Designer: Jim Pepino
Wing Span: 80.5 inches
Length: 71 inches
Engine: Gas; Quadra 40 – 50
Engine: Glow; Super Tigre S2500 – S3000
This unique fighter aircraft was the first USAAF aircraft to be build and enter service as a tricycle landing gear. From original design at Bell Aircraft, it had the V-12 Allison engine installed mid fuselage. The engine sat just behind the pilot with the drive shaft running forward under the floor of the cockpit to a gearbox that ran the 3 blade and later 4 blade propeller. It was also the first US aircraft to be designed as a weapon platform with the Oldsmobile 37 mm canon.
The performance was less than requested, especially at altitude. A single stage turbo charger did not supply enough for the P-39 to perform well at high altitude and was now comparable to other aircraft on both sides.
We have all heard that the Soviets used the P-39 with great success. Unlike many stories that stated the P-39 was primarily used as a tank buster and ground support aircraft, this is untrue. It’s primary mission was air to air and the top two Soviet aces were flying P-39’s.
P-39 served in the following Air Forces:
Australia, Italy, France, Poland, Portugal, Soviet Union, United Kingdom & United States.