These are all the movies we could find in which a P‑38 plays some part in the plot. Some of them feature the Lightning prominently (like Iron Eagle III and A Guy Names Joe), and some include it briefly. But, it’s fun to see our favorite plane show up on film, either way!
You might also want try out the free trial to Amazon Prime, where there are thousands of movies to choose from.
Iron Eagle III
Colonel (later Brigadier General) Charles “Chappy” Sinclair (Louis Gossett, Jr.), is a pilot who flies a restored P‑38 in air shows.
When he discovers a drug smuggling scheme operating between a Peruvian cartel and a US Air Force base he decides to recruit three senior citizen Aces to shut down the cartel.
SPOILER ALERT: At the end of the film the P‑38 is given to “Chappy” by its owner.
The plane featured so prominently in this film is the Planes of Fame P‑38 “23 Skidoo.”
A Guy Named Joe
Original 1943 version. None of the film’s characters are actually named Joe. The title refers to the fact that at the time of the film’s release, Army personnel were referred to informally as “Joe” (like G.I.Joe)
The main character is actually Major Pete Sandidge (played by Spencer Tracy). The movie tells the story of a B‑25 pilot who is killed in action, but is sent back to Earth so he can pass on his experience and knowledge to a P‑38 pilot in the South Pacific.
There’s also a nice little love triangle thrown in about his beautiful girlfriend (played by Irene Dunne), herself a qualified pilot who ferries aircraft to different bases, and the new guy that Pete is supposed to be training.
Also available to rent or buy from Amazon Prime Video.
Von Ryan’s Express
The action in this film mostly takes place on a train; however, there is some P‑38 action at the beginning. Colonel Joseph Ryan (Frank Sinatra), a P‑38 pilot, is shot down over Italy and taken to a POW camp.
While at the camp Ryan plots a daring escape and leads his fellow prisoners on a dangerous run from the Germans in Italy. Having seemingly made errors of judgment, Ryan has to win the support of the mainly British soldiers he is commanding.
La Dernière Mission
(The Last Mission)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is best known by civilians as the author of the popular children’s book “The Little Prince” but he was also known to all in France as an aviator. He became a P‑38 pilot during World War II, fighting and dying over the Mediterranean.
Saint-Exupéry’s last assigned reconnaissance mission was to collect intelligence on German troop movements in and around the Rhone Valley preceding the Allied invasion of southern France (“Operation Dragoon”).
Although he had been reinstated to his old squadron with the provision that he was to fly only five missions, on July 31, 1944, he took off in an unarmed P‑38 on his ninth reconnaissance mission from an airbase on Corsica. To the great alarm of the squadron compatriots who revered him, he did not return, dramatically vanishing without a trace
In May 2000 a diver found the partial remains of a Lockheed P‑38 Lightning spread over thousands of square metres of the seabed off the coast of Marseille. On April 7, 2004, it was confirmed that the remnants of the crash wreckage were, indeed, from Saint-Exupéry’s Lockheed P‑38.
More than Just a Store
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.
Transparency: The P-38 National Association is a participant in the Amazon Associates program and will earn income if you click on one of the links and decide to buy a prduct. The price of your item will not increase if you purchase through our links. It will just help to support our mission.