P-39 Airacobra, Bell

(85k, 36k)

No less than 4924 of this little fighter were delivered to the USSR, its most successful user. The P-39 was well fit for the low-altitude fighting and ground attack the USSR used it for.

Oh, boy! There were a lot of reasons for USAF to get rid of this plane... First, its engine suffered from overheating during taxi, so "The Little Bell" was not good for hot climate (I mean Pacific and Mediterranean). But for USSR it was not a mess. This plane also suffered from bad handling (easy go spin) in maneuverable dogfight...

Despite all those shortcomings, Cobra's firepower and armoring were praised by Soviet pilots, and some of them became aces while flying P-39, like Alexander Pokryshkin who scored 59 confirmed personal victories (see photo below).

(116k) Alexander Pokryshkin is greeted for another combat victory (1944); stars painted on the Airacobra's starboard represent previous kills.

See also
  • technical data
  • P-39Q "Airacobra" at United States Air Force Museum ;
  • P-39 Airacobra, Bell
  • Another Airacobra (33k) in Soviet markings from Robert McCollum Myers collection;
  • Normandie Niemen Site

  • Modified April 3, 1996 Back to
    Main Gate