P-38 Lightning In Action
I was very impressed by this publication from cover to cover starting with the cover artwork by Don Greer. Though it is published in a Walk Around Series bound book, it follows the In Action format of the airplane’s inception through each production version. The Introduction explains how the Curtiss P-36 Hawk pursuit aircraft became the P-38’s predecessor. Briefly, the Army Air Corps contracted in early 1937 with Curtiss to convert one P-36 to the new turbo-supercharged, liquid-cooled Allison engine. The redesigned P-36 became the XP-37. The Army Air Corps also issued a contract with Lockheed to design a turbo-supercharged twin engine aircraft in June 1937 and thus the P-38 Lightning was on its way to becoming one of the most popular pursuit aircraft of all World War II.
Each version of the P-38 has its own section of color pictures along with accompanying black and white photographs of the XP-38, YP-38, P-38, P-38D, P-38E, P-38F, P-38G, P-38H, P-38J, and the P-38L. One more version is included of the P-38M night fighter with a dual cockpit and radome. The picture captions aren’t sparse for words. Each picture caption is a paragraph long. There are so many versions but easily simplified with a quick reference Specification Chart and line drawings mixed throughout the book. Later P-38 versions were massed produced and therefore have greater numbers of pictures. The YP-38 photos show a high polished metal finish and an interior cockpit shot. The British and French ordered a significant quantity designated 332-B and 332-F respectively which are also included in this book.
Many photos are really photographically sharp that modelers would be thrilled to have while building a kit. There are a few pictures of the engines, a couple with mechanics working on them and a couple in full depicting nice details. There are a couple of nose pictures exposing the inner four machine guns and belt feeds; not as close-up as you would want them to be, but so crisp you can pick out an ample amount of detail. Did you ever see a picture of a P-38 on skis? There is one in here.
One page is devoted to line drawings of the Canopy and Boom development. Various versions show which direction the canopy opens. Other line drawings depict antenna, pitot tube, and camera locations on different nose contours. There isn’t a centerfold of color profiles as the ‘In Action’ signature usually is but there are some color profiles spread out within the pages. It seems like color film cameras just followed P-38’s where ever they flew. The P-38 had its share of photo-reconnaissance haze shades of paint colors, as deep as navy blue.
What was sad to see was the last picture in the book. A picture of a scrap yard pile of P-38’s in India. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the US Army was quick to phase the Lightning out of service and later broken up for scrap metal. Any P-38 flying today is extremely rare.
I recommend this book to modelers and interested P-38 readers to any kind of a P-38 lover.