3 thoughts on “Lockheed XP-38 Lightning 37-457, left quarter. (Ray Wagner Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives, Catalog #: 16_008059)

  1. I noticed the XP-38 does not have a nose gear door, but the two main landing gears do.


    Is there more than one prototype? I thought the sole XP-38 prototype crashed onto a golf course due to icing in the carburetors.

    1. I don’t know. In all the photos of the XP-38 at March Field in January 1939, the nose gear door cannot be seen, yet it is clearly visible in a photograph of 37-457 at Wright Field, 11 February 1939. (See TDiA at: https://www.thisdayinaviation.com/11-february-1939/ ) Perhaps it was originally configured so that it could be closed with the nose strut extended?

      You are correct. There was one XP-38, and thirteen YP-38s.

      1. Thank you for your response to my query on the nose gear door of the XP-38 & whether or not there was more than one of the original prototype.

        I’m an avid scale modeler & like to super detail large scale wooden models mostly for display.

        From what I’ve gathered so far on the prototype, it did not have the mass balance weights in the elevators. Against Kelly Johnson’s wishes, the U.S. Army insisted having them installed due to severe flutter on the tail that was later traced to the lack of smooth fairings between the central fuselage pod & the wings.

        The cockpit was of a more rounded shape. It did not have the flat bullet proof glass plate over the front windshield. Lack of addition framing.

        Of course there were differences in the radiator coolers & more.

        Still, I hope to detail the cockpit using a “standard” cockpit ( if such a standard should exist) with a rounded yoke as opposed to a bow tie configuration & without the weapons systems. Insofar as I can tell, there’s no known photo of the cockpit interior to the original prototype.

        Thanking you again.


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