Valiant Wings Publishing: The P-38 Lightning


Richard A Franks


Valiant Wings Publishing


25.95 MSRP at


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 272 pages, A4 Format, softcover,
ISBN: 978-1-912932-27-6. Airframe and Miniature #19

For their next title in the Aircraft and Miniatures series is this one on the P-39 Lightning. This is quite welcome for those who are building or contemplating the build of the new Tamiya kits. The P-38 was the first US production fighter that was capable of going 400 mph in a straight line. Its dual engines provided the power needed and additional reliability. While it was fairly good in combat, it was never as maneuverable as most single engine fighters it fought against. Its long range was especially liked in the Pacific as was its eventual long range. The type worked best at lower altitudes for it had a major turbocharger weakness that caused engine detonation at high altitudes, a problem that was never fully cured. Once the war was over, the P-38 rapidly disappeared from US service, though it did soldier on in some units and as test aircraft. Civilian operators especially liked the reconnaissance versions that were used for aerial mapping in locations around the world. It was exported to several nations post war including France, Italy  and Honduras. Several have survived as warbirds with some hulks being nearly totally rebuilt for both museum displays and flight.

Valiant Wings' series of Airframes and Miniatures is the flagship book in their current library of publications. It provides the full gamut of information on the subject which includes a background history, a brief look at the different variants, other nations operating the Lightning, the camouflage schemes worn by the aircraft (which includes a lot of full color profiles), and a set of detail drawings of each different variation on the scheme. This particular book also covers variations on the theme such as the XP-58 and XP-49.

 In addition to this, you have a fairly complete modelers section which looks at the current crop of kits for the Lightning, then a build section which in this case includes the Hobby 2000 (Dragon) kit and Anigrand XP-58 in 1/72. In 1/48 we have the Hasegawa and Tamiya offerings. One section I particularly like is the 'building the Lightning' set of drawings which starts with the prototype and then proceeds to show every external detail change, no matter how small. A real boon for those who want to get things just right. Then there is a detail section which uses both images from extant airframes as well as a plethora of period photos and drawings from the technical manuals as well as some from extant airframes. Next are listings for all the different kits ever done on theP-38, which is considerable. This is also true of decals, accessory sets, and books. The last pages of the book are 1/48 plans for several versions in a huge multi-page fold-out. 

Overall, this makes this THE book to have on the P-38 Lightning. The amount of information is incredible. It is one of my favorite book series. It is a book for which I can easily provide my highest recommendation.

September 2022

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