Lightning I for RAF

Last revised December 15, 2002




Chronologically, the Lightning Mark I for the RAF was the next model produced. In France, as early as the spring of 1939, the Comite du Materiel and the Etat Major had been taking a look at the P-38 as a possible substitute for the Breguet 700, Potez 671, and Sud-Est S.E.100 twin-engined fighters then under development. In April 1940, the Anglo-French Purchasing Committee ordered 667 P-38 fighters. The two versions were the Model 322-61-03 (or 322-F) for France and 322-61-04 (or 322-B) for Britain.

Both the British and French delegations insisted that the Lockheed fighters be equipped with Allison engines without turbosuperchargers and with strictly right-handed rotation. This was because they wanted the engines to be interchangeable with those of the Curtiss H.81A Tomahawk which had been ordered by both Britain and France in great numbers. In addition, the Committee wanted to optimize the aircraft for medium-altitude combat as was currently the dominant mode of aerial warfare in Europe, rather than the high-altitude role for which the P-38 had originally been designed. The Anglo-French delegation was also aware of the problems currently being experienced by the War Department in the delivery of turbosuperchargers, and did not want to run the risk of costly, time-consuming delays since they wanted all the planes delivered in less than a year. It turned out that this decision was particularly unfortunate.

The British and French Model 322s were to be powered by Allison V-1710-C15 engines without turbosuperchargers that were rated at 1010 hp at 14,000 feet. These aircraft were to have both engines rotating in the right-handed sense. The French version of the fighter was to have French (i.e. metric-calibrated) instruments, French-built radios and French-supplied armament, and were to have throttles which operated in the "French fashion", ie. in the reverse direction from British/American throttles. With these engines, guaranteed maximum speed was 400 mph at 16,900 feet.

After the fall of France in June of 1940, the entire contract for the Model 322s was taken over by Britain. By July of 1941, the RAF recognized that there probably would be a need for high altitude capabilities, and the original contract was amended to provide for the delivery of 143 Lightning Is (British military serials AE978/999 and AF100/220) with the originally-specified V-1710-15 un-turbosupercharged engines, with the remaining 524 aircraft (serials AF221/AF744) to be delivered as Lightning IIs (Model 322-60-04) with turbosupercharged V-1710-F5L and -F5R engines with guaranteed top speeds of 415 mph at 20,000 feet.

Because of its unturbosupercharged right-handed Allison engines, the Lightning I for the RAF was christened the "castrated P-38" by the factory. It turned out that this nickname was apt.

The first three Lightnings arrived in the UK by sea transport in March of 1942. AF105 was sent to the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Limited at Swaythling, Southampton for examination and experiments. AF106 was sent to the A&AEE at Boscombe Down for flight evaluation. AF107 went to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough for experiments and evaluation.

The performance of this hybrid was quite poor, and the RAF refused any further deliveries of the Lightning I after receiving and testing only three examples.

The remaining 140 Lightning Is of the British contract were completed by Lockheed and were taken over by the USA and designated P-322, P for pursuit and 322 for the Lockheed model designation. They were sent to a special modification center in Dallas, Texas where they were adapted for US service, most of them being used as trainers and for various experimental roles. They retained their original British serial numbers while in USAAF service. Twenty of the P-322s retained their V-1710-C15 engines (USAAF designation V-1710-33) with unhanded propellers They were assigned to operational use in the critical days following Pearl Harbor. The rest of the P-322s were fitted with handed engines (V-1710-27 and -29) but were not given turbosuperchargers. They were used as operational trainers with reduced armament (two 0.50-in and two 0.30-inch machine guns, no cannon).

Only one Lightning II (AF221) was completed. It was taken over by the USAAF as P-38F-13-10, painted with US national markings, but retained its British serial number. It was used by Lockheed for the testing of smoke- laying canisters on racks between the booms and the nacelle, and for the air-dropping of two torpedoes from the same racks. Twenty-eight other British-ordered aircraft were completed as P-38F-13-LO for the USAAF, 121 as P-38F-15-LO, 174 as P-38G-13-LO, and 200 as P-38G-15-LO.

RAF Serials of Lockheed Lightning I:

AE978/AE999		Lockheed Lightning I
				AE978 surveyed Oct 20, 1946
				AE979 scrapped San Bernardino, CA Nov 13, 1945
				AE980 scrapped at San Bernardino, CA Nov 13, 1945
				AE981 to CL-26
				AE982 crashed at Bradley Field, CT Apr 8, 1942.  Pilot killed
				AE983 to March Field May 26, 1942
				AE984 to CL-26 Mar 20, 1942
				AE985 to CL-26 Aug 10, 1942
				AE986 to March Field Jun 30, 1942
				AE987 force landed at Selfridge Field, MI Jan 12, 1943.  Pilot OK
				AE989 crashed into Puget Sound and Sank Mar 22 ,1942.  Pilot killed
				AE990 to CL-26 at Lincoln, NB Sep 25, 1942
				AE991 to CL-26 at Lincoln, NB Sep 11, 1942
				AE992 condemned at Chanute, KA Nov 25, 1942
				AE993 to CL-26 at Lincoln, NB
				AE994 scrapped at Syracuse, NY Aug 23,  1946
				AE995 Surveyed Apr 7, 1944.
				AE996 to CL-26 at Lincoln, NB Oct 22 ,1942
				AE997 Surveyed Apr 7, 1944
				AE998 Surveyed Mar 8, 1944
				AE999 wrecked near Casa Grande, AZ Aug 10, 1943.
AF100/AF220		Lockheed Lightning I
				AF100 wrecked at Bradley Field, CT Mar 22, 1942.  Pilot OK.
				AF101 scrapped Cincinatti, OH Apr 12, 1945
				AF102 scrapped San Berdardino, CA Nov 28, 1945.
				AF105 condemned Jan 1, 1946
				AF106 condemned Mar 1, 1946
				AF107 AZ, WILLIAMS FLD Surveyed  
				AF108 AF 421206 GLUE GLUE CON IV FOR BRITS AS P-38 WAS OF 01 JAN 46
				AF109 421008 KA, CHANUTE;CL-26
				AF110 440105; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed
				AF111 AvCad.Robert G. Stanley/?;430407;AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Wrecked;
					1mi.S, OF WILLIAMS FLD BOUNDRY ROARD;SURVEY 7 APR 43
				AF112 ;2nd.Lt.Raymond A. Keeney/Killed ;420406;CT, 
					WINDSOR-LOCKS Wrecked HIT TREE AT LOW ALT, SUMMERVILLE;SURVEY WINDSOR-LOCKS 20 
					AUG 42
				AF113 431108; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF114 430625; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed;981ST FLYING GP
				AF115 2nd.Lt. Donald O. Starbuch/OK;4AF ;420208; CA, McCLELLAND FLD; 
					Wrecked; CL-26 18 MAR 42
				AF116 450115; SCRAP; RFC WHITE HAV?; 65th AIR BASE 
					GP,VICTORIA;982nd 4 ENG ADV FLYING TRNG SQ, WILLIAMS FLD;554th AIR BASE 
					GP,MEMPHIS;
				AF117 4AF; 451113;CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF118 450615; NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP; 5th FRY GP,LOVE FLD;981st ADV TWIN ENG FTR GP,WILLIAMS 
					FLD.
				AF119 4AF; 420831; CA, NORTH ISL; CL-26
				AF120 430309; TX, LOVE FLD; CL-26
				AF121 450615; TX, LOVE FLD; SCRAP; LOVE FLD MOD CENTER
				AF122 431027; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF123 450629; OH, PATTERSON; SCRAP 
				AF124 450629;OH, PATTERSON; SCRAP
				AF125 430826; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Wrecked 1mi.,SE OF WILLIAMS 
					FLD;C&B;SURVEY 29 AUG 43
				AF126 451113; NJ, NEWARK AAF; SCRAP; 928th FLYING SQ
				AF127 430721; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 981st TWIN ENG ADV FYING SQ
				AF128 4AF; 451113; CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF129 450105; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; CL-26 26 JUN 43
				AF130 440508; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF131 430615; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; CL-26
				AF132 430701; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed;5 th FRY GP
				AF133 451231; TX, KELLY FLD; SCRAP
				AF134 460131; GA, WARNER-ROBINS; SCRAP;9 81st ADV FLYING TRNG SQ
				AF135 450615; GA, WARNER-ROBINS; SCRAP;982nd TWIN ENG ADV FTR GRP
				AF136 AvCad.Herbert Brenner/Ok 430510 AZ, 
					CHANDLER FLD; Wrecked 5mi.,SE OF CHANDLER FLD;FIRE IN AIR; 535th FLYING SQD;TO 
					CL-26 13 MAY 43
				AF137 4AF; 451113; CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF138 431130; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF139 AvCad.Russell W. Sly/Ok; 430801; AZ, CASA 
					GRANDE; Wrecked 1mi.,NE OF CASA GRANDE,AZ;F/L;SURVEY 2 AUG 43
				AF140 Maj.Fred E. Hild/Ok; 430216; TX, MOORE 
					FLD; Wrecked 1mi.W, MOORE FLD,TX; TO CL-26 28 APR 43
				AF141 Av.Cad.Raymond J. Cayman/Ok; 430507; AZ, WILLIAMS 
					FLD Wrecked 5mi. S OF DESERT PK MTN, AZ; PILOT BAILED; TO CL-26 13 MAY 43
				AF142 P/O Basil E. Park..RAF/Ok; 430513; AL, HIGLEY; Surveyed; 1/4mi.E, HIGLEY,AL;
					981st FLYING TRNG SQ,WILLIAMS FLD,AZ;55th AIR BASE SQ,FOSTER FLD;
				AF143 450600; NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP; BOLLING FLD;58th SINGLE NEG TRNG SQ
				AF144 450600; NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP
				AF145 431015; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 92nd FLYING SQ, CRAIG FLD,AL.
				AF146 431031; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 535Zth ADV FLYING GRP
				AF147 4AF; 460702; CA, LONG BEACH AB; SCRAP
				AF148 430309; TX, LOVE FLD; CL-26; LOVE FLD MOD CENTER,DALLAS,TX
				AF149 490509;AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF150 450200; OK, TINKER FLD; SCRAP;
				AF151 431031 AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF152 440407; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 982nd ADV FLYING GP
				AF153 450500; AZ, DAVIS-MONTHAN; SCRAP
				AF154 430909; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;S urveyed
				AF155 451128; TX, AUSTIN; SCRAP
				AF156 Av/Cad.Benjamine G. Conrath/Killed 430403; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Wrecked
					3mi.NE, RITTENHOUSE AUX FLD; 982nd TWIN ENG ADV FYLING SQD
				AF157 431010; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF158 431010; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 982nd FLYING TRNG SQD
				AF159 450600; OH, CINCINATTI; SCRAP
				AF160 450803; OK, WILL ROGERS FLD; SCRAP; WEST COAST FLYING TRNG
				AF161 440219; AL, HIGLEY; Surveyed
				AF162 430803; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;S urveyed; 535th ADV FLYING TRNG SQD
				AF163 430706; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 982nd ADV FLYING TRNG SQD
				AF164 4AF; 451113; CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF165 430809; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 5th FRY GP
				AF166 460313; AL, BROOKLEY FLD; SCRAP
				AF167 4AF; 451113 CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF168 431012; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF169 to 981st Flying Training Squadron, Williams Field,AZ.  Scrapped Jun 1945.
				AF170 440509; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF171 431216; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF172 430810; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD Surveyed
				AF173 450600; NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP
				AF174 431028; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; CHANDLER,AZ;
				AF175 450600; NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP
				AF176 to 981st Twin Engine Advance Straining Sqdn, Williams Field, AZ.  Scrapped Jun 1945.
				AF177 (981st Twin Engine Advanced Training Squadron, Williams Field, AZ)wrecked Jul 28, 1943.
				AF178 4AF; 451128; CA, SAN BERNARDINO;SCRAP
				AF179 4AF; 451128; CA, SAN BERDARDIN;SCRAP; 535th TWIN ENG ADV FLYING TRNG SQD;F/L & NOSED 
					OVER;DBR;SURVEY 29 JUL 43
				AF180 430812; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed
				AF181 4AF; 451113;CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP 5th FRY GP;535 ADV FLYING TRNG TWIN ENG SQ				
				AF182 to 981st Advanced Flying Training Squadron, Williams Field, AZ.  Scrapped Jun 1945.
				AF183 4AF; 451113; CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP; 982nd TWIN ENG ADV FLYING TRNG
				AF184 4AF; 451113; CA, SAN BERNARDINO; SCRAP
				AF185 440712; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 5th FERRY GP
				AF186 430719; TX, KELLY FLD;Surveyed; 55th AIR BASE SQ;535th TWIN ENG ADV TRINING SQ
				AF187 440318; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD Surveyed; 535th TWIN ENG ADV TRNG SQ
				AF188;
				AF189 430428; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed;981st ADV FLYING TRNG SQ
				AF190 430814; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed;982nd TWIN ENG ADV FLYING TRING SQ;F/L 2 AUG 43
				AF191 to 981st Twin Engine Advance Flying Training Squadron, Williams Field, AZ. Scrapped Jun 1945.
				AF192 431117; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;CL-26
				AF193 460213; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; SCRAP; FOUR ENG ADV FLYING HQ; CL-26 26 JUN 43
				AF194 430931; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Wrecked; FIRE IN AIR ,CRASH
				AF195 431201; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed; 982nd FLYING TRING SQ
				AF196 451128;A Z, WILLIAMS FLD;SCRAP; 982nd FLYING SQ; CL-26 8 MAY 44
				AF197 to 75th Air Base Squadron, Moultire, Ontario.  Scrapped Apr 1945.
				AF198 451113; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; SCRAP; 982nd FLY TRNG;CL-26 8 JUN 44
				AF199 to 982nd Advanced Flying Group, Williams Field, AZ.  Scrapped Apr 20, 1945.
				AF200 451102; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; SCRAP; 981st TWIN END ADV FLYING 
					TRNG SQ; CL-26 JUN 44
				AF201 440217; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD Surveyed; 5th FRY GP;982nd FOUR ENG ADV FLYING TRNG SQD
				AF202 450600;NY, SYRACUSE; SCRAP
				AF203 440508;AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed;5th FERRY GP;982nd.ADV FLN TRNG
				AF204 450600;NY, SYRACUSE;SCRAP
				AF205 440918;NM, DEMING AAF;CL-26
				AF206 430304;AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed
				AF207 431010 Surveyed
				AF208 CL-26 at Williams Field, AZ.  Scrapped Feb 1946.
				AF209 430909; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Wrecked;982nd FLYING TRNG 
					SQ;CRASH LANDING
				AF210 430908; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed;535th TWIN ENG FLYING TRNG SQ
				AF211 to 473rd FG at Glendale, CA.  Scrapped Apr 13, 1945.
				AF212 440407; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed
				AF213 450509; NY, SYRACUSE;SCRAP
				AF214 450529; NY, SYRACUSE;SCRAP
				AF215 450529; NY, SYRACUSE;SCRAP
				AF216 440508; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD;Surveyed; 5th FTR GP;4 ENG ADV FTR TRNG GP;
				AF217 430830; AZ, CASA GRANDE; Wrecked; 5TH FRY GP;981ST TWIN ENG ADV FTR SQD, WILLIAM FLD,AZ;C&B
				AF218 450615; US; SCRAP
				AF219 to 535th Four Engine Advanced Flying Training Group.  Scrapped Jun 1, 1945.
				AF220 430213; AZ, WILLIAMS FLD; Surveyed; 4 ENG FLYING TRNG 
				AF221 P-38F-13-LO

References:



  1. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987

  2. The P-38J-M Lockheed Lightning, Profile Publications, Le Roy Weber Profile Publications, Ltd, 1965.

  3. War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Volume Four, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.

  4. Famous Fighters of the Second World War, William Green, Doubleday, 1967.

  5. The American Fighter, Enzo Anguluci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.

  6. Wings of the Weird and Wonderful, Captain Eric Brown, Airlife, 1985.

  7. United States Military Aircraft since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  8. E-mail from Terence Geary on disposition of Lightning Is.