Danny Wilson: Transition Training–P-38 Lightning


Danny finally got a furlough home in April, 1944. He’d planned to do some plowing for his dad, but it rained and rained, and then he got a telegram canceling the rest of his leave, ordering him to be at Salinas, California, at noon May first instead of the ninth.

But the Wilsons were able to drive to Perry before he left, to have his picture taken in his uniform, with his lieutenant’s bars and wings. And at the rural Minburn farm with sisters Darlene and Doris, holding Darlene’s son Richard.

April 1944. Dan’s picture taken at Edmondson’s Photo in Perry. Snapshot near Minburn: Darlene (Wilson) Scar, Doris (Wilson) Neal, Dan Wilson holding Richard Scar.

Salinas, California

In May he flew the BT-13, P-39 Airacobra and the P-63 Kingcobra at Salinas, then was ordered to Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa, California

Most of the rest of the summer, his flying was in the P-38 Lightning, which turned out to be the plane he would fly in combat.

A single pilot flies the P-38, but Danny jammed himself into the usual radio compartment behind the seat for his first ride, piggy-back. On his first engineering ride, he’d even feathered a prop and flown on one engine a while.


The P-38 Lightning was the biggest one-man fighter. 

Their instructors were veterans from combat in Africa, Sicily, Italy, and England, and explained important maneuvers.

Danny told his folks to find the July 31st issue of Life magazine. It showed all the standard fighters in color, and it pictured the P-38J or L model. He said they looked alike but the L model had aileron boosts (making it roll and maneuver much better) and dive brakes (for recovery from compressibility dives).

He liked the fighter better every time he flew it. “It’s a keen looking plane, as you know.” And he was pretty sure it would be the plane he’d fly in combat.

He’d also sent a squadron picture and said that they could see that a P-38 was no small fly.

By the time he left for combat, Danny Wilson had built up 414 flying hours.

p-38 (1)
“no small fly”



    • It even helps me to keep them straight. I like the way a blog keeps the stories and photos together, and easy to compare to his brother’s. The youngest brother, Junior, will have his turn later this year (75 years after they happened).

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