Hobby Master HA1708 USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra Fighter - Lt. Col. William Shomo, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"The best fighter pilot I ever saw."
- General Charles "Chuck" Yeager commenting on the flying style of Clarence "Bud" Anderson
The P-39 was one of America's first-line pursuit planes in December 1941. It made its initial flight in April 1939 at Wright Field and by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, nearly 600 had been built. Its unique engine location behind the cockpit caused some pilot concern, but this proved to be no more of a hazard in a crash landing than with an engine located forward of the cockpit. However, the P-39's spin characteristics could be quite a problem if recovery techniques were ignored.
The Airacobra saw combat throughout the world, particularly in the Southwest Pacific, Mediterranean and Russian theaters. Because its engine was not equipped with a supercharger, the P-39 performed best below 17,000 feet altitude, and it often was used at lower altitudes for such missions as ground strafing. When P-39 production ended in August 1944, Bell had built 9,584 Airacobras, of which 4,773 had been allotted to the Soviet Union. Russian pilots, in particular, liked the cannon-armed P-39 for its ground attack capability. Other P-39s served with French and British forces.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a USAAF Bell P-39Q Airacobra fighter that was piloted by Lt. Col. William Shomo, who was attached to the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, during 1944.
Wingspan: 5-3/4 inches
Length: 5 inches
Release Date: June 2009
Historical Account: "Recon" - William "Bill" A. Shomo was a United States Army fighter pilot during World War II. He is credited with scoring 8 victories during the conflict. Seven of these occurred during a single mission while flying a reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang. For this action he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
For over a year, Shomo was assigned to the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. His unit had moved from airstrip to airstrip along the northern coast of New Guinea and then to Morotai supporting General MacArthur's drive to the Philippines performing dangerous photo recon and ground attack missions. His squadron was equipped with older P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40s, which were adequate for the photo recon/ground attack role, but too short-ranged to reach areas where they might encounter Japanese aircraft.