it was maneuverability - from what I read it could get out turned in the ATA role  - it was too big to compete with more smaller fighters
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: Windigo on February 02, 2012, 11:25:38 AM
Its a good read.

well referenced too

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-38_Lightning
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: LongBlade on February 02, 2012, 11:32:17 AM
And free. Thanks, Windy!
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: W8taminute on February 02, 2012, 02:14:42 PM
I'm assuming it has something to do with performance, or lack thereof in the cold dry air over the skies of europe???

From what little I've read about the P-38 I think you nailed it JH.  Most of the fighting between Germany and the Western Allies (read not the Soviet Onion) took place at high altitude where the P-38's superchargers suffered.  OTOH in the PTO against the Japanese the P-38 ruled.  Remember, the ETO needed a long range escort and the only fighter at the time for the US that had the range was the P-38. 
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: republic on February 02, 2012, 03:46:58 PM
Most of the fighting between Germany and the Western Allies (read not the Soviet Onion) took place at high altitude where the P-38's superchargers suffered.

+1 on that one

For bomber escorts they were pretty winded at escort altitude compared to the P-51's and P-47's.

However, having said that, Robin Old's book  "Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312569513/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=polit0fc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0312569513)"  has a chapter or so about his time flying P-38's in Europe.  A good read.  I seem to remember an interesting bit from when he transitioned from the P-38 to the P-51.  How different they felt, etc.  If I can find it I'll post some excerpts.
Title: Re: P-38 In the ETO
Post by: besilarius on February 12, 2012, 12:13:16 PM
Can't verify this, but some old pilots who flew F6 Hellcats on Yorktown (CV-10) got the chance to try out a bunch AAF planes on Ulithi during the war.
At a reunion, they got to comparing notes, and argued that the P38 was only marginally better than zeroes and zekes.
To them, what made the difference was the attrition the Japanese had gone through in the Solomons.  Their replacement pilots were poor, and not in a class with the group that began the war.
The P38 advantages of long range, durability, speed, and concentrated firepower, coupled with realistic tactics made them better than the enemy flyers and planes.
For what it is worth, they felt the best AAF plane of the Pacific was the P47M.  A great dogfighter.  However the P47N, which emphaiszed long range, was preferred by the planners.
Their vote for best USN fighters was the last version of the F4 Corsair, or the F8 Bearcat.