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Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Friday, January 27, 2006

P-38 with port propeller feathered
The Two-Tailed Devil.
Excerpts from a note on the Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" in 'Flames in the Sky' by Pierre Clostermann (1953).

"The U.S. Army Air Corps had issued a schedule of requirements for a fast twin-engined single-seater fighter with a large radius of action.....
....Among the firms that tendered designs was Lockheeds, a small young firm. It had a mere thousand or so workmen and technicians and up till then produced only five types of aircraft amounting to a total of 107 light transport planes, including the successful Lockheed 12 "Electra." .....
.... on 27th January 1939, ....Ben F. Kesley succeeded in getting the XP-38 into the air, watched by the chief engineer, Hall Hibbart, and the entire personnel massed at the foot of the control tower on March Field in California.
Just as they were all patting each other on the back over a perfect take-off, the trouble began. As Kesley tried to pick up his flaps, a control rod came unstuck. Skaken by terrific vibrations, the plane started to swing all over the place. The pilot hesitated whether to bale out, but obeying the unwritten code, "bring the kite home at all costs," decided to try to land her. By an incredible feat of airmanship he succeeded in putting her down all of a piece in a ploughed field on a hillside.
The plane was repaired and the next ten flights went off without a hitch."

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