P-38 Lightning (AC011)Contains one P-38 Lightning model, one aircraft dice, one flight stand, magnets and decal sheet. Named “fork-tailed devil” by the Luftwaffe and “two planes, one pilot” by the Japanese, the P-38 was used in a number of roles. These ranged from dive bombing, level bombing and ground-attack to photo-reconnaissance missions and even as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.
The P-38 Lightning came out of a program in 1937 by the United States Army Air Corps calling for the design of a high-altitude interceptor with 'the tactical mission of interception and attack of hostile aircraft at high altitude'. In the European theatre of operations the P-38 Lightning first saw service as a fighter escort for B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, and continued to do so throughout the war. Eventually the also began to be employed in the ground attack role.
During the invasion of Normandy and the Allied advance across France into Germany the P-38 Lightning saw extensive action as a fighter-bomber. The 370th Fighter Group and its P-38 Lightnings were assigned to the IX Tactical Air Command, flying missions over Normandy from England. During these missions they dive-bombed radar installations, enemy armoured vehicles, troop concentrations, and flak positions. The 370th later operated from Cardonville France, flying ground attack missions against gun emplacements, troops, supply dumps and tanks near Saint-Lô in July and against the Falaise gap in August 1944. The 370th participated in ground attack missions across Europe until February 1945 when the unit changed over to P-51 Mustangs.
In Normandy, having swept the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, from the skies, the Allied Air Forces have exposed the German Army to their fighter-bombers. The ability to hit and destroy targets anywhere on the battlefield with near impunity has made air support an expected and welcome addition to defeating German ground forces.
The P-38 Lightning relies on its speed to get in and deliver its payload on the enemy, unlike the P-47 Thunderbolt, which uses brute force. P-38 can be devastating and is respected by the Germans who have to live under their bombardments all day long!