17 thoughts on “A Little Something for the Boyz Who Like Airplanes”

  1. The twin Mustang was a neat looking airplane and had terrific performance once the counter-rotating propeller issue was solved. It has immense range and one flew from Hawaii to New York nonstop, a record that still stands. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Any time, MK – I got pictures of a good few of them – before I had to reserve the restof the battery power for the parade, and the new young airman that we were there for!

  3. Bill, according to the linked wikipedia entry, there were less than 300 of them built, and only five still existing – and this is one of the five.

  4. There’s a couple of mislabeled photos on that page. One is a jet fighter called a super marine swift. The other has a rear turret and I don’t know it’s name but it has a different tail.

  5. I wonder which pilot under the canopy was “in command” Sgt ;-) Pretty interesting airplane. Did you see that link I posted with Dr Waggoner’s Lady Alice? It was so well designed even the scoop at the bottom generated thrust

  6. Ibthink they made them at Mines Field, now LAX. The glory days of pre-choked-with-regulations-and-taxes California.

  7. The first one had counter rotating props which had the prop tips going down at the inner limit of the arc. As a result, when they tried to take off fr the first flight, they couldn’t get it off the ground. The prop wash cancelled the left from the center wing. They reversed the rotation so the tips went up at the center of the arc and it was fine. In my engineering days, I saw a couple of similar screwups. One was on the Nike-Zeus missile tests. In the wind tunnel, once the flow got to about Mach 0.7, the flutter blew up the plastic shield that allowed Schlieren photos to be taken.

  8. The pictured F-82 Twin Mustang has the tail emblem of the 68th Fighter Squadron ‘Lightning Lancers’. The 68th transitioned to the F-94 Starfire early in the Korean war, one of which is ‘FA-356’ which is also on dispay at Lackland. Its actually a P-80 converted to T-33 converted to F-94 prototype and sent to Korea with the F-94A’s.

  9. The real wild card for the Operation Downfall invasions was the P-82 Twin Mustang.

    With four 110 gallon drop tanks, a P-82 could escort a B-29 from London to Moscow and fight at war emergency power for 30 minutes when it got there.

    P-82’s flying from Iwo Jima or Okinawa that landed and topped off at Kikai Jima — which was slated for a Division sized invasion and capture in late August 1945 — would have 6-to-8 HOURS of loiter time over the Kyushu landing beaches.

    This staging trick was used by 13th Air Force with Palawan, Philippines based P-38’s to stage through Northern Borneo to do air strikes/fighter sweeps on Singapore & Southern Malaya in August 1945 with enough fuel reserves to engage in dog fighting.

    There were 500 F-82B with Merlin engines on contract at the end of WW2 and about 240 air frames for them had been built when word came A-bomb would end the war. Those airframes were then slated to receive the Allison engine with two stage mechanical superchargers that turned it into a dog compared to the F-82B at high altitudes.

    A lot of that back story happened due to one Lt. Gen William Knudsen.

    The most important figure in the production of aircraft in the US during WW2 was in fact a long time General Motors senior executive.

    William Knudsen was the only man in US history to be appointed a lieutenant general in the US Army without ever having served previously in the military.

    He was a long time executive of General Motors, for which Allison was a division of and Packard was a direct competitor and Knudsen played a role in vetoing the change of the P-38 from an Allison engine to Packard-Merlins.

    Knudsen was President of Chevrolet from 1923 to 1937 and President of General Motors from 1937 to 1940. He joined the Roosevelt Administration in January 1941 as the Director General of the Office of Production Management. He was commissioned a lieutenant general in January 1942 and became the Director of the War Department’s Office of Production. He continued in the Office of Production Management, serving on its policy board, which went through a few iterations before it became the War Production Board (WPB).

    Knudsen’s first task as the Director General of OPM was to find locations to build Roosevelt’s planned 10,000-plane air force. He naturally looked to the assembly lines of the auto manufacturers.

    In 1944, in addition to being the Director of the War Department’s Office of Production and still serving on the War Production Board (as the Lieutenant General in charge of War Department Production), he assumed command of the Air Material Command in the Army Air Forces.

    The 1944 retention of the Allison powered P-39/P-63 production line, and keeping P-38 Allison powered, as the P-40 was finally phased out of production in favor of the non-Alllison powered P-51 and P-47, makes much more sense from the politics of the WPB interests than anything else I have been able to piece together.

    Check out what happened to Allison in April 1945 when the V-E Day cancellations arrived.


    Getting Allison engines on the P-82 was the only life line Knudsen could throw Allison at war’s end.

  10. Yep – Brits just stuffed one in one day as an experiment and the rest is history (P51 B I think)

    Trent – that was most interesting about the Knutsen, Allison and the P38. Politics never seems to be gone, even duiring desparate times. Alwasy wondered why they didn’t stuff a Merlin into the Lightning.

    And from civilian to Lt gen – quite a promotion. I think Congress had to be involved – don’t they have to approve all the Generals and Admirals?

  11. Knudson has been given a lot of credit for straightening out the procurement systems in 1942. The New Dealers couldn’t run a war and had to go to the hated industrialists. They probably were willing to give him anything by the end of the war.

  12. The Allison engine was both more powerful and more reliable at medium to low altitudes than the Merlin.

    The Allison engine was never pair matched with a satisfactory supercharger (either turbo or mechanical) for reasons having to do with pre-war American Army Air Force fighter development decisions and Lend lease priorties with Lockheed.

    Specifically Kelly Johnson was placed on the Lockeed Hudson patrol plane rather than the P-38 in 1940-41 and was later shifted to the P-80 development program in late 1943.

  13. >>Trent – that was most interesting about the Knutsen, Allison and the P38. Politics never seems to be gone, even duiring desparate times.
    >>Alwasy wondered why they didn’t stuff a Merlin into the Lightning.

    The USAAF & Lockheed did. All one of them.

    See —


    There was only one P-38K-1-LO built. This prototype (42-13558) combined a P-38G-10-LO airframe with more powerful 1425 hp V-1710-75/77 (V-1710F-15) engines, rated at over 1875 hp war emergency power. The engines were housed in nacelles similar to those of the P-38J and driving broader-chord propellers. In order to accommodate the new propellers it was necessary to increase the diamater of the propeller spinners slightly, which affected the top cowling lines and the interface at the oil cooler/intercooler inlet.

    Tests of the P-38K were carried out between Feb 24 and Apr 30, 1943. The performance of the P-38K was quite a bit better than that of the production P-38J–in fact its performance was superior to all other fighters then in production in the USA, including the P-51B and the P-47D. Maximum speed at 29,600 feet was 432 mph.

    At 40,000 feet, maximum speed was 40 mph faster than that of the P-38J. It was expected that maximum speed at war emergency power could be as high as 450 mph. Initial climb rate was 4800 feet per minute, and an altitude of 20,000 could be reached in 5 minutes. Service ceiling was expected to be above 48,000 feet, and range was expected to be increased by 10 to 15 percent. However, the War Production Board was unwilling to allow even a short production suspension in order to retool for the required changes to the engine cowling. Consequently, the P-38K was not developed any further.

    There was some talk throughout the war about fitting the P-38 airframe with a pair of Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines. However the War Production Board was unwilling to shut down the Lightning production for the several months it would have taken to retool for the engine swap. As a result, the Merlin project was shelved and no P-38 was ever flown fitted with Rolls Royce Merlin or Packard Merlin engines. So far as I am aware, no P-38s were ever even retrofitted in the field with Merlin engines.

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