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Bell P-39 Airacobra

In the late 1930s, the U.S. Army Air Corps requested an fighter aircraft to be powered by the Allison V-1710.  Lockheed responded with the Lightning and Bell with the Airacobra.

First flown in 1938, the Bell Model 12 featured the engine mounted behind the pilot in order to mount a 37mm cannon and two .50 caliber machine guns in the nose.

Along with the P-40, the P-39 Airacobra was the USAAC's front-line fighter when Japan attacked Pear Harbor in 1941.  With insufficient power to be a successful fighter, the P-39 proved to be a potent ground attack aircraft.  Over 9,500 were built with almost 4,800 supplied to Russia.

 
 Specifications (P-39M)  Designations
 
Type: Fighter
Engine: one 1,200 hp (895 kW) Allison V-1710-83 vee piston engine
Model 12: Initial Bell model number
P-39: U.S. Army Air Corps pursuit (fighter) designation
P-45: Initial designation of P-39C
P-400: Designation of export version commandeered by the USAAC.
XFL-1: prototype of a Navy tail-dragger version (named Airabonita)
F2L:  U.S. Navy target drone version
 
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Book:
P-39 Airacobra in action
Squadron/Signal

Print:
P-39 Airacobra
Tony Weddel
 

page updated 11 February 2008

 

 

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Kenneth W Shanaberger 2000 - 2010