Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Today In History: Fork-Tailed Devil.

On this day in 1939, the prototype Lockheed XP-38, one of Kelly Johnson's masterworks, set a coast-to-coast speed record of 7 hours and 2 minutes.

The performance was marred somewhat by the plane being balled up in a short landing, but the US Army Air Corps was impressed enough with the feat to order a flight of test aircraft.

14 comments:

Turk Turon said...

And four years, two months and seven days later, a squadron of P-38s shot down and killed Japanese Admiral Yamamoto.

Wv: stinges

wolfwalker said...

Ah, the P-38! A magnificent machine. IMO, the best fighter airplane of WW2. ;-)

Tam said...

...and 51 years and 22 days later, another of Kelly Johnson's babies would make the coast-to-coast flight in under 69 minutes. Nonstop. w00t!

BryanP said...

Ah, the P-38. Mustangs are cool, but the Lightning was the only fighter that could come home with one prop feathered.

reflectoscope said...

It wasn't that Johnson was good once, it was that he was consistent about it. I commute past two examples of his work every day, and it is still amazing to see how well he and his troops did their jobs.

I had an opportunity to see the museum at Palmdale, and the long-tail SR-71 at Eglin. I remain in awe of something designed on paper, being capable of even half of what that is. I think it will be a long, long time before it stops looking like something out of the future.

Finally, I am compelled to say that the Electra might well be the single most graceful thing to ever take to the sky under its own power.

Jim

(The guy with a Lightning poster on the wall, and the bios of Johnson and Rich on my bookshelf beside my stuffed Skonk)

Anonymous said...

The John M. Browning of the aviation world!

jb

Frank W. James said...

You know all these years later a P-38 still LOOKS fast and elegent. The P-51 got all the glory, but still the P-38 was the 'coolest' of them all back in WWII.

I've often wondered what that airframe would do today with two big honking turboprops in place of the Allisons?

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

I one of my books I have some picture of ones that suffered some problems, one hit a telephone pole lost 1 prop, which torre a hole into the gun bay. The phone pole bent the entire left wing down and back before breaking.

Another aircraft hit a Handley Page bomber, amputating one of the bombers vertical tails, and landed with the tail still wedged in the wing.

Anonymous said...

Johnson got his start in Indiana.
In 1932 he did the aerodynamics for an Indy car fielded by that South Bend firm. It was his first project, and finished second.

DirtCrashr said...

It was my childhood favorite - and only now I find out: "...and an Oldsmobile 37 mm cannon with 15 rounds."
Oldsmobile!! WTF?? That is so WAAY cooler than a National Postal Meter carbine... Damn!

The Freeholder said...

A heck of a plane designed by a heck of a man. I missed seeing the P-38 at Tillamook in October. I really hate that.

Anonymous said...

O sure Crash, I s'pose you'd turn up your nose at a Union Signal or a Singer, too. Hozzabodda Guide Lamp Liberator, to ride around in your Cadillac-Gage? All GM!

Those Rock-Ola carbines really tickle my fancy.

Tam said...

I had a friend who considered himself a Mac nut buy hisself an IBM carbine, simply so he could hang it on the wall over his G4 and show friends that he liked both Apple and IBM. :D

DirtCrashr said...

I have a sweet little NPM, I'm just sayin an Oldsmo'blaster 37 beats two Delta 88's and a GE fridge in the front yard - and would be a helluva thing to have guarding the street during the zombnaziapocalypse...