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Sky dancer

Need help with "Miss Barbara" - unusual/non-standard P-38 Droop Snoot/Pathfinder (?)

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Gentlemen,

 

Recently this original photo came into my possession. At first, it was the colour scheme that attracted my attention, as I had never seen a photo of a P-38 Droop Snoot with a painted (i.e. decorated) nose.

 

22Miss%20Barbara22%20-%20unedited.jpeg

 

 

With the snow being prominent I initially suspected that the photo had been taken in France or Belgium during the winter of 1944-45, but it could equally well have been Italy. In any case, on closer scrutiny something about the Droop Snoot didn't seem quite right - I've highlighted the areas in the photo below:- 

 

22Miss%20Barbara22%20-%20unedited%20nose

 

 

  1. Nose Dome - this is nothing I've seen on a Droop Snoot before; it resembles one of the aerial survey noses fitted to P-38's post-war. The dome fitted to "Miss Barbara" is rounder & more bulbous than a standard Droop Snoot nose, it has a horizontal frame in the approximate middle of the glazing, a vertical frame running up to the fuselage, while the lower glazing has a triangular shape. The framing of the nose dome appears to be metal, which seems to have been painted to match the rest of the nose, but is worn in places, and is 'external".  A "typical" Droop Snoot nose dome consisted of two large plexiglass sections joined vertically (prototype and early versions) or horizontally (later versions). The joins were bolted together internally, so there was no external framework, if you know what I mean? In the horizontally-joined domes, the join was not at the fuselage centreline, giving a "Chiselled" appearance. Finally, a "typical" Droop Snoot dome had an oval shaped optically-flat panel.
  2. Side window - I've never seen this shape on a Droop Snoot before. Typical Droop Snoot side window was not as square/rectangular as "Miss Barbara's"; the window fitted to "Miss Barbara" resembles the side window fitted to the P-38 Pathfinder. However, the side window fitted to the Pathfinder was considerably bigger. "Miss Barbara" may have an escape hatch fitted to the top of the nose, which the Pathfinder didn't.
  3. I have no idea what this is - it may be a vent (or combat camera?) I have never seen this feature on any other Droop Snoot. Pathfinders did have some small vents fitted to the nose, but nothing of this shape or size. The object on "Miss Barbara" seems to be standing proud of the fuselage, judging by the shadow its casting.
  4. This looks like a 500lb bomb to me, I'm not certain of this, but whatever it is, it is fused.
  5. Empty bomb rack

 

I've highlighted points 4 & 5 so that we can rule out that this is a postwar aerial survey P-38.

 

By way of comparison, here are some stock shots of a "typical" Droop Snoot:-

 

Droop%20Snoot%20428th%20FS%20-%20nose%20

 

"Typical" Pathfinder:-

 

Pathfinder%2044-23139%20-%20nose%20close

 

 

What I'm trying to find out from any P-38 experts out there is:-

 

  1. Exactly what version are we looking at here? Is it a stock P-38 converted in-field to Droop Snoot configuration? A Pathfinder converted to Droop Snoot configuration? Or even an F-5 converted to Droop Snoot configuration? Is it a "one-off"?
  2. Can any one provide any other photo's of "Miss Barbara", or its markings, codes etc.

 

The reason I ask is that I really want to model "Miss Barbara" in 1/48 scale.

 

The nose colour appears to match the colour of the spinners, so if she is 8th or 9th Air Force, I suspect the nose/spinner colour could be blue or black, with red also a possibility. If she is 15th Air Force, the spinners would be red, and nose possibly red also - in which case she would definitely be an eye-catching model!

 

I hope someone out there can help!!

 

All the best,

Michael

 

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Fascinating.  I'm no P-38 expert, but there are a couple of points that come to mind.  

 

Sorry to bring up the obvious, but that's not a standard aerial either, neither in placing nor in size.  It looks to me like an HF aerial, suggesting a requirement to communicate to ground forces.

 

3 isn't a vent to let air out, because it  is facing forwards and quite nicely shaped.  It is an air intake, suggesting that there is something in there that needs cooling.

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Gentlemen,

 

Thanks for your kind replies.

 

Mr. Old Thumper:-

 

I had initially thought that the nose of the F5G would have been too long, and that "Miss Barbara" had the shorter nose of a "typical" Droop Snoot. After your suggestion, I think we could be onto something here!

 

Graham:-

 

I hadn't highlighted the aerial, as I had seen the same aerial in the same position on another Droop Snoot. Then I tried to find that picture........ and found that, as you state, this is another, almost unique feature. When I checked pics of other Droop Snoots and Pathfinders I could only find one with the same aerial in the same location as "Miss Barbara":-

 

p38j-4.jpg

 

It might be a leap of faith, but if there are only two Droop Snoots with this aerial configuration it would make me inclined to believe that they were in the same theatre of operations at least, and maybe the same Fighter Group. Anyway, this gives me something to research. 

 

Re. your comment about the intake, again you could be right on the mark. As far as I can tell, no other Droop Snoot had any form of intake or vent in the nose. Interestingly, the Droop Snoot shown above doesn't appear to have any intake, despite having the same aerial fit, but it's a lo-res. photo, so who knows? 

 

The Pathfinder shown in my original post was the prototype; operational Pathfinders did have intakes, to cool the radar, but these were small in comparison to "Miss Barbaras":-

 

Pathfinder%20nose%20close-up.jpg

 

This stock photo, taken in Italy, shows a small intake between the radome and the side window. I have a few photo's of the famed black/silver Pathfinder at Bovington, which shows that it had a similar intake in the same position on both sides of the nose, as well as a second intake and outlet between the side window and cockpit on the starboard side, but nothing the size of "Miss Barbaras".

 

Thanks to you both.

 

Does anyone else have any ideas?

 

All the best,

Michael.

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This is a total guess but I wonder if it might have been a special fit-out for Carpetbagger ops (ie comma with agents in Europe).  The P-38 would offer reasonable endurance but be less vulnerable than a B-24.   Just a line of thought prompted by the suggestion that there was something behind that intake that needed cooling.  I stress, total guess based on no research whatsoever.

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Hello, Seahawk

I doubt it. I read somewhere that it took two men to help bombardier to enter and to exit a Droopsnoot on the ground. Parachuting off this P-38 conversion was something XV AF was still working on in early 1945. I am leaning towards Michael's and Old Thumper's guess/opinion that this is a converted F-5G. Cheers

Jure

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Could it be an outside air temp sensor and not an air scoop? Might fit in better with a bombing role. I gather that Langford Lodge made Droop-snoot kits for the forward echelons to assemble as/when needed, so maybe some outfit had a spare F-5 but not a spare P-38 to work on.   

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An outside air temperature sensor doesn't need to have a significantly-sized aerodynamically-shaped air scoop.  What is shown will take in air:  a temperature sensor only needs air to pass over it.  What the device does with the air it entraps is another question, but it is large enough to provide a significant airflow and cooling would be the most obvious use.

 

The use of such an aerial does make sense in the context of Carpetbagger operations, but bombs don't.  Except perhaps in support of the Maquis uprising?  More simply. It may perhaps be that the aircraft is used for more than one role.

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5 hours ago, Jure Miljevic said:

Hello, Seahawk

I doubt it. I read somewhere that it took two men to help bombardier to enter and to exit a Droopsnoot on the ground. Parachuting off this P-38 conversion was something XV AF was still working on in early 1945. I am leaning towards Michael's and Old Thumper's guess/opinion that this is a converted F-5G.

 

No, wasn't thinking of its being used to parachute agents but to stooge around occupied territory picking up transmissions from agents.  Earlier in the war the RAF did this with Boston/Havocs and Hudsons.

 

Moving on Graham's point, I hadn't noticed the bombs.  Not aware of Lightnings having more than 2 wingroot strongpoints, one each side, and Miss Barbara is already carrying the normal tanks on those.  Could the "bombs" be flares or target illuminators, which would have been lighter and placed less additional stress on the airframe?  Which argues away from the Carpetbagger notion, where remaining undetected is of the essence.  OTOH, why would the USAAF bomber force, operating by day, need TIs?  Night visual reconnaissance as per the 69 Sq Wellingtons in Belgium?  (Yes, the ideas get wilder by the minute!)

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Hello, Seahawk

Got it, thanks. About the bombs ... According to P-38 Lightgning (Warbird Tech) 8th AF installed additional ˝shackles˝ on Droopsnoots, if range was an issue. Bombs were regular and not illuminating ones, and Droopsnoots carried two 2000-lb bombs if needed on short range missions, of course without drop tanks. It is mentioned that various combinations of drop tanks and bombs had been used, but not all are listed. Cheers

Jure

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Gentlemen,

 

Thank you all for your continued input, it's guiding me along a number of different avenues!

 

Mr. Seahawk -

 

Your suggestion re. Carpetbagger ops. is still of interest. I cannot fathom why a single P-38 would have a custom made plexiglass nose? Why go to that expense and effort for a single aircraft, when there is a proper modification to Droop Snoot status already out there? The only other examples I can think off with custom noses were the B-24's used by the Carpetbaggers and some other B-24's used as Assembly Ships. Plenty of B-17 squadron's modified their nose glazings to install extra guns etc. but not to the extent of a complete new design of nose.

 

However, as Graham says, the bomb negates it's use in the Carpetbagger role - it is clearly destined to ruin someone's day. On the subject of ruining someones day, the other pic I posted yesterday shows a Droop Snoot that is going to try to ensure that it totally ruins someone's day - it is carrying 3 x 500lb-ers.

 

Droop%20Snoot%20-%20aerial%20%20%203%20x

 

 

Mr. Ossington,

 

"Miss Barbara" has some sort of probe at the tip of it's nose:-

 

22Miss%20Barbara22%20-%20probe%20query.j

 

I have no idea what it is for, perhaps outside air temperature or pitot tube for Bombardiers instruments? There just seem to be more and more questions, but see below.

 

Graham,

 

Followed up your point about the aerial, and came across an article by Dana Bell (is he still on here?) on Hyperscale concerning Droop Snoots. I won't post the pics, but he explains that the Droop Snoot he found photos of had a AN-159 radio antenna mounted just aft of the bombardiers upper escape hatch, and that the AN-104 radio antenna had been moved from forward of the nose gear, to just behind the left side mean undercarriage well.

 

The antenna at a jaunty angle on "Miss Barbara" appears to be the same shape as an AN-104 antenna, by appears longer - I may be mistaken. Dana's article is here:-

 

http://clubhyper.com/reference/showandtell3droopsnootdb_1.htm

 

 

The one thing that both Droop Snoots with this antenna in the small location and angle have in common is that they are both on poor ground. "Miss Barbara" is parked in snow, the other Droop Snoot is parked on mud. Was this a field modification done by a squadron to get the radio aerial out of the way of snow or mud thrown up by the left mainwheel?

 

Would this in turn suggest that both were used by either the 9th or 15th Air Forces who operated more tactically that the 8th Air Force?

 

Once again, thanks everyone for all your help and input.

 

Michael

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It couldn't be anything to do with the P-38s that were used to carry large bombloads short distances, I think these were based in France and only used a few times. 

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