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Largely the creation of Col. Cass Hough of Operational Engineering, the Droop Snoot was a P-38 converted to carry a bombsight and bombardier in the nose. Work on a prototype commenced at Bovington in January, 1944, the project being transfered to Lockheed at Langford Lodge for the major engineering needed. The aircraft's name was bestowed when someone, viewing the cut-off nose during modification, enquired as to the purpose of the "droop-snooted P-38." Changes involved all armament and associated equipment being removed from the nose, an escape hatch fashioned on one side, a plexiglas moulding fitted to the front, Norden bombsight and bombing fitting installed, together with a seat for the bombardier and oxygen supply. Tactical employment was planned whereby the Droop-Snoot would lead a tight formation of standard P-38s, all carrying bombs on the wing shackles, to make a high speed attack on heavily defended targets such as airfields. A mass drop would make on the Droop Snoot release in samilar fashion to the mode of attack used by medium and heavy bombers. Designed bombload for the Droop-Snoot was two 1,000 lbs. bombs, but a maximum of 6x500lbs. bombs could be carried. Successful trials were carried out from Bovington over Bradwell range using aircraft # 42-681184, while six other conversions were being made at Langford Lodge.

droop-snoot P-38J
Droop-snoot P-38 Lightning

The first operational use of the Droop-Snoot was on April 10,1944 when 20th. and 55th. Fighter Groups used one each to lead formations. Droop-Snoots were subsequently employed by all for 8th.AF P-38 Groups and by the 56th. Group to lead P-47 Thunderbolts. Other conversions were made by BADA for the 9th.AF.

In July it was recommended that all but three Droop-Snoots be transfered from the 8th.AF, those retained being aircraft #42-104075 used by operational engineering, #43-28490 used for the Aphrodite Project, and the third used for the Dilly project.

Norden Bombsight

Four Droop-Snoots were later prepared for special ELINT duties, monitoring enemy radar defenses. These aircraft, #43-28479, #44-23156, #44-23501 and #44-23515 operated with the RAF No.100 Group. During these operations one, #44-23515 was reported as missing in action.

Droop-snoot P-38

Note: The 20th.FG's Droop-Snoot (#42-67450)was nick-named "Eze Does It."

Reprinted with permission from King's Cliffe Remembered


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