The original ‘Lightning’ was the U.S. Army Air Force’s first long-range escort fighter
Although constructed as a long-range escort fighter, the P-38’s that went into service in 1942 were a number of F-4 photo reconnaissance versions. Later, the Lightning was also used as fighter-bomber, night fighter and dive bomber. The ‘Lightning’ was retired from service in the U.S. in 1949 and in most other air forces during the fifties, but the Honduran Air Force kept operating them until 1965.
Designer was Lockheed’s famous Clarence “Kelly” Johnson who in later years was responsible for designing the U-2 and the SR-71, still the fastest plane ever operated by any air force.
This image shows the first flight of the carrier-based variant armed with Sidewinders on the outer hard points. The test happened on 27 June out of Patuxent River AFB, Maryland.
The F-35C has larger control and wing surfaces, a reinforced landing gear and – ultimately – an arrester hook to enable operation from a conventional aircraft carrier. So far, the only customer for the F-35C is the U.S. Navy.
Find more information about the F-35 in general on Lockheed’s dedicated F-35 website and about the U.S Navy at www.navy.mil.
Here a brand new shot of a F-35C (that’s the carrier version):
The image shows a Lockheed Martin F-35C test aircraft lifting off into the evening sky from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The F-35C is going to be the U.S. Navy’s first real stealth-fighter, it is fitted with an arrester hook and has a strengthened cell and landing gear compared to the other versions.
Head-on view of an F-35B in parking position. Note the open white-painted cover behind the cockpit: this is the air inlet for the engine used for vertical take-offs and -landings. Only the B-version has STOVL (Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing) capability. Customers for the F-35B are the U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy.
More information about the F-35 in all its variants can be found on f35.com.