Planes of Fame Air Museum
Planes of Fame Air Museum
Home »  Collection »  Flying & Static Aircraft »  Lockheed P-38J 'Lightning'


  • Easily one of the most recognizable fighters of its time because of its distinctive twin-boom design, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the most famous American warplanes of World War Two and the mount of America's two top aces—Dick Bong, who scored 40 aerial victories, and Tommy McGuire, who was credited with 38 kills. However, although more than 10,000 Lightnings were built during the war, the big fighter did not fit into the Air Corps' post-war plans and was soon retired from service.
  • Today, there are probably fewer than a score of intact Lightning airframes left in the world and only about half a dozen of those are flyable or restorable to flying condition. The Museum's P-38 was the object of a 13-month restoration project by Steve Hinton's Fighter Rebuilders at Chino and "Planes of Fame Air Museum" volunteer workers.



  • The Museum’s P-38J, built in Burbank, California and delivered into service in May 1944, has the distinction of being the 5,018th P-38 built - halfway to the total number of “Lightnings” produced.  It was assigned to the 483rd Air Base Squadron in Santa Maria, California - a Replacement Training Unit providing combat crew training for P-38s during WWII.  In September 1945, the aircraft transferred to the Hancock College of Aeronautics where it was used to instruct maintenance personnel.   The Museum acquired the aircraft in 1959.  In 1988, it was restored to flight thanks to a generous donation from Bob and Josie Pond. The museum's P-38 was used in the filming of Iron Eagle III.



Status: Flyable
Manufacturer: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Year: 1943
Model: P-38J-20-LO Lightning
Registration Number: N138AM
Serial Number: 44-23314
Crew: 1
Max T/O Weight: 20,300 lb.
Span: 52 ft. 0 in.
Length: 37 ft. 10 in.
Height: 9 ft. 10 in.
Maximum Speed: 402 mph
Cruise Speed: 290 mph
Rate of Climb: 4000 ft/min
Power Plant: 2 x 1,425hp turbo-charged Allison V-1710 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines
Range: 350 miles
Service Ceiling: 44,000 ft.
Armament: Four 0.50-cal machine guns & one 20mm cannon


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