My first encounter with the P-38 F

I had an epiphany yesterday looking at some modelers’ stashes.

Mine is so small when I compare it to the ones seen above… Click here.

Looking at those stashes made me reflect on my first encounter with the P-38 F. It was featured in a book I read in the early 1960s when I was in the 11th grade.


First edition

édition originale de Feux du ciel (2)

Feux du ciel (2)

Images taken from Internet

About the book

Translated from

Feux du ciel is a collection of short stories written by the French ace Pierre Clostermann and published in 1951. It presents short stories about World War II airmen and their machines.

This book is a testimony to the hardships suffered by airmen around the world and their sacrifices in the name of political systems. The author recounts the ignored sacrifice of French airmen during the French campaign, the ordeals of American airmen in the Pacific or English airmen in Malta, the death of talented German aces in the name of saving Nazism at the end of the war, and the sacrifice of special squadrons of the Royal Air Force, made up of Poles, in an attempt to support the Polish resistance in Warsaw while the SS massacred Poles under the eyes of the Russians.

Feux du ciel is a well-documented and vibrant testimony to the daily life of airmen during the Second World War.

Chapter 1: Maastricht

Attack of a German armoured column by French Breguet Br.693 on 12 May 1940 in Maastricht.

Chapter 2: Bataan

An account of the heroic resistance of American and Filipino soldiers against the Japanese at Bataan.

Chapter 3: A Day in Malta

Account of Canadian pilot Georges “Screwball” Beurling’s first combat mission to Malta in 1942.

Chapter 4: Admiral Yamamoto

An account of the mission of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning of 339 Squadron during Operation Vengeance to shoot down Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, on inspection over the Solomon Islands, aboard a Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty on April 18, 1943.

Chapter 5: Colonel Pijeaud

Account of Colonel Charles Pijeaud’s last mission on a Bristol Blenheim in Gambut on 20 December 1941.

Chapter 6: Storm on Warsaw

An account of a mission by a crew commanded by Polish Flight Lieutenant Chmiel aboard a Handley Page Halifax to supply the Polish resistance that was crushed by the SS during the Warsaw Uprising.

Chapter 7: At the Twilight of the Gods

Account of the last mission of the Messerschmitt Me 262 against a raid of B-17 and B-24 on April 26, 1945 over Hanover.

Chapter 8: Max Guedj

Account of the last mission of the French pilot Max Guedj to destroy a German tanker in Rombacks Fjord on 15 January 1945 on a De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito Mk XVI.

Chapter 9: Under the sign of the divine wind

Account of the last suicide mission of the war, on August 9, 1945 on Okinawa.

I have already built Monogram’s P-38 twice, and I still have one in my stash. However I did not have the P-38 F version which I have ordered yesterday from Hobby Wholesale in Alberta. The price was reasonable again with free shipping. It was less than the one I had found on


I had read lots of reviews about it and I was postponing to add it to my stash since I thought I had an addiction problem.

Here are some of the reviews.

Now some modelers post what they have built on YouTube.

Reading reviews on the Internet and watching videos on YouTube can feed your addiction as well as looking desperately for a model kit you wish you had bought when it was readily available but thought then that your stash was much too big.


Eduard Hawker Tempest instructions



Foreword written by Pierre Clostermann in Feux du ciel

Feux du ciel 1

Feux du ciel 2

Original written in French

À mes camarades aviateurs qui sont morts pour effacer les fautes anciennes qui n’étaient pas les leurs. À ceux qui auront peut-être à payer encore pour des fautes nouvelles — et pourtant toujours les mêmes… — des Grands qui ne veulent pas croire aux leçons du passé.

En 1946, j’ai commencé à réaliser un projet qui me tenait à cœur depuis 1940 : l’Histoire de la Guerre Aérienne.

J’ai remué des centaines et des milliers de documents provenant des archives de la Luftwaffe, de la Royal Air Force, des United States Navy et Army Air Forces. J’ai lu pratiquement toutes les traductions de documents japonais réunis par le Pentagone à Washington, tous les ouvrages publiés en Amérique, en France, en Angleterre, en Suisse, en Italie et en Espagne.

Déjà sont accumulés les fruits de quatre années de patientes recherches, et dans quelques mois si les événements le permettent cet ouvrage sera prêt.
Et c’est alors qu’arrivé presque au terme de ce travail, j’ai eu soudain conscience de l’orientation très grave imposée à l’historien de cette guerre par la forme même de la vaste documentation mise à sa disposition.

Après avoir tout dépouillé, classé, fiché, rédigé, je me suis aperçu que de toute cette somme d’exploits individuels, de courage, de sacrifices souvent anonymes d’hommes de toutes races et nationalités, il ne reste finalement qu’une masse de papiers, de cartes, de photos, de chiffres et de statistiques.

Les leçons humaines se perdent dans les leçons stratégiques.
Les mains habiles et les cœurs courageux disparaissent dans l’étude froide des matériels et de la technique.

Les grands élans s’effacent derrière les communiqués et les rapports d’opérations… pourtant, au passage, que d’histoires sublimes, que d’énergie découvre l’historien entre les colonnes de chiffres de l’effroyable comptabilité de la guerre aérienne moderne:
Débit… Crédit… Avions perdus… Tonnes de bombes…, Ennemis détruits… Navires coulés… Tués… Blessés… Disparus… Total… Année…

Du drame monstrueux de la guerre 1939-1945 ne sortira-t-il que des plans de machines et des cours d’organisation industrielle ?
Une telle hypothèse est révoltante!
Doit-on oublier que sous les tonnes de débris des villes dévastées, ce sont des foyers qui ont été écrasés de bombes ?
Doit-on oublier que sous les ferrailles carbonisées et tordues des avions, ce sont des chairs d’hommes qui ont brûlé ?
Ce sont des hommes qui en maniant ces chefs-d’œuvre de la technique, ont souffert dans tous les cieux.
Ce sont des hommes qui sont morts dans d’atroces souffrances pour exécuter les plans stratégiques.
Ce sont des hommes qui se sont sacrifiés pour que d’autres puissent vivre.
Ce sont aussi des hommes qui sont passés par l’enfer pour racheter les fautes militaires et politiques des uns et sauver l’honneur des autres.

Est-ce en faisant étudier des graphiques ou des courbes de consommation que l’on fera détester la guerre et respecter ceux qui l’ont fait ?

Voilà pourquoi j’ai voulu, dès maintenant, faire connaître ces quelques histoires d’aviateurs, parmi des dizaines de milliers d’autres qui se perdront dans les archives des ministères et les tiroirs des services historiques.

Elles ne sont ni plus belles ni plus extraordinaires que celles qui resteront inconnues.
Je les ai choisies un peu au hasard, tout simplement parce qu’elles sont typiques de certaines phases de la guerre et de certains terrains d’opérations.

Chacune de ces histoires donne l’ambiance particulière d’un aspect particulier de la guerre aérienne sous des latitudes et dans des circonstances diverses.
Elles n’ont en commun que le courage et l’idéal de ceux qui les ont vécues — elles démontrent surtout que, sous des formes variées, les hautes vertus de l’homme ne sont l’apanage spécial d’aucune nation.

English translation

To my fellow airmen who died to erase old faults that weren’t theirs. To those who may still have to pay for new – and yet still the same – mistakes… – of the Great Ones who don’t want to believe in the lessons of the past.

In 1946, I began to carry out a project that had been close to my heart since 1940: the History of the Air War.

I looked up hundreds and thousands of documents from the archives of the Luftwaffe, the Royal Air Force, the United States Navy and Army Air Forces. I have read practically all the translations of Japanese documents gathered by the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., all the books published in America, France, England, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Already the fruits of four years of patient research have been accumulated, and in a few months, events permitting, this book will be ready.

And it was then, almost at the end of this work, that I suddenly became aware of the very serious orientation imposed on the historian of this war by the very form of the vast documentation at his disposal.

After having stripped everything down, classified, filed, written up, I realized that of all this sum of individual feats, courage, and often anonymous sacrifices of men of all races and nationalities, only a mass of papers, maps, photos, figures and statistics remained.

Human lessons get lost in strategic lessons.

Skillful hands and courageous hearts disappear in the cold study of materials and technique.

The great accomplishments fade behind the press releases and operations reports…although, while reading those, what sublime stories, what energy the historian discovers between the columns of figures of the appalling accounting of modern air warfare:

Flow… Credit… Lost planes… Tons of bombs… Enemies destroyed… Sunken ships… Killed… Injured… Gone… Total… Year…

Will the monstrous drama of the 1939-1945 war only emerge technical specifications of planes and industrial organization courses?

Such a hypothesis is revolting!

Must we forget that under the tons of debris from the devastated cities are homes that have been crushed by bombs?

Must we forget that under the charred and twisted scrap metal of the planes, it is the flesh of men that burned?

These are men who, in handling these technical masterpieces, have suffered in all the skies.

These are men who died in terrible pain to carry out strategic plans.

These are men who sacrificed themselves so that others might live.

They are also men who have gone through hell to redeem the military and political faults of some and to save the honour of others.

Is it by having people study graphs or consumption curves that we will make them hate war and respect those who did it?

That is why I wanted, right now, to make known these few stories of airmen, among the tens of thousands of others that will be lost in the archives of the deparments and the drawers of the historical services.

They are neither more beautiful nor more extraordinary than those that will remain unknown.

I chose them a bit randomly, simply because they are typical of certain phases of the war and certain areas of operation.

Each of these stories provides the mood for a particular aspect of air warfare at different latitudes and under different circumstances.

What they have in common is the courage and the ideals of those who have lived them – they demonstrate above all that, in various forms, the high virtues of man are not the special prerogative of any nation.

5 thoughts on “My first encounter with the P-38 F

  1. GP Cox June 16, 2020 / 12:58 pm

    I have a blogger in Bavaria , Michael, who says they have been taught VERY little about WWII. I suggested he use other bloggers for his information, as he enjoys learning the Pacific on mine. He was very grateful when I suggested I find him someone (of course you know I had you in mind all along.) BUT – where do you suggest he start?


    • Pierre Lagacé June 16, 2020 / 1:54 pm

      Tell him to go here and leave a comment. I will take it from there GP.

      Liked by 1 person

      • GP Cox June 16, 2020 / 3:07 pm

        Will do and thank you, Pierre! You’re still the Mentor!


      • Pierre Lagacé June 16, 2020 / 2:10 pm

        Yes, I can get addictive to…

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pierre Lagacé June 16, 2020 / 1:55 pm

      I will direct him to the blog who might interest him.

      Liked by 1 person

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