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"APACHE" | AH-64A Peten
P-38E Lightning
General characteristics
1 personCrew
7.9 tTake-off weight
3.58 kg/sBurst mass
Flight characteristics
12 192 mCeiling
Allison V-1710-29Engine
waterCooling system
Speed of destruction
790 km/hStructural
289 km/hGear
Offensive armament
20 mm AN/M2 cannonWeapon 1
150 roundsAmmunition
600 shots/minFire rate
4 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine gunWeapon 2
2 000 roundsAmmunition
750 shots/minFire rate
11 000 Rp icon.pngResearch
38 000 Sl icon.pngPurchase
Sl icon.png2 100 / 2 671/3 100 / 3 943/960 / 1 221Repair
11 000 Sl icon.pngCrew training
38 000 Sl icon.pngExperts
250 Ge icon.pngAces
124 % Rp icon.pngReward for battle
340 % Sl icon.png260 % Sl icon.png90 % Sl icon.png
This page is about the American twin-engine fighter P-38E. For other variants, see P-38 (Family).


GarageImage P-38E.jpg

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.

General info

Flight Performance

Describe how the aircraft behaves in the air. Speed, manoeuvrability, acceleration and allowable loads - these are the most important characteristics of the vehicle.

Max Speed
(km/h at 7,012 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
612 594 12 192 24.1 25.0 10.5 10.5 380
Max Speed
(km/h at 7,012 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
661 635 12 192 21.9 23.0 17.2 13.5 380


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear
Wing-break speed
Gear limit
Combat flaps
Max Static G
+ -
790 289  620 ~9 ~5
Optimal velocities
< 380 < 460 < 500 > 420
Compressor (RB/SB)
Setting 1
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


Offensive armament

The P-38E is armed with:

  • 1 x 20 mm AN/M2 cannon, nose-mounted (150 rpg)
  • 4 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 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

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Controllable
Auto control available
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Separate Not controllable
1 gear
Not controllable


Tier Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
I Fuselage repair Radiator Offensive 12 mm
II Compressor Airframe New 12 mm MGs
III Wings repair Engine Offensive 20 mm
IV Engine injection Cover New 20 mm cannons

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).


Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

Notable pilots

  • Major Richard Bong began military flight training in the P-38E after graduating from basic flight school in the single engine AT-6 Texan.

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

External links

Paste links to sources and external resources, such as:

  • topic on the official game forum;
  • encyclopedia page on the aircraft;
  • other literature.

Lockheed Corporation
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