Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army, serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 35th Fighter Group, 41st Fighter Squadron. Squadron letter N, nose number 74. Assigned to pilot Edwards Park. Nickname "Nanette". Operated in New Guinea during middle 1942 until late 1943. A single aircraft silhouette was painted on the left side of the nose.
Edwards Park writes in Nanette:
"Nanette was the nickname of the author's P-39
Airacobra, a plane that he describe the type as "She is beautiful
and graceful at her best, while quirky and difficult to handle when
not lovingly handled." The metaphor of women and machine drives
the author's descriptions of his love affair with this quirky mate. "Even the planes unique vibrations, like when the P-39's massive
37mm nose cannon is fired has a mild sexual stimulating feeling for
the pilot who is nearly straddling the gun."
On November 7, 1943, while parked in a revetment at Nadzab Airfield, destroyed on the ground by a Japanese air raid by Ki-21 Sally bombers.
Edwards Park writes in Nanette pages 180, 182
"On the next day 18 Japanese Betty Bombers [Ki-21 Sally] came high over Nadzab and dropped their load of antipersonnel "daisy cutters" with devastating accuracy... and walked toward a thick black column of smoke fed by savage flames in one of our revetments. Nanette's revetment. She had received a direct hit. It took her half an hour to burn... Two other planes had been damaged; the alert shack was shredded by shrapnel; six pilots discovered that they had been nicked; and one crew chief had become a soggy red bundle of clothes at the bottom of a bomb scorched slit trench. It was the crew chief for [P-39 Airacobra] number 75 - the same man who had helped me get out of it when I had been shot up in that big raid on Moresby, all those months ago."
Lisa Park (daughter)
Nanette page 180, 182
Angels Twenty by Edwards Park
Thanks to Lisa Park and Edward Rogers for additional information
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May 22, 2017