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Jennings Heilig

P-38 Weirdness - riddle me this!

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Why do P-38Fs, Gs, and at least one H (and exactly zero E's so far) have a bead sight mounted on top of the cowling?  Don't believe me?  I didn't believe it either.  Some of these original images are very high res, and you can clearly see the bead at the end of the rather tall stalk mounted forward of the windscreen.  I have not seen a single reference on the P-38 (period) that mentions the presence of a ring and bead sight, especially on the later models that were widely used in combat.  I've yet to find a single photo of anything earlier than an F with one (where you would expect to find them - early production a/c before the war).  

 

Anyone got a clue?

 

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I saw one of these kits at the show yesterday, but the guy wanted a bit too much for it. Interestingly, I've yet to see any OD or neutral gray hobby paints that really look right to me, so I may have to mix my own for my big Lightning.

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The bead sight is perplexing. I don't recall seeing that in my P-38 references, not that I was really looking for it. Without a corresponding ring sight, I'd think the bead would be sort of useless, unless the ring was adjacent to the gun sight itself, in the 'pit; sort of a backup for the main sight, like I've seen on a few Axis aircraft.

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1 hour ago, Jennings Heilig said:

The first two on the top left are, but wait ‘till you see the other one we’ve got!  Puts those two to shame :)

 

NICE!!!  Can't wait to see what you come up with, no mater what I am down for these.

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53 minutes ago, D.B. Andrus said:

The P-47 also had a ring and bead as a backup in case the reflex sight went batty.

 

But only a small handful of the dozens we've looked at have them.  It's nothing at all like a universal fit.  

 

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Can’t answer your question Jennings but I’ll be buying the decals in 1/48 for certain. Will there be stencil data decals too?

Edited by ade rowlands

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Also no clue about the reason behind the ring-and-bead sights, but they were definitely there. In fact, Miss Virginia (the plane credited with downing Yamamoto's Betty and the main decal option in Tamiya's new kit) had it too.

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Here's a pic of a cockpit (F? G? H?) with the ring sight installed next to the optical sight. As you can see, the bead itself would have to placed left of the plane's centerline in order to line up with the ring, much like the earlier -51's and -47's.

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So definitely a thing, but I don't know nearly enough about the -38 (more like next to naught) to comment on why.

 

On another note, very cool sheet, Jennings! I like The Japanese Sandman the best, amazing font is amazing. I was trawling thru my Lightning folder for pics of bead sights and ran across The Japanese Sandman II, which also features pretty unique and awesome artwork (no bead sight, though). Check out the tiny Rising Sun flags within the letters themselves, no idea if Lt. R.E. Smith was also the pilot of TJS I but if he was he sure had a good eye for art. Perhaps a worthy candidate for inclusion in the sheet?

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Absolutely no specialist in any way on P-38s, but German Zeiss Revi 3, 12 and 16 reflector gunsights, and the Askania EZ 42 gyro sight had a small integrated bead sight, to act as a back-up in case the reflector sight malfunctioned (remember that these sights used rather fragile light bulbs). So, I suppose the ring-and-bead sights on these P-38s may have served a similar back-up purpose.

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Thanks guys.  What Wally and I are finding is that despite the fact that Lockheed built over 10,000 P-38s, and that production spanned from before WWII started until the day it ended, and that the P-38 served in every theater of operations the US was involved in, and that three of the top ten highest scoring US aces flew it, a HUGE percentage of what's been written, both in the general aviation history literature and "technical" literature (ie: Detail & Scale, etc) about the Lighting is incomplete and/or just plain wrong.  

 

What I've discovered, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that all P-38s up through the P-38F-5-LO had the side-opening top canopy.  I've heard and read that only the first few, or only the first 100 or so F's had it - factually not true.  Photos prove it.  

 

All P-38Hs had the larger teardrop shaped supercharger intakes of the J/L/M.  Literature is all over the map on this.  Again, photos prove it.

 

The P-38H-5-LO was a unique variant.  The aft canopy section on the H-5-LO (and only the H-5-LO) was a one-piece seamless piece of plexiglass.  I don't know why, but on subsequent batches of H's and on all J/L/M's, it was made in two halves (left/right) with a metal frame down the center.  On earlier variants it was made up of three pieces in a forward, middle, and aft configuration.  Again, photos prove it, and the literature is all in disagreement on this.

 

Ditto on the ring & bead sight.  Not mentioned anywhere, ever (that I can find) in any literature on the P-38.  

 

 

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