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charshep
06-25-2005, 10:31 PM
So, given the differences in the strategic situation in the West versus the East, I think I understand why US pilots preferred planes like the P51 and P47, and why Russian pilots preferred planes like the P39, P40, and Russian fighters. But what I don't understand is why US pilots preferred the P40 over the P39 while Russian pilots preferred teh P39 over the P40. Can anyone answer this? Also, what was the general opinion of Mediterranean pilots regarding the P40 and P39?

charshep
06-25-2005, 10:31 PM
So, given the differences in the strategic situation in the West versus the East, I think I understand why US pilots preferred planes like the P51 and P47, and why Russian pilots preferred planes like the P39, P40, and Russian fighters. But what I don't understand is why US pilots preferred the P40 over the P39 while Russian pilots preferred teh P39 over the P40. Can anyone answer this? Also, what was the general opinion of Mediterranean pilots regarding the P40 and P39?

Bearcat99
06-25-2005, 10:43 PM
From what I understand most of them thought the P-40 was a better plane. It was certainly more stable, which is understandable. No pilto would be fond of a plane that can kill you just flying it. The P-39s the Russians had were not the same ones the allies flew. They were modified... I belive they were lightened among other things that I cant remember right now. But they were used down low... I know the Russians liked the cannon. The P-47s and 51s were just better more modern planes when put up against the opposition.

Most of the Tuskegee Airmen I spoke to hated the P-39..... they werent crazy about the P-40 either but they loved it against the P-39. To the man they all said the Mustang was the one for them. They liked the Jugs but they didnt have them long enough. Plus the Jugs they got were cast offs.... from the 325th I think.

Vipez-
06-26-2005, 06:15 AM
Most of the P39s used in VVS-use had all the extra armor removed, wing machine guns removed.. they even removed the pilot armors from the rear sometimes to save the weight..

Standard P39N vs P40M i would imagine P40M easily outturning the Cobra, but with all the armor and wing machineguns removed, the turning circles are probably very similar.

And, for some reason Russians loved the 37mm, while the americans/Brits hated it.

It is interesting to compare the western approach and russian approach.. where as the western planes were constantly improving the armor protection for the pilot, russians sometimes did everything to save some weight.

Slechtvalk
06-26-2005, 07:52 AM
That's why the yak has become such a good (dogfighter)plane I guess.

VW-IceFire
06-26-2005, 08:50 AM
The VVS used the whole range of P-39 products. From the RAF castoffs (P-400s) to the early USAAF P-39D's and such. But their main production models that they got from Bell were the N and Q series.

These all benefitted from the maturation of the P-39 lineup with better performance and the like. I think what happened is that the P-39 showed better climb performance and better firepower compared to the P-40 as well as a better turn than contemporary 109s so it was the best match against their opposition.

From what I understand, most VVS P-39s were used for escort of IL-2s...seeing as the IL-2s were flying in the weeds alot the high altitude performance (which was bad) was not an issue.

Its still something of a mystery to me. The P-39, until the introduction of the La-5F and the late model Yaks was essentially their elite fighter flown by the experienced fighter groups and well liked by them. I guess they liked the good radios too http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Chuck_Older
06-26-2005, 09:08 AM
US pilots regarded the P-39 as dangerous in emergencies

The extension shaft for the prop went under the pilot's seat (read- directly between the pilot's legs, where a, ah, um, life-changing experience could take place), and the engine was behind the pilot's seat- this was thought to be a really serious problem because the engine could slide forward in a crash landing

Neither of these 'problems' were actually encountered to my knowledge, but that was the feeling of the pilots

The P-39 was a radical departure from conventional aircraft and had some acceptance issues in the US Army

F19_Ob
06-26-2005, 09:42 AM
Not what u asked for but an opportunity to re-post the Golodnikov articles:

P-40
http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/golodnikov/part2.htm

P-39
http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/golodnikov/part3.htm

All 4 interviews:
http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/golodnikov/index.htm

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

horseback
06-26-2005, 01:17 PM
The P-39s reputation in the USAAF was established in the Southwest Pacific, where it was rushed in to pilots unused to the type, and without manuals or documentation for the support personnel. There was a mix of P-39D and P-400/Airacobra MK Is, and I am given to believe that parts and major components were swapped freely.

Pilots with less than 8 hours in the Airacobra were entering combat with Zeros, and the 'Cobras they were flying were not consistantly mechanically sound. Throw in the fact that the japanese weren't dumb, and would come in at 15,000 ft or higher, where the P-39/400 was starting to get anemic, and Bad Things happened.

It was not as reliable or as familiar as the P-40, it flew and had to be fought different, and it looked wierd.

To the Soviets, however, it had all the things they were looking for in a Western fighter: excellent low altitude performance (for the time), adequate maneuverability and armament, a reasonable size (not a behemoth like the Hurricane or Tomahawk compared to contemporary Soviet fighters) and all the modern conveniences like an enclosed cockpit, reliable radio, and a canopy and windshield that didn't turn dark yellow and crack in the sun. It was a match made in heaven.

The Americans, however, blamed nearly all their early air war difficulties in the Pacific on the Bell fighter, and were happy to see the last of it. Not necessarily fairly, but they simply lost confidence in it and happily accepted anything else.

cheers

horseback

Utchoud
06-26-2005, 02:32 PM
S! All,

The main reasons why the P-40 was considered better were mentioned by horseback and Chuck_Older. I'd add the complicated weaponry of the P-39 with weapons of three calibers and three different ballistic characteristics and the missing turbocharger on the P-39 which limited its operating altitude.

Medialisation of the P-40 (AVG Flying Tigers) also helped the P-40 to gain good reputation, while there were almost no fighter aces flying the P-39.

Economical factors probably also mattered; average prices of P-39 and P-40 in war years:

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b105/Utchoud/Prices.gif

In the Mediterranean, the pilots' opinion was supported by the command which used P-39s for ground attack missions and P-40F, P-40L for fighter cover against Bf 109G and Fw 190.

However, P-39 was not generally inferior to the P-40. A table of climb times of both types:

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b105/Utchoud/Climb.gif

mmarsh
06-27-2005, 09:00 AM
I believe there was another issue about the P-39
Allied Pilots didnt like. The cockpit door, when the pilot was forced to bail out

With a sliding canopy equipped aircraft all the pilot had to do was release/blow the canopy and undo his harness and the air would suck the pilot out of the plane.

The P-39 with its automobile door couldnt do this because at high G's such as a spin the door would be jammed stuck, trapping the pilot in his doomed aircraft.

kweassa
06-27-2005, 10:01 AM
It doesn't need to go quite that far, as some propose.

Simply, view it from the pilot's point of view.

To the pilots, getting used to a new plane is not an easy task. If there isn't any significant performance difference to justify a change in regular aircraft usage, then using what's most familiar is always the best choice. Besides, it's not like the pilots had a choice anyway.

Becoming to like one's plane, despite its shortcomings, is important in the psychiatric sense too. People bond with what they are given with, because a positive attitude to the situation they are put against, helps survival than compared to a generally pessimistic attitude. It's a very natural mental tendency.

To the pilots of the US Army, the P-40 was what they've entered the war with, and for those stationed in Asia it was about the only choice they had during the timeline. Now, imagine when somebody says a new plane might be given to them, and there are rumours about it's flaws. Who'd want to give up their old plane to ride in something they aren't familiar with, not to mention has bad rep circulating among the ranks?

Compare that with the VVS. They were massively equipped with lend-leased P-39s from the beginning. The starting years of the War for the VVS was incredibly terrible between '41 ~ '42. It wasn't until 1943 that the VVS transformed itself to a formiddable opponent to the Luftwaffe, with it's own planes of comparable performance.

In a sense, in that kind of situation, basically anything's a blessing than the inferior equipment they had to start the War with. Incidentally they were given the P-39s, and they started liking it. Again, it's all very natural.

Doug_Thompson
06-27-2005, 10:21 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by horseback:
The P-39s reputation in the USAAF was established in the Southwest Pacific, where it was rushed in to pilots unused to the type, and without manuals or documentation for the support personnel. There was a mix of P-39D and P-400/Airacobra MK Is, and I am given to believe that parts and major components were swapped freely.


</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's a lot of it. Flying the P-39 against 109's while on an escort mission is one thing. Flying them on interception missions against very nimble Zeros and Oscars and relatively fast Betty bombers is another.

The P-39 got an early, fast reputation as a dog in the Pacific. It's climb characteristics, once you got out of its low-altitude comfort zone, were so bad, P-39s literally couldn't make an intercept of high-flying, fast Japanese bombers. P-39 pilots in Port Moresby were ordered to take off and fly out over the ocean until the raid was over to avoid losses. You can imagine what that alone did to the plane's reputation. (This info is from the book, "Fire in the Sky.)

The situation was just the opposite in Russia. P-39s were escorting low-flying bombers or interceptiong low-flying German ground support aircraft, not trying to intercept high-flying ones. No problem there.

=======

Also, the P-39 had vicous stall characteristics. Imagine having to fly a plane like that in twisty-turny dogfights with Zeros and Oscars, instead of booming and zooming 109s. I'm not saying Oscars and Zeros are better than 109s. The exact opposite is true, IMO. However, fighting the early-war, suberbly trained Japanese pilots who loved acrobatics and were flying the most nimble monoplane fighters ever produced in a plane with particularly unpleasant stall characteristics must have been profoundly frustrating.

=========

The P-40's most beloved characteristic when fighting the Japanese was that it could "get out of Dodge." An allied pilot in trouble could dive away. Japanese fighters had to be light weight to get that famous manueverabillity. Therefore, the heavier P-40 could almost always dive away, especially since it was as fast or faster even in level flight.

P-39s couldn't get enough altitude to dive away like that.

=========

AerialTarget
06-27-2005, 10:58 AM
Well, the P-39 had a very gentle slow stall, at least, unlike the P-40, in which it is death to have any sort of stall under ten thousand feet.

faustnik
06-27-2005, 11:11 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by AerialTarget:
Well, the P-39 had a very gentle slow stall, at least, unlike the P-40, in which it is death to have any sort of stall under ten thousand feet. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think you have that backwards.

F19Gladiator
06-27-2005, 12:38 PM
To learn more about how the Russians used the P39 and their opinion about it as a fighter, I can recommend reading:
Attack of the Airacobras, by Dmitry Loza,2002, University Press Of Kansas
It does kill some old western misperceptions, as well as gives an insight into how the pilot's tactics developed, enabling them to benefit from the strenghts of the ac and reducing the negative effects from it's shortcomings.

Vipez-
06-27-2005, 02:41 PM
It would be interesting to see what P39 could have done, if americans/british had do the same as russians, removing all the "additional" weight, wing machine guns, self sealing tanks, pilot armor protection.. perhaps then it would have done better against zeros, but then again it could have proven fatal for allied pilots by getting damaged even by slightly http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

ICDP
06-27-2005, 03:21 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Vipez-:
It would be interesting to see what P39 could have done, if americans/british had do the same as russians, removing all the "additional" weight, wing machine guns, self sealing tanks, pilot armor protection.. perhaps then it would have done better against zeros, but then again it could have proven fatal for allied pilots by getting damaged even by slightly http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Contrary to popular western belief the P39 in VVS service was the exact same model as the USAAF and RAF were issued with. It was not stripped of armour or weapons etc, it might have recieved some minor changes such as sights etc. It was better suited to fight in the eastern front because it was used at its best altitude and its short range was not a dissadvantage. The VVS did give advice to Bell regarding inprovements which were incorporated into subsequent marks of P39.

No doubt the same books that claim the VVS stripped the P39 will tell you it was used exclusively as a ground pounder in VVS service.

Chuck_Older
06-27-2005, 03:29 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by AerialTarget:
Well, the P-39 had a very gentle slow stall, at least, unlike the P-40, in which it is death to have any sort of stall under ten thousand feet. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Are you sure you're not confusing this with the notorious P-40 'tumble' experienced in short fuselage models?

VW-IceFire
06-27-2005, 03:42 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by faustnik:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by AerialTarget:
Well, the P-39 had a very gentle slow stall, at least, unlike the P-40, in which it is death to have any sort of stall under ten thousand feet. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think you have that backwards. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
No no...well not sure about the P-39 but the P-40 had a deadly stall/spin that was unrecoverable in most cases if it happened under 10,000 feet. One pilot that I read about survived (to the shock of all) and it was by accident that he slammed the throttle all the way forward and the plane somehow torqued itself out of the spin. But yeah, P-40 was often considered dangerous in stalls/spins and had something of a reputation itself.

Its a very confusing picture.

249th_Harrier
06-27-2005, 04:18 PM
The Allison V-1710 in the p-39N had a lower "critical altitude" than the Allison in the P-40E. Below this altitude (4000m I think), the P-39N had superior speed and climb. The airframe for the p-39N was lighter and had a lower drag coefficient than the p-40E. Both had stall issues, but different. According to the data I have seen, roll and turn for the p-39N was superior to the p-40E, but only slightly. In terms of performance below 4000m, the p-39N is superior in every measurable aspect except dive acceleration. For the Eastern front, almost unique in the dominance of low-altitude engagements (likely due to the 36,000 IL2s built by the Soviets), the p-39 was the tool for the job. For the Pacific and North Africa, high altitude interception and bomber escort were a prime component of the air war. Not being able to participate in this aspect of air combat was like having a good move the basket but no jumpshot, your opponent will take advantage of your area of weakness and bludgeon you with it. As a jabo, the p-40 had more load carrying capacity, more toughness, was cheaper to produce and buy, and had fewer mechanical problems then the p-39. For this reason the p-40 was widely used in North Africa, even though it was a target drone for a good Bf109 pilot. I have seen some accounts that suggest that the few p-40s actually used for bomber escort and interception in North Africa were the F and L versions with the license built Merlin engines.

Vipez-
06-27-2005, 04:42 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by ICDP:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Vipez-:
It would be interesting to see what P39 could have done, if americans/british had do the same as russians, removing all the "additional" weight, wing machine guns, self sealing tanks, pilot armor protection.. perhaps then it would have done better against zeros, but then again it could have proven fatal for allied pilots by getting damaged even by slightly http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Contrary to popular western belief the P39 in VVS service was the exact same model as the USAAF and RAF were issued with. It was not stripped of armour or weapons etc, it might have recieved some minor changes such as sights etc. It was better suited to fight in the eastern front because it was used at its best altitude and its short range was not a dissadvantage. The VVS did give advice to Bell regarding inprovements which were incorporated into subsequent marks of P39.

No doubt the same books that claim the VVS stripped the P39 will tell you it was used exclusively as a ground pounder in VVS service. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am not saying all vvs pilots removed pilot armor for example, but there are many examples, when VVS ground crews removed even the pilot armor to save weight.. however, most of soviet P-39-pilots removed the wing guns from P39Ds, P39Ks and P39Ns.. later manufactured P39Qs Bell decided to remove the wing guns due to soviet's request, so the ground crew didnt have to do it anymore.. nosemounted MGs and the M-4 cannon was considered more than enough to bring down any fighter, and wing guns were considered as unnecessary weight penalty.

ICDP
06-28-2005, 05:01 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Vipez-:
I am not saying all vvs pilots removed pilot armor for example, but there are many examples, when VVS ground crews removed even the pilot armor to save weight.. however, most of soviet P-39-pilots removed the wing guns from P39Ds, P39Ks and P39Ns.. later manufactured P39Qs Bell decided to remove the wing guns due to soviet's request, so the ground crew didnt have to do it anymore.. nosemounted MGs and the M-4 cannon was considered more than enough to bring down any fighter, and wing guns were considered as unnecessary weight penalty. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

This kind of behaviour happened with ALL airforces and all types of aircraft to a varying degree. As a matter of fact it was not uncommon for USAAF P39 units in the PTO to strip their P39's in an effort to improve high alt performance.

Your first post made it seem like it was standard procedure for the VVS to strip their P39's of armour and wing Mg's. I am simply correcting that misconception, it did happen but it wasn't SOP.

The only reason the P39 was better in VVS hands was because it was very well suited to the low altitude short range tactical air combat on the east front.

S!