The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was already in mass production before the outbreak of hostilities. Designed in 1937 as a long-range tactical fighter, its development was delayed becasue of the prevailing belief that American heavy bombers could defend themselves on long missions over Europe. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning began to be deployed in large numbers by mid-1942. The first German aircraft destroyed by the USAAF was a Fw Condor which was shot down near Iceland by two Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and a P-39 Airacobra. members of he Luftwaffe soon called the P-38 Lightning "The Forked-Tailed devil." It was also the most widely used photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the war.
From 1940 until 1945, Lcckheed built nearly 10,000 P-38 Lightnings.