P-38 Lightning

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the most important American fighters of WWII. Although its operational record was somewhat mixed, in general the P-38 was a fast, powerful and capable aircraft that performed well in a wide range of roles. It was comfortable in a pure fighter role and even served as a good platform for photo reconnaissance.

The P-38 served throughout the Pacific, from the Aleutians to New Guinea to Burma and China. The Lightning gained fame in the hands of Army Major Richard I. Bong, whose 40 aerial victories were scored in the P-38, making him the highest-scoring American ace of the war. P-38 pilots were also credited with the downing of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto. A P-38 piloted was the first American aircraft to land in Japan after VJ-Day, when the pilot and his wingman set down because his wingman was low on fuel.

The P-38 made its mark in North Africa where the allies began their first offensives in the ETO. They were used with great success throughout the Mediterranaean and Europe. The maneuverability and acrobatics coupled with tenacious pilots gave the Germans many a loss and they nicknamed the plane the 'fork-tailed devil'.