The last variant of the P-38 was also the most numerous. Lockheed produced 3,810 of this model, and for the first time a second company – Consolidated Vultee – also received a contract to produce Lightnings. Only 113 of these P-38-VNs (Vultee Nashville) were produced out of an initial order for 2000. Deliveries of the P-38L began in June 1944, just as the aircraft was beginning to be phased out with the 8th and 9th Air Forces, so the majority of P-38Ls were used in the Pacific.
The P-38L was very similar to the P-38J. It had new engines – Allison V-1710-111/ -113s, capable of providing 1,425 hp. The new engines could produce 1,600 hp for short periods, giving a useful boost to power at the expense of engine lifespan.
The P-38L also saw the first use of a rocket carrying system known as the “Christmas tree”. This carried five rockets in three rows, and resembled an up-turned Christmas tree. This allowed each P-38 to carry ten 5 inch rockets, a big increase in available firepower.
Engine: Allison V-1710-111/-113
Horsepower: 1,425 (1,600 for short periods)
Max Speed: 414 mph at 25,000 feet
Ceiling: 44,000 feet
Range: 2,600 miles (with 300 gallon drop tanks)
Span: 52 feet
Length: 37 feet 10 inches