FORK-TAILED PHOTOGRAPHY

AERIAL RECCE LOCKHEED F-4/F-5

CAMERA-TOTING F-4 AND F-5 RECCE VERSIONS OF THE P-38 LIGHTNING FIGHTER WERE HUGELY SUCCESSFUL IN USAAF AND FOREIGN SERVICE. MALCOLM V LOWE TELLS THEIR STORY

Lockheed’s distinctive P-38 Lightning was often celebrated for its exploits as a frontline warplane with the USAAF during World War Two. Possibly christened the fork-tailed devil by the Germans due to its twin tail booms, it served with credit over Europe and the Mediterranean and with much greater accomplishment in the vast Pacific theatre against the Japanese. Less well known was the Lightning’s additional, specialised role as a fast and highly versatile photo-recce aircraft. Under the designations F-4 and F-5, comparatively large numbers of recce Lightnings were built or created through conversion and they served worldwide with the USAAF in the mid- and latter stages of the war. The type was also employed on a limited basis with some export customers.

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