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Portuguese Lightning History [Airacobra] [Lightning] [Thunderbolt] [Blenheim]

The General Airplane... that´s how the only portuguese operational Lockeed P-38 Lightning was named as it was towed out of the hangar everytime a General or other important visitor came to the Ota base at Tancos.

It was a P-38G originaly flown by Capt. Jack Harmon, one of the two* USAAF pilots from the 94thFS 1stFG, that force landed at Lisbon on 15 November 1942, when flying from England to North Africa being part of the Torch Operation. The "G" was then assigned to the Airacobra Squadron - The OK Squadron, while the other pilot Lt. Jack Ilfrey flying a P-38F, managed to take off by surprise and reach Gibraltar, violating the international law concerning interned aircraft.

The P-38G was coded OK-T, with the 335 serial number. Later on due to the retirement of the Airacobra OK-B with the serial 301, the Airacobra OK-A/300 received the serial 301, and the Lightning serial was changed from 335 to 300. It was regularly flown by Flight Commander Lt. Solano de Almeida, until fuel leaks were noticed on the wings fuel tanks. It was retired in 1950 together with the Airacobras.

Port noseart inscription said Não faz mal... (It doesn't matter...), based on the difficulties of flying interned aircraft usually suffering from general lack of spare parts.

*A third USAAF pilot, Capt. Buddy Strozier from the 96thFS 82ndFG, might have force landed in Portugal on 23 December 1942, when a group of 51 P-38s on their way to Gibralter was attacked by the Luftwaffe 14/KG40...

The P-38F model

The F model had two Allison V-1710-F5 / V-1710 -48-53 with 1225 HP engines. It was equipped with a 20 mm M1 cannon, 4 Colt-Browning MG 53-2 machine guns with 500 rounds per gun, and was able to carry two bombs of 325, 500 or 1000 lbs. It had a gun sight of the 3A model and a gun camera. The oxygen system was of the A-9A model.

The P-38G model

Identical to the F model except it had two Allison V-1710-F10 / V-1710-51-55 with 1325 HP engines, and reinforced wings allowing a significant increase on weapon loadout.

Further info can be found at The Aviation Hobbysite or at the Forca Aerea Portuguesa official site.

photos "Mais Alto"