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Rank VI USA | Premium | Golden Eagles
A-10A Thunderbolt (Early)
This page is about the American fighter P-38K. For other versions, see P-38 (Family).
GarageImage P-38K.jpg
Show in game


The P-38K Lightning is a premium gift rank IV American twin-engine fighter with a battle rating of 5.0 (AB) and 5.3 (RB/SB). It was introduced as a premium pack during Update 1.53 "Firestorm" when it was made available for purchase during the 2015 Christmas Sale. It was later available for purchase in the store for the 2016 Independence Day Sale, the 2017 A revolt in War Thunder, the 2017 Summer Sale and the 2018 Winter sale and has since been made available for various sales and allied themed events.

General info

Flight performance

Max speed
at 6 401 m724 km/h
Turn time20 s
Max altitude13 411 m
EngineAllison V-1710-77
Cooling systemWater
Take-off weight9 t
Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 6,401 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 693 673 13411 21.2 22.0 18.6 18.6 332
Upgraded 761 724 19.5 20.0 31.9 24.0


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
790 289 565 495 250 ~9 ~5
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 380 < 460 < 500 > 420

Survivability and armour

Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural790 km/h
Gear289 km/h
  • 6.5 mm steel behind guns
  • 6.5 mm steel seat
  • 9.5 mm steel behind pilot
  • 38 mm bulletproof glass in front of the pilot
  • Self-sealing fuel tanks (3 in each wing)

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
AB1 740 Sl icon.png
RB6 460 Sl icon.png
SB5 800 Sl icon.png
Crew training10 000 Sl icon.png
Experts320 000 Sl icon.png
Aces1 100 Ge icon.png
Research Aces1 050 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
Talisman.png 2 × 90 / 250 / 280 % Sl icon.png
Talisman.png 2 × 172 / 172 / 172 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
Mods radiator.png
Mods compressor.png
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
Mods new engine.png
Mods g suit.png
Mods metanol.png
Engine injection
Mods armor frame.png
Mods armor cover.png
Mods ammo.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
Mods ammo.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png


Offensive armament

Ammunition150 rounds
Fire rate600 shots/min
Ammunition2 000 rounds
Fire rate750 shots/min

The P-38K 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

The main and only tactic of the P-38K is, solely an air superiority and it excels at that.

When playing the P-38K, climb to a high altitude, search for the enemy and locate an enemy you feel confident in engaging. Assuming you are above the enemy target, put the aircraft into a gradual descent, which allows you to maintain a speed advantage. As you are descending; make small corrections on your path so you don't give the element surprise away by overshooting the enemy. Now you are about one to two seconds away from your target. Here you will line your sights up, with your sights on the tail and fire a burst with your cannon and machine guns. While keeping the momentum, climb back up to the height you where before and repeat for the best results.

This plane does not carry any bombs or rockets, so using it in a ground strike role is not recommended.

Manual Engine Control

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

Pros and cons


  • Excellent speed, acceleration and climb rate
  • Very powerful armament, great for bomber hunting
  • Armament being positioned in the nose allows it to have the great and fearsome head-on capability
  • Adequate roll and turn time (You can actually out turn even Yaks and Spitfires with the landing flaps! Though use them on and off)
  • Cockpit visibility, important in simulator matches, is mostly unobstructed
  • Acceleration is great deference when escaping and/or evading enemy aircraft
  • Excellent Silver Lion and Research Point earner
  • Best Boom & Zoom P-38 in-game
  • Great air superiority aircraft


  • Wing fuel tanks easily catch on fire when shot
  • Unable to dive to put wing fires out without breaking wings
  • Very delicate airframe, will not take much damage and it is easy to rip wings in dives, no air/drive brakes installed
  • Easy to blackout if crew G-force and stamina are low
  • Single armament preset: No external bombs or rockets
  • When throttling up very fast to WEP, it can cause plane spin/unstable due to the engine torque
  • Low cannon ammunition amount, compared to other planes in the rank


The concept of the plane was made in February 1937 when the US Army Air Corps made a requirement for a plane that had twin-engine and can act as a high-altitude interceptor that can hold a large amount of armament and ammunition. The term "interceptor" was used for the aircraft by the requirement authors, 1st Lt Benjamin S. Kelsey and Gordon P. Saville, to bypass the Air Corps' strict requirements on aircraft designs at the time. The specifications laid by this new requirements also called for a maximum speed of 360 mph (580 km/h) and able to climb to 20,000 ft altitude in six minutes, making it the toughest specifications at the time. Design proposals were made for the specifications, one of which would become the Bell P-39 Airacobra, but it was the Lockheed design team headed by Hall Hibbard and Clarence "Kelly" Johnson that made the final product. They made many designs with a twin-engine configuration. The prototypes made for the design used a twin-boom design to hold all the components of the aircraft. Various armaments were tested on the aircraft, from different machine gun combinations and autocannons. It was finally settled to four M2 .50 cal machine guns and one Hispano 20 mm autocannon. The aircraft armament configurations, all at the nose of the aircraft, was very unusual for American aircraft design, as most of their designs and those of their foreign contemporaries had the armament mounted on the wings angled forward. Because of this mounting, the aircraft is able to fire at a longer distance accurately than wing-mounts.



See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
  • Northrop P-61 Black Widow
  • Savoia-Marchetti SM.92

External links

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-11 · P-61C-1
F7F  F7F-1 · F7F-3
Other  XF5F · XP-50 · F-82E

USA premium aircraft
Fighters  Thach's F2A-1 · Galer's F3F-2 · F2G-1 · F4U-4B VMF-214 · P-26A-34 · P-40C · P-43A-1
  P-47M-1-RE · ⋠P-47M-1-RE · P-51A · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · ␠Kingcobra · XP-55
  ▃A6M2 · ▃Ki-43-II · ▃Ki-61-Ib · ▃Bf 109 F-4 · ▃Fw 190 A-8 · ▃Spitfire LF Mk IXc
Twin-engine fighters  XP-38G · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38K · YP-38 · P-61A-11 · XF5F · XP-50 · F7F-3
Jet fighters  P-59A · F-86F-35 · F-89B · F-89D · F-5C
Strike aircraft  A-1H · A2D-1 · AU-1 · XA-38 · AV-8A · A-6E TRAM · A-10A
Bombers  A-26C-45DT · B-10B · BTD-1 · PBM-3 "Mariner" · PV-2D