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P 47 "Thunderbolt"   note.gif (1440 bytes)

LOCKHEED P-38L "LIGHTNING"   note.gif (1440 bytes)

The Lightning was designed in 1937 as a high-altitude interceptor. The first one built, the XP-38, made its public debut on February 11, 1939 by flying from California to New York in seven hours. Because of its unorthodox design, the airplane experienced "growing pains" and it required several years to perfect it for combat. Late in 1942, it went into large-scale operations during the North African campaign where the German Luftwaffe named it "Der Gabelschwanz Teufel"--"The Forked-Tail Devil."

Equipped with droppable fuel tanks under its wings, the P-38 was used extensively as a long-range escort fighter and saw action in practically every major combat area of the world. A very versatile aircraft, the Lightning was also used for dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing and photo reconnaissance missions.

By the end of production in 1945, 9,923 P-38s had been built. The P-38L on display, painted as a P-38J with the 55th Fighter Squadron based in England, was donated to the Museum in 1961 by the Bob Bean Aircraft Corp., Hawthorne, California and the Kaufmann Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Span: 52 ft.
Length: 37 ft. 10 in.
Height: 12 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 17,500 lbs. loaded
Armament: Four .50-cal. machine guns and one 20mm cannon
Engines: Two Allison V-1710s of 1,475 hp. ea.
Cost: $115,000

Maximum speed: 414 mph
Cruising speed: 275 mph
Range: 1,100 miles
Service Ceiling: 40,000 ft.

P 51

NORTH AMERICAN P-51D "MUSTANG"   note.gif (1440 bytes)

The P-51 was designed as the NA-73 in 1940 at Britain's request. The design showed promise and AAF purchases of Allison-powered Mustangs began in 1941 primarily for photo recon and ground support use due to its limited high-altitude performance. But in 1942, tests of P-51s using the British Rolls-Royce "Merlin" engine revealed much improved speed and service ceiling, and in Dec. 1943, Merlin-powered P-51Bs first entered combat over Europe. Providing high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, they scored heavily over German interceptors and by war's end, P-51s had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe.

Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone, including the Pacific where they escorted B-29s to Japan from Iwo Jima. Between 1941-5, the AAF ordered 14,855 Mustangs (including A-36A dive bomber and F-6 photo recon versions), of which 7,956 were P-51Ds. During the Korean Conflict, P-51Ds were used primarily for close support of ground forces until withdrawn from combat in 1953.

The P-51D on display was obtained from the West Virginia ANG in 1957 and was the last prop-driven USAF fighter assigned to a tactical unit. It is painted as the -D flown by Col. C.L. Sluder, CO of the 325th Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, in Italy in 1944. The name of this aircraft, Shimmy IV is derived from the names of Col. Sluder's daughter and wife; Sharon and Zimmy.

Span: 37 ft. 0 in.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Height: 13 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 12,100 lbs. max.
Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns and ten 5 in. rockets or 2,000 lbs. of bombs.
Engine: Packard built Rolls-Royce "Merlin" V-1650 of 1,695 hp.
Cost: $54,000
Serial Number: 44-74936
Displayed as (S/N): 44-15174

Maximum speed: 437 mph.
Cruising speed: 275 mph.
Range: 1,000 miles
Service Ceiling: 41,900 ft.

Trainers   Bombers   Utillity Planes

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*Not every plane flown by the WASP is represented in this list.  We are still gathering pictures and information. We will add to this as we discover new sources for pictures.

Special thanks to the AIR FORCE MUSEUM for allowing us to share some of their pages!   You can find more USAF history, planes and information by visiting their site:

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