|This page is about the American twin-engine fighter P-38J-15. For the premium version, see Bong's P-38J-15. For other variants, see P-38 (Family).
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
Throughout the many P-38 Lightning variants, one thing rarely changed, the engine nacelles. With the P-38J, also known as Model 422, the engine nacelles and cooling system was revised. Much of the cooling system was improved, such as a different intercooler and other airframe changes that greatly improved the ability to control the turbochargers. Although the P-38J had the same engine (V-1719-89/91) as the earlier P-38H, the better cooling allowed the P-38J to run at a higher power setting at high altitudes. The power increased by about 13%. The specific J-15 block had a better electrical system but was virtually the same as the earlier P-38J blocks.
Introduced in Update 1.53 "Firestorm", the P-38J-15 Lightning is a decent twin-engine fighter. The P-38J with its relatively good climb rate and air spawn, can easily climb above many fighters at its battle rating. Players should climb at about 275 km/h (173 mph) IAS for the best climb performance. The P-38J also has the same armament as many of the other Lightnings with four 12.7 mm machine guns and one 20 mm cannon all mounted in the nose. Although the P-38J has a structural limit of 790 km/h (493 mph), players should be cautious of going too fast as the high-speed compression issue wasn't solved at the time. This can make it hard to get guns on target or worse, slam into the ground. In addition, the P-38J can take bombs and rockets, but players should stick to attacking enemy aircraft. Overall, the P-38J is quite a good aircraft with some quirks.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,921 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
|100% Engine power
|WEP Engine power
Survivability and armour
- 6.5 mm Steel - Fore cockpit plating
- 6.5 mm Steel - Pilot's seat
- 9.8 mm Steel - Pilot's headrest
- 38 mm Bulletproof glass - Windscreen
Modifications and economy
The P-38J-15 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)
The P-38J-15 can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 2 x 500 lb AN-M64A1 bombs (1,000 lb total)
- 6 x M8 rockets
Usage in battles
When playing the P-38J, climb to a high altitude, search for the enemy, and then pick an enemy you feel confident in engaging.
Once these steps have been ticked off, assuming you are above the enemy target, put the Lightning into a gradual descent. This allows you to maintain a speed advantage. As you are descending, make small course corrections, so you don't give the element of surprise away by shooting too soon, overshooting, or being within view. When you are about 1-2 seconds away from your target, line your sights up and fire a short burst with your cannon and machine guns. Your target should now be heavily damaged or shot down. If you fail to damage your target, climb back up above using your energy advantage and repeat or move on.
Using the Lightning in ground forces (RB) is very effective once you have unlocked the appropriate modules. FMBC Mk.1 allows you to equip 2 x 500 lb bombs, which are mounted under your wings. To help get the bombs on target, put the plane into a steep dive. As you near the ground, drop the bombs then pull up. Make sure you either pull up with altitude to spare or have a timed fuse to avoid crashing or blowing yourself up. The M10 Bazooka module allows you to equip your P-38J with 2 triple Bazooka launchers. These are attached to the lower nose panel and are very accurate. These are ideal for destroying tanks and bunkers.
Once the enemy ground units have been destroyed or you run out of external ordnance, you can use the Lightning to help maintain air superiority. This will help you secure that much-wanted victory.
Manual Engine Control
Auto control available
Auto control available
Auto control available
| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Excellent speed
- Incredible energy retention let's you have multiple approaches on a helpless target
- Excellent acceleration
- Excellent climb rate
- Very powerful armament, great for bomber hunting
- Nose-mounted armament allows it to have the great and fearsome head-on capability
- Multiple armament presets; allows it to function as a ground attack and/or air superiority fighter
- Good roll and turn time
- Good overall visibility in simulator matches
- Great air superiority aircraft.
- Fuel tanks catch on fire easily
- Low initial roll rate
- Unable to dive to put fires out without breaking wings
- Easy to rip wings in dives; no airbrakes installed unlike the P-38L
- Easy to black-out if your crew's G-Tolerance and Stamina are low
- Low cannon ammunition amount compared to other planes at 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 could act as a high-altitude interceptor that could 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 these 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 x 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 can fire at a longer distance accurately than wing-mounts.
The P-38J model of the series was introduced into service in August 1943. Its distinctive form is the movement of the turbo-supercharger intercooler system from the leading edges of the wings to in between the oil coolers of the engine to protect them from combat damage. Thus, the J models of P-38s have a distinctive "chin" in the engine design. The empty spaces on the wing now made room for fuel tanks for an additional 55 gallons of fuel when installed. Other improvements in the P-38J were hydraulically boosted ailerons and flat bullet-proof windscreens. 2970 P-38Js were built during its production period.
The P-38 performed very well in the Pacific and European theatres during World War II. They were used in roles such as bomber and transport escorts, performing reconnaissance, Combat Air Patrols, ground attack, Search and Rescue and other important and critical roles.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that only five P-38Js survive to this day. Only two of them are still airworthy.
Major Richard Bong's infamous fighter with the Marge nose-art was a P-38J-15. Bong became the top U.S. ace of W.W. II after 40 confirmed victories (and a possible 8 more).
United States ace pilot Robin Olds, the only pilot to become an ace in a P-38 and P-51 during World War II.
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Official data sheet - more details about the performance
- AAF Manual 51-127-1 - Pilot Training Manual for the Lightning P-38
|XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38K · P-38L-5-LO · YP-38
|B-34 · PV-2D
|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
|Mitsubishi Heavy Industries · Fiat Aviation
|USA twin-engine fighters
|XP-38G · P-38E · P-38G-1 · P-38J-15 · Bong's P-38J-15 · P-38L-5-LO · P-38K · YP-38
|P-61A-11 · P-61C-1
|F7F-1 · F7F-3
|XF5F · XP-50 · F-82E