Lockheed P-38 Lightning: Timeline

Late 1935

Army issued specification X-608, called for heavily armed interceptor.

13 April 1937

Lockheed submit their Model 22 Pursuit Plane

23 June 1937

USAAF issues contract for construction of the XP-38 prototype.

September 1937

Model 22 altered to use engines that rotated in opposite directions.

December 1938

XP-38 completed at Lockheed’s Burbank plant, then disassembled for move to March Field

January 1939

Roll-out of re-assembled XP-38 at March Field

27 January 1939

First flight of the XP-38 nearly ends in disaster due to flap failure, but aircraft is saved by the test pilot, Lt. Ben Kelsey

11 February 1939

XP-38 lost at end of record breaking trans-continental flight

27 April 1939

Contract awarded to construct thirteen YP-38s

20 September 1939

Order placed for the first sixty six production aircraft.

March 1940

British first to call the P-38 the Lightning

5 June 1940

British take over a French order for 667 P-38s

September 1940

First YP-38 rolled out

17 September 1940

First test flight of the YP-38

Spring 1941

Flight tests of the YP-38 begin.

June 1941

Deliveries of P-38-LO begins

August 1941

Deliveries of P-38D begin.

Autumn 1941

P-38E enters service


Three Lightning Mk Is reach Britain for tests, but are rejected by the RAF
P-38-LO redesignated as restricted duties RP-38

February 1942

P-38F enters service

April 1942

First missions for the F-4-1 Photo Lighting, with the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, based in Australia

June 1942

P-38G enters service

August 1942

F-5A-1 enters service

4 August 1942

First combat victory for the P-38, over a Mavis flying boat in the Aleutian Islands

14 August 1942

First combat victory over the Luftwaffe, when a P-38D based on Iceland shot down a Fw 200 Condor over the Atlantic.

11 November 1942

14th Fighter Group goes operational with P-38 (North Africa)

March 1943

P-38H-5 enters services

c. July 1943

P-38H appears in Pacific

Early 1944

P-38J becomes standard model.

June 1944

P-38L deliveries begin.

5 January 1945

First flight of an operational P-38M Night Lightning

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 May 2007), Lockheed P-38 Lightning: Timeline, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_P-38_timeline.html

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