Developed in 1937, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was first used as
a high altitude interceptor for the United States. The first
prototype, later completed in 1939, was known as the XP-38. In
February of that year, the XP-38 demonstrated its speed when it
flew from California to New York in only seven hours.
The design of the P-38 included several firsts, namely the
Allison V-1710 in-line engine, tricycle landing gear,
"butt-joint flush riveted" surfaces, and extensive use of
stainless steel. All of these elements combined to create an
aircraft with a maximum speed of over 666.27 kilometres per
hour, with a ceiling of 12,192 metres. With so many new
developments, the P-38 had many challenges until the final
design was complete.
With its unique twin boom construction, the P-38 Lighting
went into mass production in 1942, and continued to be produced
until the end of the Second World War.