Bell P-39 Airacobra


P-39Q of the USAAF 318th FG based on Oahu, Hawaii, 1944
P-39Q of the USAAF 318th FG based on Oahu, Hawaii, 1944
The Bell P-39 Airacobra has been designed around the huge 37 mm cannon. This big and heavy weapon had to be on the centerline because of the recoil forces, so the engine was relocated amidships, linked to the propeller by means of a driveshaft. The room left in the nose allowed the use of a retracting nose wheel.
The P-39's career was plagued by its poor performance at medium and high altitudes, because of the lack of supercharger; the plane was therefore not much appreciated by USAAF pilots, and even refused by the RAF. However, the P-39 was quite successful in the hands of USSR pilots, because most fights on the Eastern front were taking place at low altitude, and the 37mm cannon also made the P-39 efficient as a close support plane. More than 5000 P39s were delivered to the USSR.

Development

Bell P-39D Airacobra Bell P-39D Airacobra
Engine Allison V-1710-37 liquid-cooled V12 1090 hp
Armament One nose-mounted 37mm cannon, two cowling-mounted 12.7mm (.50 cal) and four wing-mounted 7.7 mm (0.3cal) machine guns
More than half of the P-39 production went to USSR
More than half of the P-39 production went to USSR

Stof's notes about this plane in iMOL's WarBirds

The opinions expressed below are only my own, and nothing more...
The Airacobra's flight model has been corrected since WarBirds 2.0: it's now a decent early war opponent, especially at low altitude.
Hey Mister iMagic Online, how about a P-39Q, or even a P-63 Kingcobra ?

Strong points:

Weak points:


Back to Stof's Plane Info Center
Back to Stof's "Virtual Flying" Page.
Send comments/suggestions to Christophe.Arribat@wanadoo.fr
Copyright ©: Christophe "stof" Arribat - last update:
(Color picture from the Internet, B&W picture from Squadron/Signal "P-39 Airacobra in action")