View Full Version : The P39 & P63

10-09-2005, 08:01 AM
Can somebody enlighten me on the issues the US airforce had with the airacobra & kingcobra & why they were not used as much as the P40s, P47 & P51s. In the sim they are excellent planes to use, from all reports the soviets liked these planes very much. So was it tactical issues or was the P39 & P63 a pig to fly in a "USAAF" sort of way?

10-09-2005, 08:15 AM
P-39: Range and altitude performance

P-63: Range and speed

10-09-2005, 08:28 AM
The prototype of the P-39 had been fitted with an exhaust driven turbo-supercharger but when it went into production the Allison was fitted with a single-speed/single-stage supercharger. This cut the Cobra's uselful ceiling to about 5,000M.

Due to a pre-war misconception that the Japanese were near-sighted and flew around in antiquated biplanes and open cockpit fighters, the P-39 was still considered a viable choice for use in the Pacific theatre. In Europe The need for better high altitude performance was impressed upon the Army Air Force by the British and so the first American fighter units in the ETO flew Spit MkVbs instead of P-39s or P-40s.

In the Pacific no American plane really did that well at the beginning of the war and they all developed reputations for substandard performance. The Japanese usually operated bombers above the P-39s ceiling which was even lower than 5,000M in the heat of the South Pacific. Making interceptions was next to impossible given a lack of early warning and no radar. The P-39s also suffered because their pilots were trying to go toe to toe with Japanese fighters in turn and burn combat which wasn't going to work for obvious reasons. The 37MM was also prone to jamming in the heat.

The Russians had a field day with the P-39 because all their operations took place below 5,000M. The production quality of the plane was higher having been produced in the US rather than in war torn Russia (this factor really doesn't show up in the game), the P-39 could certainly take a hit, and its robust frame allowed it to dive with 109s and 190s.

10-09-2005, 08:40 AM
Sorry, forgot the P-63. It was a good fighter but by the time it was developed there was no real need for it. Allied fighter roles were being filled by highly competent designs. There was no reasons to introduce a new fighter, train pilots and maintenance crews for it, and then devote resources to its production and supply in the field if it wasn't going to perform a mission better than something already available.

P-47s and P-38s sure had ground attack locked up for the AAF. Both fighters could carry a significant bomb load and take tremendous damage while till carrying the pilot back to base. The two fighters also had the range to strike targets deep behind the lines. The P-63 would have suffered many of the same problems the P-51 did in the ground attack role with lighter construction and a single inline engine.

In terms of fighter ops, the P-51 had the range to take the bombers anywhere they needed to go. Given its tactical situtation the P-51 was doing very well against the Luftwaffe and there was no need to replace it with a shorter range fighter that represented the further development of a plane loving called the "Iron Dog" by its pilots. In the Pacific much of the Air to Air stuff was being handled by the Navy by the time the P-63 was getting ready to go and new P-47 models and P-51s would be doing the escorting for the B-29s whose fighter escort would need seriously "long legs" to follow them all the way to their targets.

10-09-2005, 08:47 AM
P-63 really wasn't that bad of a plane, but as bear said there was no use for it.

10-09-2005, 09:10 AM
I thought the P-63 was designed chiefly for use by the VVS. About 90% of the production went to Russia, and during the design process, Russian designers were brought in to discuss what they felt were required improvements on the P-39 airframe.

I don't think it was ever intended for use as a primary fighter in any other air force.

10-09-2005, 09:31 AM
The development of the P-63 was an effort by Bell to get the AAF to operate the Cobra by increasing the plane's speed and alitutde performance (they ended up constructing basically a whole new plane). The AAF didn't bite and sent the Cobras to Russia. Although I'm sure information about Russian combat experience was considered during the initial design phases of the King Cobra, it was only after the first examples of the fighter were in Russian hands that Russian requirements and design suggestions directly impacted the development of the P-63.

10-09-2005, 09:38 AM
had non 50cal weapons, thats just heathendom tbh http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif

10-09-2005, 01:54 PM
the AAF did use them in the training roll and as flying (manned!!!) targets....research the pinball project; I believe some replaced P39s in teh fighter introduction role in training, so the support mechanism was there, and it used an improved allison engine.

the free french air force used them as well, though i dont know the history of that use.

What amazes me is that we had plenty of P-63s laying around (which was an extremely high performance plane down low), but continued to issue P-40Ns to some units, mainly in the pacific, and especially the 14th air force in china, right up to the end of the war.

The P-63 would have been a far better choice than a P-40, similiar range, faster, and far better in air to air combat at the altitudes it was usually done in the pacific.

Im pretty sure the north korean air force used them and possibly p39s in korea, but i cant find much info on this.

10-09-2005, 02:08 PM
it was due to training. Is what I've read, ttruth fo that statement i'm not sure. But it makes sense to me. Besides I'm sure those groups getting the P-40N would have frowned on the P-63. When u love your ride anything new or strage you would hate ate first site. 56thFG stayed in 47's and was the only uint to do so, I think there were 2 FGs left flying the P-40 at wars end, I'm not sure though.

10-09-2005, 03:34 PM
Chuck Yeager and the 357th FG trained on P-39's at Hamilton AFB in 1943 and loved the plane. What the people above said--a nice airplane to fly (as long as you didn't spin it) but a poor war weapon in terms of USAAF needs. Fit the Russians like a glove.


10-09-2005, 03:44 PM
Couple other things too-

1) it was feared that the mid-mounted engine would come loose in a crash and crush the pilot

2) it was feared the mid-mounted engine MUST hurt CG in some undetectable way

3) the mid-mounted engine meant that an extension shaft went right under the pilot's seat- directly bebeath and between his feet. it was feared that this would immasculate the pilot in a crash

10-09-2005, 05:50 PM
Originally posted by Enforcer572005:
What amazes me is that we had plenty of P-63s laying around (which was an extremely high performance plane down low), but continued to issue P-40Ns to some units, mainly in the pacific, and especially the 14th air force in china, right up to the end of the war.

This probably had as much to do with training and supply issues as anything else. It's far easier to equip units with the same type planes since there is less need for duplication of supplies of engines, avionics, etc. That's why several bomb groups in the 8th AF transitioned from B-24s to B-17s in 1944, making the 3rd Bomb Division completely equipped with Fortresses (1st BD was always all-B17 and the 2nd BD was all-B24). This was also part of the reason for transitioning nearly all of the 8th's P-47 groups to P-51s.