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View Full Version : Flying the P38L by Jeffrey Ethell--Flight Journal Magazine



BigKahuna_GS
06-03-2005, 01:41 PM
S!

There is lots of speculation, disinformation and just misinformed personal opinon on how the P38L flew. This Flight Journal artical of a real P38L in flight will hopefully clear things up for all.

This is a very interesting read out of Flight Journal Magazine. Jeff Ethell has flown over 250 types of aircraft including many WW2 fighters and military jet fighters.

Ethell describes the Clover Leaf maneuver and then dives out past 400mph IAS without reaching compressibility. I imagine he was at medium altitudes (15,000ft). Since he never reached compressibility at over 400mph IAS at medium/lower altitudes -he never lost elevator control. In AEP/PF the P38 reaches compresibility around 370mph IAS. Compare the real life flight to the way the P38 is modeled in the sim.

Jeff Ethell's Biography--quite impressive
http://www.ethell.com/jethell/homepage.htm

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/articles/p-38_lightning/p-38_lightning_1.asp

It is a quick read and check pg.3

http://www.ethell.com/jethell/ocean2.jpg

The big Allisons on either side rumbled their impatience, but the sound wasn't of this time. It was the long-ago sound track of "A Guy Named Joe"āā‚¬"¯the accompaniment to the dream that someday I'd fly the fighter my father had loved so much in WW II. Until this day, it had eluded me, but as I started the throttles forward and felt the seat pushing against the small of my back, I was stepping over the threshold into an adventure that would leave its mark on me forever. More than that, it would bridge the years and tighten the already firm bond between my father and me.


http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/jeff.jpg
The author in "Hog Heaven."


When Jack Erickson and his Tillamook NAS Museum in Oregon opened the door, after so many years of yearning, I had to fight back the dread it wouldn't happen, but he had two airworthy Lightnings on the field, so the chances looked pretty good.

When the day arrived, I stood transfixed before the newly restored olive-drab-and-gray P-38L-5. The P-38 defines the word "big" for WW II fightersāā‚¬"¯52-foot wingspan with operational weights up to 17,500 pounds, or more if needed. Preflight is very easy; you can walk under every part of the airplane, which sits some 10 feet off the ground on massive landing gear. With twin, liquid-cooled engines, four radiators, four oil coolers and the maze of hydraulics to run landing gear and flaps, the Lightning is very complex indeed, so there is plenty to check. Fortunately, Museum maintenance chief Ted Ryder is as much a fanatic on mechanical perfection as Jack, so this P-38āā‚¬"¯after about 13 hours total time since restorationāā‚¬"¯was operating virtually fault-free.

With a flick of a small lever, the handle for the boarding ladder pops out of the upper rear of the central gondola; one pull and it swings the ladder down then locks it into place. Getting up onto the airplane is then a series of embarrassing tries at sticking feet into the rungs, falling down and scrambling for the handhold just forward of the ladder handle. This took more getting used to than flying the plane. The final system boils down to right foot into the first rung, pull forward on the handle to get centered over the ladder, left foot into the next rung and grab the handhold to pull forward for all you're worth while swinging the right leg up onto the wing. Everyone had his laugh for the day watching me try to cope with this thing.

Once I was settled in the cockpit, I was taken with the vast expanse of airplane around me. Sitting deep within the center gondola and wing, I quickly got the impression of being buried in the machine; this would intensify in flight. The cockpit is just about perfect in size: not too small,

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/p-38_head_on.jpg

not too large and very comfortable. Having memorized the Pilot's Flight Operating Instructions, I was quickly familiar with the cockpitāā‚¬"¯absolutely mandatory before flying. The layout is a myriad of switches, and the labeling is often hard to read, particularly because most of the switches sit behind the control wheel. I can see why wartime instructors required a blindfold cockpit check before turning people loose.

Jack, as if he'd come straight out of WW II as a transition instructor, gave me a few last-minute pointers like how to start it and what was different from a stock P-38; then he said, "Give it a try." He turned around, slid down the wing and climbed down the ladder, which I could hear retract with a firm clunk. He really must have had confidence.

The most obvious difference from other wartime fightersāā‚¬"¯other than having two of everything for the enginesāā‚¬"¯is the dual pistol-grip control wheel. Putting both hands on this thing brings a sense of complete authority. I can see why it was so easy to haul the aircraft into tight turns; both biceps are working.

The ergonomics of the wheel are also years ahead of their time: the grips are canted inward to the exact position of one's hands when they're relaxed and held out in front of you. Dad absolutely loved the wheel instead of a stick, because he could maneuver and point the four .50s and single 20mm like a fire hose. (continued)

The engine controls sprout from the left pedestal in all directions, so I carefully went over each lever, switch and propeller circuit breaker (these are Curtiss electric propellers). The large, red, round throttle knobs are an ideal size for the left hand, completing the sense of total control given by the wheel grips. The fuel-tank selectors are mounted on the floor, one in front of the other, to the left of the seatāā‚¬"¯left wing fuel forward, right wing fuel aft. This has been the cause of most P-38 accidents in the past 30 years. Not only can one get confused about which tank one is selecting, but the five detents include an off position that also doubles for the drop tank. Pilots have often selected a position either between the detents or the off/drop tank position with no tanks, starving the engines of fuel. I took several minutes to look down and memorize the positions and the feel of the selector handles.

With nothing else to look at, the inevitable had arrived. Before-start checklist: battery on; fuel selectors reserve (the carburetor vapor line returns several gallons an hour here); if carrying drop tanks, the bomb selector switches go on with arming switch to safe, but they are not hung today; throttles 3/4-inch open; props full forward; prop selector switches auto; mixtures idle cut-off; oil-cooler flap switches auto; generator switches on; coolant-flap override switches off (auto); intercooler flaps open; fuel-quantity check.

Engine start begins with the left, then the right engine boost pump on and normal; ignition master on; magneto both; starter switch hold forward (left engine) with middle finger of right hand until maximum inertia. Like most Allison-powered WW II aircraft, a flywheel is spun up and then engaged. While still holding the inertia starter, the third finger pushes the engage switch forward at the same time the index finger holds the primer! At first, this is a real comedy of twisted fingers and contorted muscles because you have to reach under or over the control column to get to all this stuff while the left hand is poised on the left mixture control. Much to my delight, the Allison started very smoothly. I brought the mixture up, and the engine settled down into that distinctive P-38 collected exhaust rumble. Repeat this for the right engine (except the starter and engage switches are held rearward), and the same satisfying start takes place. Dad would confound his students by starting both engines at once; this had to be a real trick. Over the next several days of flying, the sequence became quite natural without a single mis-start. In the P-38, those Allisons start about as easily as a car engine, but they are more difficult to get going in the P-40 and the P-51A. I have no idea why.

Sitting there with both turbos whirling, feeling and hearing the satisfying, deep-throated growl coming from the top of the booms (on either side of the ears) is absolutely mesmerizing. There is no sound like it. Looking at those spinning props, across the broad wings, I had to be dreaming.

Off the brakes and the Lightning moves easily away, even at low rpm. Like all WW II tricycle gear types, the nosewheel is non-steerable, so it casters in response to throttles or brakes. I quickly discovered that the rudders pick up the prop blast at low speed, so very little brake is needed; just push the rudder pedal, and it steers as if the nosewheel is hooked up. The brakes don't have the bear-trap power of the B-25, but one can get a bob and weave going when pushing on them too hard. Differential throttle is the primary means of steering, and what a great thrill to hear the "rrrRRRRUMMMPP" of the exhausts with each application of throttle.

Run-up at 2,300rpm (once each engine has at least 40-degree C oil temp) is simple because the propeller selector switches are behind the prop levers: switch to manual, pull back to decrease rpm a few hundred, push back up to 2,300 and flick the switch back to automatic. During the War, the props were known to run away, but this was usually due to corrosion when the aircraft were left outside. On the whole, they were very reliable, but part of the drill is to be ready to reach up and pull them out of automatic to manual if the rpm go above 3,000 red line.

Before takeoff: top hatch locked; side windows rolled up (they're like car windows), and engage the locking ratchet (if left open, they create enormous turbulence across the horizontal surfaces); props full forward; prop selectors auto; mixtures auto rich; fuel tank selectors reserve; dive flaps up; wing flaps up; aileron boost on; boost pumps on and emergency (this gives about 10 pounds more fuel pressure); rudder trim 0 degrees; elevator trim 3 degrees up.

Once lined up on the runway, the most important thing is to have the nosewheel straight; the slightest deviation to one side will make it really lurch when the power is applied. The view forward is wonderful; unlike in the tailwheel types, runway visibility is a totally unobstructed. Hold the brakes, open the throttles. During the War, the drill was to go to full power, let the turbos stabilize, see if the props were going to run away, then let go. It must have been like a rocket because all I did was go up to 30 inches manifold pressure, glance at the engine instruments, and releaseāā‚¬"¯wham! The P-38 shot out from under me as I kept moving the power up to 54 inches and 3,000rpm. The first thing I noticed was absolutely no torque and perfectly straight trackingāā‚¬"¯heaven with 3,000hp screaming into my ears and a wonderful feeling of being pressed back into my seat.

The manual recommends easing back on the control column at 70mph, lift off between 90 and 100mph, retract the gear and accelerate to 120mph safe single-engine speed. After what seemed like a few seconds, noting a steady 3,000rpm, I thought I'd take a look at the airspeed indicator for an updateāā‚¬"¯YOW!! I was passing through 130mph! Unlike a tailwheel aircraft, the Lightning must be rotated off the ground, or it will simply stay glued to the runway. I pulled back, shot into the air and fumbled for the gear handle on the lower portion of the engine control pedestal. The P-38 immediately clawed for altitude as I brought the power back to 44 inches and 2,600rpm for climb. It took a couple of takeoffs to get used to this, but eventually, I was able to react quickly enough to get the nosewheel off the ground at the recommended speed and rotate the fighter. It must have been a superb short-field aircraft when taking off with the flaps halfway down.

The specter hovering over this exhilaration is loss of an engine on takeoff. In early 1942, when Dad and his 14th Fighter Group friends transitioned into the P-38, they had, on the whole, absolutely no twin-engine time. They were fighter pilots, weren't they? In short order, pilots were getting killed when one engine quit and the P-38 rolled over onto its back and into the ground. Soon, Lockheed test pilots Milo Burcham, Tony LeVier, Jimmy Mattern and others were showing new P-38 pilots how to bring back both throttles, get the nose down and maintain control while trimming out the yaw and bringing the power back up on the good engine, feathering the prop of the dead engine and accelerating to 120mph. This may sound a bit daunting, but during a few single-engine drills at altitude, I found the P-38 responds wonderfully to each input and flies away without a whimper. A Lightning will fly single-engine at 255mph true air speed at 20,000 feetāā‚¬"¯quite impressive indeed.

Best climb is somewhere between 140 and 180mph, and this plane really climbs. The wartime technique was a shallow, high-speed climb, which would outdistance almost any enemy fighter. And what a wonderful experience not to have to hold strong right rudder; feet on the floor, relaxed, I was in paradise. After a few tentative turns, with absolutely no pressure from the ailerons, I was beginning to comprehend why everyone loved the Lightning so much: it flies like a jet with no vibration and light controls. (continued)

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/cockpit.jpg

Level off, power back to 30 inches and 2,000rpm, mixtures to auto-lean, boost pumps to normal, fuel selectors to main tanks. What a sight! Within the wing, I felt as if I were being absorbed by the machineāā‚¬"¯becoming a part of it rather than riding in it. One of the weak points of the design comes across right away: the engines and wings on each side really block the view down. The only way to keep one's scan up is to roll the airplane into a steep bank and then roll back, which doesn't do wingmen much good in formation. I can see why mutual scan among flight members was so critical. My first few turns were effortless; the aileron boost makes an enormous difference. Unlike with a jet, the turns have to be coordinated with a firm push on the rudders, which are stiffer than both ailerons and elevators. Without wasting any time, I decided to do the one thing I had wanted to do more than any other: a barrel-rollāā‚¬"¯Dad's favorite maneuver. Nose down for a little extra speed, pull back, turn the wheel and push the rudder pedal. The P-38 glided through just as wonderfully as I thought it would. Another, even better. Another, perfection. With one hand on the wheel and the other on the throttles, it's just as easy. With both hands on the wheel, I pulled it into a tight turn and was delighted to find the elevators almost as light as the ailerons. Making tight turns and loops was so easy that I grinned involuntarily. When going over the top of the loop, no right rudder was needed at all; just keep the feet on the floor. This was becoming far too easy.

The single dominant impression is this thing is smooth and effortless to flyāā‚¬"¯quite unlike the more complex warbird types. Managing both engines quickly becomes second nature. Stalls are docile; just a rumble as the airflow starts to break up and move toward the wingtipsāā‚¬"¯no tip-stalling tendencies. To recover, just relax backpressure and fly away while shoving the throttles to full power with no worry of a snap-roll. At a 15,000-pound gross weight, a power-off gear- and flaps-down stall is 70mph! Those Fowler flaps are superb. While flying formation with the Cherokee Six camera ship, I was full of trepidation. The last time I did that in a Mustang, I held a bootful of right rudder, hanging on the ragged edge of a reduced power-on stall. At 100mph, I could hang the P-38 on its props, feet on the floor, and gently move the rudder to slide side to side.

Within an hour, something quite astonishing and totally unexpected began to happen. Not only was I more than comfortable, but the airplane also began to "shrink" around me in my mind. The wings seemed to get smaller, the engines went almost unnoticed, and I was soon flying only the central pod with its guns sticking out front. The sense of power, freedom and effortless control movement is so visceral the machine becomes a part of you. As this dawned on me, I was abruptly sharing the cockpit with young Lt. Erv Ethell. His recollections of handling the P-38 in combat became my own; his hands were my hands. The generational circle closed around me as I soared above the Oregon coastline and I began to talk to him, even though he was 2,500 miles away.

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/p-38_tail.jpg

(Clover Leaf Manuever)
Without much thought, I was entering his preferred combat maneuver; power up, I pictured a 109 on my tail and began an increasingly steep right-hand climbing turn. In turning and twisting with 109s and 190s, Dad never got a bullet hole in Tangerine, his P-38F. As the speed dropped below 150mph, I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. At this point, the 109 pilot, at full power with the right rudder all the way down, would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine, pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine, shoved right rudder pedal, and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. Not only did it turn on a dime, but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. As the nose came through 180 degrees, I threw the flap lever back to full up, evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. The 109 would have been a sitting duck.

This transitional performance is what made the Lightning great in a dogfight; it gave it far more versatility than a single-engine fighter. No doubt, if it were flown like a single-engine fighter, it would come out on the short end, but when a pilot learned to use everything available to him, it was stunningly dangerous to the enemy. One final characteristic made all this worthwhile: there was no converging fire from the wings. A P-38 pilot could get all of his guns on target whether it was 10 feet or 1,000 yards away. Convinced they were flying the finest fighter of the War, Bong and McGuire were sold on this combination. They had no hesitation at going round and round with Zeros and Oscars, which were supposedly more maneuverable.

However, once going downhill, the other Achilles heel of the Lightning comes out: compressibility. I never got there, but I passed 400mph in a dive without much time to think about it. There's a dive-limit placard in the cockpit, and observing it was absolutely mandatory. The Pilot's Instructions state, "As the airplane approaches the critical speed, it becomes rapidly nose-heavy and starts to buffet as if it were about to stall. If this condition is allowed to develop, the nose-heavy condition will become more pronounced, and it will be very difficult to pull out." Many never pulled out. Fortunately, the P-38L had dive flapsāā‚¬"¯large electrically driven surfaces under each outside wing that deflected no matter what the speed. I hit the switch on the wheel and, with no pull on the wheel at all, the plane pulled out and pitched up into a shallow climb. When I retracted the flaps, the nose pitched down into level flightāā‚¬"¯all with no input. Unfortunately, dive flaps did not come along until the late J Seriesāā‚¬"¯about the same time as the aileron boostāā‚¬"¯but far too late for most who had flown the P-38 in combat.

Another bugaboo with the Lightning was bailing out and hitting the horizontal stabilizer; actually, it wasn't that prevalent. There were several methods: (1) slow down to around 110mph with full flaps if possible, crawl out of the cockpit and slide headfirst down the wing; Lockheed said you'd miss the horizontal stabilizer by four feet; (2) roll over with elevator trim forward and fall out; (3) at high speed, just pop the hatch and get sucked out.

Reluctantly, I had to head back to Tillamook; after beating up the west coast of Oregon, I had run out of ideas. Initial for an overhead fan break: 360 degrees overhead approach at 250mph; fuel-tank selectors on main or reserve (whichever is fullest); mixtures to auto rich; props to 2,600rpm; boost pumps on and emergency. Racing across the numbers, I pulled up and left into the break. Move flap handle to the maneuver stop; gear down below 175mph; 50 percent flaps at 150mph and settle into the downwind. From base to final, bring the power back to 18 inches and stabilize at 140mph. With the field made, add full flaps, bleed airspeed down to 120mph; over the fence at 100 to 110mph, but never exceed 100mph on touchdown or the P-38 will really eat up some runway. Both throttles to idle and pull the wheel back. That first landing at around 80mph felt like setting a baby carriage down with a satisfying squeakāā‚¬"¯way too easy. Hold the wheel back for aerodynamic braking, then lower the nose; we haven't gone much more than 2,000 feet. Absolutely amazing.

With one engine out, the landing technique is similar with the following exceptions: 160mph and 1,600 feet on downwind, aileron boost off to conserve hydraulic power, 50 percent flaps at 140mph; partially reduce rudder trim, approach no slower than 130mph. At 44 inches and 2,600rpm, the P-38 will barely hold altitude with gear down and flaps up and will not hold any altitude even with some flaps extended. Do not extend full flap until closing the throttle on the good engine for landing. Below 500 feet with full flaps, you must land as it will not make a go-around.

Off the active; brake to a stop; flaps up; coolant flaps full open; boost pumps off. Back to the parking area, throttles up to 1,200 rpm; stabilize temperatures; mixtures to idle cut-off; mags off; battery off. I have come full circle. Reining back some obvious prejudice from growing up with Dad's memories, I have come to see the P-38 in a far different light. There is little doubt in my mind I have flown the finest American fighter of WW II. It may have taken a little more time to master and certainly was more complex to maintain in the field, but the options available to the Lightning pilot were impressive. A talented, aggressive fighter pilot could clearly make the P-38 sing. I count myself fortunate to have heard, at last, that siren song.

http://www.flightjournal.com/fj/images/articles/p38_ltng/p-38_landing.jpg



___

VMF-214_HaVoK
06-03-2005, 02:14 PM
Great post! It should also be known that a P-38 was dove to 600mph in a test and recovered with no damage. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

AerialTarget
06-03-2005, 02:41 PM
I highly recommend buying the accompanying video. It's only eight dollars or so at Amazon. I've watched it a dozen times.

BigKahuna_GS
06-03-2005, 02:58 PM
S!


AerialTarget Posted Fri June 03 2005 13:41 I highly recommend buying the accompanying video. It's only eight dollars or so at Amazon. I've watched it a dozen times.


That's a good idea !

I would like to see the Clover Leaf Manuever performed (actually he only does a part of it) and see how fast the front and rear of the P38 swapped ends.

"As the speed dropped below 150mph, I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. At this point, the 109 pilot, at full power with the right rudder all the way down, would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine, pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine, shoved right rudder pedal, and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. Not only did it turn on a dime, but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. As the nose came through 180 degrees, I threw the flap lever back to full up, evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. The 109 would have been a sitting duck."



__

anarchy52
06-03-2005, 03:02 PM
The best part is his manouvering against imaginary 109 http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif))

Jasko76
06-03-2005, 03:10 PM
All the praise of P-38... yet it killed him!

Mark Hanna loved the Bf 109 and it killed him.

Flakenstien
06-03-2005, 03:17 PM
LOL!! It even says "copyrighted material" and you still post it word for word with images! LOL!

I would like to read about his experiance with it loaded with fuel and ammo in a real combat situation, then tell me how sweet and nible she is http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Zyzbot
06-03-2005, 03:29 PM
Originally posted by Flakenstien:
LOL!! It even says "copyrighted material" and you still post it word for word with images! LOL!

I would like to read about his experiance with it loaded with fuel and ammo in a real combat situation, then tell me how sweet and nible she is http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif


Here are some Germans opinions:

1) "Johannes Steinhoff, Kommodore of JG 77 in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, flying Bf 109s, had this to say about the P-38, 'I had encountered the long-range P-38 Lightning fighter during the last few days of the North African campaign, Our opinion of this twin-boomed, twin-engined aircraft was divided. Our old Messerschmitts were still, perhaps, a little faster. But pilots who had fought them said that the Lightnings were capable of appreciably tighter turns and that they would be on your tail before you knew what was happening. The machine guns mounted on the nose supposedly produced a concentration of fire from which there was no escape. Certainly the effect was reminiscent of a watering can when one of those dangerous apparitions started firing tracer, and it was essential to prevent them manoeuvring into a position from which they could bring their guns to bear." P-38 Lightning, by Jeffrey Ethell/The Great Book of WWII Airplanes, Bonanaza Books, 1984, page 21.

2) "Oberleutnant Franz Steigler, a 28 victory ace in the Bf 109 with JG 27 in North Africa, said the P-38s "could turn inside us with ease and they could go from level flight to climb almost instantaneously. We lost quite a few pilots who tried to make an attack and then pull up. The P-38s were on them at once. They closed so quickly that there was little one could do except roll quickly and dive down, for while the P-38 could turn inside us, it rolled very slowly through the first 5 or 10 degrees of bank, and by then we would already be gone. One cardinal rule we never forgot was: avoid fighting a P-38 head on. That was suicide. Their armament was so heavy and their firepower so murderous, that no one ever tried that type of attack more than once."P-38 Lightning, by Jeffrey Ethell/The Great Book of WWII Airplanes, Bonanaza Books, 1984Pages 21,22.

3. (Heinz Knoke description of a duel with a P-38 (from "I Flew for the Fuhrer"):

"...At once I peel off and dive into the Lightnings below. They spot us
and swing round towards us to meet the attack.... Then we are in a madly
milling dogfight...it is a case of every man for himself. I remain on the
tail of a Lightning for several minutes. It flies like the devil himself,
turning, diving, and climbing almost like a rocket. I am never able to
fire more than a few pot-shots...."

faustnik
06-03-2005, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by Flakenstien:
LOL!! It even says "copyrighted material" and you still post it word for word with images! LOL!

I would like to read about his experiance with it loaded with fuel and ammo in a real combat situation, then tell me how sweet and nible she is http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Why would you be surprised that the "L" was nimble? It represented years of refinement to an excellent basic design.

I still don't believe any P-38 would dogfight a Yak-3, but, I have no question that it was a top notch fighter. There were a lot of other top notch fighters in Europe though, late Spitfires, late Fw190s, and of course P-47s and P-51s.

BigKahuna_GS
06-03-2005, 03:39 PM
S!

Very sad indeed that Jeff Ethell died flying a plane he loved to fly so much. He simply ran out of fuel on one engine.

Probable Cause

Failure of the pilot to maintain minimum control speed (VMC), after loss of power in one engine, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control and collision with terrain. Related factors were: the pilot's improper fuel management and failure to change the fuel selector position before a fuel tank had emptied, which led to fuel starvation and loss of power in one engine; and the pilot's lack of familiarity with the aircraft, relative to single-engine minimum airspeeds.

The fuel selectors, located in the aft left portion of the cockpit were readable at the site and both the left and right engines were observed to be set on "RES ON 44 GAL."


http://www.avweb.com/news/safety/183014-1.html

Close-Up: The Jeff Ethell P-38 Crash

Jeff Ethell's series of pilot reports on various warbirds earned the noted author and aviation historian wide acclaim during his career. Ironically, he died on June 6, 1997 when the newly-restored P-38L he was flying spun and crashed near Tillamook, Ore. The NTSB's final report on the crash teaches a hard lesson about learning an unfamiliar aircraft's systems.

By The Editors of AVweb
Documents Provided by the NTSB



"The pilot's father, who reported 10,000 hours of flight experience, of which approximately 3,000 hours of flight experience was in the P-38, also observed the aircraft during the accident sequence. Witness Ervin Ethell, who was located approximately three miles north-northwest of the crash site at the Tillamook airport (looking south) reported seeing the aircraft "3 to 4 miles from the end of the runway" and "about 3 to 4 hundred feet (in) height." He further reported that "It seem(ed) to me to be much slower than what the normal approach speed should be" and that "I also saw the left wing drop pretty quick and the pilot immediately raise(d) the left wing up to level flight. Some 2 to 3 seconds later the aircraft made a slight right turn (approximately 5 or 6 degrees) and started down."

Aircraft Fuel System

The aircraft's original reserve, main, and outboard wing bullet-proof, bladder, fuel tanks were removed during the reconditioning process. The left and right 55 (US) gallon outboard wing tanks were not replaced and the fuel selectors had small vertical pins installed to prevent the inadvertent selection of the unusable outboard wing tanks. The left and right reserve and main tanks were replaced with aluminum tanks. The capacity of the new metal reserve tanks was 44 (US) gallons each, and for the two new metal main tanks was 72 (US) gallons each. The aircraft's left and right metal drop tanks were left in place, however, the plumbing to route fuel from these tanks to their respective engines was not connected, thus the tanks were unusable.

The pilot/owner of N2114L, the olive green sister ship P-38 reconstructed earlier in 1997, reported that the fuel consumption of his P-38 was nominally 60-62 US gallons/hour with a minimum fuel consumption of 48 US gallons/hour best case and 120 US gallons/hour worst case for each engine. The specific engine flight chart for the P-38L equipped with Allison V-1710-111/113 engines showed a fuel consumption of 113 gallons/hour (2,600 RPM normal rated maximum continuous power) and 63 gallons/hour (2,300 RPM maximum cruise power).

Applying the 2,300 RPM cruise fuel consumption rate of 63 gallons/hour to the 44 gallon reserve tank capacity, yields a total fuel consumption time of approximately 42 minutes per engine from a full reserve (44 gal) tank. If the 2,600 RPM maximum continuous fuel consumption rate of 113 gallons/hour is utilized, this yields a total fuel consumption time of approximately 23.5 minutes per engine from a full reserve (44 gal) tank.

According to the pilot/owner of N2114L, who was telephonically interviewed June 24, 1997, both the left and right reserve and left and right main tanks of N7973 were topped off between 1000-1100 hours on June 6, 1997. He reported flying the accident aircraft for approximately 20 minutes on the afternoon of June 6, and before the accident flight. He reported that no fuel was added following this flight. He also reported that the normal procedure for the operation of the aircraft was to takeoff with the individual engine selected to its respective reserve tank. Once established at altitude/cruise the left and right fuel selectors would then be set to main tanks. This procedure is described in the "Pilots Manual for Lockheed P-38 Lightning" which states under "Normal Use:"

"(1) Warm up, take off and fly for the first 15 minutes on RESERVE tanks. This is to provide space in the reserve tanks for the vapor return from the carburetors."

and

"Use up the fuel in the outer wing tanks (if installed); then use main tanks, and switch back to RESERVE for the remainder of the flight."

It is not known whether the pilot/owner of N2114L, flew N7973 utilizing the reserve tanks exclusively, or switched in flight to MAINS and then returned to RESERVE for the short intermediate duration of the total flight (0.4 hours)



---

BigKahuna_GS
06-03-2005, 03:43 PM
S!



LOL!! It even says "copyrighted material" and you still post it word for word with images! LOL!



That image is from another source and not linked to the story. Hope that helps.

fordfan25
06-03-2005, 04:03 PM
it would be nice to have a 38 that flew like the books say.

Lixma
06-03-2005, 04:07 PM
(Clover Leaf Manuever)
Without much thought, I was entering his preferred combat maneuver; power up, I pictured a 109 on my tail and began an increasingly steep right-hand climbing turn. In turning and twisting with 109s and 190s, Dad never got a bullet hole in Tangerine, his P-38F. As the speed dropped below 150mph, I flipped the flap handle to the maneuver stop (which can be used up to 250mph) and steepened the turn. At this point, the 109 pilot, at full power with the right rudder all the way down, would have snap-rolled into a vicious stall if he had chosen to follow. I pulled the power back on the inside (right) engine, pushed the power up on the outside (left) engine, shoved right rudder pedal, and the Lightning smoothly swapped ends. Not only did it turn on a dime, but it actually rotated around its vertical axis as if spinning on a pole running through the top of the canopy and out the bottom of the cockpit. The maneuver was absolutely comfortable with no heavy G-loading. As the nose came through 180 degrees, I threw the flap lever back to full up, evened the throttles and headed downhill going through 300mph in less time than it takes to tell it. The 109 would have been a sitting duck.


You just know some muppets in 38Ls are going to deliberatly bait a 109 online to try this out, get blown out of the air and come screeching back into the forums in tears.

BigKahuna_GS
06-03-2005, 04:08 PM
S!

Hya Ford,

The new one is better handeling in many reguards unfortunately it still has the same compressibilty/elevator problems.

Nose up pitch and very high AoA manuevers similar to the Clover Leaf seem possible.


____

Jasko76
06-03-2005, 04:25 PM
So Jeff's father saw him crash to death? Man, that must be the worst thing - watch your kid die!

arcadeace
06-03-2005, 04:56 PM
I don't read many posts that long but I got more immersion than flying the sim P-38 http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

All of this goes to show we're flying designer models and our imagination.

A few points I thought interesting considering all his experience in other a/c:

Liftoff between 90 and 100 mph. It must have been a superb short-field aircraft when taking off with the flaps halfway down.

Flies like a jet with no vibration and light controls.

I pulled it into a tight turn and was delighted to find the elevators almost as light as the ailerons. Making tight turns and loops was so easy that I grinned involuntarily.

At a 15,000-pound gross weight, a power-off gear- and flaps-down stall is 70mph!

SeaFireLIV
06-03-2005, 05:08 PM
Thnx, 609IAP_Kahuna, some real info rather just words or hearsay. Very interesting read. thnx for the links too.

horseback
06-03-2005, 05:30 PM
Originally posted by Flakenstien:
I would like to read about his experiance with it loaded with fuel and ammo in a real combat situation, then tell me how sweet and nible she is http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Since P-38s usually had to climb to altitude and fly a few hundred miles or so to the combat zone, it was the rare Lightning (or Thunderbolt or Mustang, for that matter) that entered combat with anything like a full fuel load. Ethell's dad flew combat in North Africa in the early F and G models against some pretty solid opposition, credited with 4 kills, and he still seemed to like the big bird. He passed his affection for the type on to his son, so I guess he found it sweet and nimble enough.

cheers

horseback

PBNA-Boosher
06-03-2005, 05:49 PM
Gotta love that thing. You've never heard beauty until you've heard the P-38 fly. It's completely silent until it passes you, and by then... it's too late.

fordfan25
06-03-2005, 06:01 PM
Originally posted by 609IAP_Kahuna:
S!

Hya Ford,

The new one is better handeling in many reguards unfortunately it still has the same compressibilty/elevator problems.

Nose up pitch and very high AoA manuevers similar to the Clover Leaf seem possible.


____

thanks man that is great news. it is sad to hear about the compres but hay nothn's perfect.

AerialTarget
06-03-2005, 10:43 PM
Kahuna, are you a girl? If you are, will you marry me? Oh, do say yes!

I'd like to add something to this wonderful thread. You can watch Jeff fly the P-38 while he says much of the text here, for about six dollars plus shipping. No, I'm not a paid advertiser. I just love these so much and it saddens me that there are people out there who have never seen a Roaring Glory warbird video. I think that they should be required watching for those who wish to play a flight simulator or sign up on this forum.

Here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/offer-listing/B00000FBP0/qid=1117860152/sr=8-2/ref=pd_ka_1a//103-0710052-5356632?condition=all) is a link to where you can purchase Jeff Ethel's video, Flying the P-38, for six dollars plus shipping. If you are a complete barbarian and do not like the P-38, there are several other warbirds that Jeff Ethell and Steve Hinton made Roaring Glory videos of.

Last time I made a Roaring Glory recommendation on this forum, I was basically told to shut up. I would appreciate it if anyone considering doing so again would instead go fly a kite.

I see upon my third reread that I already replied earlier and forgot about it. Sorry! By the way, the Roaring Glory videos are a few dollars cheaper than I had said before. Unfortunately, no cloverleaf (even part) or dive is shown. He does do a few barrel rolls and loops, though. Remember to also check out the ones for the F-4U Corsair, P-47 Thunderbolt, and F-6F Hellcat. There are more, but the other ones are only available on expensive and rare cassette tapes.

BigKahuna_GS
06-04-2005, 01:24 AM
S!

__________________________________________________ _______________________
Jasko76---So Jeff's father saw him crash to death? Man, that must be the worst thing - watch your kid die!
__________________________________________________ _______________________



Every parents nightmare http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
Jeff Ethell was a quality person through and through. The 2 P38L's he flew had different size fuel tanks in them. If some one had just said what's your fuel state ?, or reminded him to go to mains he would be alive today. What a shame.

No child should pass away before their parents do but unfortunatly it happens especailly during war. I am a father of 4 wonderful kids, my wife is a Registered Nurse in an Emergency Room and I am a Fire Captain/Paramedic. My wife and I have both seen the tragic ways children can die first hand. Losing someone hurts but losing a child or teenager hurts more.



__________________________________________________ ______________________
AerialTarget Posted Fri June 03 2005 21:43
Kahuna, are you a girl? If you are, will you marry me? Oh, do say yes!
__________________________________________________ ______________________



I'm 6'2" & 250lbs, played linebacker & wrestled in college.

How do you like me now ? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

I think my 4 year old little girl would punch you in the knee if we got married. I know my dad would disown me --USMC 30years Pilot vetrean of WW2 & Korea. Nah it wouldn't work out but thanks for the offer http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif


___

trumper
06-04-2005, 02:40 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gifPlanes bite,you don't get many chances to have things go wrong and survive.
Mark Hanna was killed flying the Buchon ,his dad Ray [ex Red Arrows leader] i believe witnessed it.
Guy Bancroft Wilson,another ex Red Arrows pilot killed in a p63,experience is everything but still sometimes not enough.These pilots still only fly a handful of hours a year in these rare planes so are effectively still novices in them.

Jasko76
06-04-2005, 02:59 AM
True, these old planes are dangerous and different to modern machines. Especially if they're out of specs as in Jeff's case. They're mostly flown at low altitudes these days and if something goes wrong there's no room for a succesful bail out.

SeaFireLIV
06-04-2005, 03:52 AM
Now while this is good we muct try to be objective and not glorify the aircraft to the point of unrealistic. A similar danger I`ve had with the Spitfire. Everything has it`s good and bad.

Perhaps it`s just me, but when anything sounds over glorified I always look to see where the negatives are, or if there`s a vested interested in said reviewer praising an aircraft.

I`ve read accounts where nearly every pilot of nearly every WWII plane praises it so muc that if they were all made to the pilot`s recommendations they`d all be perfect against one other. All I`m saying is be careful.

eg; I`ve checked up a little more on the P38 and I`ve read that despite it`s name, the forked tail devil, the P38 did not prove entirely sutable with some single-engined fighters of the Luftwaffe. This was learned at some cost during the first bomber-escorts to Berlin. It was pretty much the P51 and P47 that had to take over.

Anyway, the P38 was a good fighter, especially the later models J and L and it seems they were really appreciated more in the Pacific.

BigKahuna_GS
06-04-2005, 09:04 AM
SeaFireLIV
Posted Sat June 04 2005 02:52
Now while this is good we muct try to be objective and not glorify the aircraft to the point of unrealistic. A similar danger I`ve had with the Spitfire. Everything has it`s good and bad.
Perhaps it`s just me, but when anything sounds over glorified I always look to see where the negatives are, or if there`s a vested interested in said reviewer praising an aircraft.
I`ve read accounts where nearly every pilot of nearly every WWII plane praises it so muc that if they were all made to the pilot`s recommendations they`d all be perfect against one other. All I`m saying is be careful.
eg; I`ve checked up a little more on the P38 and I`ve read that despite it`s name, the forked tail devil, the P38 did not prove entirely sutable with some single-engined fighters of the Luftwaffe. This was learned at some cost during the first bomber-escorts to Berlin. It was pretty much the P51 and P47 that had to take over.
Anyway, the P38 was a good fighter, especially the later models J and L and it seems they were really appreciated more in the Pacific.



Like any aircraft rushed into service and not well planned out the P38 had many problems on all sides:

The need for multiple Aircraft Corperations to manufacter P38's
The need for a better mass production system
Lockheed was the pricipal contracter and could not keep up with the demands from 2 fronts.

The P38 needed to be optimised for high altitude escort duty. Lack of forsight for understanding the enviorment the P38 would be operating in delayed critical changes needed.

When the P38K was optimised for high altitude operations the War Production Board rejected any delay in P38 manufacturing causing the best performing version of the P38 not to be produced.

Paddle Blade propellers are never installed on P38's because of this decision.

A Merlin powered P38 was rejected by the War Production Board--even though Lockheed had a retro fit kit and test bed plane ready.

US P38 pilots were ill trained and prepared to fly in the ETO.

Brit fuel is causing octane seperation in intake manifolds.

High altitude engine problems & compressibility.

P38 strength on escort missions deep into germany is to low and the P38's are heavily outnumbered by german fighters.

Friendly fire incident-Brits shoot down the cargo plane carrying the dive recovery flaps and hydraulic airleron field mod kits causing delays for months in increased P38 flight performance. Jan 44.

Before the best P38 models (P38J-25 & P38L)with all the corrections can prove themselves the 8th Air Force chooses the P51 as it's new long range escort. These improved P38 models do get to prove themselves in the Pacific with a 10-1 kill ratio against very fast and manueverable late model japanese fighters.

P38 Pilot comments:

"Every one of these problems was solved with the introduction of the P-38L."

"Let me repeat this again and again. It can never be emphasized too strongly. It makes up the Gospel Word. The P-38L. Now there was the airplane."

"Nothing, to these pilots, after the hard winter of 1943-44 could be more beautiful than a P-38L outrolling and tailgating a German fighter straight down, following a spin or split-S or whatever gyration a startled, panicked and doomed German might attempt to initiate. You just couldn't get away from the P-38L. Whatever the German could do, the American in the P-38L could do better." (cited from [8] with permission from Arthur W. Heiden)."

"P-38's from the J-25's onward were what we should have had when we went operational in October 1943. The compressibility problem of the P-38 was also experienced by P-47 Thunderbolts, and was not a mystery to aeronautical design engineers."


"The P-38J25-LO and P-38L's were terrific. Roll Rate? Ha! Nothing would roll faster. The dive recovery flaps ameliorated the "compressibility" (Mach limitation) of earlier Lightnings. An added benefit of the dive recovery flaps was their ability to pitch the nose 10-20 degrees "up" momentarily when trying to out turn the Luftwaffe's best, even when using the flap combat position on the selector. Of course the nose "pitch-up" resulted in increased aerodynamic drag, and must be used cautiously. High speed is generally preferred over low speed in combat situations. Properly flown, the Fowler flaps of the P-38 allowed very tight turning radius."


Whatever Happened To The Lockheed P-38K?

http://home.att.net/~C.C.Jordan/P-38K.html
http://home.att.net/~C.C.Jordan/Xp-38k.jpg

The Story Of The Best Performing Variant Of The P-38 Lightning



The Lockheed P-38K-1-LO is now nearly forgotten. No photographs of the aircraft are known to exist today. Only the original test mule was photographed. It has been relegated to that part of history where one off prototypes and special test aircraft usually go. This is rather unfortunate for this aircraft as it was the benchmark against which all other variants of the P-38 Lightning must be compared. Simply said, it was the best performing Lightning ever to take to the sky.

From the very beginning of Americaāā‚¬™s involvement in World War Two, Lockheed was looking for ways to improve the performance of the P-38. The installation of Rolls Royce XX Merlins was seriously considered. Lockheed went as far as designing the installation package. The advantages of the Merlin engine were numerous. First and foremost was the elimination of the complex turbocharger system. This would also result in a much cleaner engine nacelle. The turbo intercoolers could be removed. That would have allowed for a for more aerodynamic package, closer in shape to that of the original XP-38. Another option was to remove the Prestone radiators and place them under the engine as in the P-40. This location had the additional advantage of reducing the length of the cooling system plumbing. This, in turn, reduced the risk of battle damage to the system. Either option would result in a significant reduction in drag and weight. A further benefit would be gained by the removal of intercooler ducting in the front portion of the outer wings. This volume could be utilized for increased fuel capacity. In fact, that is what was done when the P-38J was designed with revised intercooler cores that eliminated the ducting. This increased internal fuel capacity by 110 gallons.

There were some performance areas that would suffer. While a gain in speed at medium altitudes was expected, the rate of climb would be reduced by as much as 400 feet per minute. Service ceiling would also be reduced as the Packard Merlin XX made considerably less power above 30,000 feet than did the Allison V1710. At the time, no one anticipated the engine and turbocharger problems that developed at high altitude over Europe. Unfortunately, the War Production Board was unwilling to shut down the production line for several months to retool for major design changes required for the engine swap. As a result, the Merlin project was shelved. No P-38 ever flew fitted with Rolls Royce Merlin or Packard engines. The idea of retro-fitting Merlin 61 engines was bantered about 8th Air Force Fighter Command, however there is no evidence that any such conversion ever took place. The prospect of such a modification would have been daunting. This was no simple engine swap, it required large portions of the airframe to be completely redesigned. Stories of Merlin powered Lightnings are, without much doubt, myth.


This, however, did not put an end to seeking greater performance. Lockheed paid close attention to the performance gains achieved with the P-47 when the new "high activity" Hamilton Standard propellers where first fitted on a Republic P-47C in mid 1942 (later, in mid 1943, these propellers were retro-fitted in Britain). The new "paddle" blade prop had significantly increased the rate of climb and acceleration of the "Jug". Lockheed decided that they would install the Hamilton Standard hydraulic propellers on one of the factory test "mules". Thus, was the XP-38K born. The "mule" was an extensively modified P-38E. The original intercoolers were replaced with the newer type introduced on the J model. The initial test results were very encouraging and a P-38G service test airframe (422-81, AFF serial number 42-13558) was selected to be modified.

The new propellers were not the only design changes made in the search for greater performance. This airframe was configured for the Allison V1710F-15 powerplants which were rated at over 1,875 bhp in War Emergency Power (as compared to 1,725 bhp for the V1710F-17 in the P-38L). This was the only P-38 so configured. The potent combination of the engine/propeller promised excellent performance

http://home.att.net/~C.C.Jordan/P-38props.JPG

There were still other modifications that were necessary. The Hamilton Standard props required a spinner of greater diameter, and the thrust line was slightly higher as well. This in turn, required that new cowlings be manufactured to properly blend the spinners into the engine nacelles. These were hand made and the fit was less than perfect. The new propellers necessitated a change to the reduction gear ratio. The Curtiss Electric props had a normal ratio of 2.00 to 1. The ratio was changed to 2.36 to 1.

Flight tests were conducted from late February through the end of April 1943. Performance was better than hoped for. Maximum speed at critical altitude (29,600 ft) was 432 mph (Military Power). At 40,000 feet, the "K" zipped along at a speed that was 40 mph faster than the current production P-38J could attain at this same height. Maximum speed in War Emergency Power, at critical altitude, was expected to exceed 450 mph. The increase in ceiling was just as remarkable. Flown to 45,000 ft on an extremely hot and humid day, Lockheed engineers predicted a "standard day" service ceiling in excess of 48,000 ft! Improvement of the cowling fit and the elimination of the heavy coat of paint would have gained even more performance. Due to the added efficiency of the new propellers, range was expected to increase by 10 to 15 %. Lockheed appeared to have a world-beater on their hands.

The plane, now designated the P-38K-1-LO was flown to Elgin Field for evaluation by the USAAF. Flown against the P-51B and the P-47D, this Lightning proved to be vastly superior to both in every category of measured performance. What astounded the evaluation team was the incredible rate of climb demonstrated by the P-38K. From a standing start on the runway, the aircraft could take off and climb to 20,000 feet in 5 minutes flat! The "K", fully loaded, had an initial rate of climb of 4,800 fpm in Military Power. In War Emergency Power, over 5,000 fpm was predicted.

In light of this incredible level of performance, you would certainly expect that the Government would be falling all over themselves to quickly get the P-38K into production. Yet, this was not the case. The War Production Board was unwilling to allow a short production suspension in order to get new tooling on line for the required change to the engine cowling. Even when Lockheed promised that the stoppage would only be for 2 or 3 weeks, their request was turned down.

The true consequences of this pig-headed thinking will never be known. What would have been the impact of such a high performance fighter arriving in force to the forward combat areas in mid 1943? How many lost fighter pilots would have survived thanks to the awe inspiring performance of the P-38K? Again, we can never know these things. What we do know, is that due to bureaucratic myopia, neither the P-38K nor a Merlin powered Lightning ever really had a chance to make an impact upon the air war. For all those pilots who died at the controls of lesser aircraft, the War Production Board bears a measure of responsibility for their fate.


____

bolillo_loco
06-04-2005, 09:04 AM
Originally posted by VMF-214_HaVoK:
Great post! It should also be known that a P-38 was dove to 600mph in a test and recovered with no damage. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I find this hard to believe, either the pilot is exaggerating his speed or his air speed indicator malfunctioned or gave erronious figures, which was very common during high speed dives. with out dive recovery flaps, at mach .74 the pilot could no longer prevent the nose of the 38 from tucking under. with dive recovery flaps the pilot manual states you could add 20 mph ias.

or maybe your reading about this modified P-38

http://p-38online.com/images/sword.jpg

Jasko76
06-04-2005, 09:13 AM
What's that on P-38's wing? Looks like an extra supercharger.

bolillo_loco
06-04-2005, 09:56 AM
Originally posted by Jasko76:
What's that on P-38's wing? Looks like an extra supercharger.

I really do not know. I have often wondered that myself. I have always guessed that it was most likely something to produce smoke over the modified wing surfaces. looks rather strange to be a modified air intake for the engine.

CUJO_1970
06-04-2005, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by Jasko76:
What's that on P-38's wing? Looks like an extra supercharger.


It's a P-38E (41-2048) for testing airfoils, dubbed "Swordfish". First flown 2 June 1943, it was the fastest diving Lightning.

The spray boom and ducting apparently simulated airflow over different wing profiles. Lockheed used it until after the war to test concepts for other a/c.

It ended up as a civilian a/c (with 4 seats!), but unfortunately was destroyed in a crash in the 1960's.

BigKahuna_GS
06-05-2005, 07:00 PM
S!

That is correct. Notice the extra long nose which changed the airstream over the inside porting of the wing.



__