Although it is best known for its exploits over the Pacific, the P-38 Lightning also played an important role in North Africa and Italy and for a short period with the Eighth Air Force over Germany.
Stanaway has produced a well balanced account of the P-38's service in these theatres, not always the case in this series. Here the accounts of individual combat missions are balanced by a clear overview of the fighting (unlike the same author's book on the P-38 in the Pacific, which tends to focus on the day-by-day fighting.
The final chapter, looking at the P-38's career with the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces based in Britain is particularly valuable. There is a tenancy to associate these forces with the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt, and these were indeed the main aircraft in use by the end of the war, but in the second half of 1943 the Thunderbolt lacked the range to operate over Germany and the Merlin powered P-51 Mustang had yet to enter service. This left the small number of P-38s as the best long range fighter in US service.
This volume is a valuable reminder of the important role the P-38 played in the middle of the Second World War, when for a period it was the best fighter aircraft available to the USAAF.
Pioneer P-38 Aces
Eighth and Ninth Air Force Aces
Author: John Stanaway