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Thread: XP-38K - asking the experts

  1. #1
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    Default XP-38K - asking the experts

    When all else fails - ask those who know more than you, the experts are here at AAFO, right?

    I heard the guys on the Warbird Beer Show talking about a P-38 with Merlins the other night. I asked them to post a picture and we linked to it here .

    I did a few searches on Google and everything I read said the XP-38K had the Allison engines, just with the larger propellers. So, I'm curious - P-38 fitted with Merlins - fact or fiction?

    Not picking on the guys at the show either - I like their show. It just got me thinking, and wondering, and ....

    Thanks in advance to those who weigh in.

  2. #2
    Hawkeye Guest

    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    Everything I have ever read indicated that installing Merlins in a P-38 was just a idea that was never tried.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    what would be the point?
    CFI/CFII/MEI
    www.FLYMARKPOLLARD.com
    www.InvertedCast.com - InvertedCast, The All Aviation Podcast!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    After reading all I can find on the P38 they went up to a P38L but skipped the K model. All of them had various Allisons but no mention of Merlins. All this is found in at least 4 books on the P38.
    Lockheed Bob

  5. #5
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    From the book "Allied Aircraft Piston Engines" by Graham White. "In 1944 an eighth air force P-38 was flown from Bovington to Hucknall for a trial installation of single stage , two-speed Merlin XXs. Rolls Royce test flew the aircraft a number of times, unmodified until word came down to return the aircraft immediately! It seems that the decision was political in nature due to the fact the orders to stop work came from Washington. Considering the problematic service record of the P-38 in the eighth air force, it seems almost criminal that politics should be allowed to interfere with the development of a potentially useful aircraft. Lockheed did extensive engineering evaluation of the P-38 powered by two-stage merlins; the resulting aircraft would have been dramatically transformed in a manner similar to the P-51 Mustang"
    Two refs were given, one "Aircraft engines of the world" by Paul Wilkerson 1946, the other "P-38 performance comparison Allison and Rolls Royce engines" Lockheed Aircraft Corp Feb 1944
    If you could get yer hands on those two refs than you would have your proof!

    It all came down to politics, the Merlin was needed elsewhere!

  6. #6

    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    To the best of my knowledge and reference material, no P-38 was ever fitted with Merlins. Studies were made, design work done, but it never happened.

    The P-38K was Allison powered but the Allisons were uprated and had a different gear ratio to accommodate the larger (paddle) blade prop.

    Read this about the K:
    http://home.att.net/~C.C.Jordan/P-38K.html

  7. #7
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    What I've read is in line with WJ Pierce's comments. The difference in projected performance wasn't worth the production hassles and the Merlin wasn't as readily available yet as later. I have read versions where it was just a paper airplane with many new ideas (some later adopted) and other versions where it was a test unit that flew.
    Once the intercooler problems were solved (a backfire in early models would warp the wing leading edges), the superchargers made more reliable and other improvements were made the J and L models weren't too bad in the ETO but by then it had lost it's reputation. The decision was made to use them primarily in the pacific where their twin engines and firepower were extremely helpful and the problems with high altitude and cold were not an issue.
    A similiar decision was made with the B-17 and B-24, with the greater numbers of B-17 going to the ETO.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    the brits did it early on get copies of the Roll Royce Heritage merlin books. there is a picture of the brit modified one in that series + a good write-up of the problems encountered.

    http://www.alibris.com/search/books/...ritage%20Trust

  9. #9
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    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    Wow! Fantastic feedback everyone. I really appreciate those who took the time to research this further and reply. Many thanks!

  10. #10

    Default Re: XP-38K - asking the experts

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo
    What I've read is in line with WJ Pierce's comments. The difference in projected performance wasn't worth the production hassles and the Merlin wasn't as readily available yet as later. I have read versions where it was just a paper airplane with many new ideas (some later adopted) and other versions where it was a test unit that flew.
    Once the intercooler problems were solved (a backfire in early models would warp the wing leading edges), the superchargers made more reliable and other improvements were made the J and L models weren't too bad in the ETO but by then it had lost it's reputation. The decision was made to use them primarily in the pacific where their twin engines and firepower were extremely helpful and the problems with high altitude and cold were not an issue.
    A similiar decision was made with the B-17 and B-24, with the greater numbers of B-17 going to the ETO.
    Just to take exception, I saw a friends photo of his Grandfather painting a 'Bomb' symbol on a -38 in Foggia, Italy! I don't remember the particular numbered Air Force, but, they had at least TWO squadron strength units
    that, not only participated in Ploesti ings, were 'Ace' producers as well! ! I understand it was fairly late in the war, as, my friends grandfather went with the unit from North Africa to Sicily and up the 'Boot' from there! By the time they made it to Foggia, V-E Day was around the corner!

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