P-400 Airacobra In North Africa

MIflyer

1st Sergeant
4,534
6,880
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
Everyone knows of the P-400 Airacobra I aircraft that were rejected by the RAF and were adopted by the USAAF and sent to the that Soloman Islands. I also read that some P-400's left in the U.K. were put into USAAF service and sent to North Africa. I have read very little about Airacobras in service in North Africa and was surprised when I found a copy of the December 1971 issue of Air Classics with an article by a former American RAF pilot who was a squadron commander with P-400's in the Med. It offers an interesting perspective on the Airacobra with some information I do not recall seeing elsewhere.

Here are the first two pages of that article. If it is appropriate I can post the rest of it.

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BiffF15

Tech Sergeant
1,770
2,812
Aug 15, 2010
Florida
Everyone knows of the P-400 Airacobra I aircraft that were rejected by the RAF and were adopted by the USAAF and sent to the that Soloman Islands. I also read that some P-400's left in the U.K. were put into USAAF service and sent to North Africa. I have read very little about Airacobras in service in North Africa and was surprised when I found a copy of the December 1971 issue of Air Classics with an article by a former American RAF pilot who was a squadron commander with P-400's in the Med. It offers an interesting perspective on the Airacobra with some information I do not recall seeing elsewhere.

Here are the first two pages of that article. If it is appropriate I can post the rest of it.

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MIflyer,

You have been a solid contributor on here and I respect that. However, this post leaves me no other choice.



V/R,
Biff

P.S. The above was done in jest! Please post the rest of the article!
 

MIflyer

1st Sergeant
4,534
6,880
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
Well, folks, I hate to tell you this after whetting your appetites, but MicroSoft really 'effed up my Win 10 computer this morning. They did an update, following by trying to force me to upgrade to Win 11. Now I can no longer log into the site from my main computer. Clicking on "Log In" does nothing at all. I'll ask for help from Dell, nut in the meantime I am sending this on my old XP machine, which can't handle much of anything any more. Wish me luck.
 

MIflyer

1st Sergeant
4,534
6,880
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
That author is the only one I know of that says you can't see out the back of a P-39. But even if you do no more than build the Monogram kit, note that it has a heavy structure behind the pilot's seat with a small armor glass porthole with which to view aft. In the Pacific P-39's had a large box mounted under the clear rear canopy that I think was the SCR-695 IFF. There was little room in the fuselage to add more avionics and I guess that since you could not see aft anyway, they used that space for the IFF.

He says it was great at diving but not so good at climbing, which sort of offset that feature.

Note that they repeat the old story of the P-39 being used for ground attack by the Soviets. This is a old well known complete fabrication, since the Russians never told anyone that; they used it for air combat

So, here is the rest of the article. Like Chuck Yeager, the author says he really enjoyed flying the P-39, except when he had to step outside, but he did not want to fight in it.



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MIflyer

1st Sergeant
4,534
6,880
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
Note that he refers to the "1165 HP unsupercharged engines." This is more traditional BS. The P-400 had a single stage mechanical supercharger, which essentially was invisible to the pilots, since he had no control over it. The earliest models of Spitfire featured the the pilot's ability to engage and disengage the supercharger, so he knew it was there. On the P-39, P-400, P-40, and Mustang Mk I the pilot had no control over the supercharger except by moving the throttle, but they had just as much of a supercharger installed as did the Spitfire I, II and V. Thus the oft repeated old nonsense that "the Air Corps deleted the supercharger from the P-39 in order to emphasize its low altitude performance." In reality the supercharger for the P-39 typically was optimized for 10,000 - 15,000 ft. The turbosupercharger was deleted from the P-39 because the increased drag associated with it made the airplane SLOWER than just the single mechanical supercharger.
 

CATCH 22

Staff Sergeant
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1,802
Sep 15, 2006
Canada
Robert Davidson's P-400 was BX385. He had a taxing accident on Jan.19, 1943.
I found this thread relatively late, but here's a small addition. In a site I'm following since ...e-e-eh....long time (RAF 112 squdron) there is a Honour Roll of the 350th FG. with many serials and additional data about the P-400 in the MTO. Interesting are the landings in Portugal, en route to North Africa.
Cheers!
 
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MIflyer

1st Sergeant
4,534
6,880
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
Interesting are the landings in Portugal, en route to North Africa.
In his superb book, Happy Jack's Go Buggy, Jack Ilfry describes landing his P-38 in Portugal when his drop tanks would not feed. Fortunately he managed to escape when the next day they took him back to his airplane and told him to start the engines so one of their pilots could fly it to a military field. He got the engines started as a Portuguese pilot kneeled on the wing and watched. Then another P-38 landed and there was a huge commotion as the authorities rushed to seize that airplane. Jack saw his chance and pushed the throttles forward, blew the pilot off the wing and took off. Arriving in North Africa, his commander naturally wanted to know where he had been for the last 24 hours. I would guess that the other P-38 pilot did not get to perform that same trick.
 

33k in the air

Staff Sergeant
807
1,097
Jan 31, 2021
This is one of the P-400's in the UK that was cleaned up and repainted for deployment to North Africa. Note the yellow surround on the insignia and that enormous drop tank.

That tank looks like the 'flat' 150-gallon tank developed for the P-47 in the ETO.
 

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