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Class/Manufacturer History: At the beginning of World War II, Lockheed – under the guidance of Clarence (Kelly) Johnson, who is considered one of the best-known American aircraft designers – answered a specification for an interceptor by submitting the P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft, a twin-engined, twin-boom design. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day. It filled ground-attack, air-to-air, and even strategic bombing roles in all theaters of the war in which the United States operated. The P-38 was responsible for shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other U.S. Army Air Force type during the war; it is particularly famous for being the aircraft type that shot down Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's airplane.
P-38 Lightning assembly line at the Lockheed plant, Burbank, California in World War II. In June 1943, this assembly line was reconfigured into a mechanized line, which more than doubled the rate of production. The transition to the new system was accomplished in only eight days. During this time production never stopped. It was continued outdoors.
The Lockheed Vega factory was located next to Burbank's Union Airport which it had purchased in 1940. During the war, the entire area was camouflaged to fool enemy aerial reconnaissance. The factory was hidden beneath a huge burlap tarpaulin painted to depict a peaceful semi-rural neighborhood, replete with rubber automobiles. Hundreds of fake trees, shrubs, buildings, and even fire hydrants were positioned to give a three-dimensional appearance. The trees and shrubs were created from chicken wire treated with an adhesive and covered with feathers to provide a leafy texture.
Lockheed ranked tenth among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. All told, Lockheed and its subsidiary Vega produced 19,278 aircraft during World War II, representing six percent of war production, including 2,600 Venturas, 2,750 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers (built under license from Boeing), 2,900 Hudson bombers, and 9,000 Lightnings.
Item created by: Lethe on 2015-05-31 17:46:30. Last edited by gdm on 2016-01-10 10:12:21
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