Bell P-39

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by V-1710, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    Thoughts on the Airacobra?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Russians liked them (I think).

    Other than that, it was obsolescent by 1942 and the US was lucky not many pilots were lost in them.
     
  3. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    We did this on another thread, but you're a new guy, welcome!

    The P-39 has a mixed history. As we know the Russians used them effectively, and we've heard stories on how good they did as ground attack aircraft, but actually combat records show they really didn't do that bad in the Pacific. The 39th FG was scoring pretty good in the Fall of 1942 and was about 1.5 to 1 against the Japanese who were flying the Oscar and Zero. In addition the P-400, the export version of the -39 was being used, this armed with a 20mm cannon in the nose which made it a bit lighter and more maneuverable. The -39 was structurally robust although it had a very tight CG window that made it a bit unstable in certain situations, it actually had 2 CGs one through the vertical axis and one through the lateral axis. With a skilled pilot the -39 could of done well, Chuck Yeager said it was the best WW2 aircraft he's flown. The tri-cycle landing gear was another plus as this configuration is easier to operate than a tail dragger.

    Comments?!?
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    It had an "exciting" stall charachteristic!

    It was hampered by its poor medium altitude performance as well as endurance.

    But then, it was more for ground attack than being a fighter.

    Id say it was always 2nd rate at best, with the P40 being superior to it.
     
  6. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    Yes, the P-39 was at best a second rate fighter. But, had the P-39 been developed for what it was originally intended to be, it couple have been a different story. The P-39 was supposed to be a bomber interceptor. Lawrence Bell and his team designed a fighter around the new Oldsmobile manufactured 37mm. cannon, and a turbocharged Allison V-1710. The rear monted engine gave pleanty of room for the cannon, a pair of .50's, ammuntion, and a nosewheel. The rest of the airframe was just about as small as they could make it. Soon after the XP-39 flew, the Army Air Corps decided that such an intercepter was no longer needed (due to the P-38?), and suggested to Bell that perhaps the P-39 should be developed into a ground attack ship. This is where we run into trouble. Ground attack meant that armor plate had to be added (the plane just got heavier), some bomb capability would be needed (more weight), and since ground attack happens at low altitude, that turbocharger wouldn't be needed (subtract 400 h.p.). So, more weight and less power in a small plane with high wing loading equals a bad compromise at best. In all fairness, the Russians were successful with their P-39's, but they used them primarily as ground attack ships. The RAF tried the P-39 (as the P-400) and rightly felt that as a fighter, it was hopelessly outclassed. The U.S. Army Air Corps tried using the P-39 against nimble Japanese fighters, with disasterous results. A sad end to an aircraft that promised much more. I hope that I didn't cover any material that has been covered here before.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The P38's performance for the interceptor role was so superior to the P39, there was no question what plane would get the role.

    Plus, in the late 30's, the turbochargers for the Allison were in very tight supply (manufacturing problems) and any available went to the P38.

    One role the AAF found the P39 to be great at was "busting" Japanese barge's in the SW Pacific. That cannon could easily penetrate the sides of the barge and then bounce around before exploding.

    Id say the P39 was one of those great "would have.... could have" airplanes that showed up on the eve of the war.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Posted this before about the -39 and -40


    http://www.au.af.mil/au/afhra/wwwroot/aafsd/aafsd_lis t_of_tables.html

    I found in there a table for 1942 Kills/ Losses

    FEAF (China excluded) Fighters only (P-39s and P-40s)....

    FEAF
    LOSSES
    Jan - 0
    Feb - 44
    Mar - 12
    Apr - 0
    May - 32
    Jun - 28
    Jul - 11
    Aug - 11
    Sep - 10
    Oct - 0
    Nov - 32
    Dec - 8

    FEAF
    KILLS
    Jan 0
    Feb 20
    Mar 14
    Apr 14
    May 14
    Jun 20
    Jul 4
    Aug 41
    Sep 0
    Oct 6
    Nov 25
    Dec 54

    For entire 1942 the FEAF lost 148 aircraft in air-to-air combat while destroying 212 = 1.43 to 1 FEAR vs Japan. You could slice numbers and do more research and attempt to insert Japanese aircraft by type, but considering the most numerous aircraft were the Zero and Oscar, these numbers do not represent great success by the Japanese. If you note Dec 1942, it's the month the P-38 began heavy operations.

    If you go to the site the remaining years shown on these tables show a huge lop-sided picture with one month showing 130 kills for 19 losses (Aug. 1943).


    You have to figure that a least half of the AAF aircraft fighters were P-39s. Considering these numbers, it really didn't do that bad when it was forced into the air-to-air role
     
  9. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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    http://www.elknet.pl/acestory/pokri/pokri.htm

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    A skilled pilot with that armament would be very deadly in the -39. Could you imagine a Zero or Oscar getting hit with that!
     
  11. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The original airframe should be considered as advanced. It bears some advantages (tricycle gear, engine position) as well as disadvanteges(the first to name that they decided to remove the turbocharger).
    A P-39 won several speed races against P-51 and P-38 during ww2, underlining the high aerodynamic quality of the airframe.
    The VVS mechanics often removed the armor plating, thus saving weight and increasing it´s performance a little.
    A lighter engine mounted (20mm?) gun combined with reduced armor and a turbocharger would undoubtly turn the P-39 into a first class air superiority fighter, just my mind.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Agree - A P-39 won the 46' Thompson and I believed one place each year until 1949.
     
  13. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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    Of course the P 39 was replaced with the P 63 Kingcobra.

    The specs of the Bell P 63 D Kingcobra are quite impressive:

    Specification of Bell P-63D Kingcobra:

    Powerplant: One Allison V-1710-109 (E22) water-cooled engine rated at 1425 hp for take off. Performance: Maximum speed was 437 mph at 30,000 feet (same as a North American P51 D Mustang), service ceiling was 39,000 feet, and an altitude of 28,000 feet could be reached in 11.2 minutes. Normal range was 950 miles, and maximum ferry range was 2000 miles. Dimensions: wingspan 39 feet 2 inches, length 32 feet 8 inches, height 11 feet 2 inches, and wing area 255 square feet. Weights: 7076 pounds empty, 8740 pounds gross, and 11,100 pounds maximum loaded. Armament: One 37-mm M9E1 cannon in the propeller hub with 48 rounds, a pair of 0.50-inch machine guns in the forward fuselage synchronized to fire through the propeller arc, plus a single 0.50-inch machine gun in each of two underwing gondolas

    http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p63.html
    http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p63_6.html

    There was a swept wing test plane:

    http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p63_11.html

    This is quite funny:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-63_Kingcobra
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Pretty good stuff! I love the P-63 with the bubble canopy.
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    There was even a two place night fighter mockup produced. The radar gear was in the rear, and the radar intercept officer laying on his back in the nose.

    Needless to say, the USAAF rejected it.
     
  16. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    I have been told that the AAF was indeed impressed with the P-63, but didn't want to have to support another fighter design in Europe. Nothing wrong with the plane, just a logistics issue. The P-63 did earn a certain amount of recognition as the RP-63 'Pinball' flying target. And, speaking of planes that were to be powered by turbocharged Allisons, how about the XP-37. Another adaption of the P-36 Hawk, it resembeled a P-40.
     
  17. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    P-37 must of been hell to taxi because of the cockpit being so far back. I think the P-42 and P-46 was mentioned during the congressional investigation of Curtiss Wright after the war. I always loved the P-55, I think it was given up too early, but there was a war going on....
     
  19. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    The Japanese were working on something similar to the Curtiss P-55 Ascender, the Kyushu J7W1 Shinden.
     
  20. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    the kyushu j7w1 shinden came out in 45 as a prototype but was much faster 466mph comp to 390 in the xp55 and a substantial difference in armament xp 55 had 4 x 50 cal the shiden had 4 x 30mm cannon but it also had a little more then 800 xtra hp but if one was to take the italian sai ss4 which flew 4yrs before the xp 55 in 39 was well armed with 2x 20mm and 1 30mm cannon with with only 960 hp could've been the dark horse of the canards
     
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