First conceived in 1937 by Lockheed chief engineer Hall L. Hibbard and his then assistant, Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, the twin-boomed P-38 was the most innovative plane of its day, combining speed with unheard-of advances: two supercharged engines and a potent mix of four 50-caliber machine guns and a 20-mm cannon.
Upon its official introduction in 1940, the P-38 was capable of climbing to 3,300 feet in a single minute and reaching 400 mph, 100 mph faster than any other fighter in the world. It also doubled as an intimidating long-range threat, capable of carrying a larger payload than early B-17s and boasting a range of 1,150 miles.
Its versatility and ruggedness were legendary. It could sink a ship. Strafed enemies on the ground. Crippled tanks. Destroyed entrenched pillboxes and shot down numerous fighters and bombers in all theaters of war.
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