P-38 Association Book

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P-38 Lightning: Unforgettable Missions of Skill and Luck


P‑38 Lightning: Unforgettable Missions of Skill and Luck

Put yourself in the cockpit of the greatest combat airplane of World War II with remembrances of the P‑38 Lightning as told by the people who were there. This book is a very easy read, with over 200 pages of short stories compiled from the archives of the P‑38 National Association.

Unforgettable Missions of Skill & Luck contains some of the most dramatic, heart-wrenching and humorous stories as told by the combat pilots, ground crews and other personnel who had hands-on experiences with the P‑38 Lightning.

Included in the book are numerous historical photos of the personnel and the plane along with tales of bravery and humor which took place before, during and after the war.

The book also includes stories about the design, development and production of the Lockheed P‑38 Lightning. Compiled and edited by noted aviation author, historian and “Lightning Strikes” editor Steve Blake and author and historian Dayle DeBry. Introduction by former P‑38 National Association President, Bob Alvis.


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P-38 Lightning Books

There are dozens of books available about the Lockheed P‑38 Lightning.

We have chosen a few that are unique to show you here,
but if you’d like to see all the ones that Amazon has to offer, check these out!

Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

Joy Neal Kidney is a long-time member of the P‑38 Association and is the co‑author of this book. In it she tells the story of her grandmother’s five sons, one of who was a P‑38 pilot. (Click on photo below to enlarge.) They all joined the military during the war. Only two came home.

Leora's five sons

Harry’s War: A War World II Memoir

Another book with a P-38 connection. Harry L. Runyan’s son, Gerry, is also a member of the P‑38 Association. Harry, who served the United States as an engineering officer during World War II, co-authored “Harry’ War” with award-winning historian and author John V. Quarstein

Harry’s War describes the 30th PRS history, from formation, through training and action, to final demobilization, as well as its “everyman” soldiers, like Runyan himself, who gave up safety, security, and loved ones to support the war effort


If you are beginning to sense a pattern you’re right! This book was written by P‑38 Association Life Member and P‑38 pilot, Lynn Shubert.

If you want to know how a young fighter pilot felt in his head and his heart as he was about to fly the enemy skies of WWII, this book is for you. Always afraid he was about to die, he climbed into the cockpit anyway—and lived to tell you about it.

Lt. Shubert was an exceptional, USAF officer and fighter pilot who fought the war and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Phantom Father

Phantom Father was written by our own long-time member Dr. Sharon Estill Taylor. Her father, 1Lt. Shannon Estill, was a P‑38 pilot and one of the last casualties of World War II.

1Lt. Shannon Estill This book chronicles her commitment and sheer tenacity to track down her father’s crash site in Germany. It is the powerful story of a daugter’s love and determination to find and recover her father’s remains and return them to America.

It is a fascinating read and a story well worth knowing.

P-38 Odyssey

Written by our own Life Member, Dick Butler, this book is a detailed account of the life of his father, Richard Butler, with emphasis on his 24‑year military career as a USAF officer.

In North Africa in 1943 Butler was assigned to fly the P-38 Lightning. Over southern Italy on Richard’s fiftieth and final combat mission, one of his enemy target’s plane disintegrated during a head-on dog fight. Before he could pull away, part of the wreckage disabled his left engine, which soon burst into flame, forcing him to bail out. Richard was taken captive and spent 21 months as a prisoner of war.

This book has been read and raved about by several members of the P‑38 Association. It’s an excellent, and significant read. You should definitely pick up your own copy today

American Headhunter

Written by P‑38 Association member and P‑38 Museum Docent American Headhunter is based upon a true story—the untold account of P‑38 pilot Kenneth Lloyd Sr.

The setting is air combat in WWII in New Guinea, Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. This exciting story captures a boy’s love of the P‑38 Lightning.

You are there—in the air, in the jungles—cussing, singing, and fighting a relentless foe as well as human insecurities and fears. You will experience first‑hand the true story of the fierce night air battle off the island of Mindoro, Philippines, December 26, 1944. You will be mad, sad, but glad you read this story as told by the pilot’s son in memory of his father.

Lockheed P‑38L-5-LO Lightning

A compilations of the 4-view color profile, scale plans and photo details of the single variant of the Lockheed P-38L-5-LO Lightning.

Scale plans in 1/72 and 1/48 scales plus drawings from wartime technical manuals. Also photos of the details in B&W and color.

P‑38 Lightning

(Plane Essentials)

We’ve included this book because of its unsual content. It is 4th in a series of books written as detailed studies on aircraft types that have been significant in the history of aviation, of which the P‑38 Lightning was certainly one!

It outlines the P‑38’s development, production, and operational service. There are detailed photos of the cockpit interior and equipment, while cutaway drawings demonstrate the P‑38’s inner features and unique layout. There is even a section dedicated to modelling to help hobbyists build accurate replicas.

The Women with Silver Wings

The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.

Up until three o’clock in the afternoon of May 29, 1941, there was no organization of any kind in American military aviation to provide for either the delivery of planes or air transport of material.

By the end of that day, the Air Corps Ferrying Command, which grew into the Air Transport Command with its major component the Ferrying Division, was in existence with an assigned military personnel of two.

Enter the WASPs!

This P-38 Books section is dedicated to two of our long-time P-38 National Association Historians, who have written them all.

Steve Blake has been a Historian for our organization since we were founded in 1987. He has written numerous books and articles for well-known international aviation publications covering many types of aircraft.

The late John Stanaway was a prolific author on the subject of the P‑38 Lightning. He wasn’t old enough to have had an opportunity to fly combat in a P‑38, but he knew more about them than most people you’ll meet.

Lightning Strikes!
The Lockheed P-38

Lightning Strikes—The Lockheed P-38 tells the full story of one of the most successful and versatile aircraft of World War II. The P-38 (including its F-4 and F-5 photo reconnaissance models) served with all the USAAF’s forces, from early 1942 to VJ Day.

The book describes the Lightning’s design and its technical details as it gradually evolved and improved, from the original XP-38 to its final variant, the P-38L-5. The main focus is on its service in the combat theaters, from the frigid, windswept Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific to the steaming jungles of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, the burning sands of North Africa and the more temperate climes of Europe.

Also related are the P-38’s service with non-U.S. air forces, its postwar commercial utilization as civilian aircraft and the surviving examples in museums around the world. The book is extremely well illustrated with nearly 400 high-resolution photographs, artworks, and graphics, and is supplemented by detailed appendices.

P-38 Lightning Aces of the 82nd Fighter Group

Steve Blake (Author), Chris Davey (Illustrator)

When the 82nd Fighter Group was organized in March 1942, most of its initial pilot group was comprised of newly graduated staff sergeant pilots of Class 42-C – enlisted men!

They learned to fly the P-38 at Muroc, in California’s Mojave Desert, and then moved to the Los Angeles area to continue their training and to serve as part of its air defence.

In September 1942 the group was transported to the East Coast, from where it shipped out to Ireland on the Queen Mary. By this time all its remaining sergeant pilots had been commissioned.

As of VE-Day the 82nd Fighter Group’s score of confirmed aerial victories stood at 548 aircraft shot down, plus a huge amount of enemy military materials and equipment – including aircraft – destroyed on the ground and the sea.

It had been awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The cost of this success was high, however, for around 250 of the group’s pilots had either been killed in action or captured.

P‑38 Lightning Aces of the ETO/MTO

John Stanaway (Author), Tom+Tullis (Illustrator)

The P‑38 made its combat debut in Europe in mid-1942, the first American fighters being flown to the UK before heading further east to Twelfth Air Force units in North Africa.

Its service in this theatre, and later over the heartland of Germany itself, earned the P‑38 the nickname ‘Der Gabelschwanzer Teufel’ (the “Fork-tailed Devil”). This volume traces the careers of many previously unknown aces within the USAAF in Europe, and helps redress the balance which has in the past seen all the “glory” for the fighter victories in this theatre shared between the pilots of the P‑47 and P‑51. Some 17 pilots scored 7 or more kills on the P‑38 in the ETO/MTO.

P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI

John Stanaway (Author), Tom Tullis (Illustrator)

The P‑38 was used on virtually every front to which the USAAF were committed, but enjoyed its greatest successes in the Pacific and China-Burma-India (CBI) theatres.

The speed, range and firepower of the P‑38 made it the favorite of nearly all aircrew fighting in the Solomons, New Guinea and the Philippines. Over 1,800 Japanese aircraft fell to its guns.

From the first encounters at the end of 1942 until the Lightning scored the final Fifth Air force victories in August 1945, these pilots made the Pacific skies very much their own.

P-38 Lightning Aces 1942–43

The first P‑38s became operational with the 1st Fighter Group in April 1941, and the initial combat deployments were made in Alaska, the Southwest Pacific and North Africa during the latter part of 1942.

Photographic reconnaissance versions of the P‑38 were in action even sooner when F‑4 (P‑38E) models were rushed to frontline units a few months after Pearl Harbor. Often using modified field measures to equip aircraft and train pilots in this demanding fighter, early pilots wrote a remarkable record of accomplishments that displayed a high degree of courage and innovation.

Every theatre in which the United States was involved saw deployment of the P‑38, and more than 60 Lightning pilots were credited with at least five victories by the end of 1943.

Featuring illustrations depicting P‑38 models from the E to the H‑5 previously not known to the general public, unpublished photographs and new data, this volume presents a comprehensive and innovative account of some of these lesser known aces.

Possum, Clover & Hades: The 475th Fighter Group in World War II

John Stanaway

The epic story of one of the highest scoring fighter units in the southwest Pacific. Aces included Thomas McGuire, John Loisel, Charles MacDonald, Daniel Roberts and Richard Bong.

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When you buy something from one of these P‑38 Association affiliate stores you are helping our non‑profit organization to keep alive the memory of this magnificent WWII fighter plane. It fought in every theater of operation during World War II and, without this extraordinary combat weapon things may have turned out very differently.

So, you can thank the P‑38 and the men and women who designed, built, maintained and flew it for helping to preserve the freedom that we still enjoy to this day. You can support our mission by making any purchases through one of the store links listed below! And we thank you for helping us continue our mission to keep the P‑38s flying into the future, as they did in the past.

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