Like the P-51 narrative:
The narrative of the P-51 is how it won the air war over Europe through the accidental combination of private venture American airframe technology and the Merlin engine of the British Spitfire, which was championed by a Anglo-American guerrilla clique of fighter pilots, government bureaucrats and politicians over the anti-British, not invented here, USAAF procurement bureaucracy. Figure one below is the official historical narrative for the P-51 Mustang in a range/performance map.This is a very long and detailed analysis using WWII reports (not post war sources) as well as photographic evidence. It makes a strong case that bureaucratic in-fighting led to the deaths of many - and maybe even most - of the Mighty Eight's losses. It's a sobering view into how the petty pursuit of political gain can trump the hopes and dreams of the front line troops. The ending really sums the situation up:
It also happens that, when you drill down to the wartime source documents, the “P-51 narrative” that map represents is a very good example of selectively telling the truth to create a complete fabrication. A fabrication meant to hide those same bomber pilot generals from political accountability for their leadership failures. Roughly 2/3 of all battle deaths the USAAF suffered in WW2 were in Europe during the strategic bombing campaign. It was a statistically true statement to say a U.S. Army combat infantryman in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, from late 1942-to-winter 1944 had a greater chance of surviving combat than a B-17 crewman of the 8th Air Force.
Most of those deaths were demonstrably unnecessary.
While early versions of the P-38, P-39, P-40, and P-47 — like the P-36 — were all proscribed from having auxiliary fuel drop tanks “because they might be used inappropriately”. These drop tanks were still offered to other customers by American aircraft manufacturers. According to Benjamin Kelsey (eventually a USAF general and a major player in WW2 USAAF Fighter development) in his book “THE DRAGON’S TEETH? — The Creation of United States Airpower in World War II,” the US Navy insisted their aircraft all have that capability. Point in fact the 165 gallon standard P-38 drop tank pictured in Figure 3 below was developed for the Lockheed PV-1, called the Hudson by the British, which was the US Navy version of the Lockheed Ventura twin engine commercial transport. On February 20, 1942 General Arnold reversed himself and ordered the development and use of drop tanks on fighters, according to Kelsey, for the purpose of ferrying them to the U.K. This is why successful drop tank designs were available when the USAAF Bomber Clique Generals finally discovered how desperately they were needed after the Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission.
The text and the charts on page 97 talk about 75 gallon, 108 gallon (both paper and metal) and 150 gallon drop tanks. Nowhere do you see the 165 gallon Lockheed drop tank on the wing stations of either the P-38 or the P-47. Nowhere do you see the 200 gallon US and 210 Gallon UK belly tanks used in combat by the P-47. You also don’t see any wing tank plus belly tank combinations for the P-47. Nor do you see the 310 gallon ferry tank used by the 13th Air Force P-38′s in _April 1943_ to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto. (See Rex T. Barber link in notes).
That the Bomber Mafia was hiding the full range capabilities of both the P-38 and P-47, compared to the post-war P-51 narrative, is easily demonstrated in terms of wartime photographic evidence.
So, in the summer of 1943 long range fighter escorts _were not_ a top priority for the USAAF Bomber Mafia. They thought that the bombers would get through with few losses to German fighters and that long range escort fighter coverage was only needed to cover cripples from anti-aircraft gunfire — “Flak” — on the way home from the target. And that someone in General H. H. “Hap” Arnold’s headquarters, perhaps even Arnold himself, was seriously unclear on the concept of long range FIGHTER escort.
As I have clearly demonstrated above, the Bomber Mafia had a lot good “anatomy covering” reasons to push the “P-51 Narrative” at the expense of the reputation of both the P-38 and the P-47. I highly recommend Dr Carlo Kopp’s “Der Gabelschwanz Teufel – Assessing the Lockheed P-38 Lightning,” Technical Report APA-TR-2010-1201 for further issues with the “Bomber Mafia’s” leadership decisions and doctrinal problems. The impact of the Bomber General’s insistence on repeating Goering’s mistaken 1940 “stick with the bombers” close escort tactics with the P-38 is detailed by Dr. Kopp in the sources and notes excerpt below.