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Warbirds of World War II: P-38 Lightning (1997)

World War II footage and films of the Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" aircraft in action.

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Fergus Stone ...
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World War II footage and films of the Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" aircraft in action.

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Documentary | Short | War

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Informative, Slightly Different Format.
15 September 2012 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The half hour is devoted to the P-38 Lightening, a fast twin-engined American warplane used in multiple roles in all theaters of World War II. Most of the footage is from newsreels and training films.

The approach to the description of the airplane is a little different from the usual. Instead of giving us more than the most elementary details of the airplane, the film concentrates on one or two incidents in which the Lightning was involved. One is a raid by the Luftwaffe on Allied bases in North Africa and the other is a reconnaissance patrol by a P-38 in the Solomon Islands.

We learn the length and wingspan of the P-38 but hear nothing of its original design or its evolution. (There were two main variants.) We don't even know who built it. (Lockheed.) We find out that pilot preferred to fly with two wing tanks instead of one because it improved handling characteristics but we aren't told any details of its armament.

At times the narration sounds a bit like a war-time propaganda movie. "The ground was littered with Nazi planes." "The Lightning was the fastest reconnaissance airplane of World War II." I don't want to bother looking up the statistics, but was it really faster than the British Mosquito or the jet-propelled German Arado? There is only one talking head, an Air Force historian, and he knows what he's talking about and gives a balanced presentation in a way the narration does not.

A video tape is available called "Warbirds of World War II." It includes the description of the P-38 as outlined above but treats other American airplanes as well, such as the B-17 and the B-24.


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