Academy 1/48 Lockheed P-38M Night Lightning USAAF
February 25, 2017 in Aviation
Late August 1945, as Capt McLaughlin (fictional) views the moonlit Pacific out of the cockpit of his P-38M. The drones of the supercharged Allisons like music in his ears. The war is over, though being in the war zone since mid summer, despite flying patrols no opportunities ever came to show off the capabilities of his mount. With his radar operator sitting right behind him never calling out a threat. Late in the war the Japanese really did not have much left for night operations much less daytime threats. The P-38M became operational in January 1945, training of aircrews for this type of special mission took time to stand up the squadron for actual combat. By the time they were in theater the war was almost over. Very little if any contact of enemy aircraft at night. The few patrols flown yielded nothing. Faster than the P-61, only 75 were modified from the P-38L for the night mission (though 80 bureau numbers are listed for the conversion). As far as I know only 1 still survives. Painted glossy black, with the AN/APS-4 radar pod under the nose, the nose guns had flash suppressors installed to protect for night vision, HVAR rockets were carried on the outer wing racks, and of course the very distinctive bubble rear compartment for the radar operator very cramped. Flying for the the 418th Night Fighter Squadron in Okinawa, providing escort for B-29 night missions. Very late in the war. Already a capable aircraft throughout the war, the fork-tailed devil was more sinister in appearance in black.
The Academy kit first appeared in 1991 as a J, which soon after Hasegawa released their J/L kit as well. Not since Monograms P-38 from the 60’s, which you can build several variants including the “M” there was really nothing else in this scale (Aurora also had a kit in 1/48th from the 50’s). I will not compare the Hase kit as I have never had or built one to compare it with. I built Monograms kit many years ago as an M, don’t remember how it was just know I finished it. I bought this kit from Discount Hobbies in Utica,NY remember them? It was a dedicated Night Lightning so I bought it initially for the stash. I built this back around 99/00 or so. Only using Eduards cockpit set and the kit decals as there were no aftermarket decals for a P-38M at the time. Straight Model Master gloss black. Being a steady and methodical builder I didn’t have trouble with the tail boom alignment I have read about or maybe felt it was the nature of the kit, the only issue was cleaning up the seams around the nose. I used the vinyl tires that were provided though True Detail resin wheels were available at the time. They have been on the model over 15 years they look fine with no lasting issues as you can see in the Pics. It builds to an impressive model. This is the first time I have posted this particular model. Thanks for viewing.
28 additional images. Click to enlarge