P-39L AiraCobra

P-39L AiraCobra

346 th FS/350 th FG, Algeria, Spring 1943 “EVELYN”

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General Background
The P-39 Aircobra was one of the principal American land based fighters during the beginning of WWII. It first saw action in April 1942 but had not been successful against the Japanese “Zero” due to the lack of turbo-supercharger for high altitude operations.

The aircraft saw its real success in the hands of the Soviet Union. The Soviets liked the low altitude speed and maneuverability, excellent structural integrity, and heavy armament, everything they needed to fight the type of war on the Eastern Front. They were so pleased by these attributes that they nicknamed it “The Iron Dog”. There were 9,585 P-39s of all variants built with about 4,500 going to the Soviets.

The Aircraft
The 350th Fighter Group flew P-39s in North Africa and Italy during WWII. It consisted of the 345th, 346th and 347th Fighter Squadrons. This aircraft was a well representative of the P-39s fought in North Africa which was painted in special desert scheme during the conflict.

Aircraft role: Ground attack fighter
Production: 2,095 with first delivery November 1942
Crew: 1

Length: 30 ft. 2 in.
Wing area: 213 sq. ft.
Wingspan: 34 ft.
Height: 12 ft. 5 in.

Powerplant: 1 X Allison V-1710-85 1,200 hp
Speed: cruising 330 mph at 5,000 ft.
maximum 376 mph at 15,000 ft.
Climb rate: 2,600 ft/min to 5,000 ft. – to 15,000 ft. in 6 min 6 seconds
Service Ceiling: 38,270 ft. with best performance below 20,000 ft.
Range: 300 miles because of smaller fuel tanks in this version
Extended range: 1,000 miles with extra fuel tanks
Fuel capacity: internal 72.4 imp. Gallons (87 US gallons) – external 62.45 imp. Gallons (75 US gallons) in one drop tank

Empty: 5,645 lbs.
Maximum: 8,300 lbs.
Operational weight: with weapons: 8,300 lbs.

Machine guns: 2 X 0,50 in. fixed forward-firing in the upper side of the nose 200 rounds each, 4 X 0.3 in. fixed forward-firing in the wings with 1,000 rounds each,
Cannons: 1 X 37 mm M4 fixed forward firing in a Moteur-cannon installation (able to fire through the propeller) 30 rounds
Bomb load: up to 500lb on one hard-point with 1 X 500lb. bomb or 1 X 325 lb. bomb or 1 X 250 lb. bomb