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The P-38M was a night fighter developed from the P-38L. Early field conversions had confirmed that the P-38 was suitable for use as a night fighter, and so in October 1944 Lockheed were given a contract to develop a dedicated night fighter. They did this by adding an AN/APS-4 AI radar pod under the nose of the pilot’s pod, and space for a dedicated radar operator in a rear extension to the cockpit. This second cockpit was raised slightly, giving the radar operator a view over the pilot’s head, but was very cramped.
The P-38M flew for the first time on 5 January 1945. However, deployment of the fighter was delayed while crews were trained to use the new aircraft, and the type did not enter active service until the war was over. Seventy five aircraft were produced, serving with the 418th Night Fighter Squadron in Japan early in 1946.
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