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Bell P 39 Airacobra 21GvIAP 304IAD nose art left side Ukrainian Front 1944 01

 Bell P 39-Airacobra 21GvIAP 304IAD nose art left side Ukrainian Front 1944-01

Bell P-39 Airacobra

National origin:- United States
Role:- Fighter
Manufacturer:- Bell Aircraft
Designer:- N.N. Polikarpov Design Bureau
First flight:- 6 April 1938
Introduction:- 1941
Produced:- 1940 - May 1944
Status:- Retired
Number built:- 9,588
Primary users:- United States Army Air Forces; Soviet Air Force; Royal Air Force
Variants:- Bell XFL Airabonita; Bell P-63 Kingcobra; Bell P-76

The Bell P-39 Airacobra was a fighter produced by Bell Aircraft produced for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. It was one of the principal American fighters in service when the United States entered combat. The P-39 was used by the Soviet Air Force, and enabled individual Soviet pilots to collect the highest number of kills attributed to any U.S. fighter type flown by any air force in any conflict. Other major users of the type included the Free French, the Royal Air Force, and the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force.

It had an unusual layout, with the engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot, and driving a tractor propeller in the nose with a long shaft. It was also the first fighter fitted with a tricycle undercarriage. Although its mid-engine placement was innovative, the P-39 design was handicapped by the absence of an efficient turbo-supercharger, preventing it from performing high-altitude work. For this reason it was rejected by the RAF for use over western Europe but adopted by the USSR, where most air combat took place at medium and lower altitudes.

Together with the derivative P-63 Kingcobra, the P-39 was one of the most successful fixed-wing aircraft manufactured by Bell.

This webpage was updated 29th April 2024