Lockheed P-38M Night Lightning by Dragon

1/72 scale
Kit No. 5019
Cost: $22.00
Decals: One version – 418th Night Fighter Squadron, Atsugi, Japan – 1945
Comments: Engraved panel lines, crisp detail throughout


The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the great fighters of World War II. It saw action on every front and gained the respect of its adversaries, being dubbed “Der Gabelschwanz Teufel” (Forked Tailed Devil) by the Germans. The design of the Lightning began in 1936 in response to a U.S. Army specification for a high speed, high altitude interceptor. Lockheed designers felt that a single engine of existing types could not supply sufficient power for the performance required, so they employed a radically new design with a center fuselage which employed twin booms that housed not only engines, but turbo superchargers, radiators and landing gear. Four .50 caliber machine guns and one 20mm cannon were installed in the fuselage, making the Lightning the most heavily armed American single-seat fighter during the war.

As the war progressed, the U.S. Army called for the modification of the Lightning, which had proven its superior firepower, speed and durability, into a nightfighter. The conversion involved a P-38J which had its cockpit reconfigured so that a radar operator’s seat was installed behind the pilot’s seat, and a new raised bubble canopy was developed for the modified cockpit. The new aircraft was painted entirely in black and designated P-38M. It took its maiden flight on January 5, 1945 and saw action in the Far East providing fighter protection for formations of B-29 bombers on night missions over Japan.

The Kit

Dragon’s P-38M is sharply detailed with a host of refinements impressive in 1/72 scale: Engraved panel lines; two-position cockpit with separate seats, pilot’s control column, and instrumentation for the radar operator; detailed landing gear with boxed-in wheel wells and diamond tread on the tires; individually mounted propeller blades; individually mounted machine gun barrels in the nose; and provision of six engraved detail High Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR) beneath each wing.


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