hkshooter (Login hkshooter) HyperScale Forums from IP address 22.214.171.124
I just discovered to my amazement that I have no idea what color wartime P-38 wheel wells were. I'm currently checking my refs but so far have come up with only restored planes or black and white pics. Any ideas?
...at least not all of them! There has been a lot of information posted here on that subject over the years. Off the top of my head, I seem to remember that earlier models would probably have been aluminum paint, and later on they went to Neutral Gray. I usually don't find the search function on Plane Talking too helpful, but a search for "p-38 wheel wells" turned up more stuff than I feel like quoting for you right now. Check it out.
Hope this helps!
I have been looking at this very thing lately and this is what I have seen looking at several books with wartime color photos. Good books to look at for P-38 colors are "Fighter Command: American Fighters in original WW II Color" by Jeffrey Ethell and Robert T. Sand;"The Lost Squadron" by David Hayes; P-38 Lightning in WW II Color" by Jefrey Ethell.
The P-38 recovered in Greenland and restored as "Glacier Girl" was a P-38 F-1 that began life as a P-38E and was brought to F standards on the assembly line. Struts and wheel wells look like silver laqcuer, other interior parts chromate yellow. I will build a P-38F-1 with a side opening canopy and it will have silver wheel wells and struts.
Some of the other pictures in these books have G and H models with neutral grey struts and what little I can see of the wheel wells looks like neutral grey. There is another picture that shows several G or H models with neutral grey struts and what may be chromate yellow in the gear door interiors...or, because its muddy it just might be mud splashed making them look yellowish or even something with the film.
The later J and L models that are natural metel still look to have neutral grey struts and maybe neutral grey gear door interiors. Too much shadow on the pictures I have. Perhaps very late L models had the silver struts again...or the light is just catching the struts right. Beats me. I think you are good with neutral grey. Of course repair shops may really skew things with repaints.
Others may know more about these things than I so I offer but humble observations.
Early P-38s (up till the F/G models) had aluminum lacquer struts and wheel wells. With the aluminum shortage in 1942/43, manufacturers were asked to limit the use of aluminum paints and Lockheed went to Neutral Gray struts and wheel wells. There are clear period color photographs of this, include Yippie! (the 5000th Lightning built) and into the production run of the L model. Very late P-38s seem to have returned to aluminum lacquer struts with either Interior Green or Chromate Yellow gear well interiors. As with all US aircraft, there were some exceptions to the general rule.
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