PDA

View Full Version : Flying the P-38 a dream come true..article



XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:14 PM
I was excited. But it was more than that. As I sat there at the end of the runway, my feet spread wide on the rudder pedals, left hand wrapped around the two big red throttle knobs, right hand grasping the characteristic control yoke, I was living out a dream. A childhood dream. I'd seen this image in my mind a thousand times but was never sure I could make it real.


The big Allisons on either side rumbled their impatience, but the sound wasn't of this time. It was the long-ago sound track of "A Guy Named Joe"-the accompaniment to the dream that someday I'd fly the fighter my father had loved so much in WW II. Until this day, it had eluded me, but as I started the throttles forward and felt the seat pushing against the small of my back, I was stepping over the threshold into an adventure that would leave its mark on me forever. More than that, it would bridge the years and tighten the already firm bond between my father and me.


When Jack Erickson and his Tillamook NAS Museum in Oregon opened the door, after so many years of yearning, I had to fight back the dread it wouldn't happen, but he had two airworthy Lightnings on the field, so the chances looked pretty good.


When the day arrived, I stood transfixed before the newly restored olive-drab-and-gray P-38L-5. The P-38 defines the word "big" for WW II fighters-52-foot wingspan with operational weights up to 17,500 pounds, or more if needed. Preflight is very easy; you can walk under every part of the airplane, which sits some 10 feet off the ground on massive landing gear. With twin, liquid-cooled engines, four radiators, four oil coolers and the maze of hydraulics to run landing gear and flaps, the Lightning is very complex indeed, so there is plenty to check. Fortunately, Museum maintenance chief Ted Ryder is as much a fanatic on mechanical perfection as Jack, so this P-38-after about 13 hours total time since restoration-was operating virtually fault-free.


With a flick of a small lever, the handle for the boarding ladder pops out of the upper rear of the central gondola; one pull and it swings the ladder down then locks it into place. Getting up onto the airplane is then a series of embarrassing tries at sticking feet into the rungs, falling down and scrambling for the handhold just forward of the ladder handle. This took more getting used to than flying the plane. The final system boils down to right foot into the first rung, pull forward on the handle to get centered over the ladder, left foot into the next rung and grab the handhold to pull forward for all you're worth while swinging the right leg up onto the wing. Everyone had his laugh for the day watching me try to cope with this thing.


Once I was settled in the cockpit, I was taken with the vast expanse of airplane around me. Sitting deep within the center gondola and wing, I quickly got the impression of being buried in the machine; this would intensify in flight. The cockpit is just about perfect in size: not too small, not too large and very comfortable. Having memorized the Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions, I was quickly familiar with the cockpit-absolutely mandatory before flying. The layout is a myriad of switches, and the labeling is often hard to read, particularly because most of the switches sit behind the control wheel. I can see why wartime instructors required a blindfold cockpit check before turning people loose.


ack, as if he'd come straight out of WW II as a transition instructor, gave me a few last-minute pointers like how to start it and what was different from a stock P-38; then he said, "Give it a try." He turned around, slid down the wing and climbed down the ladder, which I could hear retract with a firm clunk. He really must have had confidence.


he most obvious difference from other wartime fighters-other than having two of everything for the engines-is the dual pistol-grip control wheel. Putting both hands on this thing brings a sense of complete authority. I can see why it was so easy to haul the aircraft into tight turns; both biceps are working.


The ergonomics of the wheel are also years ahead of their time: the grips are canted inward to the exact position of one's hands when they're relaxed and held out in front of you. Dad absolutely loved the wheel instead of a stick, because he could maneuver and point the four .50s and single 20mm like a fire hose.


The engine controls sprout from the left pedestal in all directions, so I carefully went over each lever, switch and propeller circuit breaker (these are Curtiss electric propellers). The large, red, round throttle knobs are an ideal size for the left hand, completing the sense of total control given by the wheel grips. The fuel-tank selectors are mounted on the floor, one in front of the other, to the left of the seat-left wing fuel forward, right wing fuel aft. This has been the cause of most P-38 accidents in the past 30 years. Not only can one get confused about which tank one is selecting, but the five detents include an off position that also doubles for the drop tank. Pilots have often selected a position either between the detents or the off/drop tank position with no tanks, starving the engines of fuel. I took several minutes to look down and memorize the positions and the feel of the selector handles.


With nothing else to look at, the inevitable had arrived. Before-start checklist: battery on; fuel selectors reserve (the carburetor vapor line returns several gallons an hour here); if carrying drop tanks, the bomb selector switches go on with arming switch to safe, but they are not hung today; throttles 3/4-inch open; props full forward; prop selector switches auto; mixtures idle cut-off; oil-cooler flap switches auto; generator switches on; coolant-flap override switches off (auto); intercooler flaps open; fuel-quantity check.


Engine start begins with the left, then the right engine boost pump on and normal; ignition master on; magneto both; starter switch hold forward (left engine) with middle finger of right hand until maximum inertia. Like most Allison-powered WW II aircraft, a flywheel is spun up and then engaged. While still holding the inertia starter, the third finger pushes the engage switch forward at the same time the index finger holds the primer! At first, this is a real comedy of twisted fingers and contorted muscles because you have to reach under or over the control column to get to all this stuff while the left hand is poised on the left mixture control. Much to my delight, the Allison started very smoothly. I brought the mixture up, and the engine settled down into that distinctive P-38 collected exhaust rumble. Repeat this for the right engine (except the starter and engage switches are held rearward), and the same satisfying start takes place. Dad would confound his students by starting both engines at once; this had to be a real trick. Over the next several days of flying, the sequence became quite natural without a single mis-start. In the P-38, those Allisons start about as easily as a car engine, but they are more difficult to get going in the P-40 and the P-51A. I have no idea why.


Sitting there with both turbos whirling, feeling and hearing the satisfying, deep-throated growl coming from the top of the booms (on either side of the ears) is absolutely mesmerizing. There is no sound like it. Looking at those spinning props, across the broad wings, I had to be dreaming.


Off the brakes and the Lightning moves easily away, even at low rpm. Like all WW II tricycle gear types, the nosewheel is non-steerable, so it casters in response to throttles or brakes. I quickly discovered that the rudders pick up the prop blast at low speed, so very little brake is needed; just push the rudder pedal, and it steers as if the nosewheel is hooked up. The brakes don't have the bear-trap power of the B-25, but one can get a bob and weave going when pushing on them too hard. Differential throttle is the primary means of steering, and what a great thrill to hear the "rrrRRRRUMMMPP" of the exhausts with each application of throttle.


Run-up at 2,300rpm (once each engine has at least 40-degree C oil temp) is simple because the propeller selector switches are behind the prop levers: switch to manual, pull back to decrease rpm a few hundred, push back up to 2,300 and flick the switch back to automatic. During the War, the props were known to run away, but this was usually due to corrosion when the aircraft were left outside. On the whole, they were very reliable, but part of the drill is to be ready to reach up and pull them out of automatic to manual if the rpm go above 3,000 red line.


Before takeoff: top hatch locked; side windows rolled up (they're like car windows), and engage the locking ratchet (if left open, they create enormous turbulence across the horizontal surfaces); props full forward; prop selectors auto; mixtures auto rich; fuel tank selectors reserve; dive flaps up; wing flaps up; aileron boost on; boost pumps on and emergency (this gives about 10 pounds more fuel pressure); rudder trim 0 degrees; elevator trim 3 degrees up.


Once lined up on the runway, the most important thing is to have the nosewheel straight; the slightest deviation to one side will make it really lurch when the power is applied. The view forward is wonderful; unlike in the tailwheel types, runway visibility is a totally unobstructed. Hold the brakes, open the throttles. During the War, the drill was to go to full power, let the turbos stabilize, see if the props were going to run away, then let go. It must have been like a rocket because all I did was go up to 30 inches manifold pressure, glance at the engine instruments, and release-wham! The P-38 shot out from under me as I kept moving the power up to 54 inches and 3,000rpm. The first thing I noticed was absolutely no torque and perfectly straight tracking-heaven with 3,000hp screaming into my ears and a wonderful feeling of being pressed back into my seat.


The manual recommends easing back on the control column at 70mph, lift off between 90 and 100mph, retract the gear and accelerate to 120mph safe single-engine speed. After what seemed like a few seconds, noting a steady 3,000rpm, I thought I'd take a look at the airspeed indicator for an update-YOW!! I was passing through 130mph! Unlike a tailwheel aircraft, the Lightning must be rotated off the ground, or it will simply stay glued to the runway. I pulled back, shot into the air and fumbled for the gear handle on the lower portion of the engine control pedestal. The P-38 immediately clawed for altitude as I brought the power back to 44 inches and 2,600rpm for climb. It took a couple of takeoffs to get used to this, but eventually, I was able to react quickly enough to get the nosewheel off the ground at the recommended speed and rotate the fighter. It must have been a superb short-field aircraft when taking off with the flaps halfway down.


The specter hovering over this exhilaration is loss of an engine on takeoff. In early 1942, when Dad and his 14th Fighter Group friends transitioned into the P-38, they had, on the whole, absolutely no twin-engine time. They were fighter pilots, weren't they? In short order, pilots were getting killed when one engine quit and the P-38 rolled over onto its back and into the ground. Soon, Lockheed test pilots Milo Burcham, Tony LeVier, Jimmy Mattern and others were showing new P-38 pilots how to bring back both throttles, get the nose down and maintain control while trimming out the yaw and bringing the power back up on the good engine, feathering the prop of the dead engine and accelerating to 120mph. This may sound a bit daunting, but during a few single-engine drills at altitude, I found the P-38 responds wonderfully to each input and flies away without a whimper. A Lightning will fly single-engine at 255mph true air speed at 20,000 feet-quite impressive indeed.


Best climb is somewhere between 140 and 180mph, and this plane really climbs. The wartime technique was a shallow, high-speed climb, which would outdistance almost any enemy fighter. And what a wonderful experience not to have to hold strong right rudder; feet on the floor, relaxed, I was in paradise. After a few tentative turns, with absolutely no pressure from the ailerons, I was beginning to comprehend why everyone loved the Lightning so much: it flies like a jet with no vibration and light controls.


Level off, power back to 30 inches and 2,000rpm, mixtures to auto-lean, boost pumps to normal, fuel selectors to main tanks. What a sight! Within the wing, I felt as if I were being absorbed by the machine-becoming a part of it rather than riding in it. One of the weak points of the design comes across right away: the engines and wings on each side really block the view down. The only way to keep one's scan up is to roll the airplane into a steep bank and then roll back, which doesn't do wingmen much good in formation. I can see why mutual scan among flight members was so critical. My first few turns were effortless; the aileron boost makes an enormous difference. Unlike with a jet, the turns have to be coordinated with a firm push on the rudders, which are stiffer than both ailerons and elevators. Without wasting any time, I decided to do the one thing I had wanted to do more than any other: a barrel-roll-Dad's favorite maneuver. Nose down for a little extra speed, pull back, turn the wheel and push the rudder pedal. The P-38 glided through just as wonderfully as I thought it would. Another, even better. Another, perfection. With one hand on the wheel and the other on the throttles, it's just as easy. With both hands on the wheel, I pulled it into a tight turn and was delighted to find the elevators almost as light as the ailerons. Making tight turns and loops was so easy that I grinned involuntarily. When going over the top of the loop, no right rudder was needed at all; just keep the feet on the floor. This was becoming far too easy.


The single dominant impression is this thing is smooth and effortless to fly-quite unlike the more complex warbird types. Managing both engines quickly becomes second nature. Stalls are docile; just a rumble as the airflow starts to break up and move toward the wingtips-no tip-stalling tendencies. To recover, just relax backpressure and fly away while shoving the throttles to full power with no worry of a snap-roll. At a 15,000-pound gross weight, a power-off gear- and flaps-down stall is 70mph! Those Fowler flaps are superb. While flying formation with the Cherokee Six camera ship, I was full of trepidation. The last time I did that in a Mustang, I held a bootful of right rudder, hanging on the ragged edge of a reduced power-on stall. At 100mph, I could hang the P-38 on its props, feet on the floor, and gently move the rudder to slide side to side.


Within an hour, something quite astonishing and totally unexpected began to happen. Not only was I more than comfortable, but the airplane also began to "shrink" around me in my mind. The wings seemed to get smaller, the engines went almost unnoticed, and I was soon flying only the central pod with its guns sticking out front. The sense of power, freedom and effortless control movement is so visceral the machine becomes a part of you. As this dawned on me, I was abruptly sharing the cockpit with young Lt. Erv Ethell. His recollections of handling the P-38 in combat became my own; his hands were my hands. The generational circle closed around me as I soared above the Oregon coastline and I began to talk to him, even though he was 2,500 miles away.


Without much thought, I was entering his preferred combat maneuver; power up, I pictured a 109 on my tail and began an increasingly steep right-hand climbing turn. In turning and twisting with 109s and 190s, Dad never got a bullet hole in Tangerine, his P-38F. As the speed dropped below 150mph, I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. At this point, the 109 pilot, at full power with the right rudder all the way down, would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine, pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine, shoved right rudder pedal, and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. Not only did it turn on a dime, but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. As the nose came through 180 degrees, I threw the flap lever back to full up, evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. The 109 would have been a sitting duck.


This transitional performance is what made the Lightning great in a dogfight; it gave it far more versatility than a single-engine fighter. No doubt, if it were flown like a single-engine fighter, it would come out on the short end, but when a pilot learned to use everything available to him, it was stunningly dangerous to the enemy. One final characteristic made all this worthwhile: there was no converging fire from the wings. A P-38 pilot could get all of his guns on target whether it was 10 feet or 1,000 yards away. Convinced they were flying the finest fighter of the War, Bong and McGuire were sold on this combination. They had no hesitation at going round and round with Zeros and Oscars, which were supposedly more maneuverable.


However, once going downhill, the other Achilles heel of the Lightning comes out: compressibility. I never got there, but I passed 400mph in a dive without much time to think about it. There's a dive-limit placard in the cockpit, and observing it was absolutely mandatory. The Pilot's Instructions state, "As the airplane approaches the critical speed, it becomes rapidly nose-heavy and starts to buffet as if it were about to stall. If this condition is allowed to develop, the nose-heavy condition will become more pronounced, and it will be very difficult to pull out." Many never pulled out. Fortunately, the P-38L had dive flaps-large electrically driven surfaces under each outside wing that deflected no matter what the speed. I hit the switch on the wheel and, with no pull on the wheel at all, the plane pulled out and pitched up into a shallow climb. When I retracted the flaps, the nose pitched down into level flight-all with no input. Unfortunately, dive flaps did not come along until the late J Series-about the same time as the aileron boost-but far too late for most who had flown the P-38 in combat.


Another bugaboo with the Lightning was bailing out and hitting the horizontal stabilizer; actually, it wasn't that prevalent. There were several methods: (1) slow down to around 110mph with full flaps if possible, crawl out of the cockpit and slide headfirst down the wing; Lockheed said you'd miss the horizontal stabilizer by four feet; (2) roll over with elevator trim forward and fall out; (3) at high speed, just pop the hatch and get sucked out.


Reluctantly, I had to head back to Tillamook; after beating up the west coast of Oregon, I had run out of ideas. Initial for an overhead fan break: 360 degrees overhead approach at 250mph; fuel-tank selectors on main or reserve (whichever is fullest); mixtures to auto rich; props to 2,600rpm; boost pumps on and emergency. Racing across the numbers, I pulled up and left into the break. Move flap handle to the maneuver stop; gear down below 175mph; 50 percent flaps at 150mph and settle into the downwind. From base to final, bring the power back to 18 inches and stabilize at 140mph. With the field made, add full flaps, bleed airspeed down to 120mph; over the fence at 100 to 110mph, but never exceed 100mph on touchdown or the P-38 will really eat up some runway. Both throttles to idle and pull the wheel back. That first landing at around 80mph felt like setting a baby carriage down with a satisfying squeak-way too easy. Hold the wheel back for aerodynamic braking, then lower the nose; we haven't gone much more than 2,000 feet. Absolutely amazing.


With one engine out, the landing technique is similar with the following exceptions: 160mph and 1,600 feet on downwind, aileron boost off to conserve hydraulic power, 50 percent flaps at 140mph; partially reduce rudder trim, approach no slower than 130mph. At 44 inches and 2,600rpm, the P-38 will barely hold altitude with gear down and flaps up and will not hold any altitude even with some flaps extended. Do not extend full flap until closing the throttle on the good engine for landing. Below 500 feet with full flaps, you must land as it will not make a go-around.


Off the active; brake to a stop; flaps up; coolant flaps full open; boost pumps off. Back to the parking area, throttles up to 1,200 rpm; stabilize temperatures; mixtures to idle cut-off; mags off; battery off. I have come full circle. Reining back some obvious prejudice from growing up with Dad's memories, I have come to see the P-38 in a far different light. There is little doubt in my mind I have flown the finest American fighter of WW II. It may have taken a little more time to master and certainly was more complex to maintain in the field, but the options available to the Lightning pilot were impressive. A talented, aggressive fighter pilot could clearly make the P-38 sing. I count myself fortunate to have heard, at last, that siren song.


Source:
Flight Journal's, written by the late Jeff Ethell


I very much enjoyed this article and I hope you all do as well/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif
S~



http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:14 PM
I was excited. But it was more than that. As I sat there at the end of the runway, my feet spread wide on the rudder pedals, left hand wrapped around the two big red throttle knobs, right hand grasping the characteristic control yoke, I was living out a dream. A childhood dream. I'd seen this image in my mind a thousand times but was never sure I could make it real.


The big Allisons on either side rumbled their impatience, but the sound wasn't of this time. It was the long-ago sound track of "A Guy Named Joe"-the accompaniment to the dream that someday I'd fly the fighter my father had loved so much in WW II. Until this day, it had eluded me, but as I started the throttles forward and felt the seat pushing against the small of my back, I was stepping over the threshold into an adventure that would leave its mark on me forever. More than that, it would bridge the years and tighten the already firm bond between my father and me.


When Jack Erickson and his Tillamook NAS Museum in Oregon opened the door, after so many years of yearning, I had to fight back the dread it wouldn't happen, but he had two airworthy Lightnings on the field, so the chances looked pretty good.


When the day arrived, I stood transfixed before the newly restored olive-drab-and-gray P-38L-5. The P-38 defines the word "big" for WW II fighters-52-foot wingspan with operational weights up to 17,500 pounds, or more if needed. Preflight is very easy; you can walk under every part of the airplane, which sits some 10 feet off the ground on massive landing gear. With twin, liquid-cooled engines, four radiators, four oil coolers and the maze of hydraulics to run landing gear and flaps, the Lightning is very complex indeed, so there is plenty to check. Fortunately, Museum maintenance chief Ted Ryder is as much a fanatic on mechanical perfection as Jack, so this P-38-after about 13 hours total time since restoration-was operating virtually fault-free.


With a flick of a small lever, the handle for the boarding ladder pops out of the upper rear of the central gondola; one pull and it swings the ladder down then locks it into place. Getting up onto the airplane is then a series of embarrassing tries at sticking feet into the rungs, falling down and scrambling for the handhold just forward of the ladder handle. This took more getting used to than flying the plane. The final system boils down to right foot into the first rung, pull forward on the handle to get centered over the ladder, left foot into the next rung and grab the handhold to pull forward for all you're worth while swinging the right leg up onto the wing. Everyone had his laugh for the day watching me try to cope with this thing.


Once I was settled in the cockpit, I was taken with the vast expanse of airplane around me. Sitting deep within the center gondola and wing, I quickly got the impression of being buried in the machine; this would intensify in flight. The cockpit is just about perfect in size: not too small, not too large and very comfortable. Having memorized the Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions, I was quickly familiar with the cockpit-absolutely mandatory before flying. The layout is a myriad of switches, and the labeling is often hard to read, particularly because most of the switches sit behind the control wheel. I can see why wartime instructors required a blindfold cockpit check before turning people loose.


ack, as if he'd come straight out of WW II as a transition instructor, gave me a few last-minute pointers like how to start it and what was different from a stock P-38; then he said, "Give it a try." He turned around, slid down the wing and climbed down the ladder, which I could hear retract with a firm clunk. He really must have had confidence.


he most obvious difference from other wartime fighters-other than having two of everything for the engines-is the dual pistol-grip control wheel. Putting both hands on this thing brings a sense of complete authority. I can see why it was so easy to haul the aircraft into tight turns; both biceps are working.


The ergonomics of the wheel are also years ahead of their time: the grips are canted inward to the exact position of one's hands when they're relaxed and held out in front of you. Dad absolutely loved the wheel instead of a stick, because he could maneuver and point the four .50s and single 20mm like a fire hose.


The engine controls sprout from the left pedestal in all directions, so I carefully went over each lever, switch and propeller circuit breaker (these are Curtiss electric propellers). The large, red, round throttle knobs are an ideal size for the left hand, completing the sense of total control given by the wheel grips. The fuel-tank selectors are mounted on the floor, one in front of the other, to the left of the seat-left wing fuel forward, right wing fuel aft. This has been the cause of most P-38 accidents in the past 30 years. Not only can one get confused about which tank one is selecting, but the five detents include an off position that also doubles for the drop tank. Pilots have often selected a position either between the detents or the off/drop tank position with no tanks, starving the engines of fuel. I took several minutes to look down and memorize the positions and the feel of the selector handles.


With nothing else to look at, the inevitable had arrived. Before-start checklist: battery on; fuel selectors reserve (the carburetor vapor line returns several gallons an hour here); if carrying drop tanks, the bomb selector switches go on with arming switch to safe, but they are not hung today; throttles 3/4-inch open; props full forward; prop selector switches auto; mixtures idle cut-off; oil-cooler flap switches auto; generator switches on; coolant-flap override switches off (auto); intercooler flaps open; fuel-quantity check.


Engine start begins with the left, then the right engine boost pump on and normal; ignition master on; magneto both; starter switch hold forward (left engine) with middle finger of right hand until maximum inertia. Like most Allison-powered WW II aircraft, a flywheel is spun up and then engaged. While still holding the inertia starter, the third finger pushes the engage switch forward at the same time the index finger holds the primer! At first, this is a real comedy of twisted fingers and contorted muscles because you have to reach under or over the control column to get to all this stuff while the left hand is poised on the left mixture control. Much to my delight, the Allison started very smoothly. I brought the mixture up, and the engine settled down into that distinctive P-38 collected exhaust rumble. Repeat this for the right engine (except the starter and engage switches are held rearward), and the same satisfying start takes place. Dad would confound his students by starting both engines at once; this had to be a real trick. Over the next several days of flying, the sequence became quite natural without a single mis-start. In the P-38, those Allisons start about as easily as a car engine, but they are more difficult to get going in the P-40 and the P-51A. I have no idea why.


Sitting there with both turbos whirling, feeling and hearing the satisfying, deep-throated growl coming from the top of the booms (on either side of the ears) is absolutely mesmerizing. There is no sound like it. Looking at those spinning props, across the broad wings, I had to be dreaming.


Off the brakes and the Lightning moves easily away, even at low rpm. Like all WW II tricycle gear types, the nosewheel is non-steerable, so it casters in response to throttles or brakes. I quickly discovered that the rudders pick up the prop blast at low speed, so very little brake is needed; just push the rudder pedal, and it steers as if the nosewheel is hooked up. The brakes don't have the bear-trap power of the B-25, but one can get a bob and weave going when pushing on them too hard. Differential throttle is the primary means of steering, and what a great thrill to hear the "rrrRRRRUMMMPP" of the exhausts with each application of throttle.


Run-up at 2,300rpm (once each engine has at least 40-degree C oil temp) is simple because the propeller selector switches are behind the prop levers: switch to manual, pull back to decrease rpm a few hundred, push back up to 2,300 and flick the switch back to automatic. During the War, the props were known to run away, but this was usually due to corrosion when the aircraft were left outside. On the whole, they were very reliable, but part of the drill is to be ready to reach up and pull them out of automatic to manual if the rpm go above 3,000 red line.


Before takeoff: top hatch locked; side windows rolled up (they're like car windows), and engage the locking ratchet (if left open, they create enormous turbulence across the horizontal surfaces); props full forward; prop selectors auto; mixtures auto rich; fuel tank selectors reserve; dive flaps up; wing flaps up; aileron boost on; boost pumps on and emergency (this gives about 10 pounds more fuel pressure); rudder trim 0 degrees; elevator trim 3 degrees up.


Once lined up on the runway, the most important thing is to have the nosewheel straight; the slightest deviation to one side will make it really lurch when the power is applied. The view forward is wonderful; unlike in the tailwheel types, runway visibility is a totally unobstructed. Hold the brakes, open the throttles. During the War, the drill was to go to full power, let the turbos stabilize, see if the props were going to run away, then let go. It must have been like a rocket because all I did was go up to 30 inches manifold pressure, glance at the engine instruments, and release-wham! The P-38 shot out from under me as I kept moving the power up to 54 inches and 3,000rpm. The first thing I noticed was absolutely no torque and perfectly straight tracking-heaven with 3,000hp screaming into my ears and a wonderful feeling of being pressed back into my seat.


The manual recommends easing back on the control column at 70mph, lift off between 90 and 100mph, retract the gear and accelerate to 120mph safe single-engine speed. After what seemed like a few seconds, noting a steady 3,000rpm, I thought I'd take a look at the airspeed indicator for an update-YOW!! I was passing through 130mph! Unlike a tailwheel aircraft, the Lightning must be rotated off the ground, or it will simply stay glued to the runway. I pulled back, shot into the air and fumbled for the gear handle on the lower portion of the engine control pedestal. The P-38 immediately clawed for altitude as I brought the power back to 44 inches and 2,600rpm for climb. It took a couple of takeoffs to get used to this, but eventually, I was able to react quickly enough to get the nosewheel off the ground at the recommended speed and rotate the fighter. It must have been a superb short-field aircraft when taking off with the flaps halfway down.


The specter hovering over this exhilaration is loss of an engine on takeoff. In early 1942, when Dad and his 14th Fighter Group friends transitioned into the P-38, they had, on the whole, absolutely no twin-engine time. They were fighter pilots, weren't they? In short order, pilots were getting killed when one engine quit and the P-38 rolled over onto its back and into the ground. Soon, Lockheed test pilots Milo Burcham, Tony LeVier, Jimmy Mattern and others were showing new P-38 pilots how to bring back both throttles, get the nose down and maintain control while trimming out the yaw and bringing the power back up on the good engine, feathering the prop of the dead engine and accelerating to 120mph. This may sound a bit daunting, but during a few single-engine drills at altitude, I found the P-38 responds wonderfully to each input and flies away without a whimper. A Lightning will fly single-engine at 255mph true air speed at 20,000 feet-quite impressive indeed.


Best climb is somewhere between 140 and 180mph, and this plane really climbs. The wartime technique was a shallow, high-speed climb, which would outdistance almost any enemy fighter. And what a wonderful experience not to have to hold strong right rudder; feet on the floor, relaxed, I was in paradise. After a few tentative turns, with absolutely no pressure from the ailerons, I was beginning to comprehend why everyone loved the Lightning so much: it flies like a jet with no vibration and light controls.


Level off, power back to 30 inches and 2,000rpm, mixtures to auto-lean, boost pumps to normal, fuel selectors to main tanks. What a sight! Within the wing, I felt as if I were being absorbed by the machine-becoming a part of it rather than riding in it. One of the weak points of the design comes across right away: the engines and wings on each side really block the view down. The only way to keep one's scan up is to roll the airplane into a steep bank and then roll back, which doesn't do wingmen much good in formation. I can see why mutual scan among flight members was so critical. My first few turns were effortless; the aileron boost makes an enormous difference. Unlike with a jet, the turns have to be coordinated with a firm push on the rudders, which are stiffer than both ailerons and elevators. Without wasting any time, I decided to do the one thing I had wanted to do more than any other: a barrel-roll-Dad's favorite maneuver. Nose down for a little extra speed, pull back, turn the wheel and push the rudder pedal. The P-38 glided through just as wonderfully as I thought it would. Another, even better. Another, perfection. With one hand on the wheel and the other on the throttles, it's just as easy. With both hands on the wheel, I pulled it into a tight turn and was delighted to find the elevators almost as light as the ailerons. Making tight turns and loops was so easy that I grinned involuntarily. When going over the top of the loop, no right rudder was needed at all; just keep the feet on the floor. This was becoming far too easy.


The single dominant impression is this thing is smooth and effortless to fly-quite unlike the more complex warbird types. Managing both engines quickly becomes second nature. Stalls are docile; just a rumble as the airflow starts to break up and move toward the wingtips-no tip-stalling tendencies. To recover, just relax backpressure and fly away while shoving the throttles to full power with no worry of a snap-roll. At a 15,000-pound gross weight, a power-off gear- and flaps-down stall is 70mph! Those Fowler flaps are superb. While flying formation with the Cherokee Six camera ship, I was full of trepidation. The last time I did that in a Mustang, I held a bootful of right rudder, hanging on the ragged edge of a reduced power-on stall. At 100mph, I could hang the P-38 on its props, feet on the floor, and gently move the rudder to slide side to side.


Within an hour, something quite astonishing and totally unexpected began to happen. Not only was I more than comfortable, but the airplane also began to "shrink" around me in my mind. The wings seemed to get smaller, the engines went almost unnoticed, and I was soon flying only the central pod with its guns sticking out front. The sense of power, freedom and effortless control movement is so visceral the machine becomes a part of you. As this dawned on me, I was abruptly sharing the cockpit with young Lt. Erv Ethell. His recollections of handling the P-38 in combat became my own; his hands were my hands. The generational circle closed around me as I soared above the Oregon coastline and I began to talk to him, even though he was 2,500 miles away.


Without much thought, I was entering his preferred combat maneuver; power up, I pictured a 109 on my tail and began an increasingly steep right-hand climbing turn. In turning and twisting with 109s and 190s, Dad never got a bullet hole in Tangerine, his P-38F. As the speed dropped below 150mph, I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. At this point, the 109 pilot, at full power with the right rudder all the way down, would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine, pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine, shoved right rudder pedal, and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. Not only did it turn on a dime, but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. As the nose came through 180 degrees, I threw the flap lever back to full up, evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. The 109 would have been a sitting duck.


This transitional performance is what made the Lightning great in a dogfight; it gave it far more versatility than a single-engine fighter. No doubt, if it were flown like a single-engine fighter, it would come out on the short end, but when a pilot learned to use everything available to him, it was stunningly dangerous to the enemy. One final characteristic made all this worthwhile: there was no converging fire from the wings. A P-38 pilot could get all of his guns on target whether it was 10 feet or 1,000 yards away. Convinced they were flying the finest fighter of the War, Bong and McGuire were sold on this combination. They had no hesitation at going round and round with Zeros and Oscars, which were supposedly more maneuverable.


However, once going downhill, the other Achilles heel of the Lightning comes out: compressibility. I never got there, but I passed 400mph in a dive without much time to think about it. There's a dive-limit placard in the cockpit, and observing it was absolutely mandatory. The Pilot's Instructions state, "As the airplane approaches the critical speed, it becomes rapidly nose-heavy and starts to buffet as if it were about to stall. If this condition is allowed to develop, the nose-heavy condition will become more pronounced, and it will be very difficult to pull out." Many never pulled out. Fortunately, the P-38L had dive flaps-large electrically driven surfaces under each outside wing that deflected no matter what the speed. I hit the switch on the wheel and, with no pull on the wheel at all, the plane pulled out and pitched up into a shallow climb. When I retracted the flaps, the nose pitched down into level flight-all with no input. Unfortunately, dive flaps did not come along until the late J Series-about the same time as the aileron boost-but far too late for most who had flown the P-38 in combat.


Another bugaboo with the Lightning was bailing out and hitting the horizontal stabilizer; actually, it wasn't that prevalent. There were several methods: (1) slow down to around 110mph with full flaps if possible, crawl out of the cockpit and slide headfirst down the wing; Lockheed said you'd miss the horizontal stabilizer by four feet; (2) roll over with elevator trim forward and fall out; (3) at high speed, just pop the hatch and get sucked out.


Reluctantly, I had to head back to Tillamook; after beating up the west coast of Oregon, I had run out of ideas. Initial for an overhead fan break: 360 degrees overhead approach at 250mph; fuel-tank selectors on main or reserve (whichever is fullest); mixtures to auto rich; props to 2,600rpm; boost pumps on and emergency. Racing across the numbers, I pulled up and left into the break. Move flap handle to the maneuver stop; gear down below 175mph; 50 percent flaps at 150mph and settle into the downwind. From base to final, bring the power back to 18 inches and stabilize at 140mph. With the field made, add full flaps, bleed airspeed down to 120mph; over the fence at 100 to 110mph, but never exceed 100mph on touchdown or the P-38 will really eat up some runway. Both throttles to idle and pull the wheel back. That first landing at around 80mph felt like setting a baby carriage down with a satisfying squeak-way too easy. Hold the wheel back for aerodynamic braking, then lower the nose; we haven't gone much more than 2,000 feet. Absolutely amazing.


With one engine out, the landing technique is similar with the following exceptions: 160mph and 1,600 feet on downwind, aileron boost off to conserve hydraulic power, 50 percent flaps at 140mph; partially reduce rudder trim, approach no slower than 130mph. At 44 inches and 2,600rpm, the P-38 will barely hold altitude with gear down and flaps up and will not hold any altitude even with some flaps extended. Do not extend full flap until closing the throttle on the good engine for landing. Below 500 feet with full flaps, you must land as it will not make a go-around.


Off the active; brake to a stop; flaps up; coolant flaps full open; boost pumps off. Back to the parking area, throttles up to 1,200 rpm; stabilize temperatures; mixtures to idle cut-off; mags off; battery off. I have come full circle. Reining back some obvious prejudice from growing up with Dad's memories, I have come to see the P-38 in a far different light. There is little doubt in my mind I have flown the finest American fighter of WW II. It may have taken a little more time to master and certainly was more complex to maintain in the field, but the options available to the Lightning pilot were impressive. A talented, aggressive fighter pilot could clearly make the P-38 sing. I count myself fortunate to have heard, at last, that siren song.


Source:
Flight Journal's, written by the late Jeff Ethell


I very much enjoyed this article and I hope you all do as well/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif
S~



http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:20 PM
Nice story. Thanks

Regards,
VFC*Crazyivan
http://www.rmutt.netfirms.com/ivan-reaper.gif

"No matter how good the violin may be, much depends on the violinist. I always felt respect for an enemy pilot whose plane I failed to down." Ivan Kozhedub

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:30 PM
nice.........../i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

The genuine Hawg-dawg....(soon to be Bad MF)
Proud former member of Kelly Johnson's "SKUNK WORKS"
Fat Boys and.... Props For Life

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:30 PM
Thanks. I have read that artical many times. Love it every time. I am going to have Oleg read it to help him dial in some of the take-off and landing and ground handling in the sim.

Gib

No fancy quote or cool photo.... YET

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:34 PM
needless to say they all want this plane please oleg give us a flyable p38 soon i hear them say

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:37 PM
Cool deal Gib I hope he listens...And sorry for the couple words I cut short on accident while copy and pasting. I tried to edit but it wouldnt let me/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif


BTW. Here is the link for Flight Jounal's http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/planes.asp

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg

Rew_
10-21-2003, 11:50 PM
Great story, I loved that! The Tillamook musuem is also very neat, it's a gigantic blimp hanger.

XyZspineZyX
10-21-2003, 11:52 PM
The story has a sad ending, he crashed & died in that same P-38 at a P-38 Veteran gathering in Tillamook, with his dad there. A real shame to lose him & the plane. You can watch his flight on DVD through roaring glory, its great.



If you are crazy you can't fly combat missions, but you have to be crazy to fly combat missions

Message Edited on 10/21/0305:53PM by Stork

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 09:16 PM
Very sad indeed. But atleast he got to do what so few get to do, live out a childhood dream.

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 09:41 PM
Stork wrote:
- The story has a sad ending, he crashed & died in
- that same P-38 at a P-38 Veteran gathering in
- Tillamook, with his dad there. A real shame to lose
- him & the plane. You can watch his flight on DVD
- through roaring glory, its great.


Yes, terrible....

What was the reason BTW? - I think I remember hearing something about an item getting stuck in the cockpit in a maneuver...?

Freycinet
<center>
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/delfin/SD/2001/flight/spitbf109/ellehammer-crop-for-il2-forum-reduced.jpg</center>
<center>My Il-2 web-site:</center><center><BIG>"Za Rodinu!"</BIG> (http://perso.wanadoo.fr/delfin/SD/2001/flight/il-2/index.htm)</center>

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 09:56 PM
Forgot to switch from reserve to main tanks, engine stopped on approach to landing, stalled and crashed.

7./JG26_HarryM

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 10:38 PM
nice story
apart from the death part /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 10:44 PM
"Nose down for a little extra speed, pull back, turn the wheel and push the rudder pedal."

Wheel? What is this, a fighter or a cargo vessel?


http://sivusto.servepics.com/~lahnat/werre2s.jpg

prkl

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 11:06 PM
Ive been begging for this AC since IL2 /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

I cant wait for the P38...


Just curiouse how do you plan on flying it ?

T&B or B&Z /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

<CENTER> http://www.onpoi.net/ah/pics/users/ah_109_1065290873.jpg </center>

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 11:21 PM
Lol. Your reaching there. The P-38 had a dial pistol grip wheel so hte pilot could use two hands for rolls. This helped offset the weight of the engines and booms on the wings. Also the pilot had a better grip for pulling up. Every fighter pilot said they loved the wheel instead of the stick.

Gib

Werre_ wrote:
- "Nose down for a little extra speed, pull back, turn
- the wheel and push the rudder pedal."
-
- Wheel? What is this, a fighter or a cargo vessel?
-
-
-
<img
- src="http://sivusto.servepics.com/~lahnat/werre2s.
- jpg">
-
- prkl



No fancy quote or cool photo.... YET

XyZspineZyX
10-22-2003, 11:49 PM
B&Z http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg


Message Edited on 10/22/0306:50PM by VMF-214_HaVoK

adlabs6
10-23-2003, 04:00 AM
Thanks for this article, what a nice read. /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

<html>
<body>
<table cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" border="0" width="600" align="center">
<tbody>
<tr>
<td valign="top" bgcolor="#ffffff">
<font face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"><font color="000000">adlabs<font color="#ff9900">6</font></font>
</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign="top" bgcolor="#42524e">
<div align="center"><font color="#999999">
http://www.geocities.com/adlabs6/B/bin/sigtemp.JPG (http://mudmovers.com/Sims/FB/fb_skins_historical_adlabs6.htm)
<small><font color="#ff6600">NEW</font> at mudmovers! Click the pic to download my skins from mudmovers.com!</small>
</font>
Skinner's Guide at mudmovers (http://mudmovers.com/Sims/FB/fb_skinnersguide.htm) | Skinner's heaven (http://www.1java.org/sh) | IL2skins (http://www.il2skins.com)
<font color="#999999">
My Forgotten Battles Webpage (http://www.geocities.com/adlabs6/B/index.html) Current Wallpaper: <font color="#999999">Bf-109 Morning Run</font></font>

<A HREF="http://forums.ubi.com/messages/message_view-topic.asp?name=us_il2sturmovik_gd&id=zhiwg" TARGET=_blank>"Whirlwind Whiner"
The first of the few</A>
</div>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
</body>
</html>

XyZspineZyX
10-23-2003, 02:30 PM
Excellent story, enjoyed reading it. Where is the photo of the aircraft from? That's one beautiful Bird! Is that the one you flew?

XyZspineZyX
10-23-2003, 08:16 PM
woofiedog wrote:
- Excellent story, enjoyed reading it. Where is the
- photo of the aircraft from? That's one beautiful
- Bird! Is that the one you flew?
-
-


I believe that those are the words of Jeff Ethyl


http://www.uploadit.org/files/010903-nedChristie.jpg

Tsalagi Asgaya Equa!

XyZspineZyX
10-23-2003, 09:05 PM
woofiedog wrote:
- Excellent story, enjoyed reading it. Where is the
- photo of the aircraft from? That's one beautiful
- Bird! Is that the one you flew?
-
-
LOL...Dont I wish it was me. I have never flown a P-38 nor can I articulate words into text with such creativity/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif And yeah thats the plane he flew, you can find the stroy and others here http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/planes.asp
S~


http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/images/p-38_spread_large.jpg