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.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a USAAF Bell P-39L Airacobra fighter was piloted by Hugh Dow. The aircraft was nicknamed "Evelyn", and attached to the 346th Fighter Squadron, 350th Fighter Group, then deployed to Maison Blanche, Algeria, North Africa, during 1943. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 5-3/4 inches
Length: 5 inches
Release Date: November 2008
Historical Account: "Upgunned but Underperforming" - In September 1940, Britain ordered 386 P-39Ds (known as the Model 14), of 675 in all, which differed in that the 37 mm was replaced with a 20 mm Hispano and the 6x0.3 by a .303 (7.7 mm). These began equipping 601 Squadron in September 1941, and were promptly recognized as having an inadequate rate of climb and performance at altitude. Only 80 joined the RAF (only 601 Squadron outfitted with the P-39). Over 250 were transferred to the Red Air Force, about 200 were repossessed by the US Army after Pearl Harbor, and some 200 sent to the Eighth Air Force in 1942 (the Army models being designated P-400).