P-39 Airacobra In Detail (Detail and Scale 63)
By Bert Kinzey
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc. 1999 80 Pages
PDF 22 MB
Although it was one of the most brilliantly designed and engineered fighters of World War II, the P-39 Airacobra became one of the most controversial and disappointing American aircraft of that era. It was conceived as a fast interceptor designed around a hard hitting 37-mm cannon that fired explosive shells to insure the destruction of any enemy aircraft. But after promising flight tests by the XP-39, the U. S. Army Air Corps mandated that the turbo-supercharger be removed. This short sighted and ill advised decision, made by leaders schooled and experienced only in ground warfare, meant that the high altitude performance of the aircraft suffered considerably. But the aircraft's users, particularly the British, blamed Bell Aircraft for the substandard high altitude performance, and the Airacobra was not held in high favor by most of the pilots who flew it.