Air International 1982-02
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??? - The Contenious 'Cobra /Warbirds/ (2)
This Bell P-39M (according to serial number, 42-4756) is non­standard in having the large-diameter Aeroproducts propeller that was standardised on the P-39N.
A P-39Q-5 showing the later flush-fitting tank developed by Bell.
A Bell P-39Q-20 with a conventional belly drop tank
A Bell P-39L of the 93rd Fighter Group operating in Tunisia in July 1943.
P-39N
The US Navy acquired two P-39Q-10s for use in the development of radio-control techniques for target drones. They were tentatively designated XF2L-1s but soon became XTDL-1s in their new role. Note the receiving aerial projecting aft under the rudder.
A Bell P-39F. External differences between the Airacobra variants were minimal.
From May 1943 onwards the Forces Aeriennes Francoises Libres (Free French Air Force) received 165 P-39Ns and P-39Qs from USAAF stocks for service in North Africa.
A P-39N-1 serving in Italy with the Co-Belligerent Air Force which, in common with the Free French Air Force, received a number of Airacobras to equip units serving alongside the Allies in the closing months of the war.
In June 1943, 18 Bell P-39D-1 Airacobras that had landed in Portugal in error at the end of 1942, were used to equip a new fighter squadron of the Portuguese Arma da Aeronautica at Ola. They remained in service until 1946.
Believed to be A53-1 in the RAAF numbering sequence, this Airacobra still carries RAF-style roundels. It was fiown by Fit Lt Davidson in May 1942 in defence of Sydney when submarine-launched Yokosuka E14Y1 floatplanes were operating in the area.
A repossessed British Airacobra I, BW114, serving with USAAF markings in Australia as a P-400, probably for familiarisation flights by RAAF pilots.
P-39Ds serving with No 23 Squadron RAAF at Lowood, Qd, in late 1942.
Although fewer than two dozen P-39s entered service with the RAAF, from 1942 onwards, they were flown in a variety of markings and finishes. Illustrated are P-39Ds serving with No 23 Squadron at Lowood, Qd, in late 1942.
One of the two-seat Airacobras photographed after delivery to the Soviet Union, which was a major user of the Airacobra
Known as the TP-39, this was the first two-seat conversion of a P-39Q-5; a few others were similarly converted, as were a dozen P-39Q-20s which were then redesignated P-39Q-22.
The ill-fated "Cobra I" NX92847, one of two specially-modified P-39Q-10s for the 1946 National Air Races, in which Bell test pilot Jack Woolams was killed when the canopy collapsed. His colleague Tex Johnston won the event in "Cobra II" NX92848
The ill-fated "Cobra I" NX92847, one of two specially-modified P-39Q-10s for the 1946 National Air Races, in which Bell test pilot Jack Woolams was killed when the canopy collapsed. His colleague Tex Johnston won the event in "Cobra II" NX92848 - illustrated here when raced in 1947 by Jay Demming. In 1948, Charles Brown lapped at 413 mph (665 km/h) in the same aircraft; it was subsequently modified to the "Cobra III"for Mike Carroll but crashed before the intended attempt on the world speed record could be made.
Three Bell XP-39Es were used in the development of the Airacobras “big brother", the P-63 Kingcobra. This illustration shows the third aircraft, with "squared off" tail unit and wing
Three Bell XP-39Es were used in the development of the Airacobras “big brother", the P-63 Kingcobra. This illustration shows the third aircraft, with "squared off" tail unit and wing
Evolution of the P-39 began with the XP-39 (top). This prototype was modified to the XP-39B (centre) and the first production model, the P-39C (bottom) was similar, with larger fin and rudder. The P-39D's small dorsal fin and belly rack are shown dotted.
A three-view of the P-39Q and side view of the TP-39.