No. 13076. Bell 26Q P-39Q Airacobra (44-32648) USAAF
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 3066

Bell 26Q P-39Q Airacobra

03/15/2017. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "The P-39Q was built in larger numbers than any other P-39 version and the principal change was concerned with the fighter's armament. The four 0.30 in (7.62 mm) wing guns were removed and a single 0.50 in (12.7 mm) gun was mounted beneath each mainplane, although in the P-39Q-20-BE batch the underwing guns were sometimes omitted. The P-39Q retained the hub-mounted 1.46 in (37 mm) cannon, the two fuselage-mounted 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns and a 250 lb (113 kg), 325 lb (147 kg), or 500 lb (226 kg) bomb. Weight of armor varied among different production blocks; the P-39Q-1-BE having 231 lb (105 kg), the P-39Q-5-BE having 193 lb (88 kg), and the P-39Q-10-BE having 227 lb (103 kg).

There was no further engine change in the Airacobra after the appearance of the P-39N model, the 1,325 hp Allison V-1710-85 twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled V-engine, but there were some differences in internal fuel tankage among the early P-39Qs, the P-39Q-1-BE having 87 gal (329 l), the P-39Q-5-BE having 110 gal (416 l), and the P-39Q-10-BE and subsequent versions reverting to the 120 gal (454 l) of previous versions. In the P-39Q-20-BE batch various types of airscrew were fitted, the P-39Q-21 and P-39Q-25-BE having four-bladers, although the P-39Q-30-BE reverted to the three-blader as tests indicated that directional stability was materially worsened by the four-blader without any commensurate gain in performance.

One of the last USAAF units to receive the Airacobra was the 332nd Fighter Group which took 75 P-39Qs to the 15th Air Force in Italy in February 1944. No less than 4,905 P-39Qs had been completed when Airacobra production finally terminated in August 1944, the bulk of which were supplied to the Soviet Union, including the aircraft above, pictured before delivery. In fact, of the 9,558 Airacobras of all types produced during the production life of this fighter, 4,924 were allocated to the Soviet Union, 4,758 of these reaching their destination. The Airacobra was popular with the Russians who appreciated its close-support capabilities. 165 Airacobras were also supplied to the Free French, and the peak USAAF inventory of this fighter was 2,105 machines in February 1944, although by the following August all first-line groups had re-equipped with later types.

Created March 15, 2017