Surviving Artifacts

from

Kingman Army Air Field:

& Sales-Storage Depot No.41

Planes:

 

 

 

 

 

P-38

Lightning

Relics

As far as its numerical presence is concerned,

the P-38 was third in line at Kingman,

numbering 300-or-so and far behind the B-24 &

B-17 in quantity. However, considering mass, that still means there were around 1900 TONS of surplus Lightnings sent to Kingman...

A pair of engineless P-38L-5-LO fighters in the forefront, their lower tails smashed as a result of

1) a major center of gravity shift once the engines were removed, and 2) being dragged across the terrain in order to get them ever closer to the blade

These were one of

Sales-Storage Depot No.41's luckier types, because along with the Invaders that survived Kingman (more about them on the A-26 Page), it's reported that quite a few of Lockheed's beautiful twin-tailed fighters were also fortunate enough to have flown back out again, purchased by aircraft brokers, air racing enthusiasts and even one of Burbank's best-known test pilots, Tony LeVier. In this rare shot, one can see an elated Tony accepting his shiny P-38 as Sales-Storage Depot #41 manager Julian Myers signs the receipt and Julian's foreman looks on:

I caught Tony at an 80s airshow and he graciously agreed to autograph my photo

"TO: JOHN SZABO

IN MEMORY OF THE GOOD OLD POST WWII DAYS.

ALL BEST WISHES!

Tony LeVier"

Here's Tony with his repainted Kingman Lightning that cost him a mere $1250.00!!


Although they were at Kingman in far
fewer numbers than Liberators & Fortresses, the amount of P-38 artifacts in the

Depot 41 Museum Collection disproportionately approaches that of her 4-engined cousins.

Incredible Discovery Site

Revisited

On a clear January day back in 1985 and once again searching for the illusive planes that vanished some 37 years prior, this Canopy from a P-38 Lightning magically appeared before me among the sagebrush:

With all the other carried equipment, my AE1 had been deemed too cumbersome for these lengthy treks, so unfortunately there are no photos of this marvelous event.

However, flattened long ago by some unknown force, the Canopy appeared to have been waiting patiently on me all those decades, for still laying beside the famework was

the P-38 Canopy's

YALE Lock, Rearview Mirror Housing

and scattered everywhere were dozens of pieces of broken & sun-scorched plexiglas.

After taking time to savor the moment, the location was noted, then the first three items were gathered and boxed. In my defense, it was early in this writer's AIRcaeological career, so the plexiglas was left on the ground...

...a decision I'd always lamented.

Fast forward over 2 Decades:

Often wondering if this special site could again be located, the old treasure map was finally dusted off and on a recent field trip, we began what turned out to be a surprisingly short search. In an area over half a mile from where the line of Lockheed fighters once sat and what has always been an empty patch of desert, a scattering of broken and sun-scorched plexiglas was again discovered. Having now been there some 60 years, this plexiglas was not only thinner than normally found in turrets or other aircraft cockpits, but it was a size that seemed - as memory served - to closely match the few shards remaining in the Frame. Colored flags were placed by each fragment for photo & GPS documentation and this time all were most assuredly retrieved!

Significantly, two bits of plastic mirror were also recovered,

further increasing the probability that this was indeed the precise spot where the Canopy had been nearly 23 years earlier...

The clincher that slammed the door on all doubt came with the discovery of a large, riveted washer... the type known to have been used on the P-38 Canopy's steel cross-brace which prevented the plexiglas from breaking during extreme maneuvers.

Upon returning home, the Frame was pulled from dusty storage and, HOLEY GYM SOCKS,

it was found to be missing

a single, riveted washer!!!!

Now, you might call the recovery of these long-lost artifacts pure luck and/or bulldogged determination, but in over 3 decades of KAAF involvement, there has never been a more satisfying sequence of events than this!

2011 UPDATE

While on an excursion to research one of the other Kingman aircraft types, we took time to see if any more plexiglas at this site had surfaced during the past 4 years... Much to our surprise...

...several dozen additional pieces have been added to the collection!

2012 UPDATE

Late in February, I once again paid this familiar site a brief visit to see if any additional plexiglas had surfaced over the past 12 months and low & behold, there were yet a few more sun-baked shards:

Wind whipping, I still decided to break out the trusty detector to see if there might be any buried metal and after only a few minutes, I was rewarded with this 5-1/2" twisted, rusty piece of channel...

...that, as it turns out, just happens to be the lower section of the Mirror housing above!

(You can see the mirror housing toward the top of the page has 4 tabs at its bottom - these coincide with the 4 slots in this twisted piece)

Now, after 27 long years, both of these items have finally been reunited and perhaps some day, an avid puzzle enthusiast will have the patience to assemble all the pieces and put this interesting

P-38 Lightning Canopy back together.

2014 UPDATE

Nearly 3 years after the 2012 visit and almost 30 years since the first encounter with the P-38 Canopy, another 26 bits of its plexiglas were gathered and added to the collection:

Recent torrential rains have severely altered the landscape to the point of being unfamiliar; even with my trusty GPS unit, the spot was difficult to locate!

Among the many other Kingman P-38 artifacts in the Depot 41 Museum Collection are the crash remains described on the Mishaps Page, these Seat Cushions from P-38L #44-24581 dated 12-12-44 . . .

and the

Pilot's Main Instrument Panel

from this P-38M

One of only seventy five P-38Ms built, 7234 on her nose was short for 44-27234 and like all the other Night Lightnings, she began life rolling off the Lockheed assembly line as an "L" model.

 

 

Photo credits this page:

Douglas D. Olson,

Lockheed via Robert C. Ferguson,

Depot 41 Photo Archive

 

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