Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part II

A beautiful photograph of two early Airacobras. The camouflaged aircraft in the foreground with its engine running is a P-39C which appears to have no guns fitted. The natural metal aircraft in the background is one of the thirteen YP-39s built. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron did its advanced training on P-39Ns at Aiken Army Airfield in South Carolina. This is a fine study of one of their aircraft.
Pilots of the 118th TRS pose on the nose of one of their P-39Ns. The squadron deployed to the CBI where they finished the war flying Mustangs.
Another 118th TRS Airacobra provides a good view of the insignia on the “car door”, as well as standard markings for the Summer of 1943.
The flightline at Hamilton Field, July 1943 showing a P-39N of the 357th Fighter Group. Several Liberators and a Flying Fortress are visible in the background.
Five color photographs of the same aircraft, a rarity and a boon for modelers. The P-39 was known as the Airacobra I in Royal Air Force service. This is AH621, running up her engine at Buffalo New York in 1941. She was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force for evaluation but crashed on 26NOV41. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The aircraft is painted in the RAF Day Fighter scheme, U.S. equivalents of Dark Green and Dark Earth with a very light substitute for Sky on the undersides. Note the unusually high demarcation of the underside color. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
The Royal Air Force ordered 676 Airacobras, receiving their first in September 1941. The USAAC decision to eliminate the turbosupercharger limited their effectiveness over Europe, the RAF reporting poor climb rates and a drop-off in power at altitude. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Only No. 601 Squadron flew the Airacobra in Royal Air Force service, and they only flew one operational mission before the type was relegated to training and other secondary duties. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)
Approximately 200 of the RAF order was diverted to the Soviets. The Airacobra was enthusiastically received by the VVS, which operated almost exclusively at low altitude. Another 200 were requisitioned by the USAAF after Pearl Harbor and sent to the Pacific as the P-400. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

Part III here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/07/06/bell-p-39-airacobra-color-photographs-part-iii/

16 thoughts on “Bell P-39 Airacobra Color Photographs Part II

  1. I will look into this…

    Only No. 601 Squadron flew the Airacobra in Royal Air Force service, and they only flew one operational mission before the type was regulated to training and other secondary duties.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Canada’s contribution to the war effort is not that well known. I knew so very little about it in 2010. This is when I started my first blog honoring RCAF 425 Squadron then many more blogs. Sharing my research online then got me to my forgotten hobby in 2013. As they say, the rest is history…

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Canadian aircraft production was always overshadowed by the US, but it was a stunning achievement considering there were only a couple dozen aircraft produced in Canada each year before the war. They basically built the entire aircraft industry from scratch!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s surprising to see how many Americans went to Canada to enlist, trained there, served with the RAF, and then went on to become top scorers. Must have been a great training program!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a beautiful design with a lot of interesting schemes. The different opinions on the type are what gets me – the VVS thought it was the best Lend-Lease aircraft they had, the RAF didn’t really use them, the USAAF used them but didn’t want to.

      Liked by 2 people

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