P-38 Variation : Pathfinder

The P-38 had several variations which made it all the more versatile for use in combat.

The Lightning was noted for its powerful firepower in the nose of the plane, but it could also be outfitted with rockets or bombs as part of its armament.

In addition to installing rockets under the wings or switching out the fuel tanks on the bottom for 500‑lb bombs, some P‑38s were designed and built for specific functions:

Photo Joes

were gigantic flying cameras, used to take pre-mission target and surveillance photos.

Night Fighters

(AKA "Night Lightning") guns had special blast shields on the muzzles to prevent blinding the pilots when they were fired.

Droop Snoots

were converted P‑38Js with a complete bombardier's station located in the nose


had special ground-mapping radar.

P-38 Pathfinder

 P‑38J (or L) Pathfinder model

The Pathfinder was yet another unique variation of the P‑38.  It was a P‑38J (or L) modified with special ground-mapping radar and served as the lead plane for P‑38 formations who were bombing through cloud-covered targets. 

It could often pick out targets and checkpoints which would otherwise be obscured by weather.  The operator was housed in the forward part of the gondola with a large side window, but did not have any forward visibility, which a Droop Snoot bombardier would have.  Very few P‑38s were modified as Pathfinders.

This model was found on the BritModeller website and shows a great close-up of this configuration. (They have since removed the pix.)

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