Aircraft of the Week || P-39 Airacobra

This week’s aircraft is one of the lesser known fighters of WW2, even tho it played a significant role in the allied victory.
Before the Bell P-39 was built, almost all airframes were built around an engine. A manufacturer would go out, select an engine, and then design the airframe around that specific engine and it’s power out put. The P-39, on the other hand, was the first to be designed around a gun. Bell selected the Oldsmobile T9 37mm cannon, which fired though the propeller hub. This lead to a unique design. Since the cannon and it’s ammo storage took up so much room in the nose, Bell moved the Allison V-1710-85 liquid-cooled V-12, 1,200 hp engine to the mid section of the airframe, and connected the propeller to the engine with a drive shaft that ran through the cockpit, between the pilots feet.

In addition to the 37mm cannon, the P-39 was also equipped​ with two nose mounted M2 Browning 50 Cal’s and two wing mounted Browning M2s. In addition to the guns, the aircraft was capable of carrying two 500 pound bombs as well.
While the P-39 saw limited service with the U.S. air corps, it saw heavy use in the Russian forces as part of the lend-lease act. The Russian pilots used the P-39 as a ground attack aircraft, using the 37mm as an excellent anti tank weapon. As well as ground attack, the Soviet P-39 was heavily used in air to work roles, easily shooting down Ju-87 stukas and Ju-88 medium attack bombers of the Luftwaffe. Many Soviet P-39s had the wing guns removed to increase the role rate.
After the war, a few P-39s were configured for air racing, and a few even won first places tropheys in the national air races. Cobra II, flown by Tex Johnston, even beat race modified P-51s.
Over all, the P-39 is an extremely cool looking aircraft, and one that is often over looked
Photo credit:


Love the name, Brooklyn Bum 2


It stands very strange compare to the other fighters like the spitfire that was on an angle this one sits nicley

It’s also one of the only fighters with a cockpit door.


Cool airplane, somewhat ahead of its time in some features. Had a poor supercharger which limited its performance in higher altitudes, but was a great low altitude attack plane as mentioned. If you read Chuck Yeager’s autobiography he has fond memories of this plane that he trained in.


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