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Thread: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

  1. #166
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.A.W. View Post
    H.G. claimed in post #90 that the P-39 was "the best fighter of WW2 [in 1943]."

    & in post #105 that "Nothing out performed the P-39N or P-39Q under 20,000ft. Nothing"

    Now we have the facts laid out, & it just aint so, is it now ? ..H.G..come back..
    The information you are quoting is the information that was published after WWII. There is more recent information that reflects the Russian viewpoint. The P-39 used by the Army in early WWII was much heavier than the P-39 used by the Russians who deleted the worthless but heavy (400#) .30 caliber wing machine guns and some radio equipment that did not use their wavelengths. The Russians say that the P-39 was the equal to comtemporary FW190s and Me109s AT ALL ALTITUDES and was superior to the German planes under 20,000'. Three of their top four aces and scores of other Russian aces flew the P39. Russian P-39s were approximately 500 pounds lighter, and this resulted in much better performance AT ALL ALTITUDES. Their words not mine. And the Russian front was no picnic for the Germans after 1942. In 1943 the Russian front was a meatgrinder that pushed the Germans al the way back into Germany. Part of the reason that the Allies were so successful in the air in 1944 was due to the attrition inflicted on them by the Russians in 1943.

  2. #167
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Got any independent evidence to corroborate the Soviet line, H.G.?

    Any USAAF evaluation of a stateside Bell similarly modified?

    Any German evaluation/comparison between USAAF MTO P-39 & Soviet P-39 combat performance attributes?

    "Part of the reason that the Allies were so successful in the air in 1944 was due to the attrition inflicted on them by the Russians in 1943."

    Whaaa..? Do you mean large scale supply of their obsolescent stuff [inc' P-39s] to Stalin forced the Western Allies to produce Merlin P-51s?

    Soviet actions such as the Poltava debacle & the refusal to provide/allow local ground support for air supply to the Warsaw uprising are disgraceful..

  3. #168
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Go to wwiiaircraftperformance.org, look under P-39, you will find numerous "original source" documents to review regarding P-39 performance.

  4. #169
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Yeah, thanks H.G., that's an excellent site.. Have some caution with manufacturers figures though..

    Here's an American pilots view, & he a fair bit of time up on the ol' 39..

    http://www.cebudanderson.com/obeeinterview.htm

  5. #170
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Most of those are not manufacturer's figures, they are tests at the manufacturer's plant by Army personnel.

    Fascinating account by O'Brien. I have read a million of these. The recurring theme is that flying a single seat fighter in combat was not very romantic, but mostly lots of hard boring work. Regarding his comments about the P-39, it was a challenging aircraft to fly considering the pilots were still in flight training and had just come out of the AT-6 Texan. Again, it was too heavy and handling benefited greatly from reducing the weight as the Russians flew it. On the other hand, Chuck Yeager maintained that the P-39 was the best airplane he ever flew up until he was assigned the later model Mustang with the two-stage Merlin engine in 1944. Yeager also maintained that he didn't know anyone who didn't like flying the P-39 and that he would have gladly flown it in combat. Oh, well.

    O'Brien mentions a book titled "Nanette" by Edwards Park. I read that book and also the companion book "Angels Twenty" by the same author. The former was fiction and the latter sequel was factual, both covering the same subject. In both books Park details his tour of duty as a P-39 pilot from December 1942 in Port Moresby, New Guinea defending that area from numerically superior Japanese forces based in the northern side of New Guinea. Park details bomber interception missions where the P-39 LOADED WITH A 110 GALLON (700 pound) DROP TANK climbed to 24,000' to intercept Betty bombers. Why they attempted a pure bomber intercept mission with a drop tank is a mystery to me, but the P-39 was always equipped with these tanks according to the author. After they climbed above the bombers and began their attack dive the drop tanks were jettisoned and his plane felt "light as a feather" and he remarked that he wished he could fly it around for a while to experience the greatly increased performance. Of course he continued his attack instead. He detailed numerous intercept missions where his squadron climbed well above 20,000', although mostly these missions resulted in no contact with the enemy due to the faulty nature of their early warning ground radar mistaking bombers for a flock of birds or a cloud formation. Remember these P-39s weighed 8,300 pounds including the 700 pound drop tanks when the Russian P-39s weighed 7,100 pounds and almost never carried drop tanks, so it is no wonder that their performance was substantially better. This should dispel the myths that P-39s could not intercept Japanese bombers or fly at high altitudes, even at their normal American weights.

    I'll admit that I am a P-39 "homer" but If you read enough about the P-39 you will see that the Russian combat weight reduction was very beneficial. Why didn't the Army do the same thing, especially since it could have been accomplished at forward air bases? During the early war of 1942 the Americans did not have the experience of the Russians who had been fighting the Luftwaffe since June 1941. We viewed heavy firepower and heavy armor as more beneficial than better performance. The Russians saw that the firepower and armor protection were still more than adequate even after removing some of those items that they deemed excessive. and the resulting performance gains put the Airacobra on a par with the German fighters, and certainly substantially better than contemporary Japanese fighters.

  6. #171
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Different philosophies I guess H.G., Americans tend to like roomy, fully loaded transport perhaps..
    There is an interesting P-39 thread going on the Aircraft of WW2 forum, by the way..

  7. #172
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    [QUOTE=Nickdfresh;187837]I have no idea what that has to do with anything, but probably they were going to jets with completely new designs. The USAF kept the .50's in the Sabres, although I think this was a mistake and even a single 20mm or 37mm cannon would have saved lives over Korea...

    Actually during the Korean war they saw the need for 20mm cannon on the F86 and fitted approx 20 F86F's with 4 cannon armament 10 with orlikon cannon and 10 with colt M39 cannon and used them in combat but foundation using more than 2 at a time caused compressor stall and 2 cannon offered no advantage over 6 .50 cal brownings. They finally went to the 4 M39 armament on the F86H. which had s significantly more powerful engine

  8. #173
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    actually the air force saw the need for cannon armament during Korea and 20 F86F's were fit with 4 20mm cannon 10 with orlikon and 10 with colt M39 cannon they were tried in combat and it was found that firing more than 2 at a time caused compressor stall and 2 cannon was no more effective than 6 .50 Browning M3's. they finally made 4 M39's standard armament on the F86H which had a significantly more powerful engine the GE J73.

  9. #174
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Quote Originally Posted by hgilley View Post
    The information you are quoting is the information that was published after WWII. There is more recent information that reflects the Russian viewpoint. The P-39 used by the Army in early WWII was much heavier than the P-39 used by the Russians who deleted the worthless but heavy (400#) .30 caliber wing machine guns and some radio equipment that did not use their wavelengths. The Russians say that the P-39 was the equal to comtemporary FW190s and Me109s AT ALL ALTITUDES and was superior to the German planes under 20,000'. Three of their top four aces and scores of other Russian aces flew the P39. Russian P-39s were approximately 500 pounds lighter, and this resulted in much better performance AT ALL ALTITUDES. Their words not mine. And the Russian front was no picnic for the Germans after 1942. In 1943 the Russian front was a meatgrinder that pushed the Germans al the way back into Germany. Part of the reason that the Allies were so successful in the air in 1944 was due to the attrition inflicted on them by the Russians in 1943.
    )
    this definitely qualifys as an apples to oranges comparison. the Russian air force's primary mission was ground attack covering the sturmaviks fell to the fighters and as a secondary mission to strafe the Germans. the Russians loved the P39/P63 because the 37mm cannon was awesome against tanks. whereas USAAF. obviously needed the mustang because of the high altitudes and long ranges. when the P 39 was designed it was designed to the interceptor mission. I grant you it was not suited to that task since for whatever reason they couldn't supercharge it without it grenading . but comparing the the P39 to the P51 can't really be done because they were created for different missions.

  10. #175
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Nelson View Post
    )
    this definitely qualifys as an apples to oranges comparison. the Russian air force's primary mission was ground attack covering the sturmaviks fell to the fighters and as a secondary mission to strafe the Germans. the Russians loved the P39/P63 because the 37mm cannon was awesome against tanks. whereas USAAF. obviously needed the mustang because of the high altitudes and long ranges. when the P 39 was designed it was designed to the interceptor mission. I grant you it was not suited to that task since for whatever reason they couldn't supercharge it without it grenading . but comparing the the P39 to the P51 can't really be done because they were created for different missions.
    A bit of a myth actually --if memory serves correct, there were few if any armor piercing rounds available to the Red Air Force for the 37mm. The P-39 was was equivalent to the Me109 at lower and mid level altitudes but certainly not at high level. You are correct that the air war over the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War was largely tactical and low level in nature. As the Stukas and Sturmoviks were down on the deck hunting armor and support vehicles, so were the fighters covering them or trying to kill them...

  11. #176
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    A nice article translated from a Russian book on the P39

    http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/englis...omanenko/p-39/
    IN the days of lace-ruffles, perukes and brocade
    Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise
    An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
    With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes
    At Blenheim and Ramillies fops would confess
    They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

  12. #177
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Not the first time I've heard about the lack of armor piercing 37mm rounds for the Reds. Also, I believe, the A.P. rounds for the cannon were designed both in the Pre War era, when tank armor was much thinner, and for use against aircraft armor; the cannon was not very effective against newer Tank's - even the relatively thinner top armor.
    Last edited by muscogeemike; 04-03-2014 at 12:47 PM.

  13. #178
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Not wanting to argue, but Russian P-39s primary mission was battlefield air superiority (intercepting German bombers, escorting Russian bombers/ground attack planes). Sure, targets were strafed, but not their primary mission. Go to wwiiaircraftperformance.org for updated original source documents and graphs. P-39N and Q (75% of Airacobra production) were the equal of the 109 and 190 at all altitudes. Russian transcripts and online performance information will verify this.

    P-39 compares favorably with the P-51A (Allison engine). Compare the P-51BCD with the P-63 with a two-stage Allison engine.

  14. #179
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    A quote from the article leccy was kind enough to link:

    The reasons for this will be examined below, but one of them can be noted right here and now: The Airacobra almost ideally corresponded to the nature of combat activities on the Soviet-German front. Here the struggle was not for absolute air superiority, but for superiority over specific areas of active combat activities. Dive bombers and close support aircraft, that is, aircraft directly supporting ground forces, operating at low altitude over the battlefield or at medium altitudes in the operational-tactical airspace, were the basis of both the Luftwaffe and the VVS Red Army. Correspondingly, the fighters had either to counter the enemy's fighters, or accompany one's own bombers at those same altitudes. Air battles rarely occurred at altitudes above 5,000 meters. In these working environments the Airacobra just had the best flight characteristics. If one adds to this good maneuverability, easy handling, powerful armaments, and excellent vision, then its success on the Soviet-German front becomes obvious.

  15. #180
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    Default Re: Bell P-39 Airacobra & P-63 Kingcobra.

    Agree somewhat, but if the Airacobra did not have high altitude capability (over 20,000') then the German fighters would have stayed above and bounced the Airacobras all day long with nothing the Cobra could do about it. The Russian tactic was to fight in the "flying bookshelves" or "Kuban Stairs" formation with some of the squadron (12 planes in Russian AF) at around 15,000' and the rest of the squadron up at 8,000 meters (26,400'). If the low squadron was attacked, the high squadron dove on the Germans. The Germans didn't care to get any higher than 8,000 meters.

    The German fighters had single stage engines just like the Airacobra. The two stage P-47s and P-51BCDs had much better performance than the 109 and 190 above 20,000'. That is what a two stage engine is for, high altitude operation. A two stage engine is just more dead weight under 20,000'.

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