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Bell P-63 Kingcobra

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Old April 16th 18, 01:45 PM posted to alt.binaries.pictures.aviation
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Default Bell P-63 Kingcobra


The Bell P-63 Kingcobra is an American fighter aircraft developed by Bell
Aircraft in World War II from the Bell P-39 Airacobra in an attempt to correct
that aircraft's deficiencies. Although the P-63 was not accepted for combat use
by the United States Army Air Forces, it was adopted by the Soviet Air Force.

While the P-39 had originally been introduced as an interceptor, later in its
development it was decided to reduce the cost and complexity of the engine by
removing the turbocharger. High-altitude performance suffered dramatically as a
result, and Bell proposed an experimental series to test out a variety of

The resulting XP-39E featured two primary changes from the earlier P-39D from
which it was developed. One was a redesigned wing. The root airfoil, a NACA 0015
on other models of the P-39, was changed to a NACA 0018, to gain internal
volume. The other was a switch to the Continental I-1430 engine, which featured
an improved overall design developed from the hyper engine efforts, as well as
an improved supercharger.

Although the XP-39E proved disappointing, the USAAF was nevertheless interested
in an even larger aircraft based on the same basic layout. Even before its first
flight, the USAAF placed an order on 27 June 1941 for two prototypes of an
enlarged version powered by the same V-1710-47. The new design was given the
designation XP-63 and serials were 41-19511 and 41-19512. A third prototype was
also ordered, 42-78015, using the Packard V-1650, the U.S.-built version of the
Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

In September 1942, even before the prototype flew, the USAAF ordered it into
production as the P-63A (Model 33). The P-63A's armament was to be the same as
the current P-39Q, a single 37 mm (1.46 in) M4 cannon firing through the
propeller hub, two synchronized 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the cowl, and
two 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in underwing gondolas.

Fighter aircraft

National origin
United States

Bell Aircraft

First flight
7 December 1942

October 1943


Primary users
United States Army Air Forces
Soviet Air Force
French Air Force


Number built

Unit cost

US$65,914 (1945)

Developed from
Bell P-39 Airacobra

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. In February 1944, the Soviet government sent a highly
experienced test pilot, Andrey G. Kochetkov, and an aviation engineer, Fyodor P.
Suprun, to the Bell factories to participate in the development of the first
production variant, the P-63A. Initially ignored by Bell engineers, Kochetkov's
expert testing of the machine's spin characteristics (which led to airframe
buckling) eventually led to a significant Soviet role in the development. After
flat spin recovery proved impossible, and upon Kochetkov's making a final
recommendation that pilots should bail out upon entering such a spin, he
received a commendation from the Irving Parachute Company. The Kingcobra’s
maximum aft CG was moved forward to facilitate recovery from spins.

Swept-wing L-39

Two war surplus P-63Cs were modified by Bell under Navy contract for flight
testing of low-speed and stall characteristics of high-speed wing designs. The
aircraft received new wings with adjustable leading edge slats, trailing edge
flaps and a pronounced sweep of 35 degrees. The wings had no wheel wells; only
the nose gear was retractable. L-39-1 first flew 23 April 1946, demonstrating a
need for extra tail surface and rear fuselage length to balance the aircraft in
flight—the wing repositioning reduced empennage effectiveness and moved the
center of lift aft. A lighter three-bladed propeller from a P-39Q-10 was mounted
and the necessary changes to the empennage were made. L-39-2 incorporated these
adjustments from the start. L-39-1 later went to NACA at Langley for wind tunnel
testing, where much valuable data were gathered. L-39-2 also served as a testbed
for the Bell X-2 40-degree wing design.

Specifications (P-63A)

General characteristics
Crew: 1
Length: 32 ft 8 in (10.0 m)
Wingspan: 38 ft 4 in (11.7 m)
Height: 12 ft 7 in (3.8 m)
Wing area: 248 sq?ft (23 m²)
Empty weight: 6,800 lb (3,100 kg)
Loaded weight: 8,800 lb (4,000 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 10,700 lb (4,900 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison V-1710-117 liquid-cooled V-12, 1,800 hp (1,340 kW)

Maximum speed: 410 mph (660 km/h) at 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Range: 450 mi (725 km)
Ferry range: 2,200 mi (3,540 km)
Service ceiling: 43,000 ft (13,100 m)
Rate of climb: 2,500 ft/min (12.7 m/s)
Wing loading: 35.48 lb/sq?ft (173.91 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.20 hp/lb (0.34 kW/kg)


Guns: 1× 37 mm M4 cannon firing through the propeller hub. From the A-9 version
of the aircraft onward, the M4 gun was replaced with the slightly improved M10
37 mm cannon, which used a disintegrating link ammunition belt, increasing the
ammo capacity to 58 rounds; the M10 also had a slightly higher rate of fire.
4× 0.50 in (12.7mm) M2 Browning machine guns (two synchronized in the nose, two
in the wings)

Bombs: 1,500 lb (680 kg) bomb load on wing and fuselage



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