Bell P-39 Airacobra in Sowjetdiens

Bell P-39 Airacobra in Sowjetdiens


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Bell P-39 Airacobra in Sowjetdiens

Inleiding
Noordelike fronte
Suidelike fronte
Sentrale fronte
Afsluiting
Boeke

Inleiding

Die Bell P-39 Airacobra het 'n vreeslike reputasie onder Britse en Amerikaanse vlieëniers gehad, maar dit het vinnig een van die gunsteling vegters in die Sowjetunie geword. Van die voorste ses Sowjet -lugas het vier die meeste van hul oorwinnings behaal in die Kobra.

Die eerste Airacobras wat die Sowjetunie bereik het, was British Airacobra Is. Teen die tyd dat die Airacobra I in diens getree het by No. 601 "City of London" eskader, was dit reeds duidelik dat hulle nie deur die RAF nodig sou wees nie. Alhoewel die eskader sy Airacobras eers in Maart 1942 met Spitfires vervang het, bied Churchill Rusland die RAF se voorraad oortollige Airacobras aan kort ná die Duitse inval, en die eerste 20 vliegtuie bereik Murmansk teen die einde van 1941. Uiteindelik stuur die Britte 212 Airacobras na Rusland , hoewel 54 op die reis verlore gegaan het, en 158 ongeskonde vliegtuie gelaat is (Sowjet -bronne beweer dat die minder vliegtuie verlore geraak het). Uiteindelik sou byna 5000 Airacobras die Sowjetunie bereik, almal behalwe die eerste 150 uit die Verenigde State.

Die grootste deel van die Britse Airacobra Is beland by Ivanovo, noordoos van Moskou, waar die 22ste Supply Aviation Regiment (22nd ZAP) was. Die montering van die vliegtuig het in Januarie 1942 begin, en die meeste eenhede het die Airacobra op die noordelike en sentrale fronte gebruik wat by hierdie eenheid opgelei is.

Russiese toetse het die Airacobra I 'n spoed van 306mph op grondvlak en 363mph op 13,800ft gegee, wat dit net so goed maak as die Yak-3 en MiG-3, dan in Russiese produksie.

Die gevegte aan die Oosfront pas by die P-39. Sowel die Sowjetunie as die Duitsers het gekonsentreer op 'n relatief lae aktiwiteit, wat bedoel was om hul leërs te ondersteun. As gevolg hiervan het die Sowjet-P-39's selde nodig gehad om meer as 15.000 voet te veg.

Die basiese Sowjetgevegseenheid was die Istrebitelnyi Aviatsionii Polk (Fighter Aviation Regiment, of IAP's). Elite -eenhede vorm deel van die Guards, en staan ​​bekend as GIAP's. Sommige eenhede is as deel van die wagte geskep, terwyl suksesvolle vegterregimente soms beloon is met 'n bevordering aan die wagte, gewoonlik met 'n verandering in aantal.

Noordelike fronte

Die eerste Sowjet-eenheid wat die P-39 (of Kobra) was die 19de Guards IAP. Hierdie eenheid was oorspronklik die 145 IAP, voordat dit op 7 Maart 1942 beloon is met 'n promosie aan die wagte. In April 1942 is die eenheid teruggetrek na die Afrikanda-vliegbasis om sy P-39's te ontvang. Die eerste toetsvlug is op 19 April 1942 deur kaptein Pavel Kutakhov, die bevelvoerder van die eerste eskader van die regiment, uitgevoer. Minder as 'n maand later, op 15 Mei 1942, keer die eskader terug na die voorkant by Shongui, en op dieselfde dag vlieg sy eerste slag met die P-39 en teken die eerste twee Sowjet-oorwinnings met die Airacobra aan.

Uiteindelik het die P-39 20 GIAP in Karelië toegerus, waar dit saam met 19 GIAP geveg het, al vyf vegterregimente van die Northern Fleet Air Arm, 102 en 103 GIAP's by Leningrad, 191 IAP, wat oor die suide van Finland werk, terwyl 17 en 78 IAP gebruik het hul Kobras om die Sowjet -einde van die Arktiese konvooi -roete te beskerm.

Suidelike fronte

Die meerderheid Amerikaanse Airacobras bereik die Sowjetunie vanuit die suide, via Teheran. In November 1942 is die 25ste ZAP opgestel in Aji-Kabul in Azerbeidjan. Vliegtuie is bymekaargemaak in Abadan, voordat dit na Aji-Kabul vervoer is, waar dit aan hul eindgebruikers gegee is. Die P-39 sou sy doeltreffendste wees op die suidelike fronte, waar dit gebruik sou word deur Grigori Rechkalov en Aleksandr Poykryshikin, die 2de en 3de posisie van die Sowjet-as. 'N Beperkte aantal vliegtuie het waarskynlik by Stalingrad geveg, maar hulle het in die post-Stalingrad-stryd om die Kubanrivier tot 'n werklike aansien gekom.

Die Sowjet -lugmagte wat by hierdie gevegte betrokke was, was deel van die 216ste Lugafdeling, wat later die 9de Garde -lugafdeling (GIAD) geword het. Teen die einde van die oorlog het die lugafdeling 1,147 oorwinnings gekry en bevat 31 helde van die Sowjetunie, waaronder drie twee keer wenners en een van slegs drie driemalige wenners van die toekenning.

Die eerste van die afdelings se regimente wat na die P-39 oorgeskakel het, was 298 IAP. Hierdie eenheid was tot Januarie 1943 met die Yak-1 toegerus, toe dit teruggetrek is en 'n mengsel van 20 mm en 37 mm kanonne gekry het. Die regiment is na Korenovskaya ontplooi waar dit op 17 Maart begin vlieg het ter ondersteuning van die Pe-2's van 219 BAD. Tussen dan en 20 Augustus 1943 het die regiment 1,625 soorte gevlieg teen 8 Fliegerkorps, het aan 111 luggevegte deelgeneem en 167 oorwinnings behaal vir die verlies van 30 vliegtuie wat vernietig is. As gevolg van hierdie optrede op 25 Augustus 1943 is die regiment herdoop tot 104 GIAP.

Die 45 IAP het begin omskakel na die P-40, maar voordat dit met hierdie vliegtuig in diens kon tree, is besluit om dit na die P-39 te omskep. Die eskader het Krasnodar op 9 Maart 1943 bereik, maar het na 298 IAP geveg. Net soos die eenheid het 45 IAP goed genoeg gevaar om herdoop te word tot 100 GIAP.

Die derde eenheid wat die P-39 oor die Kuban gebruik het, was die 16de Guards IAP, die bekendste Sowjet-vegvliegtuig. Alhoewel dit slegs die tweede hoogste telling was, bevat dit die grootste aantal helde van die Sowjetunie (15) sowel as twee tweemalige wenners en een driemalige wenner van die toekenning. Dié driemalige wenner was die tweede posisie van die Sowjet-aas Aleksandr Pokryshkin, wat die oorlog beëindig het met 48 Airacobra-oorwinnings in sy totaal van 59. Hy het sy drie toekennings gewen vir die kombinasie van die tweede beste vertoning van enige Sowjet-vegvlieënier met toenemend belangrike leiersrolle- vanaf 1944 was hy bevelvoerder oor die hele 9 GIAD (Guards Fighter Aviation Division). Onder sy prestasies was die bekendstelling van die "Kuban trap" -taktiek. Hierdeur word die rigiede V-formasie met drie vliegtuie wat aan die begin van die oorlog gebruik is, vervang met formasies van twee pare, gekopieer vanaf die Luftwaffe. Die laagste vlug van vier vliegtuie word ondersteun deur twee verdere vlugte, elk bo en agter die vorige vlug.

Die derde posisie van die Sowjet-aas, Grigorii Rechkalov, het ook gedien met 16 GIAP, vanaf die somer van 1942. Net soos Pokryshkin behaal hy die meeste van sy oorwinnings terwyl hy met die P-39 vlieg.

Sentrale fronte

Die eerste suksesvolle regiment wat die P-39 op die sentrale fronte gebruik het, was 153 IAP. Na opleiding by 22 ZAP is hierdie regiment na Voronezh gestuur, op 29 Junie 1942 aangekom en die volgende dag geveg. Tussen dan en 1 Oktober toe die eenheid teruggetrek is, het dit aan vyf-en-veertig luggevegte deelgeneem, beweer dat dit 64 Duitse vliegtuie vernietig het en slegs 8 vliegtuie in gevegte verloor het. Die eenheid is in November 1942 weer in die geveg gehaas om 'n nuwe Duitse offensief teë te werk, voordat dit op 21 November as 28 GIAP herontwerp is. Tussen 1 Desember 1942 en 1 Augustus 1943 het die regiment aan 66 luggevegte deelgeneem, 1 176 soorte gevlieg, 63 oorwinnings behaal en 19 vliegtuie in gevegte verloor. Onder die Duitse vliegtuie wat beweer is vernietig, was 23 Bf 109's en 23 Fw 190s.

30 GIAP het ook sukses behaal met die P-39. Die regiment het laat in 1942 na die P-39 omgeskakel, op 22 ZAP as 180 IAP aangekom voordat dit op 21 November 1942 beloon is met die aanwysing van die Wagte. In 1944 het die regiment aan Operasie deelgeneem Bagrasie, die inval in Wit-Rusland en Pole, terwyl dit in 1945 sy P-39's na Berlyn geneem het tydens die laaste veldtogte van die oorlog.

Nie alle P-39-eskaders het goed gevaar nie. 185 IAP bereik die front net na 153 IAP, maar word ontbind (waarskynlik in Augustus 1943), en sy vlieëniers het P-39's van Siberië af vervoer. Dit lyk asof 494 IAP ewe onsuksesvol was, en in twee maande op 62 soorte vlieg terwyl dit toegerus was met die P-39. Hierdie eenheid is in Desember 1943 ontbind.

Onder die regimente wat goed presteer het, was 9 GIAP, bekend as die Regiment of Aces. Hierdie eenheid behaal 558 oorwinnings, wat dit die derde suksesvolste Sowjet -vegterregiment maak. Anders as 16 GIAP gebruik hierdie regiment slegs 'n kort tydjie die P-39, van Augustus 1943 tot Julie 1944, toe dit na die La-7 omskep is.

27 IAP het ook goed gevaar, in die lente van 1943 oorgeskakel na die P-39 en dit gebruik tydens die slag van Koersk en die daaropvolgende Sowjet-teenaanvalle.

Afsluiting

Van die ses Sowjet-asse wat in die algemeen met vyftig of meer oorwinnings erken word, behaal vier die meeste van hul suksesse terwyl hulle met die P-39 vlieg Kobra. Die Sowjet (en Geallieerdes) se tweede posisie -aas van die oorlog, Alexandr Pokryshkin, behaal 48 van sy 59 oorwinnings terwyl hy met die Airacobra vlieg. Teen die einde van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog kon hierdie manne hierdie onderskatte Amerikaanse vegter gebruik om van die beste Duitse vlieëniers aan te pak, toegerus met die nuutste weergawes van die Bf 109 en Fw 190. Toe die geveg geëindig het, was daar nog 1,178 P -39 Kobras in diens by die Sowjet -lugmag. Ondanks sy tegniese gebreke, het die Airacobra die suksesvolste geword van alle vliegtuie wat na Rusland gestuur is, en 'n belangrike rol gespeel in die laaste geallieerde oorwinning.

Boeke

Boekmerk die bladsy: Heerlik Facebook Struikel


P-39 "Airacobra"

Die P-39Q uit 'n struktuur van die 11de Guards Wing, lugmag van die Swartsee-vloot, somer 1944.

Die verhaal oor die vliegtuie wat op die Sowjet-Duitse front gesukkel het, sou nie volledig wees sonder om te noem oor die Amerikaanse P-39 "Airacobra"-'n veeldoelige vegter, vervaardig van Bell. In manoeuvreerbare gevegte in klein en gemiddelde hoogtes het dit goed genoeg geblyk. In 'n neusholte is die 37 mm-kanon en twee masjiengewere van 12,7 mm geplaas. Die enjin van 'n vliegtuig wat agter 'n kajuit geplaas is, naby die swaartepunt van 'n vliegtuig, het tot gevolg gehad dat die vegter baie wendbaar was.

Teen die einde van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog was vliegtuie P-39N en P-39Q die belangrikste vegters wat deur bondgenote in die USSR gelewer is. Op vegvliegtuig P-39N met aan boord nommer 100 het Alexander Ivanovich Pokryshkin die oorlog voltooi.

Alexander Pokryshkin, wat sedert die lente van 1943 op 'Aerocobras' vlieg, het in luggevegte van 48 vliegtuie van die teenstander vernietig nadat hy 'n gesamentlike rekening tot 59 oorwinnings voltooi het. Saam met Pokryshkin op "Aerocobras" was sulke verheerlikte aas, soos N. Gulaev G. Rechkalov, G. Golubev, K. Suhov, broers Glinka en ander ook in oorlog. Op "Aerocobra" was N. Gulaev teen die einde van die oorlog 57 sterretjies wat die aantal oorwinnings in die lug toon, 56 van die lugoorwinnings van G.Rechkalov 53 - George Golubev, 50 - het Dmitry Glinka laat val.

In totaal is 4924 vliegtuie P-39 "Airacobra" aan die USSR gelewer in ooreenstemming met die terme van die huurooreenkoms. Voor die voltooiing van die reeksproduksie is 9558 vegters gebou.


Bell P -39 Airacobra in Sowjetdiens - Geskiedenis

Bell P-39 'Airacobra'

Die Bell P-39 'Airacobra' was een van die belangrikste Amerikaanse vegvliegtuie wat in diens was toe die Verenigde State die Tweede Wêreldoorlog betree het. Die P-39 is met groot sukses gebruik deur die Sowjet-lugmag, wat die grootste aantal individuele doodslag behaal het wat toegeskryf word aan enige Amerikaanse vegterstipe. Ander groot gebruikers van die tipe sluit die Free French, die Royal Australian Air Force, die United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) en die Italiaanse Co-Belligerent Air Force in. Dit is ontwerp deur Bell Aircraft en het 'n innoverende uitleg, met die enjin in die middelste romp, agter die vlieënier, en ry 'n trekkerskroef via 'n lang as. Dit was ook die eerste vegter met 'n driewiel -onderstel. Alhoewel die plasing van die middelmotor innoverend was, is die P-39-ontwerp gestrem deur die afwesigheid van 'n doeltreffende turbo-aanjaer, wat dit tot lae werk beperk het. Saam met die afgeleide P-63 Kingcobra was die P-39 een van die suksesvolste vliegtuie met vaste vleuel wat deur Bell vervaardig is.

Die projekbeampte vir vegters by die USAAC, saam met die Fighter Tactics Instructor by die Air Corps Tactical School, het 'n spesifikasie vir 'n nuwe vegter uitgereik via Circular Proposal X-609. Dit was 'n versoek vir 'n enkelmotorige hoë hoogte 'interceptor' met "die taktiese missie van onderskep en aanval van vyandige vliegtuie op groot hoogte". Terwyl die eerste voorlegging vir 'n tweemotorige interceptor was, het die tweede X-609 ontwerpe aangevra vir 'n enkelmotorjagter wat vyandelike vliegtuie op groot hoogte kan hanteer. In die X-609 was ook 'n vereiste vir 'n turbo-aangevulde, vloeistofgekoelde Allison-enjin, sowel as 'n spoed van 360 km / h en 'n vermoë om binne ses minute 20.000 voet te bereik. Die ervaring wat Bell opgedoen het met die oprigting van die XFM -1 Airacuda, was van onskatbare waarde en het die belowende span oortuig dat hulle 'n vliegtuig kan ontwikkel vir die nuwe vereiste van die Amerikaanse weermag - 'n afsnyer. Behalwe die Curtiss P-36's, P-40 Warhawks en Seversky P-35's wat toe in diens was, het die USAAC nog baie min gehad om te verstrengel met die beste vegters en bomwerpers van Japan. Alhoewel Bell se beperkte ontwerp van die vegvliegtuie voorheen gelei het tot die ongewone Bell YFM-1 Airacuda, het die Model 12-voorstel 'n ewe oorspronklike opset gehad met 'n Allison V-12-enjin gemonteer in die middel van die romp, net agter die kajuit, en 'n propeller aangedryf deur 'n skag wat onder die vlieënier se voete onder die kajuitvloer beweeg. Dit was ongewoon omdat vegters voorheen rondom 'n enjin ontwerp was, nie 'n wapenstelsel nie. Alhoewel dit verwoestend was toe dit werk, het die T9 baie beperkte ammunisie, 'n lae vuurtempo en was dit geneig om te belemmer. Die produksie P-39 behou 'n enkelfasige enkelsnel-aanjaer met 'n kritieke hoogte (waarbo die prestasie gedaal het) van ongeveer 1260 voet (3660 m). As gevolg hiervan was die vliegtuig makliker om te vervaardig en te onderhou. Die verwydering van die turbo (volgens die veranderings in die spesifikasies van die weermag) vernietig egter die kans dat die P-39 as 'n frontlinievegter van medium hoë hoogte kan dien. Toe gebreke in 1940 en 1941 opgemerk word, het die gebrek aan 'n turbo dit byna onmoontlik gemaak om die prestasie van die Airacobra te verbeter.

In aksie
VSAAC

Met die Japannese aanval op Pearl Harbor op 7 Desember 1941, het die Amerikaanse weermag se lugmag 200 P-39's van die Britse orde gekoop vir gebruik in die Stille Oseaan, wat hulle P-400 hernoem het. Die P-39, wat die eerste keer Japannese in April 1942 oor Nieu-Guinee betrek het, het in die suidwestelike Stille Oseaan uitgebrei gebruik en met Amerikaanse en Australiese magte gevlieg. Die Airacobra het ook in die 'Cactus Air Force' wat tydens die Slag van Guadalcanal vanaf Henderson Field opereer het. Die P-39 met sy swaar bewapening was op laer hoogtes gereeld 'n moeilike teenstander vir die beroemde Mitsubishi A6M2 'Zero'. Vlieëniers, wat ook in die Aleoetiërs gebruik is, het bevind dat die P-39 'n verskeidenheid hanteringsprobleme gehad het, insluitend 'n neiging om 'n plat draai te maak. Dit was dikwels die gevolg van die swaartepunt van die vliegtuig terwyl ammunisie gebruik is. Hoewel die P-39 ongeskik gevind is vir gebruik in Wes-Europa deur die RAF, het die P-39 diens in Noord-Afrika en die Middellandse See by die USAAF in 1943 en vroeg in 1944 gesien. (Tuskegee Airmen) wat oorgegaan het van die Curtiss P-40. Vlieg ter ondersteuning van die geallieerde magte tydens die Slag van Anzio en maritieme patrollies, en P-39-eenhede het gevind dat die tipe besonder doeltreffend was om te span.

Die P-39 het een gevegsmissie met die Britte gevlieg voordat die RAF 200 vliegtuie na die Sowjetunie gestuur het vir gebruik by die Sowjet-lugmag (VVS). Die Airacobras wat reeds in die Verenigde Koninkryk was, saam met die res van die eerste groep wat in die VSA gebou is, is na die Sowjet -lugmag gestuur. In diens van VVS kon die P-39 sy sterk punte bereik, aangesien die meeste van sy gevegte op laer hoogtes plaasgevind het. In daardie arena was dit in staat om teen Duitse vegters soos die Messerschmitt Bf 109 en Focke-Wulf Fw190 in staat te wees. Boonop het die swaar bewapening dit vir Junkers Ju87 'Stukas' en ander Duitse bomwerpers moontlik gemaak. Die P-39 het 'n groot aas gemaak vir die Sowjet-lugmag, waar lug-tot-lug-gevegte langs die Oosfront gewoonlik onder die optimale 10 000 voet plafonlimiet van die Airacobra ontvou het. Aanvanklike P-39-aflewerings aan die Sowjetunie het gekom met die Britse gekose 20 mm Hispano-Suiza neuskanon, terwyl latere modelle die meer kragtige M4 37mm kanon met Amerikaans goedgekeur het-laasgenoemde aanpassing maak 'n groot verskil. Die verliese was egter steeds hoog. Van die P-39's wat deur die Sowjets gevlieg is, het 1030 in gevegte verlore gegaan. 'N Totaal van 4 719 P-39's is deur die Lend-Lease-program na die Sowjetunie gestuur en die P-39 was tot 1949 in gebruik by die Sowjetunie.
Terug na bo
Italië
In Junie 1944 ontvang die Italiaanse Co-Belligerent Air Force (ICAF) 170 P-39's, die meeste van hulle-Qs. 'N Totaal van 149 P-39's sou gebruik word: die P-39N vir opleiding, terwyl nuwer Q's in die voorste linie gebruik is. Op 18 September 1944 vlieg 12-groep se P-39's hul eerste sending oor Albanië. Die Italiaanse P-39's, wat konsentreer op grondaanval, was geskik in hierdie rol en verloor 10 vliegtuie aan Duitse vlakke in meer as 3 000 uur se geveg. Teen die einde van die oorlog was 89 P-39's steeds op die Canne-lughawe en 13 by die Scuola Addestramento Bombardamento e Caccia (Opleidingskool vir bomwerpers en vegters) op Frosinone -vliegveld.
Australië
Vanaf Julie 1942 is 'n totaal van 23 heraangekondisioneerde Airacobras, wat deur die Amerikaanse Vyfde Lugmag (5 AF) geleen is, deur die Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) gebruik as 'n stop-gap-onderskepper in agterste gebiede. Nadat hulle die volgende jaar saam met verskeie eskaders gedien het, is die oorblywende Airacobras na die USAAF teruggestuur en het die RAAF opgehou om die tipe te bedryf.
Die is ook in beperkte getalle deur Portugal en Frankryk gebruik.

Sowat 9,584 P-39-voorbeelde is deur Bell gemaak tydens haar produksieloop van 1940 tot Mei 1944.


Ontwerp en ontwikkeling

Omsendbriefvoorstel X-609

In Februarie 1937 het luitenant Benjamin S. Kelsey, projekbeampte vir vegters by die United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), en kaptein Gordon P. Saville, vegterstaktiekinstrukteur by die Air Corps Tactical School, 'n spesifikasie uitgereik vir 'n nuwe vegter via Omsendbriefvoorstel X-609. [8] Dit was 'n versoek dat 'n enkelmotorige 'interceptor' op 'n groot motor 'die taktiese missie van onderskep en aanval van vyandige vliegtuie op groot hoogte' het. [9] Ondanks die feit dat dit 'n afsnyer genoem is, was die rol van die voorgestelde vliegtuig bloot 'n uitbreiding van die tradisionele strewe (vegter) rol, met 'n swaarder en kragtiger vliegtuig op hoër hoogte. Spesifikasies vereis ten minste 1 000 pond swaar bewapening, insluitend 'n kanon, 'n vloeistofgekoelde Allison-enjin met 'n General Electric-turbo-aanjaer, driewiel-landingsrat, 'n gelyke lugsnelheid van ten minste 360 ​​mph (580 km/h) op hoogte, en 'n klim tot 6 100 m (6 000 m) binne 6 minute [10], die moeilikste stel spesifikasies wat USAAC tot op daardie datum aangebied het. [N 3] Hoewel Bell se beperkte ontwerp vir vegvliegtuie voorheen tot die ongewone Bell YFM-1 Airacuda gelei het, het die Model 12 [12] Die voorstel het 'n ewe oorspronklike konfigurasie met 'n Allison V-12-enjin gemonteer in die middel van die romp, net agter die kajuit, en 'n skroef wat deur 'n as gedryf word onder die vlieënier se voete onder die kajuitvloer. [12]

Die hoofdoel van hierdie opset was om ruimte vry te maak vir die swaar bewapening, 'n 37 mm (1,46 duim) Oldsmobile T9 -kanon wat deur die middel van die skroefnaaf skiet vir optimale akkuraatheid en stabiliteit tydens afvuur. Dit het gebeur omdat H.M. Poyer, ontwerper vir die projekleier Robert Woods, was beïndruk deur die krag van hierdie wapen en het aangedring op die integrasie daarvan. Dit was ongewoon omdat vegters voorheen rondom 'n enjin ontwerp was, nie 'n wapenstelsel nie. Alhoewel dit verwoestend was toe dit werk, het die T9 baie beperkte ammunisie, 'n lae vuurtempo en was dit geneig om te belemmer. [13]

'N Sekondêre voordeel van die middelmotorreëling was om 'n gladde en vaartbelynde neusprofiel te skep. Daar is baie van gemaak dat dit 'n konfigurasie tot gevolg het "met 'n netjiese neus en 'n romp neus soos die snoet van 'n hoë snelheidskogel". [14] Toegang tot die kajuit was deur sydeure (aan weerskante van die kajuit gemonteer) eerder as 'n skuifdek. Die ongewone ligging van die enjin en die lang dryfas het aanvanklik vir vlieëniers kommer veroorsaak, maar ondervinding het getoon dat dit nie meer 'n gevaar in 'n botsing was as met 'n enjin voor die kajuit nie. Daar was geen probleme met die mislukking van die skroefas nie.

XP-39 ontwikkelings

Die XP-39 het sy eerste vlug op 6 April 1938 gemaak. [1] in Wright Field, Ohio, het 630 km/h (630 km/h) op 6 100 m (20 000 voet) bereik en hierdie hoogte in slegs vyf minute bereik. [15] Daar is egter bevind dat die XP-39 prestasie op hoogte te kort was. Vlugtoetse het bevind dat sy topsnelheid op 20,000 voet laer is as die 400 mph wat in die oorspronklike voorstel beweer is. [2]

Soos oorspronklik gespesifiseer deur Kelsey en Saville, het die XP-39 'n turbo-aanjaer om sy prestasie op groot hoogte te versterk. Bell het die turbo afgekoel met 'n skep aan die linkerkant van die romp. [16] Kelsey wou deur die vroeë ingenieurswese probleme ondervind met die XP-39, maar hy is na Engeland beveel. Die XP-39-projek is aan ander oorhandig, en in Junie 1939 is die prototipe deur generaal Henry H. Arnold beveel om in NACA-windtonnels geëvalueer te word om maniere te vind om die snelheid te verhoog deur parasitiese weerstand te verminder. [17] Toetse is uitgevoer, en Bell -ingenieurs het die aanbevelings van NACA en die weermag gevolg om die weerstand te verminder, sodat die topsnelheid met 16%verhoog is. [17] NACA het geskryf, "dit is noodsaaklik om die aanjaer in die vliegtuig te sluit met 'n doeltreffende kanaalstelsel vir die afkoeling van die rotor en afvoer van die koel lug en uitlaatgasse." [18] In die baie streng beplande XP-39 was daar egter geen interne ruimte oor vir die turbo nie. Met behulp van 'n sleep-opbou-skema is 'n aantal moontlike gebiede van vermindering van sleep gevind. NACA het tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat 'n topsnelheid van 429 mph gerealiseer kon word met die aërodinamiese verbeterings wat hulle ontwikkel het en 'n opgegradeerde V-1710 met slegs 'n enkeltrap, enkelspoed-aanjaer. [19]

Tydens 'n belangrike vergadering met die USAAC en NACA in Augustus 1939 stel Larry Bell voor dat die produksie P-39-vliegtuie sonder die turbo-aanjaer gekonfigureer word. [20] Sommige historici bevraagteken Bell se ware motivering om die vliegtuig te herkonfigureer. Die sterkste hipotese is dat Bell se fabriek nie 'n aktiewe produksieprogram gehad het nie en dat hy desperaat was vir kontantvloei. Ander historici noem dat windtunneltoetse die ontwerpers laat glo het dat die turbo -aanjaer so aerodinamies deurmekaar was dat dit meer nadele as voordele inhou. [21] [22]

Die weermag het 12 YP-39's (met slegs 'n enkelfase, enkelspoed-aanjaer) bestel vir diensevaluering [23] en een YP-39A. Nadat hierdie proewe voltooi was, wat gelei het tot detailveranderinge, waaronder die verwydering van die eksterne radiator, [23] [24] en op advies van NACA, [23] is die prototipe aangepas as die XP-39B na 'n demonstrasie van 'n prestasieverbetering, [23] is die 13 YP-39's volgens hierdie standaard voltooi, wat twee 0,30 in (7,62 mm) masjiengewere by die twee bestaande 0,50 in (12,7 mm) gewere gevoeg het. [23] Die prototipe was gebrek aan wapens of self verseëlende brandstoftenks, en was een ton (900 kg) ligter as die produksiestryders. [25]

Die produksie P-39 behou 'n enkelfasige enkelsnel-aanjaer met 'n kritieke hoogte (waarbo die prestasie gedaal het) van ongeveer 1260 voet (3660 m). [26] As gevolg hiervan was die vliegtuig eenvoudiger om te vervaardig en te onderhou. Die verwydering van die turbo vernietig egter die kans dat die P-39 as 'n frontlinievegter van medium hoë hoogte kan dien. Toe gebreke in 1940 en 1941 opgemerk word, het die gebrek aan 'n turbo dit byna onmoontlik gemaak om die prestasie van die Airacobra te verbeter. [N 4] Die verwydering van die turbo -aanjaer en die sleepinlaat -inlaat daarvan het die weerstandsprobleem genees, maar die prestasie in die algemeen verminder. [18] In latere jare het Kelsey spyt uitgespreek omdat hy nie by was om die besluit om die turbo uit te skakel, te ignoreer. [28]

Na voltooiing van diensproewe, en oorspronklik aangewys P-45'n Eerste bestelling vir 80 vliegtuie is op 10 Augustus 1939 geplaas, die aanduiding is na P-39C teruggekeer voordat aflewerings begin het. Na die beoordeling van luggevegstoestande in Europa, was dit duidelik dat die 20 produksie P-39C's nie geskik was vir operasionele gebruik sonder wapenrusting of selfafsluitende tenks nie. Die oorblywende 60 masjiene in die bestelling is gebou as P-39D's met pantser, selfafsluitende tenks en verbeterde bewapening. Hierdie P-39D's was die eerste Airacobras wat met die Army Air Corps-eenhede in diens getree het, en sou die eerstes wees wat optree. [23]

Tegniese besonderhede

Die P-39 was 'n metaalvliegtuig met 'n enkelmotorige metaal, met 'n driewiel-onderstel en 'n Allison V-1710 vloeistofgekoelde V-12-enjin wat in die sentrale romp, direk agter die kajuit, gemonteer is.

Die Airacobra was een van die eerste produksiestryders wat as 'n 'wapensisteem' beskou is, in hierdie geval is die vliegtuig (oorspronklik bekend as die Bell Model 4) rondom die 37 mm T9 -kanon ontwerp. [29] Hierdie wapen, wat in 1934 ontwerp is deur die American Armament Corporation, 'n afdeling van Oldsmobile, het 'n 610 g projektiel afgevuur wat 2 cm pantser op 450 m kan deursteek met wapenrustende ronde. Die 200 pond, 90 duim lange wapen moes stewig gemonteer word en parallel met en naby die middellyn van die nuwe vegter vuur. Dit sou onmoontlik wees om die wapen in die romp te monteer en deur die skroefas te skiet, soos met 'n kleiner kanon van 20 mm. Gewig-, balans- en sigprobleme het beteken dat die kajuit nie verder in die romp agter die enjin en kanon geplaas kon word nie. [29] Die oplossing was om die kanon in die voorste romp en die enjin in die middelste romp, direk agter die vlieëniersitplek, te monteer. Die trekkerskroef is aangedryf via 'n 3,0 m lange asas wat in twee afdelings gemaak is, met 'n self-uitlijnbare laer om die afbuiging van die romp tydens gewelddadige maneuvers moontlik te maak. Hierdie as loop deur 'n tonnel in die kajuitvloer en is verbind met 'n ratkas in die neus van die romp wat op sy beurt die drie- of (later) vierbladige skroef via 'n kort sentrale as gery het. Die ratkas was toegerus met 'n eie smeringstelsel, apart van die enjin in latere weergawes van die Airacobra, en die ratkas was voorsien van 'n paar pantserbeskerming. [29] Die glikolgekoelde verkoeler is in die middel van die vleuel aangebring, onmiddellik onder die enjin is dit aan weerskante geflankeer deur 'n enkele trommelvormige oliekoeler. Lug vir die verkoeler en oliekoelers is deur innames in albei vlerkwortelvoorkante ingebring en via vier kanale na die verkoeler se vlakke gestuur. Die lug is daarna uitgeput deur drie beheerbare skarniere wat naby die agterrand van die middelste gedeelte vasgemaak is. Die lug vir die vergasser is ingesleep via 'n verhoogde ovaal -inname, direk agter die agterkap. [30] [31]

Die rompstruktuur was ongewoon en vernuwend, gebaseer op 'n sterk sentrale kiel wat die bewapening, kajuit en enjin bevat. Twee sterk rompbalke na bakboord en stuurboord het die basis van die struktuur gevorm. Dit het voor en agter opwaarts gekantel om bevestigingspunte vir die T9 -kanon- en skroefreduksratkas en vir die enjin en toebehore onderskeidelik te skep. 'N Sterk geboë skottel was die belangrikste strukturele punt waaraan die hoofvleuel van die vleuel geheg is. Hierdie boog bevat 'n vuurvaste paneel en 'n pantserplaat wat die enjin van die kajuit skei. Dit bevat ook 'n omkeerpylon en 'n ruit met koeëlvaste glas agter die vlieënier se kop. Die boog vorm ook die basis van die kajuit waarin die vlieëniersitplek aan die voorkant vas was, net soos die kajuitvloer. Voor in die kajuit is die romp neus gevorm uit groot verwyderbare deksels. 'N Lang neuswielput is in die onderste neusgedeelte opgeneem. Die enjin en toebehore is aan die agterkant van die boog vasgemaak, en die belangrikste struktuurbalke is ook bedek met groot verwyderbare panele. Agter die hoofstruktuur is 'n konvensionele semi-monokoque agterste romp aangebring. [30] [N 5]

Omdat die vlieënier bo die verlengingsas was, is hy hoër in die romp geplaas as by die meeste hedendaagse vegters, wat op sy beurt die vlieënier 'n goeie gesigsveld gegee het. [29] Toegang tot die kajuit was via sywaartse oopmaak van "motordeure", een aan weerskante. Albei het windop-vensters. Aangesien slegs die regterkantste deur binne en buite 'n handvatsel gehad het, is dit as die normale toegangs- en uitgangsmiddel gebruik. Die linkerdeur kon slegs van buite oopgemaak word en was vir noodgebruik, alhoewel albei deure in die steek gelaat kon word. Deur die operasionele gebruik, aangesien die dak vasgemaak is, het die kajuitontwerp in 'n noodgeval moeilik ontsnap. [32]

Die volledige bewapening pas bestaan ​​uit die T9 -kanon met 'n paar Browning M2 .50 kaliber (12.7 mm) masjiengewere in die neus. Dit sou verander na twee 0,50 in (12,7 mm) en twee 0,30 in (7,62 mm) gewere in die XP-39B (P-39C, Model 13, die eerste 20 gelewer) en twee 0,50 in/12,7 mm en vier 0,30 in/7,62 mm (al vier in die vlerke) in die P-39D (Model 15), wat ook self-verseëlende tenks en boeie (en leidings) vir 'n bom- of valtenk van 500 lb ingebring het. [23]

Vanweë die onkonvensionele uitleg was daar geen ruimte in die romp om 'n brandstoftenk te plaas nie. Alhoewel valtenks geïmplementeer is om sy reikwydte uit te brei, is die standaard brandstoflading in die vlerke gedra, met die gevolg dat die P-39 beperk was tot kortafstand taktiese stakings. [33]

'N Swaar struktuur en ongeveer 120 kg pantser was ook kenmerkend van hierdie vliegtuig. Die swaarder gewig van die produksie P-39, gekombineer met die Allison-enjin met slegs 'n enkeltrap, enkelspoed-aanjaer, het die vegter op groot hoogte beperk. Die P-39 se hoogteprestasie was aansienlik minderwaardig as die hedendaagse Europese vegters, en gevolglik was die eerste USAAF-vegeenhede in die European Theatre toegerus met die Spitfire V. Die roltempo van die P-39D was egter 75 °/s 378 km/h-beter as die A6M2, F4F, F6F of P-38 tot 426 km/h (sien NACA-grafiek). [34]

Bo die kritieke hoogte van die aanjaer van ongeveer 3,658 m, het die prestasie van 'n vroeë P-39 vinnig afgeneem. Dit het die bruikbaarheid daarvan beperk in tradisionele vegvliegtuie in Europa sowel as in die Stille Oseaan, waar dit nie ongewoon was dat Japannese bomwerpers op hoogtes bo die operasionele plafon van die P-39 aanval nie (wat in die tropiese warm lug laer was as in matige klimate) . Die laat produksie N- en Q -modelle, 75% van alle Airacobras, kan 'n topsnelheid van ongeveer 375 mph (604 km/h) tot 6,100 m (20,000 ft) handhaaf.

Die gewigsverdeling van die P-39 was vermoedelik die rede vir die neiging om 'n gevaarlike plat draai te maak, 'n kenmerkende Sowjet-toetsvlieënier kon die skeptiese vervaardiger demonstreer wat nie die effek kon weergee nie. Na uitgebreide toetse is vasgestel dat die draai slegs veroorsaak kan word as die vliegtuig onbehoorlik gelaai is, sonder ammunisie in die voorste kompartement. The flight manual noted a need to ballast the front ammunition compartment with the appropriate weight of shell casings to achieve a reasonable center of gravity. High-speed controls were light, consequently high-speed turns and pull-outs were possible. The P-39 had to be held in a dive since it tended to level out, reminiscent of the Spitfire. The recommended never-exceed dive speed limit (Vne) was 475 mph (764 km/h) for the P-39. [35]

Soon after entering service, pilots began to report that “during flights of the P-39 in certain maneuvers, it tumbled end over end.” Most of these events happened after the aircraft was stalled in a nose high attitude with considerable power applied. Concerned, Bell initiated a test program. Bell pilots made 86 separate efforts to reproduce the reported tumbling characteristics. In no case were they able to tumble the aircraft. In his autobiography veteran test and airshow pilot R.A. “Bob” Hoover provides an account of tumbling a P-39. He goes on to say that in hindsight, he was actually performing a Lomcovak, a now-common airshow maneuver, which he was also able to do in a Curtiss P-40. [36] [N 6] An informal study of the P-39’s spinning characteristics was conducted in the NASA Langley Research Center 20-foot Free-Spinning Tunnel during the 1970s. A study of old reports showed that during earlier spin testing in the facility, the aircraft had never tumbled. However, it was noted that all testing had been done with a simulated full ammunition load, which drew the aircraft’s center of gravity forward. After finding the original spin test model of the P-39 in storage, the new study first replicated the earlier testing, with consistent results. Then, the model was re-ballasted to simulate a condition of no ammunition load, which moved the aircraft’s center of gravity aft. Under these conditions, the model was found to often tumble when thrown into the tunnel. [38]

The rear-mounted engine made the aircraft ideal for ground-attack since fire would be coming from the front-bottom quarter and was less likely to hit the engine and its cooling systems. The arrangement proved to be very vulnerable to attacks from above and behind and nearly any hit on the fuselage from an attacking enemy fighter was virtually guaranteed to disable the cooling system and lead to the prompt demise of the engine and thus the aircraft. Flying at its upper altitude limits, the Airacobra was extremely vulnerable to any enemy fighter with decent high altitude performance. [39]

Service and versions

In September 1940, Britain ordered 386 P-39Ds (Model 14), with a 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano-Suiza HS.404 and six .303 in (7.7 mm), instead of a 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon and six 0.30 in (7.62 mm) guns. The RAF eventually ordered a total of 675 P-39s. However, after the first Airacobras arrived at 601 Squadron RAF in September 1941, they were promptly recognized as having an inadequate rate of climb and performance at altitude for Western European conditions. Only 80 were adopted, all of them with 601 Squadron. Britain transferred about 200 P-39s to the Soviet Union.

Another 200 examples intended for the RAF were taken up by the USAAF after the attack on Pearl Harbor as the P-400, and were sent to the Fifth Air Force in Australia, for service in the South West Pacific Theatre. [40]

By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 P-39s had been built. When P-39 production ended in August 1944, Bell had built 9,558 [23] [24] Airacobras, of which 4,773 (mostly −39N and −39Q [23] ) were sent to the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease program. There were numerous minor variations in engine, propeller, and armament, but no major structural changes in production types, excepting a few two-seat TP-39F and RP-39Q trainers. [41] [N 7] In addition, seven went to the U.S. Navy as radio-controlled drones.

Trials of a laminar flow wing (in the XP-39E) and Continental IV-1430 engine (the P-76) were unsuccessful. [23] The mid-engine, gun-through-hub concept was developed further in the Bell P-63 Kingcobra.

A naval version with tailwheel landing gear, the XFL-1 Airabonita, was ordered as a competitor to the Vought F4U Corsair and Grumman XF5F Skyrocket. It first flew 13 May 1940, [23] but after a troublesome and protracted development and testing period, it was rejected.


Lieutenant Ivan Baranovsky’s P-39

Most of the warbirds on view around the country today never made it into combat. This one did. I’m looking up at the ruined fuselage of a Bell P-39Q Airacobra, suspended from the ceiling of a work room at the Niagara Aerospace Museum in Buffalo, New York. Scattered about the space in the old Bell Aircraft factory where this very airplane was built are its wings, engine, and various tools for taking it apart. The underside fuselage panels are so badly damaged that they will be removed and replaced with new ones. The panels weren’t damaged from bullets, although the P-39 had been shot at plenty of times. They were battered during the fighter’s last landing, when 22-year-old Lieutenant Ivan Baranovsky, a combat veteran with seven victories, put it down on a frozen lake during a flight over the Soviet Union on November 19, 1944. Sixty years later on an Arctic summer day, a Russian fisherman caused a sensation in the global warbird-hunting community when he reported peering into the clear shallows of that small lake near Murmansk and seeing the outline of a silt-covered Bell P-39.

Uit hierdie verhaal

Ivan Baranovsky was a 22-year-old lieutenant in The Soviet Air Force, credited with seven victories. His remains were discovered in P.39 no. 44-2911 when it was pulled from the lake. (Courtesy Reut And Baranovskiy Families Via Ilya Grinberg) In 2004, salvagers pulled a Bell P-39 from a Siberian lake, where 60 years earlier pilot Ivan Baranovsky had crash-landed it. (Courtesy Boris Osetinskiy Via Mark Sheppard And Ilya Grinberg) 10,000 P-39s were manufactured during World War II by men and women in Bell Aircraft’s Buffalo, New York factory. (Ira G. Ross/Niagara Aerospace Museum Via Ilya Grinberg) To ferry airplanes from U.S. factories to Soviet air force units fighting Germany, crews constructed primitive airfields along a 6,000-mile route. (Ilya Grinberg) The P-39’s big brother, the P-63 Kingcobra, also flew to the Soviet Union on the Alaska-Siberia airway. (Library USAAF) Family day at the Bell Aircraft factory in July 1944. Cobras and Kingcobras occupy the 1.25-million-square- foot plant. (Ira G. Ross/Niagara Aerospace Museum Via Ilya Grinberg) Bell employee Helen Rose left her calling card on P-39Q no. 44-2911 in case a pilot wanted to write a thank-you note. (Tim Wright) Today the factory is the site of the Niagara Aerospace Museum’s restoration shop. (Tim Wright) Great Falls Army Air Base, Montana, was the U.S. hub for airplanes bound for the Eastern Front. (Courtesy Malmstrom Air Force Base Museum Via Ilya Grinberg) Land of snow and ice: A P-39 hunkers down in Nome, Alaska, the jump-off point to the Soviet Union. (Library of Congress) At Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Lieutenants Susin (left) and Karpov confer with Sergeant Alex Homonchuk from New Jersey. (Library of Congress) U.S. aid to the Soviet Union during World War II included aircraft, other weapons systems, and food (can, found in the P-39’s ammunition bay). (Boris Osetinskiy (Via Mark Sheppard)) Hugh Neeson (at left) and Ilya Grinberg worked together to get the P-39Q Miss Lend Lease back to its hometown. (Tim Wright) Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (who was killed in an airplane crash last year) spoke at a 2006 ceremony in Fairbanks dedicating a monument to the Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease operation. (Courtesy Alaska-siberia Research Center) Ladd Field, in Fairbanks, Alaska, transferred almost 8,000 aircraft from U.S. manufacturers to the Soviet Union. (Courtesy Malmstrom AFB Museum Via Tim Wright)

Foto gallery

Verwante inhoud

The museum curators know that Baranovsky was flying the airplane because when salvagers pulled the P-39 from the lake, they found his remains inside. They also found the airplane’s maintenance log, tracing the journey of P-39Q no. 44-2911 from Buffalo along a string of northern U.S. air bases to Alaska, where it was handed over to a Soviet pilot. It was one of 2,565 P-39 Airacobras that followed that route to World War II’s Eastern Front—and the only one that made it back.

Bell P-39s were but a small part of the war materiel sent abroad during World War II. Even before the United States became a combatant, the January 1941 Lend-Lease Act authorized a multi-billion-dollar effort to arm and feed countries already fighting. By war’s end, the Lend-Lease program had exported goods ranging from bombers and locomotives to Spam and paper clips. Under the terms of the act, weapons and industrial equipment were expected to be returned or paid for, once hostilities ceased, unless they were destroyed in combat. In that case, they were written off. The Act led the United States out of isolation and prepared it for war it also made possible a singular, cautious instance of cooperation with the Soviet Union, an unknowable ally trustworthy enough for fighters but not for strategic bombers.

The P-39 pulled from northern Russia’s Lake Mart-Yavr in 2004 is a symbol of what this cooperation meant to both sides. A U.S. fighter aircraft, originally unloved, found its best use in the Soviet Union, the nation that sacrificed more than any other to defeat the common enemy. And the Soviet demand for arms helped build U.S. manufacturing might.

“The aircraft industries of western New York built 30,000 aircraft during World War II,” says Hugh Neeson. “That’s 10 percent of the country’s wartime production.” Neeson, 77, a retired vice president and general manager of Bell Helicopter Textron, is the development director of the Niagara museum. In early 1940, almost two years before America entered the war, Bell Aircraft was “a struggling young company,” says Neeson. That year an order from France for 200 P-39s, accompanied by a check for $2 million, pulled the company from the brink of bankruptcy. (France surrendered before the country could take delivery.) The 20 P-39s delivered to the U.S. Army beginning in January 1941 were the first of an eventual 9,584 produced—half of them for the Soviet Union through Lend-Lease.

As orders for fighters increased, so did the Bell workforce, expanding from approximately 2,000 in 1939 to more than 32,000 in 1943 at a brand-new factory in the Wheatfield suburb of Buffalo. When Sandra Hierl grew up in post-war Buffalo, the aircraft factory was still a landmark in the town. Her mother, Eleanor Barbaritano, and her grandmother, Teresa Barbaritano, had worked there, part of a now-famous wartime demographic, exemplified by Rosie the Riveter: women who filled the jobs vacated by men who went to war. “My mother was very handy with things like a soldering iron,” says Hierl. “And I’d ask, ‘How do you know how to do that?’ and she’d say, ‘It’s what I did during the war.’ They were very proud of what they did. My mother was 19 when she worked at the factory, long before she had me. She told me about taking the bus to work—she and my grandmother. I think it was a lot of fun for her.” Hierl’s mother died in 1979, at 55.

Shortly after the P-39 arrived at the Niagara museum, Hugh Neeson got a call from the son-in-law of a former plant worker who told him to look closely at panels inside the fuselage when they were taking that aircraft apart. “The girls used to write their names and addresses on them,” he said. Sure enough, the museum conservators found two names: Helen Rose and Eleanor Barbaritano.

“My mom had told me about that,” says Hierl, laughing. “It was probably something a bunch of teenage girls thought was hilarious. Now and then a pilot would write to one of the women and thank them for the good work they’d done.”

Hierl, who lives in Connecticut, returned to Buffalo last April to see the airplane her mom had helped build. “She had signed her name and address in pencil on this metal plate, maybe five by eight inches, that goes into this little opening. When I looked in to see it, I put my hands on both sides of that opening and thought, My mom would have done this.”

ON CHRISTMAS DAY 1943, the maintenance log shows, no. 44-2911 left the factory on the first leg of its journey to the Soviet Union. The Lend-Lease flight path skirted the southern shore of the Great Lakes before turning northwest to head for the high plains along the Canadian border. Members of the WASP—Women Airforce Service Pilots—ferried the aircraft on the first legs of the journey west (see “The Mobile in Mobilization,”). “I flew them quite often from Buffalo to Great Falls, Montana,” said Violet Thurn Cowden last year. “In the wintertime, that route was pretty tricky because by the time you got to Chicago and over to North Dakota, we always had weather.” (Cowden, who learned to fly in the 1930s in Spearfish, South Dakota, died last April.)


Inhoud

Nieu -Guinee

American P-39s were most prominent in the first year of the Pacific war, partly because Airacobras and P-40s were the only planes available in the first months. They were used mainly in the ground attack role, although they could hold their own in air combat at low altitude. The nose cannon was slow-firing and often jammed, but when it hit, it was devastating to the lightly armored Japanese planes.

When the war began and the Japanese forces swept south towards Australia, P-39s were rushed into action. In April 1942, Airacobras of the 8th Pursuit Group were deployed on the front line in New Guinea, and their first combat mission was on April 30. 13 P-39s, led by ace and veteran of the Philippines campaign Boyd “Buzz” Wagner, performed an offensive sweep of the Japanese airfields at Lae and Salamaua. The Americans had surprise on their side, and strafing runs took out a fuel dump, radio station, and three seaplanes at anchor. Defending Zeroes responded, and four P-39s and four Zekes were shot down in the melee. Three of the American pilots bailed out safely and eventually made their way back to base. Three of the Zeros were downed by Wagner himself.

In May, P-39s were involved in the defense of Port Moresby, downing almost twenty of the enemy while suffering heavy losses. P-39s saw heavy action through the rest of 1942, mainly used to provide air support to Allied forces.

By 1943, the Allies were on the offensive in New Guinea. At the end of January, the USAAF had moved the 40th and 41st P-39 squadrons to an airfield Wau, just a few miles away from the Japanese base at Lae, and the Japanese did everything they could to bomb Wau out of existence. Airacobra pilots had more experience by then, and were able to fight the enemy under circumstances more favorable to them, resulting in several victories. On the morning of February 6, Japanese bombers arrived over the American airstrip, and in a fifteen-minute battle, defending Airacobras downed one Ki-21 bomber and eleven Ki-43 Oscar fighters for no loss. Four more Japanese fighters were downed for no loss in further fighting that afternoon. Commander of the Fifth Air Force General George Kenney was elated with the results, but downplayed them in press releases out of fear of being accused of overclaiming.

By the beginning of 1944, the only Airacobras left in the theater were specialized models used for photo-reconnaissance. All other units had been re-equipped with P-38 Lightnings or P-47 Thunderbolts.

In 2004, the wreckage of an American P-39 was discovered deep in the jungle in Fiji. It had crashed, killing the pilot, while on a mission in late April 1942. The pilot’s remains were returned to the US Air Force. [4]

Guadalcanal

A squadron of P-400s was the AAF’s first contribution to the Battle of Guadalcanal. The sleek fighters arrived on August 22, 1942. They first saw combat a bare 48 hours later when a group of Val dive bombers attacked Henderson Field. The Airacobras downed one of the escorting Zeros with no losses. Their next combat, on August 30, did not work out as well. The squadron CO downed two Zekes, but four P-400s and their pilots were lost. Because of the Airacobra’s deficiencies at high altitude, the F4F Wildcat fighters flown by Navy and Marine pilots bore the brunt of the air-to-air duties. The P-400s (and later P-39s) did manage to score a few aerial victories, but as in New Guinea, were more often assigned to ground support. After Guadalcanal was secured in early February, P-39s took part in defensive patrols and strikes on neighboring Japanese-held islands. The only American to score five kills in the P-39 and become an Airacobra ace, Lt. William Fiedler, was based on Guadalcanal in this period. He downed two Zeros while on escort missions in early February, and followed this up in June with a Zero and two Vals before he was killed in an accident during a take-off. By mid-1943, all P-39s on Guadalcanal had been replaced, mostly by P-38 Lightnings.

The European Theater

Airacobras were involved in the fighting against the Germans as well. An Iceland-based P-39 assisted in scoring the very first American aerial victory in the European Theater on August 15, 1942. The Airacobra [5] attacked a Focke-Wulf FW-200 maritime bomber, setting it aflame before a P-38 Lightning made a pass and exploded the German plane. The same P-39 pilot shot down a Ju-88 bomber over the Atlantic a month later.

P-39s also served in the North African campaign, mainly performing ground attack missions or patrolling over convoys. They saw little aerial combat, but scored around 20 aerial victories over Africa and the Mediterranean. The P-39 had the same disadvantages as in the Pacific campaign, but in the hands of a good pilot, it could hold its own against the Me-109. Over one hundred Airacobras were lost in the Mediterranean Theater to all causes, mostly groundfire.


Aerokobry nad Kuban'yu (Airacobras over Kuban')

By V.Roman Ukraine, ©2006 ISBN 0-9780696-0-9 Softbound, 96 Pages

Reviewed by Alexander Ruchkovsky

It is traditionally believed that the best information sources on an airplane or vehicle should come from the country of the plane's or vehicle's origin this time we definitely deal with a happy exception to this rule. And, after all, the Airacobra had seen so much service with the VVS that it would be no serious distortion of the truth to say it was a Soviet aircraft probably to the same extent it was the American one. As if trying to confirm this, the reviewed book published in Eastern Europe outscores everything I have seen and read on the P-39, including the US-published stuff.

Just a reminder, V.Roman aka Valery Romanenko is a well known VVS researcher who undoubtedly is one of the best lend-lease aircraft specialists, and I am sure many VVS history fans do remember his first book of the "Avia-retro" series, "Aerokobry vstupayut v boy" ('Airacobras enter combat') published in 1993 and dealing with early "snakes" with 20mm cannon (Airacobra I/P-400 through P-39D-1/-2). What we have now is the second book of the same series. The new book inherited the manner of presentation, the depth of research and the attitude but, very fortunately, there is little resemblance between the old and the new book speaking of the style and quality of print. The recent one is done on a high quality paper, full A4 size, allowing a very good reproduction of photos.

The new book covers models K through M, the mid-production Cobras, which were delivered in numbers to the Soviet Union. The book starts with a brief account of development and service of early models (C/D/P-400) which looks appropriate since the first issue has long been out of print and is not too easily available. Part 2 dwells on an uneasy history of shipping the P-39K/L/M to the USSR, followed by the story of combat service of the type in the VVS and Naval aviation as well as test accounts from the Air Force Research Institute (NII VVS). Part 3 presents the technical description of the P-39K/L/M and contains a few drawings of cockpits, equipment, armament etc. In particular, this is the first time separate cockpit drawings for each version considered are presented.

The color paperback cover provides 3 pages of nicely made color profiles, and I am sure many of these will cause substantial modellers' interest. For instance, among them you'll find A Pokryshkin's first P-39K Airacobra that he flew in time of Kuban' air battle (spring 1943) claiming 17 German aircraft.

Here is what I would like to single out as big values the book brings up:

Foto's. Over 70 pictures of excellent quality, including a big number of wartime shots of planes in the US and Soviet service and a nice little walkaround of the Niagara Falls Museum's Q-15 done by Ilya Grinberg

Thoroughness of research. The author tracks all units that used the subtypes in question, lists deliveries, sorties, losses and writeoffs, quotes serial numbers. In my opinion, the job Valery has done could be considered as a pattern to follow when doing a similar research.

The book has an insert of 4 A3-sized pages with highly detailed scale drawings that are done very well and reportedly could beat all earlier efforts on accuracy.

The text is in Russian, all photos have Russian and English captions.

The book is strongly recommended to everyone interested in the P-39 and in the Soviet Aviation History. My congratulations and best wishes to Valery Romanenko who will hopefully continue with the P-39N and Q some day. No doubt the follow-up is going to be exciting.


THE BELL P-39 AIRACOBRA AND P-63 KINGCOBRA FIGHTERS. Soviet Service During World War II.

Under the Lend-Lease agreement with the US during WWII, the Soviet Union received large quantities of war materiel, including many aircraft the Bell P-39 Airacobra takes a special place among them. The P-39 was dismissed as hardly suitable for combat both by the US and England, who turned it over in large numbers to the USSR. Soviet pilots had different views, though, and achieved excellent results while flying the type more than twenty Soviet aces flew the P-39. As air combat over the Russian front was conducted mostly at low altitudes, the P-39 came into its own. Innovative tactics and motivation, coupled with the P-39's sturdy construction and adequate firepower, proved successful for the Soviets. The P-39 was in Soviet service since 1942 nearly 5,000 were supplied and used on the Soviet-German front, along with 2,400 P-63 Kingcobras, which saw only limited action against Japan at the close of the war. This detailed, illustrated history features many color side views and previously unpublished photographs.

460 color and b/w photos, profiles, line drawings


Airacobra or Iron Dog? [ edit ]

The Obscure Career of Bell's P-39 in the Soviet Union [ edit ]

The P-39 Airacobra made by Bell Aircraft Corporation was produced from 1939 until 1944. It might be called the most controversial U.S. fighter of the Second World War. Embraced by the Soviet Union, shunned by the Western Allies and hounded by myths and falsehoods that distort history's judgement.

There's no doubt that the XP-39 evoked gasps and ahs when it was unveiled at Wright Field on April 6, 1939. The clean, exotic lines of the Airacobra prototype gave it a futuristic look. Just by looking at it one could see the innovations and peculiarities incorporated into Bell's new plane.

The P-39 was one of the first planes to use a tri-cycle landing gear configuration, which eventually would be standard on all fighters. Another feature that didn't catch on was the car-like door to exit the cockpit instead of a sliding canopy. Most notable was the mid-fuselage placement of the engine. This made way for the Colt M4 37mm cannon protruding out of the nose. The powerplant was the Allison V-1710, essentially the same engine as that which powered the XP-38 and XP-40 prototypes. It was equipped with the B-5 turbo-supercharger and rated at 1,150hp. The unarmed and unarmored prototype could reach a stunning speed of over 390mph and could climb to 20,000 feet in five minutes.

Overall, the Airacobra had a high-altitude capability that matched the XP-38. Despite the XP-39's admirable performance the Wright Field engineers felt it had too much drag. To streamline the design the canopy was lowered, the wingspan cut by two feet, and fuselage lengthened by a foot. Most importantly, the turbo-supercharger inlet was reduced in size and moved from the side of the fuselage to a position directly behind the canopy. This meant that the turbo-supercharger had to be replaced by a single stage supercharger. Because of this modification the high-altitude performance dropped dramatically. This, however, wasn't a large concern of the Army Air Corps, whose doctrine of "the bomber always gets through" foresaw no need for high altitude escorts.

The first mass-produced model was the P-39D of 1941. All P-39 models from the D forward were really quite similar. The D-1 temporarily replaced the 37mm cannon with a 20mm cannon. The D-2 model introduced a more powerful 1,325 hp. Allison V-1710-63 engine.

Basic specifications for the P-39D were as follows (taken from The Fighter Aircraft Pocketbook by Roy Cross):

  • maksimum spoed 360 mph at 15,000 ft
  • Best climb 2,040 ft/min. at 10,300 ft.
  • Climb to 20,000 ft. 11.7 min.
  • Bereik 600 miles at economical cruise
  • Bewapening 1-37mm nose cannon, 2-.50 nose m.g., 4-.30 wing m.g.
  • Span 34 ft. 2 in.
  • Lengte 30 ft. 2 in.
  • Hoogte 11 ft. 10 in.
  • Wing area 213 sq. ft.
  • Leë gewig 6,300 lbs.
  • Max weight 9,200 lbs.

The F model of 1942 differed from the D only in detail. A proposed carrier based version of the P-39, the XFL-1, failed its carrier qualification trials and development was abandoned in 1942.

The K and L models of 1943 had V-1710-63 engines and a new propeller. The L also had an improved nose wheel. The M and N models, introduced later in 1943, had V-1710 engines rated at 1,200 hp.

The final, and most numerous, production version was the Q, which replaced the 4-.30 wing guns with two under wing .50 machine guns. The Q-21 and Q-25 variants had a four-bladed propeller. 4,905 P-39Qs were built

Before long orders started coming in for Bell's new plane. France needed fighters to help fend off the Lutwaffe, but like many orders for American equipment, not a single plane was delivered before the France fell to the Germans. Britain accepted the French order, but soon regretted doing so. RAF pilots hated the P-39. Their main gripes were the drop in performance above 20,000 feet, a tendency to spin, and the difficulty to recover from a spin. Also on the list was the short range of 430 miles on internal reserves and 690 miles with drop tanks. They also reported that fumes would fill the cockpit after firing the guns. These flaws were often exaggerated to the point that it seemed impossible for the P-39 to effectively serve as a fighter. However, they did concede that it was the equal of the vaunted Bf-109 below 20,000 feet. Still, the British needed a high-altitude fighter and dumped their P-39s on the USAAC the rest of the order was cancelled.

The Americans faired even worse with their Airacobras. When the United States was plunged into war with Japan, its primary land-based fighters were the P-40 and P-39. P-39 pilots experienced the same difficulties as the British and also complained that the M4 cannon often jammed.

The air battles of the Pacific were fought at intermediate altitudes, optimal conditions for Bell's fighter. But the American pilots were not facing Bf-109s, but ultra-light and super-agile A6M Zeros and Ki-43 Oscars. The P-39, like every other Allied fighter (including the vaunted Spitfire), could not turn as tight or maneuver as quickly as these nimble Japanese fighters.

Also, the 37mm cannon was not an effective air-to-air weapon. Though it might only take one hit to bring down the fragile Zero, the slow rate of fire and drooping trajectory made that one hit improbable. And not all P-39s had the 37mm cannon the Airacobras the British handed over to the USAAC had a 20mm cannon in its place. This type was called the P-400. It soon became the joke of the Pacific that a P-400 was a P-39 with a Zero on its tail. But, 37mm or not, the two .50 and four .30 caliber machine guns could still make short work of a Zeke. Perhaps the biggest reasons for the P-39's bad showing in the Pacific were the lack of knowledge about Japanese aircraft, numerical inferiority, and veteran enemy pilots. U.S. pilots found the Airacobra's flaws unforgivable and requested transfers to P-38 units before these problems could be resolved. In the hands of the USAAC the P-39 proved a dismal failure and seemed a perfect candidate for the title "Worst fighter of World War II."

Of the 9,585 examples of the P-39 built before the end of the war, 4,500 (almost half) were given to the USSR. This seems appropriate since Russia was the only country that achieved widespread success with the plane.

Soviet pilots were introduced to the Airacobra beginning early in 1943. They too reported handling problems, primarily spinning. Also, they had trouble using the radio for many this was the first aircraft they had flown equipped with a radio! These complaints were relatively minor, and overall the Russians were very satisfied with their new acquisition. They praised its low altitude speed and maneuverability, excellent structural integrity, and heavy armament. It should be noted that difficulties with the 37mm and fume infiltration reported by Western flyers were not experienced by their Russian counterparts. From 1943 'til the end of the war the so-called "Iron Dog" enjoyed much success in the hands of its Russian masters.

In the years since World War II, a number of myths have emerged that now are accepted as historical fact. Today it is believed that the P-39 could not have been a competitive fighter. However, Soviet pilots regularly mixed it up with and prevailed against German fighters.

Aerial warfare over the Eastern Front was particularly suited to the Airacobra. There was no long-range, high-level, strategic bombing, only tactical bombing at intermediate and low altitudes. On this battlefield the P-39 matched, and in some areas surpassed, early and mid-war Bf-109s. And it had no trouble dispatching Ju-87 Stukas or twin-engine bombers. Five out of the ten highest scoring Soviets aces logged the majority of their kills in P-39s. In fact, P-39 jockeys filled the number two, three, and four spots: Aleksandr Pokryshkin (59), Aleksandr Gulaev (57), and Grigoriy Rechkalov (56).

However, later in the war updated variants of the Bf-109 and the deadly FW-190 arrived on the Eastern Front. Bell failed to adequately improve its plane's performance to match these threats, probably because newer fighters (including the P-39's successor, the P-63 Kingcobra) made it unnecessary. Though not a match for these new breeds, with a skilled pilot the Airacobra was still capable of holding its own. Also, with American and British bombers constantly attacking German cities and industrial targets, the Luftwaffe was forced to withdraw most of their experienced flyers from the Eastern Front and press them into the defense of the Fatherland. This left the capable German fighters in the incapable hands of relatively unskilled pilots.

Most Western writers claim that the Russians utilized the P-39 primarily in the ground attack role. Though it was competent in this role, that was not the primary mission of Soviet Airacobra pilots. The priorities of the P-39 flyers (and Soviet fighters in general) were:

  1. Protect ground units from enemy aircraft
  2. Escort bombers
  3. Suppress AAA in the area of bombers
  4. Verkenning
  5. Free hunt
  6. Attack soft targets (i.e. troops, convoys, supply dumps, railroads, airfields, barges or other small naval craft)
  7. Protect high-value friendly targets (i.e. bridges, amphibious landing forces, reserves, command and control, major cities, etc).

The last major misconception about the P-39 is that it was an effective tank buster. In early August of 1944, while flying over a tank battle in Poland, Alexsandr Pokryshkin told the T-34 unit commander, "Our cannons will not penetrate tank armor." The Colt M4 had a muzzle velocity of only 600 meters per second and a low rating of 1.41 kilograms 'steel on target' per second. Theoretically, it could penetrate the armor of early panzer tanks, but only the top of the hull and turret. By comparison, the NS-37 37mm cannon had a muzzle velocity of 900 m/s and a steel on target rating of 3.06kg, enough to get through all but the Tiger's side or front armor. Also, instead of the M80 AP rounds that were required, the U.S. shipped the Soviets M54 high explosive shells, which were ineffective against tanks. Therefore, the P-39 was not used as a tank destroyer on the Eastern Front.

Bell's P-39 Airacobra was a plane of contradictions. Loathed by the Western Allies, but loved by the Russians, it found a home in the skies above the Soviet Union. Outside of that home however, historians generally accept false information about its performance. This is probably due to the language barrier, Soviet secrecy, and perhaps because it is hard to imagine that the Russians could use the fighter successfully and we could not.


  • The plane was hauled from the water in Kalamita Bay, near the village of Novofyodorovka, Crimea
  • The rescue was part of a joint expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and Russian Defense Ministry
  • Aircraft had entered service with Black Sea Fleet in 1943 but was forced to make water landing one year later

The remains of a Second World War-era Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter aircraft have been pulled from the Black Sea.

The plane was hauled from the water in the Kalamita Bay, near the village of Novofyodorovka, Crimea, as part of a joint expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and the Russian Defence Ministry.

The aircraft had entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1943 but was forced to make a water landing just one year later due to a technical malfunction during a training flight.

The remains of a Second World War-era Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter aircraft have been pulled from the Black Sea near the village of Novofyodorovka, Crimea

The plane was hauled from the water in the Kalamita Bay as part of a joint expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and Russian Defense Ministry

The aircraft had entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1943 but was forced to make a water landing just one year later due to a technical malfunction during a training flight (rescuers haul a wing from the water)

The plane was discovered by amateur scuba diver Alexey Kazarinov in 2017 at a depth of six metres below the water surface and 800 meters from the coastline.

He told authorities the approximate coordinates of the accidental find but they could not locate the crash site for almost a year.

An official study of the fighter was eventually carried out in 2019 by an expedition of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation to search for sunken objects relating to the Great Patriotic War and retrieval of the plane began earlier this month.

‘The fighter was raised from the bottom of the sea. It was pulled up to the quay wall and lifted out of the water by a crane.

The plane was discovered by amateur scuba diver Alexey Kazarinov in 2017 at a depth of six metres below the water surface and 800 meters from the coastline

The total flight time recorded in this plane at the time of the accident was 9 hours 25 minutes (the cockpit covered in sea urchins pictured)

The remains of the fighter were raised from their resting place on the bottom of the sea and pulled up to the quay wall by a crane (pictured)

‘The fighter was transferred to a truck, guards were posted,’ Anatoly Kalemberg, a specialist from the Expeditionary Centre of the Ministry of Defence, told TASS.

It is thought the plane will now become an exhibit at one of the nearby museums.

Kalemberg added: ‘I am a supporter of leaving the aircraft in Crimea, because the history of this aircraft and the history of this regiment are closely related to the peninsula, for this it is necessary to preserve components and assemblies, the fuselage and wings.’

The Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1943 during the Kerch-Eltigen operation and participated in the liberation of Crimea.

The fighter was transferred to a truck where guards were posted and it is now thought that the jet will become an exhibit of one of the museums

An official study of the fighter was eventually carried out in 2019 by an expedition of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation to search for sunken objects relating to the Great Patriotic War (rescuers at the site)

This craft, which was piloted by junior lieutenant Vladimir Shishkin, was forced to make a water landing in 1944 due to a technical malfunction during a training flight

Between 1944 and 1945 the regiment remained on the peninsula as they guarded the airspace during the Yalta Conference.

But this craft, which was piloted by junior lieutenant Vladimir Shishkin, crashed in July 1944.

‘Seeing the smoke coming from the engine, he landed on the water. The plane sank after 30 seconds, the pilot sailed to the shore, has a slight head wound.

‘Cause of the accident: from the testimony of the pilot and the nature of the engine operation, presumably, the connecting rod broke,’ Sergei Ivanov, a researcher at the Institute of Archeology of Crimea of ​​the Russian Academy of Sciences, cited from the official records.

The total flight time recorded in this plane at the time of the accident was 9 hours 25 minutes.

The Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1943 during the Kerch-Eltigen operation and participated in the liberation of Crimea (divers at the scene to lift the plane)

More than 9500 units of the Bell P-39 Airacobra were produced and the Soviet Union used the model during World War II with 4500 units transferred to the USSR by land lease

Bell P-39 Airacobra: American Fighter Jet

The P-39 Airacobra was a fighter aircraft made by Bell Aircraft. It first flew in 1939 but was not introduced into the American fleet until 1941.

But the model was known for being very unstable and could lose control easily as it operated a non-standard layout for that time with the engine located at the rear of the fuselage.

The main weapon of P-39, 37 mm cannon, was so powerful that it could destroy almost any airplane on a single hit.

It was fast but not very stable when flown above 15,000 feet (5000m) as it lacked a turbo-charger.

More than 9500 units of the Bell P-39 Airacobra were produced.

The Soviet Union used the during World War II with 4500 units transferred to the USSR by land lease.

They used it as a fighter interceptor as most air battles at the Eastern front were fought at low heights.

The P-39 Airacobra (pictured) was a fighter aircraft made by Bell Aircraft. It first flew in 1939 but was not introduced into the American fleet until 1941


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