|This page is about the American twin-engine fighter P-38E. For other variants, see P-38 (Family).|
The P-38E Lightning is a rank II American twin-engine fighter with a battle rating of 3.0 (AB/RB) and 3.3 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.53 "Firestorm".
The P-38E is the first of the P-38 vehicles available in game, and is all round a very good plane. It gets an interceptor airspawn on most maps, which allows the P-38 to very often find itself above or at an equal altitude to its opponents. The main strength of the P-38E is its speed and energy retention, so it should be used accordingly - play it as an energy fighter or Boom 'n' Zoomer. The P-38E is also surprisingly manoeuvrable for such a large plane - while it can't outmanoeuvre single-engine fighters, it can put up a good fight.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,012 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 380||< 460||< 500||> 420|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|6,800 m||1,050 hp||1,176 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 7 mm steel - in front of cockpit
- 7 mm steel - pilot seat
- 10 mm steel behind pilot head
- 38 mm bulletproof glass - behind windscreen
Modifications and economy
The P-38E is armed with:
- 1 x 20 mm AN/M2 cannon, nose-mounted (150 rpg)
- 4 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, nose-mounted (500 rpg = 2,000 total)
Usage in battles
Air Realistic Battles.
While fast at its BR of 3.0, the P-38 is slower than many planes it will face at 3.7 and 4.0, most specifically the Fw 190 A-1 and the Bf 109 F-4 and F-4/trop, although it does have an air spawn, which can be used temporarily to have the advantage on these enemies. Attempt to pick out planes at its BR or planes that are slower than it, then target them.
When forced to deal with faster opponents, evade and use teammates. If the direction it is caught going in is opposite to the team's side of the map, a handy trick is rolling over and pulling 180 degrees until the plane comes out the other direction, a maneuver known as a split S. It gains speed (instead of a horizontal turn, which loses it) and exposes the plane to the minimum amount of enemy fire while doing so, which is important, as the P-38 is very broad in the wings and prone to catching fire due to the fuel tanks.
In terms of ammunition, Air Targets is preferential for the cannon and Universal for the MGs, if stealth is not used. There are other options, most notably Ground Targets for the cannon and Tracers or Ground Targets for the .50 cals, but the tracers on the .50 cals are weak, unlike the M20 API-T on the P-51s and P-47s, and groundpounding should be reserved for later parts of the game in case a bomber is climbing to space, as the plane is an interceptor and cannot carry suspended armaments.
Ammo conservation on the cannon is not very important; it has a low fire rate and does not jam easily once the 'New 20mm Cannon' modification is unlocked; moreover, each shell has a high damage output, especially on stealth. The .50 cals can be sprayed indiscriminately.
As a bomber-hunter, the P-38E is superb. Its nose-mounted armaments allow it to sit a kilometer behind enemy bombers such as He 111s, outside of effective range of their guns but still able to hit hard with its 20mm cannon.
Manual Engine Control
Auto control available
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
|Separate|| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Nose-mounted armaments give great long-range accuracy: no need to worry about convergence
- Good speed on the deck
- Decent at head-ons in a tight spot, due to the 20 mm cannon and nose-mounted .50 cals
- Can always get home with one engine left
- Very large airframe is easy to hit and burns quite easily
- Easy target when flying slow
- Bad at recovering energy after a dive or when turning
- Can't fight with one engine
- The tail is prone to snapping off when hit by cannon shells, even at long ranges
Describe the history of the creation and combat usage of the aircraft in more detail than in the introduction. If the historical reference turns out to be too long, take it to a separate article, taking a link to the article about the vehicle and adding a block "/History" (example: https://wiki.warthunder.com/(Vehicle-name)/History) and add a link to it here using the
main template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using
<ref></ref>, as well as adding them at the end of the article with
<references />. This section may also include the vehicle's dev blog entry (if applicable) and the in-game encyclopedia description (under
=== In-game description ===, also if applicable).
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Bristol Beaufighter
- de Havilland Mosquito
- Kawasaki Ki-96
- Mitsubishi Ki-83
- Nakajima J5N
- Northrop P-61 Black Widow
- Westland Whirlwind
- Petlyakov Pe-3
- Savoia-Marchetti SM.92
|Fighters||XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38K · P-38L-5-LO · YP-38|
|Bombers||B-34 · PV-2D|
|Jet Fighters||F-80A-5 · F-80C-10|
|F-104A · F-104C|
|Export / License||A-29 · ▄Hudson Mk V|
|␗F-104A · ▀F-104G · ␗F-104G · ▅F-104J · ▄F-104S|
|See Also||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries · Fiat Aviation|
|USA twin-engine fighters|
|P-38||XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38L-5-LO · P-38K · YP-38|
|P-61||P-61A-1 · P-61C-1|
|F7F||F7F-1 · F7F-3|
|Other||XF5F · XP-50 · F-82E|