Lockheed P-38 Lightning (F-4, F-5 Lightning)
The P-38 Lightning is a large,
twin engine fighter with a unique and twin boom design and
tricycle landing gear. It was an excellent and stable gun platform.
It served in all theaters of war, and was the mount of many
U. S. Army Air Force aces in the Pacific. Richard I. Bong claimed 40 victories flying P-38s. The P-38 could not out climb the Zero, but had excellent performance
above 20,000'. Its main strength was its high speed, over 50 mph faster than the Zero and heavy armament. In 1944, it cost the U. S. Government for a P-38 manufactured an average of $97,147.
F-4 and F-5 Photographic Reconnaissance
The P-38's high speed and large nose section (which was a good
location for recon cameras) made the plane a natural for photographic
reconnaissance missions. P-38s that were used in this role were
re-designated as F-4 (converted P-38E) and F-5A / F-5B (converted P-38G) and F-5E (converted P-38L).
P-38 Night Fighter
At the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville, three P-38Gs were converted into night fighters. They were painted black, installed radar and put blast tubes around the gun/cannon muzzles. They have radar antenna protruding from each side of the gun bay/nose area.