SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Now for the Tricky Part: 1942

Now for the Tricky Part: 1942

May 1942. "Working on the nose of an engine on an interceptor plane. Lake Muroc, California." Photo by Russell Lee for the OWI. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!


The props were also counter rotating. No P-factor or critical engine thrust issues.

The P-38 also had mismatched super chargers that didn't do so well at high altitudes... However at low altitudes it was a superior aircraft for low level operations like ground support.

Maintainer's Wardrobe

Working on fighter aircraft with hats on these days is a big way to get yourself in a lot of trouble. So is having stuff in your pockets if you crawl up the intake or the exhaust. Jets will suck up anything you have loose and it doesn't take much to put a 4 million dollar engine into a maintenance stand. Having everyone in maintenance to walk the ramps (and sometimes runways) for ingestible debris is another daily activity that wasn't as important for P-38's. Much more "expeditionary" than today's Air Force.

Lockheed P-38F Lightning 41-007511

On 8/11/42, the aircraft suffered structural failure in Glendale, CA, at the hands of pilot Leown A. Gilliland, who flew with the 96 FS and the 82 FG, based at March Field in Riverside. This is from

On 12/23/42, it apparently had a landing accident at Muroc while being flown by Leonard Gaber. This from

On 11/19/43, a mechanical failure compelled a forced landing in Santa Paula, CA, with Samuel Truluck at the controls.

In the above incident, we gather that the aircraft was damaged beyond repair, according to

(Capt. Leown Gilliand, born 12/16/20 would go on to earn the DSC for downing two aircraft on 3/8/44 in Europe, three weeks before his death. Here he is:

Kelly Johnson

A incredible designer of aircraft, worth checking into his history and story and learning more about him. From slide rules to computers, he was there.

It's a P-38F

It says so on the data block on the nose. It also gives the serial number 41-7511 so we know it's to an FY41 contract.


'twas the plane that got Admiral Yamomoto.

Constant Speed Prop on P-38F

The airplane is a P-38. It can be identified by the unique forward door on the left, giving access to the gun compartment, as well as the tail boom and long horizontal stabilizer. But, the serial number on the fuselage confirms it's a P38F for those still in doubt; the serial number is partly legible as well.

Today's general aviation airplanes still use a lot of World War II technology. One such device is the "constant speed" propeller where the pilot can adjust propeller pitch (it's actually RPM's that are governed, hence the name.) In multiengine airplanes, the pitch change mechanism is also equipped to feather the propeller in the event the engine dies, to reduce drag of the windmilling propeller being turned by the slipstream. (A feathered propeller stops turning). The pitch change/feathering mechanism is enclosed in the spinner, a fairing over the propeller hub that's been removed in this photo, and that's what the technician is working on. Usually, aerodynamic forces tend to force the propeller to one end of the pitch envelope, and springs, compressed air, and/or engine oil pressure is used inside this device to control the pitch.


A twin Allison powered P-38 I'd say. And, if so, he's got another nut case
to work on over on the other boom.

Got one in the living room.


For a good lesson on flying a P-38, view this wonderful video.

P-38 Lightning

Built by Lockheed starting in 1937. This aircraft was used in both theaters of the war, but was most successful in the Pacific. The first dual engine fighter, it was quite a plane.

Step 3: While keeping fingers clear

I've got the wrench on the lock nut now. Just give her a quick bump so I can git this nut torqued to the right specs.


You can tell by the hubcaps.

P-38L Lockheed Lightning

One of Clarence "Kelly" Johnson's most brilliant aircraft designs was the P-38, used in every theater of war throughout World War II. While Luftwaffe pilots considered it "meat on the table," USAAAF pilots in the Pacific excelled at the controls of this fighter. Among them was Richard Bong, the highest scoring American ace of the war.

"Try 'er now, Joe!"

Err, wait a minute, not yet! Joe! Noooooo....

Been there, Done that

I've been in much the same position on the engine of a CH47 (Chinook) helicopter when I repaired them for Uncle Sam's Army.

You were supposed to use a portable work platform which was always either in use, at the farthest opposite end of the flightline, in need of repair or otherwise unavailable. We had many more aircraft and mechanics in my unit than platforms. And of course, Operations needed this thing flying an hour ago! Sometimes you just had to "Git 'er done!" as they say.

Every now and then, though, we were just hamming it up for a visiting VIP photographer. In my case it was Stars and Stripes newspaper.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.