Walk Around: P-38 Lightning


Larry Davis


Squadron/Signal Publications


$15.98  ($13.47 at Squadron)


Scott Van Aken

Notes:  # 30 ISBN: 0-89747-453-8

The Squadron Walk Around books are an interesting combination of aircraft history and  details. Taking both period photographs and those of preserved planes and warbirds, the authors are encouraged to provide a background for the detail images that are the mainstay of this series.

I must confess that I've only seen a few of the earlier versions of this series and was not that impressed. It seemed to me that they used way too many current images and while that may be great for some parts of the plane, for others, it didn't work for me. You see, even those that are 'restored' in museums are often inaccurate in one way or another; especially when it comes to color. Warbirds are even worse in this regard with the owner often adding his own touches to the plane. This is especially apparent in the cockpit where the need for modern instrumentation and avionics will greatly chance the layout.

However, this is the thirtieth edition of the series and much of what I didn't like about the earlier books is gone. The book is basically a bit of a combination of the regular 'in Action' series combined with 'Close-ups' in terms of what is inside. There are a large number of period photos with, in this case, quite a few in color. Most of these period color pictures are old friends as are many other period pictures. By combining images from the archives of, in this case Lockheed, with photos of those planes in various museums, as well as those undergoing restoration, a well rounded and quite accurate picture of the various P-38 variants is provided.

Sequencing is via a time line from the XP-38 prototype up to P-38M night fighter, which was effectively the end of the line. Initial types are where all the major components and salient features are provided. As these change, new images arise to show those changes; a manner very similar to the 'in Action' series, but with more depth of detail. Like the 'in Action' series, there are a number of excellent profiles, in this case comprising 6 pages. Also like that series, there is very little historical background, most of the book being pictures and information being disseminated via photo captions. I can only guess that Lockheed took a lot of color photos of various aircraft as there are quite a few of them in here, adding to the interest.

If you can't tell, I've been converted by this volume. If you are getting ready to build a Lightning kit and are looking for a good single source, then this would be it.

You can find this book and many others at

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has  over 200,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.