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crucislancer
07-14-2008, 10:29 AM
I was under the impression that the P-39 wasn't used in the ETO, but I was reading a passage from a book called "Spitfire" by John Vader, he mentions that the 52 FG of the USAAF was equiped with P-39s, but lost 6 out of 12 on a sweep in July of 1942, and in September the P-39s were replaced with Spitfire Mk Vbs.

Anybody ever heard of this? The book is pretty old, I was curious if it was an error.

Jaws2002
07-14-2008, 11:21 AM
Chuck Yeager was flying p-39's for a while in ETO.

crucislancer
07-14-2008, 11:45 AM
Originally posted by Jaws2002:
Chuck Yeager was flying p-39's for a while in ETO.

Did he say that in his book?

In Bud Anderson's memoirs, he said that they (The 357th)trained on the P-39, but they didn't take them to England. He mentioned that he was quite glad he didn't have to fly it in combat.

mortoma
07-14-2008, 11:55 AM
Of course, we bogged ours down with so much pilot armour it's a wonder they could even get in the air. Plus didn't put turbo chargers on them when Bell intended it to have them.

Mr_Zooly
07-14-2008, 11:57 AM
the P-400 (export version with 20mm cannon instead of the 37mm and the 2 30 cal fuselage were replaced by 2 unsynchronised 30 cal guns (with 1000 rounds each)in the wings).
The Airacobra went into action with the RAF in October 1941 but was withdrawn from service after a few missions)

mortoma
07-14-2008, 12:21 PM
Most P-39s used in Europe were flown in North Africa and Italy. Without the turbosupercharger it could not fly high enough, well enough for western Europe.

WTE_Galway
07-14-2008, 05:06 PM
Originally posted by mortoma:
Most P-39s used in Europe were flown in North Africa and Italy. Without the turbosupercharger it could not fly high enough, well enough for western Europe.

By all accounts, they also didn't handle the European cold at all well, aside from mechanical issues the cockpit heating left much to be desired (then again Spitfires were crap in the heat everything is a compromise) .

Shame, as they had the range to make a good day bomber escort.

Bearcat99
07-14-2008, 05:35 PM
The 99th flew them in Tunisia... & Italy. All the OTA (Original Tuskegee Airmen) I spoke to hated the P-39s.

DIRTY-MAC
07-14-2008, 05:57 PM
Did they say what they hate with it?

DmdSeeker
07-14-2008, 06:09 PM
They were used in operation strangle until the squads upgraded to P47's.

Schwarz.13
07-14-2008, 06:28 PM
"The first two Eighth Air Force fighter groups to reach England were equipped with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, which was an adequate mid-range escort fighter, although it had been designed as an interceptor. But these two groups left in November for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa, and no more P-38 groups saw action with the Eighth for a year. The formation of new P-38 groups was delayed, as all P-38 production was needed to make up combat losses in the Mediterranean Theater. <span class="ev_code_yellow">The next two groups ordered to England had been equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobra. These aircraft were left in the U.S.A., and the pilots re-equipped with Spitfires upon arrival in the United Kingdom. The official explanation was that flying P-39s across the Atlantic was deemed too risky; it is also undoubtedly true that the low-altitude, short-range Airacobra was totally unsuited for service in the ETO.</span> These two groups were also sent to North Africa, leaving the Eighth Air Force with a single fighter unit, the Spitfire-equipped 4th Fighter Group..."

- The Luftwaffe Over Germany by Donald Caldwell & Richard Muller (p.50-51)

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/VAS/0000-4114-4~WWII-Army-Air-Corps-Airacobra-P40-Posters.jpg

KrashanTopolova
07-14-2008, 06:32 PM
The Americans gave the Australians a squadron of them for the Pacific. They were sent back to the US in a few months. They are prone to flat spins because of the placement of the engine behind the cockpit (no problem for a better pilot). They have no supercharger and were thus uncompetitive at higher altitudes. The Americans then gave them to the Soviets who apparently used them more inventively; especially because it was well armed even though the huge cannon was prone to seizing up.

WTE_Galway
07-14-2008, 06:47 PM
woops ... my earlier comments were about the p38 not the p39.

There is a bit about the P39 in ETO in this Osprey book extract ...
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=zdeu_vSQy8sC&prints...=gbs_summary_r&cad=0 (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=zdeu_vSQy8sC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0)

hurricane1948
07-14-2008, 06:51 PM
Please keep in mind that the P-39 fared very well on the Eastern Front under extreme climactic conditions. It may not have been superior to Luftwaffe aircraft but it had some good qualities such as adequate firepower, armor, and a rugged tricycle landing gear. Many Soviet pilots were very successful in combat flying the P-39 including Aleksandr Pokryshkin.

WTE_Galway
07-14-2008, 06:56 PM
Originally posted by hurricane1948:
Please keep in mind that the P-39 fared very well on the Eastern Front under extreme climactic conditions. It may not have been superior to Luftwaffe aircraft but it had some good qualities such as adequate firepower, armor, and a rugged tricycle landing gear. Many Soviet pilots were very successful in combat flying the P-39 including Aleksandr Pokryshkin.

One eastern front advantage from that Osprey book above (one I have never heard of before) is that the P39 had a glass cockpit which stayed transparent whereas the russian canopies used cellulose which yellowed in the sunlight with age and became hard to see through resulting in many russian planes being flown with the canopy open or removed.

triad773
07-14-2008, 07:31 PM
Originally posted by WTE_Galway:

One eastern front advantage from that Osprey book above (one I have never heard of before) is that the P39 had a glass cockpit which stayed transparent whereas the russian canopies used cellulose which yellowed in the sunlight with age and became hard to see through resulting in many russian planes being flown with the canopy open or removed.

Yikes! sounds treacherous!

RE: BC and Tuskeegee airmen- not surprised. When I was in college I the 80's I delved into the college library's Life mag collection: they had a surprising number of 'ads' from the time for the aircobra- though I was unfamiliar then, it read like a PR problem http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/sadeyes.gif tried to go right.

R_Target
07-14-2008, 08:03 PM
Originally posted by KrashanTopolova:
They have no supercharger and were thus uncompetitive at higher altitudes.

Partially correct. P-39s had a single-stage, single-speed supercharger.

Ernst_Rohr
07-14-2008, 08:34 PM
The P-39 was the contender that never got a chance.

The P-39 and P-40 were used for some time in Operation Torch and across North Africa, with numbers favoring the P-40.

The 39 was not popular with the pilots, and it didn't last long in service as the P-38's and P-47's replaced it.

Ironically, the 39 was (as discovered by the Russians) a pretty competitive fighter. Particularly once the majority of the THREE HUNDRED pounds of armor was removed!

The original prototype P-39 was rocket, hitting almost 400mph and climbing to 20,000 feet in just over 5 minutes. Which was unheard of performance for the time. It was also built around a 37mm cannon, and two .50cal MG's in the nose, which was incredibly heavy armament for the time.

The pre-production prototype performance was what got the P-39 orders from the RAF, USAAF and France.

Unfortunately, Bell was strapped financially, and were unable to prevent the Army and NACA (precursor to NASA) from "tweaking" the design. So, Bell had a hot performing fighter, but they didnt have the cash reserves to build out the assembly lines without an Army contract. To get the contract, they had to let their design get modified by some "experts".

Then NACA and the Army got a hold of it, and started modifying the design, but without uprating the engine. The biggest hit was the removal of the Turbosupercharger (rated at 20,000ft) with a down rated single stage supercharger, which was only rated to 12,000 to 13,000 feet depending on sources. Supposedly, this was done to "streamline" the aircraft further. The 39 was still fast, but lost its impressive climb and ceiling.

The production P-39s were then saddled with 1200 pounds over the prototype. A good amount of that was in armor and self sealing fuel tanks, but the addition of the four .30 cal MG's in the wings and 1000 rounds of ammo per, added to the weight substantially. Then bomb shackles were thrown in for good measure.

The other tidbit was that the engines that the lend lease birds got, were NOT the same as the engines in the fighters produced for US service. The initial batch of birds was saddled with the same 1150hp engine, which Bell protested was underpowered in light of the additional weight.

Those were the planes (the P-400) that went to the RAF, RAAF, and USSR. All armed with a 20mm cannon.

After scathing reviews by the RAF, and the refusal of RAF to purchase additonal fighters, the USAAF listened to Bell and uprated the engines to the subsequent production runs of the 39. The HP of the upgraded varies from sources, ranging from 1300hp to 1500hp (the game uses the 1500hp number). The uprated engine was a standard plant without boost.

Once the Russians got done ditching most of the extra junk that had been added to the airframe, they loved the P-39, and it performed very well for them.

Interestingly enough, the Russians put a lot into helping Bell revise the airframe, and the biggest joke was that by the time of the Q-series P-39's, they were back to a lightened fighter built around a single 37mm and two .50 cals.

Ironically, the final Aircobra design, the P-63 Kingcobra, was a phenomenal aircraft for the time, and outperformed pretty much everything in the US inventory, including the Mustang.

The Russians liked it so much, they kept several lend lease birds for evaluation, and reportedly used several over Berlin in the last days of the war.

The USAAF decided, that even though the plane was a better performer, they had plenty of Thunderbolts and Mustangs rolling off the lines, so they didnt need the Kingcobra after all.

Interestingly enough, I did read an article that the 39 stayed in service for a while after they were withdrawn from front line service, as photo recon birds, since the removal of the nose mounted armament lightened them by several hundred pounds, making them pretty fast. They stayed on in the photo recon role in the pacific for quite some time, and the later variants were still in US service in the pacific till the end of the war, mostly in 2nd line units.

LEXX_Luthor
07-14-2008, 10:53 PM
Eastern Front was largely low altitude fight, but one story sticks. Recall the 8th AF bomber raaid that landed in Soviet area to refuel. At sunset an He-177 recon plane flew over at high altitude, and what appeared to US bomber crew as two Soviet women mechanics working on P-39's hopped in them and took off after the Heinkel. With P-39s, the two pilots could not catch it, and the recon plane took back info for the devastating bombing of that airfield later that night.

ImpStarDuece
07-15-2008, 01:23 AM
Originally posted by Ernst_Rohr:
The P-39 was the contender that never got a chance.... [SNIP]


The original prototype P-39 was rocket, hitting almost 400mph and climbing to 20,000 feet in just over 5 minutes. Which was unheard of performance for the time. It was also built around a 37mm cannon, and two .50cal MG's in the nose, which was incredibly heavy armament for the time.

The pre-production prototype performance was what got the P-39 orders from the RAF, USAAF and France.

As you allude to later on, the P-39 grew in weight substantially from the prototype to the first production model.

But, the prototype, with all that wonderful performance, was an unpainted, unarmed, barely equipped aircraft, that had as much in common with a frontline ready fighter aircraft as a 747 does with a B-52.

It had no armour whatsoever, no armored glass, no self sealing fuel tanks, no military furnished equipment of any kind (guns, gunsights, ejector chutes, ammunition boxes, radios, direction finding equipment, ect, ect). Fuel capacity was just 60 gal.

The prototype weighed in at just 3,995 lbs empty, or about 280 lbs heavier than the infamously flimsy Zero.

By the time the P-39 was considered combat capable, with the P-39D model, its empty weight had ballooned to 5465 lbs, or more than 35% more than the original prototype.

Loaded weight for the prototype was 5,550 lbs. For the P-39D, 7,550 lbs, again an increase of more than 35%.




Ironically, the final Aircobra design, the P-63 Kingcobra, was a phenomenal aircraft for the time, and outperformed pretty much everything in the US inventory, including the Mustang.

The Russians liked it so much, they kept several lend lease birds for evaluation, and reportedly used several over Berlin in the last days of the war.

The USAAF decided, that even though the plane was a better performer, they had plenty of Thunderbolts and Mustangs rolling off the lines, so they didnt need the Kingcobra after all.

Actually, the Kingcobra didn't really outperform the fighters coming of the US production lines in late 1943 (P-51B, P-47D, P-38H/J, F6F, F4U), and the USAAF considered the early production aircraft as unfit for combat, after evaluating it in Oct-1943.

It was relegated to the training role in the US, and shipped off to the Russians, after a fairly through improvements programme (more armour, new prop, better radios, new cannon, adjustments to MG mounts, reduced fuel capacity to cut weight ect) was carried out through 1944.

skarden
07-15-2008, 03:03 AM
Originally posted by crucislancer:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Jaws2002:
Chuck Yeager was flying p-39's for a while in ETO.

Did he say that in his book?

In Bud Anderson's memoirs, he said that they (The 357th)trained on the P-39, but they didn't take them to England. He mentioned that he was quite glad he didn't have to fly it in combat. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats dead on the money crucislancer he didnt fly it in the ETO although he said he was one of the few that liked the plane


There were three squadrons in our fighter group,and among all those pilots,I was one of the few who loved the thirty-nine and would have gladly flown it off to war

pg.27 from his book "Yeager"
Awsome read by the way,if ya can get ya hands on it(i found my copy at an op shop for $3 http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/metal.gif) grab it.some truley crazy stories in it.

Bearcat99
07-15-2008, 05:45 PM
Originally posted by DIRTY-MAC:
Did they say what they hate with it?

Tey didnt like the fact that the prop shaft went between their legs .. and they said that it "mushed" into turns.. probably because of the changed center of gravity.


Originally posted by skarden:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by crucislancer:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Jaws2002:
Chuck Yeager was flying p-39's for a while in ETO.

Did he say that in his book?

In Bud Anderson's memoirs, he said that they (The 357th)trained on the P-39, but they didn't take them to England. He mentioned that he was quite glad he didn't have to fly it in combat. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats dead on the money crucislancer he didnt fly it in the ETO although he said he was one of the few that liked the plane


There were three squadrons in our fighter group,and among all those pilots,I was one of the few who loved the thirty-nine and would have gladly flown it off to war

pg.27 from his book "Yeager"
Awsome read by the way,if ya can get ya hands on it(i found my copy at an op shop for $3 http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/metal.gif) grab it.some truley crazy stories in it. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

There was a story in Andrerson's Abio where Yeager buzzed them on the highway.. I think that was it... but yeah.. bot books.. "To Fly & Fight" & "Yeager" were great reads...

KrashanTopolova
07-15-2008, 06:15 PM
If memory serves me correctly, wasn't one of the first US jets modelled on the Bell P-63 airframe?

makes sense because the fuselage engine compartment was already there...just a matter of dropping a jet engine in.

crucislancer
07-15-2008, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by Bearcat99:
There was a story in Andrerson's Abio where Yeager buzzed them on the highway.. I think that was it... but yeah.. bot books.. "To Fly & Fight" & "Yeager" were great reads...

Ah! I remember that one. I got a good laugh out of that. That was actually Lloyd Hubbard, and there was a second P-39, but he doesn't say who it is. Lot's of great stuff in that book. The first chapter is amazing.

One of these days I have to pick up Yeager's book. For some reason I seem to find something else to read before I even get to it.