Model Airplane News|
Bell P-63 "Kingcobra"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for March, 1945
by Jo Kotula
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The Bell P-63 Kingcobra (Model 24) was a United States fighter aircraft developed in World War II from the P-39 Airacobra in an attempt to correct that aircraft's deficiencies. Although the aircraft was not accepted for combat use by the United States Army Air Forces, it was successfully adopted by the Soviet Air Force.
Photos of the Bell P-63 "Kingcobra"
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The P-63 was larger in all dimensions than the P-39 Airacobra. The laminar flow wings were 4 feet longer, the engine was fitted with a second supercharger supplementing the normal single-stage supercharger. At higher altitudes when additional boost was required, a hydraulic clutch would engage the second supercharger, adding 10,000 ft. to the service ceiling. A larger four-bladed propeller was also standardized. A persistent complaint against the Airacobra was that its nose armament was not easily accessible for ground maintenance, and in order to cure this problem, the P-63 was fitted with larger cowling panels.
Deliveries of production P-63As began in October 1943. The USAAF concluded the Kingcobra was inferior to the Mustang, and declined to order larger quantities. American allies, particularly the Soviet Union, had a great need for fighter aircraft, however, and the Soviets were already the largest users of the Airacobra. Therefore, the Kingcobra was ordered into production to be delivered under Lend-Lease. The Soviet Government sent a highly experienced test pilot, Andrey G. Kochetkov, and an aviation engineer, Fiodor Suprun, to the Bell factories to refine and elaborate on the design. By all accounts, this was a model of US-Soviet cooperation, and the P-63 went on to see significant action.
Here is a video of the Bell P-63 "Kingcobra" in action:
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