Bell P-39 Airacobra
The Bell P-39 was referred to as the "Iron Dog" by its pilots because it
was a tricky to fly with many quirks but was the only fighter aircraft available to most U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) Pursuit Squadrons
in the early months of World War II.
The P-39 was armed with a 37mm cannon with 30 rounds of ammunition. But is muzzle velocity
was low, and was prone to jamming after one or several shots making it
ineffective and inaccurate. Rumors about uncontrolled tumbling of the aircraft also made pilots wary. The Airacobra lacked a supercharger on its engine, and
was therefore most often used for ground attack and operations below
15,000'. Armed with a cannon through the propeller hub, and machine guns in the nose and wings.
In the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and South Pacific (SOPA) the Airacobra was a front line fighter during 1942 until late 1944. The later model P-39Q was used in the tactical reconnaissance role and for photographic reconnaissance.
The P-39D-1 Airacobra were cancelled Royal Air Force (RAF) orders (FY41-28***-38***) armed with a 20mm cannon. Most P-39D-1 Airacobra 41-28*** were sent to North Africa or remained in the United States or were shipped to the Territory of Hawaii. During August 1942, some FY41-38***s were shipped across the Pacific to Australia.
The P-39F Airacobra.
The P-39K Airacobra.
The P-39N Airacobra.
The P-39Q had the wing .30 caliber machine guns removed. Instead, a single .50 caliber machine gun in a external fared pod mounted below each wing.
A total of 148 P-39Q-5 Airacobras modified for photographic reconnaissance with K-24 and K-25 cameras in the rear fuselage.
Airacobra Photographic Reconnaissance Versions
Several models of the P-39 Airacobra were modified into photographic reconnaissance configuration. The P-39D-4 photographic reconnaissance version of the P-39D Airacobra.
P-400 Airacobra (British Export Version)
The P-400 Airacobra was the British export and was virtually identical
to the American P-39D Airacobra with two main differences. The first was the replacement of the 37mm cannon replaced
with the faster-firing and more reliable Hispano 20mm cannon with a 60
round magazine. Plus the normal two .50 caliber machine guns in the nose cowling and four .303 inch machine guns in the wings. The second major difference was the Model 14 was the 1150 hp Allison V-1710-E4 (-35).
Royal Air Force Force (RAAF)
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also a small number of P-39D Airacobras designated the Airacobra A53.
Thanks to Gordon Birkett / ADF-serials.com for additional information
Technical Details (P-39Q)
Crew 1 (pilot)
Engine 1 × Allison V-1710-85 liquid-cooled V-12 driving three bladed propeller
Span 34' 0"
Length 30' 2"
Height 11' 10"
Speed 368 mph
Range 800 miles
Armament (spinner) 1 x 37mm cannon, (nose cowling) 2 x .30 caliber machine guns, (wings) 2 x .50 caliber machine guns