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View Full Version : Yalta, February, 1945: Why P38 Instead of P51?



Mescof1
04-02-2005, 06:17 PM
Quote from "FDR's Last Year" by Jim Bishop concerning trip to Yalta in Feb. 1945...Page 268:

"Colonel Ireland and his superiors had hand-picked these pilots. He had fourteen C-54's, including the President's (Roosevelt) new "Sacred Cow." In addition, he had six "shop planes loaded with spare parts, in case they were needed. Sixteen swift P-38 Lightnings would fly above three planes--the Sacred Cow, Admiral King's plane, and General Marshall's--as protection against attack."

Question: Why at this stage in the War would they choose to escort with P-38's instead of P-51's? Logistics?

May have found answer...next paragraph...

"Ireland reminded them that, after they gassed up for the flight back, they should not press the engines because the Russians used gasoline with a lower octane value."

Would the P-38 engine be more tolerant of lower octane value than the P-51's?

Mescoff

Mescof1
04-02-2005, 06:17 PM
Quote from "FDR's Last Year" by Jim Bishop concerning trip to Yalta in Feb. 1945...Page 268:

"Colonel Ireland and his superiors had hand-picked these pilots. He had fourteen C-54's, including the President's (Roosevelt) new "Sacred Cow." In addition, he had six "shop planes loaded with spare parts, in case they were needed. Sixteen swift P-38 Lightnings would fly above three planes--the Sacred Cow, Admiral King's plane, and General Marshall's--as protection against attack."

Question: Why at this stage in the War would they choose to escort with P-38's instead of P-51's? Logistics?

May have found answer...next paragraph...

"Ireland reminded them that, after they gassed up for the flight back, they should not press the engines because the Russians used gasoline with a lower octane value."

Would the P-38 engine be more tolerant of lower octane value than the P-51's?

Mescoff

SkyChimp
04-02-2005, 06:26 PM
That's probably what was available at that time. Lot's of P-38s still operating in eastern Europe at that time.

3.JG51_BigBear
04-02-2005, 09:21 PM
Chimp is probably right. I would also imagine that they flew a route with the lowest possibility of interception and at that stage of the war I think it would have been almsot impossible for the Luftwaffe to get interceptors into a postion to attack these planes. I also doubt that the C-54s were flying at an extreme altitude where the P-51 would have had the big advantage. The P-38 was a more comfortable plane to fly on long range missions. If bad fuel was expected and the possibility of engine malfunction was high having twin engine reliabilty would be even more important than usual. Maybe they couldn't find P-51 pilots of the same skill as these particular P-38 pilots to fly the mission. Some theories.

Mescof1
04-02-2005, 10:43 PM
You are right about altitude. Altitude was limited to 6,000 ft. due to Roosevelt's medical condition. Also, cruise speed was 220 mph.

Intelligence reports that the Germans were aware of the meeting.

But I would imagine that any planes requested could have been available for escorts, and pilots too. The flight left from Malta.

I'm just curious as to why the P-38's as opposed to 47's or 51's at that late stage of the war. Nothing against the P38 just wondering why.

Of course the British used Spitfires but can't find any info on what model.

mescoff

horseback
04-02-2005, 11:59 PM
There's also the recognition factor. Nobody is ever going to confuse a Lightning with a Messerschmitt.

cheers

horseback

woofiedog
04-03-2005, 12:24 AM
Mescof1... Here's a little info I found that might help you out.

MY MOST SECRET MISSION the untold story of Yalta

Link: http://www.1stfighter.org/warstories/yalta.htm

tjaika1910
04-03-2005, 02:32 AM
From the link provided from woofie I quote Eberhardts own thoughts :

"Over the years, I have asked myself "why us ?", why were we chosen for this extraordinary experience?
Was it tradition and record ?
We were America's oldest Fighter Group and had received three Presidential Citations.

Was it equipment ?
Our P38 was generally accepted as America's best (and most expensive) fighter plane in WWII; it had the most kills by America's leading aces. It also had a distinctive appearance from underneath, easily identifiable by gun crews on the warships and air bases.

Was it our location in southern Italy ?
We were considered a part of the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations. I guess the answer is "all of the above".

My fellow pilots agreed, as in life, it's just "being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment" that really counts."

VW-IceFire
04-03-2005, 10:23 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mescof1:
You are right about altitude. Altitude was limited to 6,000 ft. due to Roosevelt's medical condition. Also, cruise speed was 220 mph.

Intelligence reports that the Germans were aware of the meeting.

But I would imagine that any planes requested could have been available for escorts, and pilots too. The flight left from Malta.

I'm just curious as to why the P-38's as opposed to 47's or 51's at that late stage of the war. Nothing against the P38 just wondering why.

Of course the British used Spitfires but can't find any info on what model.

mescoff <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Maybe Mark VII's? Apparently those had the longest legs.