Was the P63 King Cobra a missed opportunity in NW Europe post D-Day?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by pattle, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. pattle

    pattle Member

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    How do I word this question correctly? Was the Bell P63 a missed opportunity in the ground attack role in NW Europe post D-Day? I ask this question because I understand that the P63 was a good low level performer that was apparently sturdy and carried a heavy armament that appears to have been just the ticket for use against ground targets such as vehicles and locomotives. I understand that the P63 was not as versatile as either the P51 or P47, but would relatively small numbers of the P63 have been brought benefits if used purely as a ground attack aircraft?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It probably wasn't worth the cost. You need a whole new maintenance and supply chain. The ONLY thing it brings to the table is the 37mm gun and the 37mm gun also doesn't bring much to the table. MV was 2000fps which really limits it's armor piercing ability.

    In fact it's AP round is listed as a 753gram projectile at 556m/s compared to the British 40mm aircraft gun rounds of 1130 grams at 615m/s or 1360grams at 570m/s. Rate of fire is about 165 round per minute or 2.75 per second. A "normal" burst was considered 5 rounds and the max length burst was 15 rounds (5.5 seconds) in which time a 300mph airplane will cover 800 yds.

    While a hit is very damaging it is no sure thing against heavy armor and multiple 20mm guns offer a much greater chance of hits against anything less. ( A Typhoon can fire 120 20mm shells in just 3 seconds.)
     
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  3. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    As SH6 wrote, not worth of it, but if deployed, why as a GA plane, again, it would not have brought much extra capacity. If deployed in spite of logic why not as a tactical fighter, at low and middle altitudes it was the best USAAF fighter at that time, climbed and turned better than P-47 and Merlin P-51s.

    See Results of the Soviet turn times tests - Juhan Sotahistoriasivut. 1944 US planes are way down, P-63A 360 deg turn time was 20.5sec at 1000m.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  5. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Active Member

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  6. pattle

    pattle Member

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    To be honest I only really put this topic up because things had gone a bit quiet on here and I know the best way to liven things up is to mention an American aircraft. I understand that it was USAAF policy to keep the number of types in each theatre to a minimum as much as possible and this makes perfect sense. I haven't ever really bothered to read a great deal about the P63 so I only know a little about it, it does seem however that it was pretty useful at low altitude and my general train of thought was that with the lack of Luftwaffe opposition and the refocusing of fighter aircraft from air targets to ground targets an aircraft like the P63 may have come into it's own. I post this thread as a proposition and not as an assertion, so I feel no need to defend it.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    No big deal, if you don't know, ask. Hopefully we can teach without preaching :)
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    What level of armor protection surrounded the pilot and fuel tanks? Protection against 7.92mm AP ground fire is probably the minimum acceptable for a 1944 CAS aircraft.

    How stable was P63 as a gun platform?

    What iron bomb CEP could be expected from P63s flown by average pilots?

    What was typical combat radius of P63 carrying bomb weighing at least 500lbs?

    How good was downward visibility from P63 cockpit?
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Since nothing short of an IL-2 had ALL ROUND protection of cockpit, engine, and fuel systems from 7.92mm AP ground fire it seems this requirement is a little severe. Of course if you are willing to take the performance hit you night be able to sling a bomb underneath one of the armored target versions which carried 1410lb of armor over and above the normal armor.

    It seems to have been pretty good but there were a number of changes to the tail and horizontal surfaces so not all models handled the same.

    It's not a dive bomber with dive brakes, it is probably little different than most other "fighter-bombers"


    With or without the under wing drop tanks? for the A-7 version onward there were three hard points that could take a 500lb bomb EACH or a 75 gallon drop tank.

    So with your "at least 500lbs" bomb load the P-63 had 126 gal internal and 150 gallons external. Or two 500lb bombs and 75 gallons external or for short range missions three 500lb bombs. There was also a 64 gallon self sealing "slipper" center tank available.

    Probably no worse than any other inline engine fighter and better than some. Cockpit was actually further forward in relation to the wing leading edge than the P-39 but if you are looking down just in front of the wing leading edge you are about to pass the target by. P-63 had a shorter nose, no cylinder heads in the way and a better sight line over the nose than most front engine fighters even if only a few degrees.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If it's no better then P-40 for CAS then what's the incentive to introduce P63 CAS aircraft into service?
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It's competition in 1944 was NOT the P-40 but the P-51 and P-47.
     
  12. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    Weren't P-63s flown by Free French Squadrons? Or was that post war?
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Post WWII France employed F8F for CAS in Vietnam. What did they use to fight insurgency in North Africa?

    Grumman F8F Bearcat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    So according to the Soviet tests, the P-63A turned with or out-turned the Bf 109E-3, G-2 and 4, Hurricane IIB and D, LaGG-3 series 1, 3, 23, 29, 32, and 37, the Yak-7A, the Fw 190A-5, the Fw 190A-8, the Fw 190D-9, the Mustang Mk I, the MiG-3, and the P-47D.

    Sounds to me like the P-63A was a pretty hot ticket with hard-hitting armament and a decent turn of speed … about 25 mph less than a P-51D at its BEST height. The climb rate I see on Wiki is ludicrous and is the climb rate at what might be cruise power. Nothing with a weight to power ratio of 5.0 lbs per HP climbs at only 2,500 fpm. At WER it was well above 4,500 fpm according to pilots who flew it. At military it was well above 3,500 fpm.

    I don’t see a downside to the P-63 from these tests except no data for high altitude, which the P-63 could get to and then fight quite well.
     
  16. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    By the end of the war a couple of the French Airacobra Squadrons were starting to receive King Cobras, but none of the Squadrons were fully converted over (as far as I know) before the war in Europe ended.
     
  17. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I was also thinking would the P63's engine have been better protected being behind the pilot rather than in the nose like most other aircraft ?
     
  18. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    In GA work yes, against fighters, no because fighter attacks usually came from rear.
     
  19. pattle

    pattle Member

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    In which case the pilot would of had a nice chunk of armour behind him, although I am not sure what is worse an engine bursting into flames behind you or in front of you, logically I assume that if the burning engine was behind you then at least the flames would be blowing away from you rather than in your face.
     
  20. pattle

    pattle Member

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    Anyways the P39 and P63 looks like an interesting airplane so I may well invest in a book on them. I have always sort of written these Bell fighters off until now thanks to poor reviews from the USAAF and RAF, but obviously these fighters had hidden depths and strengths that it seems only the Ruskies were aware of.
     
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