Published on
February 12, 2013
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Jay L. Sherlock
Other Publication Information
Spiral-bound softcover, 112 pages, listing of kit sources, technical data on variants, appendices
Company: Aero Research - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Aero Research - Website: Visit Site

Modelers’ Guide to the P-38 Lightning is the third in a series of books published by Aero Research to aid modelers who want to build accurate models of specific aircraft. According to the first sentence in the book’s introduction: “This book is a guide to building any military variant of the P-38 Lightning, using existing kits.” That is not an understatement. The book will be a very useful reference for anyone planning to build any P-38. All variants, from prototype to the M model (and all photo-recon versions) are included. Author Jay Sherlock has done a thorough job of researching and organizing pertinent information that modelers usually find they need sometime during a project. As a matter of fact, the book will come in handy before starting the project – when deciding which kit to purchase. The first chapter describes in detail all kits currently available in 1/44, 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scales, and each description includes a small color photo of the box top. It is valuable information that can save model builders a lot of time searching the Internet for kit reviews and save them from investing in what may turn out to be the wrong kit for the planned project.

Although a number of photographs of aircraft are included (six color and thirty-eight black & white, some of them showing instrument panels), this is not a picture book. It is a model builder’s reference book. The information provided between the covers focuses on the physical differences between each variant and the modifications that were made during the aircraft’s service. It does not document color schemes, unit or national markings, or comment on field-applied camouflage, weathering, etc. That’s adequately addressed in a number of existing books, modeling magazines, and on the web. This book provides what the others don’t. It provides the technical data.

As the introduction goes on to say, “The emphasis is on the military-operated aircraft, and not on the various changes made by various civil operators in the post-war era, or modern civilian warbirds.” After the lengthy chapter covering kit descriptions, the book begins at the beginning with the XP-38 and YP-38, and continues down the line (or maybe up the line, if you prefer) to a final chapter on the F-5G. Each variant is treated in the same manner. First, an accurate profile drawing with scrap view of the center fuselage pod is provided with numbered callouts pointing to specific details. Below the drawings is a commentary about the variant, followed by kit recommendations. On the facing page, each of the numbered details called out in the drawings is thoroughly explained. Twenty-six variants are covered.

In addition to all that, the book includes four Appendices:

  1. Serial Number List
  2. Operating Units
  3. Surviving Aircraft
  4. References

The 112-page soft cover book is spiral bound, and for good reason...It can be opened to any page and will then stay open to that page when laid flat on the workbench. It is very well thought out and very useful. If you intend to build a model of a specific variant of the P-38 and don’t have a thorough knowledge of the subject or a vast library of references, you’ll want to get this book.

May be ordered directly from the publisher. See website for information.

I highly recommend Modelers’ Guide to the P-38 Lightning and thank both Aero Research and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this excellent book.


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