View Full Version : P-38 impression (**long overdue**)

11-13-2004, 09:01 PM
After typing out tactics from the same book for the P-40 and P-47 I promised a long time ago to post something I had from "Pacific Sweep", by William Hess, part written by Captain W. K. "Kenny" Giroux, a member of the 8th fighter group, 36th fighter squadron of the fifth air force. Captain Giroux flew the P-39, the P-47, and the P-38 in combat, but scored all of his offical 10 victories in the Lightning.

His picture (don't know why there are 12 kill marks, I have seen 11 listed on other sites):


"After 6 months in Panama and about 150 hours in P-39's and P-40's, I was assigned to the fifth air force, 8th fighter group at Port Moresby, New Guinea. The 8th group consisted of the 80th squadron flying P-38's, the 35th flying P-40's, the and the 36th flying P-39's and war-weary P-400's. No luck on this assignment, I drew the 36th. It took no time to realize I had a poor combat aircraft. It had served its purpose well in Panama, but this was a brand new ball-game. The P-39 had no range to get you to where the real action was, poor service ceiling, poor rate of climb, and it wasn't the best in a dive. Consequently we drew the poorest missions. Strafing for ground support and short range escort of transports were our primary duties. After about 30 such missions our war-weary P-39's and P-400's were replaced with new P-47's. From the smallest fighter plane in the AAF to the big 2,000hp P-47 was quite a transition. At least now we had a plane that could take you to where the action was.

Late in January 1944 while we were stationed at Finschhafen, we were told that the squadron would be re-equipped with P-38's. On February 1, 2 Lightnings were assigned to us and the checkouts began. I can't recall ever being so eager to fly or as impressed as I was with the new airplane. I would fly a mission in the morning and spend the rest of the day at the flight line talking to the check-out pilots.

On February 4th I was given a cockpit check and told, "Its all yours." What a feeling! I started the 2 big Allisons. I had flown Allison engined aircraft before in the P-39 and P-40, but the sound was different. It's not like the roar you get from the short exhaust stacks on the P-40 or the noise of the gear box and exhaust from the P-39, but a smooth purr as the exhaust from the 12 cylinder Allison is channeled through the superchargers.

I taxied out to the runway and got clearance for takeoff. As in all fighters it is a "do it yourself" deal, with no instructor pilot riding along. This airplane had a good feeling and it didn't seem to "sweat it out" as with other checkouts. I advanced to full throttle, and the purr of the engines changed to a deep throated, muffled roar. As you went down the runway, building up speed, you could feel the difference. There was no standing on the rudder to compensate for torque, as in single engined airplanes. The speed built up fast. The big fighter was only halfway down the runway when it became airborne, so I picked up the gear and climbed out. The cockpit was comfortable, and not the tight fit of the P-39 nor the deep seat of the P-47. You sat high with plenty of room and excellent visibility except at the 2 and 10 o'clock positions due to the engine nacelles.

I leveled out at 15,000 feet and started to feel the bird out. I tried stalls with power off and power on. It reacted very well and broke clean. The plane warned you well ahead of its stall. I leveled it out and put it into a high speed turn, pulling hard on the yoke to get a high-speed stall. The plane again gave warning in its shutters but you still had control.

It was hard to believe this big twin-engine fighter could be such a nimble aircraft for aerobatics, but after a few rolls, loops, and immelmanns I was a believer. It handled like nothing I had ever flown before.

I headed back to the field for my first twin-engined landing. the forward visibility was perfect. I came in "over the fence" at 90mph. With no ammunition and just a hundred gallons of fuel it floated a bit, but I held it off and landed beautifully.

I had checked out in the P-38F, later I flew the J and L series.

On February 23rd, 1944, I flew my last P-47. That month I had flown 26 missions, 19 in the P-47 and 7 in the P-38. I really didn't have a dislike for the "Jug." I had some success with it but like a mother in-law that stays too long I was glad to see her go.

The P-38 was used for every type of combat mission: photo recon, strafing, bombing, and fighting. Stripped down for photo work, its speed and service ceiling made it the best in the Pacific. Its performance as a bomber was unbelievable. It could carry 2 2,000lb bombs or a 2,000lb bomb and a 300gallon belly tank.

As bomber pilots we got to be fairly accurate. We eould fly in over a target at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, roll over on our back, and split-ess, trying to release our bombs while in position over our target. The bombing run would be followed by strafing, which could do considerable damage. In aerial combat a pilot's skill will keep him alive, but in strafing it a "luck game." The P-38 increased your odds. Its twin engines, its ability to take punishment, and its concentration of firepower let you do your job and live to fight another day.

As with all AAF planes, the P-38 was not a fighter to get into a dogfight with and slug it out, blow for blow, with the Japanese Zero. A zero pilot with even average ability would beat you every time. However, by being alert and using the P-38 to its advantages the kill ratio was 12 to 1 in our favor.

I believe the success of a fighter pilot dpeneded on his eyesight, his ability to fly, and the aircraft he is flying (so it is the man AND the machine http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif). Seeing the enemy first had the battle half won. After seeing him you used your ability to fly to "set him up" and take advantage of everything the P-38 had to offer. With the airspeed above 300mph we made our pass and climbed or dived away. If you missed you used your speed and power to get in position for another pass. If the enemy turned we stayed with him for no more than 180 degrees. A tight turn would kill off the airspeed and you had lost your advantage. No one felt bad because the big, heavily loaded P-38 wouldn't turn with a Zero.

With a late model P-38J or L with the new hydraulic boost for the ailerons and the maneuverability flap I believe I could have come close to turning with a Zero http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif. I never tried it, the hit and run was a sure winner so why not stay with it?

The two things that bugged the P-38 pilots in Europe were the lack of cockpit heat and compressibility in a dive. Although the faults were corrected in later models, they were never a problem in the Pacific. Our missions were not at the great altitudes they used in Europe, we rarely exceeded 25,000 feet. The new footwarmer in the J's kept us warm in our suntans. In fact, a little coolness at altitude felt very refreshing after a day in the hot jungle. To dive at the speed of sound or encounter compressibility was uncalled for. There was no plane we could not outdive at 600mph, a safe speed for the P-38.

If the war had lasted a few more years the P-38 would have undoubtedly had a 1,000 mile range. With Colonel Charles Lindbergh teaching us cruise control (high manifold pressure) and adding more fuel tanks in the leading edge of the wing, the legs got longer. We could reach targets over 1,000 miles away. In less than two years we had doubled our range. My longest was 8 hours and 45 minutes. Eight hours is a long time to sit anywhere. However, the old bird would do its best to keep you comfortable. It could be trimmed up to almost fly hands off. The cockpit was large enough to loosen your safety belt and stretch out a bit.

The abort rate was not high. Personally I aborted 3 times, twice due to a bad fuel booster pump and once for a rough engine due to a bad magneto. The credit for the almost faultless performance goes to my two great crew chiefs, Sergeant Livingston and Sergeant Neal. Overall the Allisons were good, tough, powerful engines. Coupled with the twin-boomed airframe it made the P-38 a true fighting thoroughbred. From the E series to the L series at war's end the P-38 was always "the" airplane in the Pacific.

In my opinion it was the greatest fighter airplane of its time. Yes, I have flown the P-51."

My fingers are tired, please excuse any mistakes. Someday I will try to type parts of the combat tactics part by Thomas Mcguire, but no promises this time http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif. Gotta love the P-38, I still don't think anything in FB/AEP/PF has the "coolness" factor once you fire up the Allisons.

Hope you enjoyed it from your friendly neighborhood Luftwhiner http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif.

11-13-2004, 09:15 PM
What a great read. Thanks for taking the time to type it up!


11-13-2004, 09:48 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by WTE_Snowhawk:
What a great read. Thanks for taking the time to type it up!

Agreed, thanks! I enjoyed it as well. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

11-13-2004, 11:19 PM
Nice Hunde, thanks for sharing!

11-13-2004, 11:41 PM
A really great book, my wife got mine at a yard sell for fifty cents. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

11-14-2004, 03:49 AM
Very good read, thank you! I think the "Mach tuck" is a bit overdone in FB 2.04. I haven't got to fly 3.0 yet, any better?

I missed the P-47, could you point me to the link, or give me the thread title so I can search? I'd sure apprieciate it. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

11-14-2004, 06:43 AM
cool, thanks http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

11-14-2004, 08:07 AM
Thanks bud, awesome read.

11-14-2004, 08:21 AM
An excellent read about the P-38. I've been flying it since it was available and I seem to like it a bit more each time. Its got a heck of a shape, a fairly nice feel to it, and its been improved a bit since its initial release...it feels like a deadly fighter if you treat it right.

After being the wing and having been the flight leader with experienced P-38 pilots like Korolov I've learned alot about the P-38. Its a good plane...just needs some paitence.

11-14-2004, 08:54 AM
Thanks for sharing Hunde.

"It could carry 2 2,000lb bombs or a 2,000lb bomb and a 300gallon belly tank".

What I dont get is, in the game, the P-38 can only carry 2 1000lb bombs and 8xHVAR rockets.

The Corrsair can carry twice that in FB+AEP+PF.

11-14-2004, 12:51 PM
Sorry Cajun, just tried search and refined search a hundred times and found nothing. The refined search doesn't seem to be able to find anything at all http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif, not even posts I made with titles I was sure of. Anyway, I think the title was "flying the P-47 in combat" or something similar. I will try again later but I gotta run.

Take care.

11-14-2004, 02:23 PM
"You sat high with plenty of room and excellent visibility except at the 2 and 10 o'clock positions due to the engine nacelles."

Interesing- you cant see sod all to the 3 and 9 o clock. I think based on that the seat position maybe a bit too low. Where have I heard that argument before? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

11-14-2004, 04:11 PM
I thank you for your efforts, I searched myself using your handle and "P-47" with no luck. A week or two ago the boards were acting a bit strange, maybe there was a server dump or something. Thank you all the same, you take care too. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I'm out of town at the moment, but if you decide to repost it later on down the road, I'll try to catch it then. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

Btw, the pilot of that P-38 wouldn't be from my neck of the woods/swamp, would he? "Giroux" sounds like French and/or Cajun. Is he from the original LA http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif, Louisiana?

11-14-2004, 04:37 PM
I think the search function is broke. It seems to only want to find threads within the past few hours.

It's gotta be out there somewhere though, if only I could remember when...

11-15-2004, 02:33 AM
Is Hunde not the coolest?

S~ Hunde (Kyrule2)

11-15-2004, 05:29 AM
Nice review. TY