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Fighter / Attack:
   Bell P-39 Airacobra
   Bell P-63 Kingcobra
   Brewster Buffalo
   Chance-Vought F-4U Corsair
   Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
   Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
   Douglas A-1 Skyraider
   Douglas A-26 Invader
   Douglas SBD Dauntless
   Fairey Firefly
   Focke-Wulf Fw 190
   Grumman F4F Wildcat
   Grumman F6F Hellcat
   Grumman F7F Tigercat
   Grumman F8F Bearcat
   Grumman TBF Avenger
   Hawker Hurricane
   Hawker Sea Fury
   Lockheed P-38 Lightning
   Messerschmitt Bf-109
   Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen
   North American P-51 Mustang

   Polikarpov I-16
   Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
   Supermarine Spitfire
   Yakovlev Yak-3
   Yakovlev Yak-9

Beechcraft AT-11 Kansan (C-45)
   Beechcraft T-34 Mentor
   Boeing / Stearman PT-17

   Commonwealth CA-25 Winjeel
   Commonwealth CA-1 Wirraway
   DeHavilland DHC-1 Chipmunk
   DeHavilland DH-82 Tiger Moth
   Fairchild PT-19 Cornell
   Hunting / Percival Provost
   Meyers OTW
   Nanchang CJ-6
   Naval Aircraft Factory N3N
   N. Am. BT-9 / BT-14 / Yale
   N. Am. T-6 Texan / SNJ / Harvard
   N. American T-28 Trojan

   Piaggio P149
   Ryan PT-22 Recruit

   Scottish Aviation T1 Bulldog
   Vultee BT-13 Valiant
   Yakovlev Yak-11
   Yakovlev Yak-18
   Yakovlev Yak-52

   Avro Lancaster
   Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
   Boeing B-29 Superfortress
   Bristol Blenheim / Bolingbroke
   Consolidated B-24 Liberator
   Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer

   Douglas A-3 Skywarrior
   DeHavilland Mosquito
   Fairey Swordfish
   Heinkel He-111 / Casa 2.111

   Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon / Ventura
   Martin B-26 Marauder
   North American B-25 Mitchell

   Beechcraft C-45 (AT-11)

   Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter (KC-97)
   Curtiss C-46 Commando
   Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota
   Douglas C-54 Skymaster

   Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
   Fairchild C-123 Provider
   Grumman C-1 Trader (S-2)
   Lockheed C-60 Lodestar
   Lockheed C-69 Constellation

Utility / Observation / Special Duty:
   Aeronca L-3 Grasshopper
   Aeronca L-16 Grasshopper
   Antonov AN-2 Colt
   Auster AOP 6/9
   Avro 652 Anson
   Avro Shackleton
   British Taylorcraft I-V
   Cessna L-19 / O-1 Bird Dog
   Cessna O-2 Super Skymaster
   Cessna T-50 / UC-78 Bobcat
   Consolidated PBY Catalina

   DeHavilland U-6A / L-20 Beaver
   Fairey Gannet
   Fairey Swordfish
   Fieseler Fi156 Storch
   Grumman S-2 Tracker (C-1)
   Grumman HU-16 Albatross
   Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
   Junkers Ju 52/3m

   Lockheed P2V Neptune
   Max Holste M.H.1521 Broussard
   Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun

   Noorduyn UC-64 Norseman
   North American L-17 Navion
   N. Am./ Rockwell OV-10 Bronco
   Piper L-4 Grasshopper
   Stinson L-5 Sentinel
   Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper
   Westland Lysander

   Aero L-29 Delfin
   Aero L-39 Albatros
   Aermacchi MB-326
   Avro Vulcan
   BAC Strikemaster
   Blackburn (BAC) Buccaneer
   Canadair Tutor
   Cessna A-37 Dragonfly
   DeHavilland Vampire
   DeHavilland Venom
   English Electric Canberra
   English Electric Lightning
   Folland Gnat
   Fouga CM-170 Magister
   Gloster Meteor
   Grumman F9F Panther
   Hawker Hunter
   Hispano HA-200 Saeta
   Hunting Jet Provost
   Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
   Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
   McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
   McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom
   Messerschmitt Me-262
   Mikoyan MiG-15
   Mikoyan MiG-17
   Mikoyan MiG-21
   N. Am. F-86 Sabre / FJ-4 Fury
   N. Am. F-100 Super Sabre
   N. Am. / Rockwell T-2 Buckeye
   Northrop T-38 Talon / F-5
   PZL / WSK TS-11 Iskra
   Saab J35 Draken
   Soko G-2A Galeb
   Temco Pinto & Super Pinto

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Bell P-39 Airacobra

(Variants/Other Names: Model 14; P-400; F2L)

P-39Q Airacobra N6968 "Miss Connie," operated by the Commemorative Air Force.
(Photo source unknown)

History: The P-39 single-seat fighter was, in all respects, a radical design for its day, and proved the adage, "Form follows function." It was designed around a 37mm T-9 cannon which, in order to maximize the airplane's forward firepower, was fitted to fire through the propeller hub. In order for the cannon to fit inside the nose, the engine was placed behind the cockpit, and drove the propeller via a long shaft which passed under the pilot's feet. The center-of-gravity shift caused by the engine's location resulted in the need for a tricycle landing gear arrangement, the first of it's kind among WWII fighters.

The prototype XP-39 first flew on 6 April 1938, and after several evaluation programs, some major modifications were made to the design, resulting in the first production version, the P-39C. This production version entered service with the US Army Air Corps in 1939, but was almost immediately upgraded to the P-39D model with self-sealing fuel tanks, more guns, and larger fuel capacity.

In July 1941, the Royal Air Force took delivery of the first of 675 P-39Ds (called the Model 14 by the RAF) which they had ordered the year before. Shortly after delivery, however, the RAF realized that the aircraft had minimal performance characteristics without a turbocharger, an accessory that had been deleted early in the aircraft's development. It was too late to cancel the order, and only one RAF squadron (No. 601) ever flew it operationally. Over 250 of the others were sent to Russia, about 200 more were transferred to the US Army Air Force in Britain, and another 200 or so were sent back to America and designated as P-400s.

At least eight additional variants were later built. Most changes to the original design involved new engines and propellers, but otherwise the airframe remained very much the same over its production life. The P-39N and P-39Q were built for the Russian air force under the Lend-Lease military assistance program, and 4,773 Airacobras were delivered to Russia by American and Russian ferry pilots. Seven P-39s were designated as the F2L and used as US Navy target drones. The Airacobra served successfully in the ground-attack role in North Africa, and in the Pacific theater, until more powerful fighters began replacing it in 1944. Other nations which acquired P-39s included Portugal, France, and Italy. The Airacobra, though hampered by its lack of a turbocharger, was a very satisfactory low-altitude attack airplane, and served as faithfully as any other combat aircraft.

Nicknames: Caribou (RAF), Britchik (i.e. "Little Shaver") (Russian nickname). "Shaving" was slang for "low-level strafing."

Specifications (P-39M):
    Engine: 1200hp Allison V-1710-83 inline piston engine
    Weight: Empty 5,610 lbs., Max Takeoff 8,400 lbs.
    Wing Span: 34ft. 0 in.
    Length: 30ft. 2 in.
    Height: 11ft. 10 in.
        Maximum Speed at 9500ft: 386 mph
        Cruising Speed: 200 mph
        Ceiling: 36,000 ft
        Range: 650 miles
        One 37mm T9 cannon
        Two 12.7mm (0.5 inch) machine guns
        Four 7.62mm (0.3 inch) machine guns
        One 500 lb bomb

Number Built:  9,558

Number Still Airworthy:  2

Air Heritage P-39 Restoration Project
"Cobras Over the Tundra" book
Operating Instructions for the P-39


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