Bell P-39 Airacobra / P-63 Kingcobra PDF eBook & Aircraft Flight Manuals

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September 1973

  • “Kingcobra”- America’s Great Giveaway Fighter, Solving The Mystery Of Bell’s P-63

November 1978

  • Airborne Cobra, The Rise. Fall And Demise Of The Bell P-39 Airacobra (Pt. 1)

January 1979

  • Airborne Cobra, Pt. II Of The P-39 Story Revealing Bell’s Fighter In Its Manifold Forms

February 1979

  • Airborne Cobra, Painting Up The P-39 In All Its Glory

December 1990

  • Outcasts Of The Arsenal, The Worst Aviation Programs Of WWII Airacobra, Buffalo, Eagle & Helldiver

February 1995

  • The Saga Of Double Nickel, Buying A Surplus P-63 Kingcobra For $1,000, Racing It & Winning!Any Bonds Today?  In Addition To Patching Up P-39 Fighters, Our Distinguished Editor Also Built Floats To Sell War Bonds!

April 1998

  • Any Bonds Today?  In Addition To Patching Up P-39 Fighters, Our Distinguished Editor Also Built Floats To Sell War Bonds!

October 2000

  • Bell’s Premature Airacobra, Why It Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was!

Manuals & Photos

  • P-39 Engine Manual
  • P-39 Flight Manual
  • P-39 Gun Handbook
  • P-39 How Airacobras Are Built
  • P-39 Propeller Manual
  • P-39D Memorandum
  • P-39K Pilot’s Manual
  • P-39Q Pilot’s Manual
  • P-63 Design Analysis
  • P-63 Flight Manual
  • P-63A Flight Instructions
  • P-63A Parts Catalog
  • P-63A-C Maintenance
  • Over 280 P-39 & P-63 photos!

Bell P-39 Airacobra

  • P-39Q Specifications
  • P-39 Variants
  • P-39s On Display
  • P-39D Cutaway

General Characteristics


  • Crew: One
  • Length: 30 ft 2 in (9.2 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 0 in (10.4 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 5 in (3.8 m)
  • Wing area: 213 sq?ft (19.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 5,347 lb (2,425 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 7,379 lb (3,347 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 8,400 lb (3,800 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison V-1710-85 liquid-cooled V-12, 1,200 hp (895 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 376 mph (605 km/h) (Redline dive speed was 525 mph)
  • Range: 525 miles on internal fuel (840 km)
  • Service ceiling: 35,000 ft (10,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,750 ft/min (19 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 34.6 lb/sq?ft (169 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.16 hp/lb (0.27 kW/kg)
  • Time to climb: 15,000 in 4.5 min at 160 mph (260 km/h).


  • Guns:
    • 1 x 37 mm M4 cannon in nose (firing through the propeller hub). 30 rounds of HE-T ammunition gun.
    • 2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) synchronized Browning M2 machine guns, nose-mounted. 200 rounds per gun
    • 2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns, wing mounted. 300 rounds per gun
  • Bombs: Up to 500 lb (230 kg) of bombs under wings and belly


Bell Model 11, one prototype 38–326 first flown 6 April 1938. Powered by an Allison V-1710-17 (E2) engine (1,150 hp/858 kW), the aircraft was fitted with a General Electric B-5 turbosupercharger, creating a two stage supercharging system similar to the P-38. Provision was made for two .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the forward fuselage and one 25 mm (.98 in) cannon but aircraft remained unarmed. Later converted to XP-39B.


Bell Model 12, service test version, V-1710-37 (E5) engine (1,090 hp/813 kW). First two aircraft delivered with armament, the remained with a M4 37 mm (1.46 in) autocannon with 15 rounds, 2 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns with 200 rpg, and 2 × .30 in (7.62 in) machine guns with 500 rpg in the nose. wider vertical tail than XP-39B. 12 completed with the first flying 13 September 1940.
One intended to have a high-altitude V-1710-31 engine (1,150 hp/858 kW), but was delivered as a regular YP-39.


One conversion first flown 25 November 1939. Streamlined XP-39 based on NACAwind tunnel testing resulting in revised canopy and wheel door shape, oil and radiator intakes moved from right fuselage to wing roots, fuselage increased length (by 1 ft 1 in, to 29 ft 9 in) and decreased wingspan (by 1 ft 10 in, to 34 ft). The turbosupercharger was removed, and the single-stage, single speed, supercharged Allison V-1710-37 (E5) engine (1,090 hp/813 kW) was left in place. The carburetor air intake was moved behind canopy, just above the carburetor.


Bell Model 13, first flown in January 1941 it was the first production version, identical to YP-39 except for V-1710-35 engine (1,150 hp/858 kW). Armed with 1 × 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, 2 × .50 in (12.7 mm) & 2 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns in the nose. Aircraft lacked armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. Twenty produced out of an order of 80 the remainder were redesignated P-39D

Airacobra I

Airacobra I
Bell Model 13, Royal Air Force designation for three P-39Cs sent to United Kingdom England for testing.
Airacobra IA
Bell Model 14. Briefly named Caribou. V-1710-E4 (1,150 hp/858 kW) engine, 1 × 20 mm (.79 in) cannon with 60 rounds & 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns were mounted nose and four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns were mounted in the wings. IFF set removed from behind pilot. note: the designation IA indicates direct purchase aircraft; 675 built. The USAAF operated 128 former RAF aircraft with the designation P-400.


Bell Model 13, production variant based on the P-39C with 245 lb (111 kg) of additional armor, self-sealing fuel tanks. Armament increased to 1 × 37 mm/1.46 in cannon (30 rounds), 2 × .50 in/12.7 mm (200 rpg) and 4 × wing mounted .30 in/7.62 mm (1,000 rpg) machine guns; 60 Produced.
Bell Model 14A, production variant fitted with a 20 mm (.79 in) M1 cannon. Specifically ordered for delivery under Lend-Lease; 336 produced
Bell Model 14A-1, production variant with a V-1710-63 (E6) engine (1,325 hp/988 kW) restored the 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, provisions for a single 145 gal (549 l) drop tank or maximum 500 lb (227 kg) bomb under the fuselage; 158 produced.
26 conversions from P-39D-1 to Photo Reconnaissance Configuration; K-24 and K-25 camera in rear fuselage, extra armor for oil coolers
11 conversions from P-39D-2 to Photo Reconnaissance Configuration. Same modifications as D-3 aircraft.


Bell Model 23. three P-39Ds modified for ground and flight testing first flown 21 February 1942. Intended for Continental I-1430-1 engine with (2,100 hp/1,566 kW) actually flown with Allison V-1710-47 (1,325 hp/988 kW) engine. Airframes were used to test various wing and different vertical tail surfaces. Fuselage was lengthened by 1 ft 9 in (53 cm). Used in the development of the P-63. The production variants, with the Continental engines were to be redesignated as P-76; there was no Bell XP-76 as such.


Bell Model 15B, production variant with three-bladed Aeroproducts constant speed propeller, 12 exhaust stacks; 229 built.
One P-39F converted as a two-seat training version with additional cockpit added in nose— no armament.
27 conversions from P-39F-1 with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.


Bell Model 26, 1800 order and intended to be a P-39D-2 with an Aeroproducts propeller. Due to modifications during production no P-39G were actually delivered. Instead, these aircraft were designated P-39K, L, M and N.


  • Designation not used


Bell Model 15B, a P-39F with V-1710-59 (1,100 hp/820 kW) engine with automatic boost control,; 25 built.


Bell Model 26A, a P-39D-2 with Aeroproducts propeller and V-1710-63 (E6) (1,325 hp/988 kW) engine. Vents added to nose; 210 built.
Six conversion from P-39K-1 with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.
One conversion with a V-1710-85 (E19) engine to serve as a P-39N prototype


Bell Model 26C, a P-39K with Curtiss Electric propeller, revised nose gear for reduced drag, provision for underwing rockets; 250 built.
Eleven conversions from P-39L-1 with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.


Bell Model 26D, variant with an 11 ft 1 in Aeroproducts propeller, V-1710-67 (E8) (1,200 hp/895 kW) engine with improved high-altitude performance at the expense of low-altitude performance, 10 mph (16 km/h) faster than P-39L at 15,000 ft (4,600 m). Note: some P-39M-1BE were delivered with the V-1710-83 (E18) engine; 240 built.


Bell Model 26N, originally part of the P-39G order. V-1710-85 (E19) (1,200 hp/895 kW) engine. Aeroproducts propeller (10 ft 4 in diameter) & different propeller reduction gear ratio. Starting with the 167th aircraft, propeller increased to 11 ft 7 in & internal fuel reduced from 120 gal (454 l) to 87 gal (329 l); 500 built.
Variant with internal changes to adjust center of gravity when nose guns were fired; 900 built.
128 P-39N-1 converted with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.
35 P-39N converted with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.
Variant with armor reduced from 231 lb (105 kg) to 193 lb (88 kg), Armor plate replaced the bulletproof glass behind the pilot, SCR-695 radio was fitted, and a new oxygen system was installed; 695 built.
84 P-39N-5 converted with additional belly armor and cameras in rear fuselage.


  • Not used


  • The final production variant last one built in August 1944. Remaining examples redesignated as ZF-39Q in June 1948.
Bell Model 26Q, variant with wing-mounted 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns replaced with a single 0.50 in (12.7 mm) with 300 rounds of ammunition in a pod under each wing. Armor increased to the original 231 lb (105 kg) of armor of the P-39N-1BE; 150 built.
Five P-39Q-1s modified to carry cameras for photographic reconnaissance by adding K-24 and K-25 cameras in the aft fuselage.
Production variant with reduced armor (193 lb/88 kg), fuel capacity increased (110 gal/l). Type A-1 bombsight adapters added; 950 built.
One conversions to a two-seat training variant with additional cockpit added in nose – no armament. Enlarged tail fillet and a shallow ventral fin added.
148 P-39Q-5s modified to carry cameras for photographic reconnaissance by adding K-24 and K-25 cameras in the aft fuselage.
Variant with increased armor (228 lb/103 kg), fuel capacity increased (120 gal/454 l). Automatic Boost controls added and Throttle & RPM controls were coordinated. Winterization of oil systems and rubber mounts added to the engines; 705 built.
Eight P-39Q-10s modified to carry cameras for photographic reconnaissance by adding K-24 and K-25 cameras in the aft fuselage.
Production variant with reinforced inclined deck to prevent .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun tripod mounting cracking, bulkhead reinforcements to prevent rudder pedal wall cracking, a reinforced reduction gearbox bulkhead to prevent cowling former cracking, and repositioning of the battery solenoid. Oxygen system reduced from four bottle to only two; 1,000 built.
Production variant with minor equipment changes. The underwing 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun pods were sometimes omitted in this version; 1,000 built.
109 P-39Q-20 fitted with a four-bladed Aeroproducts propeller.
12 P-39Q-20s converted to two-seat trainers .
Production variant similar to the P-39Q-21 but with a reinforced aft-fuselage and horizontal stabilizer structure; 700 built.
Production variant that reverted to the three-bladed propellor; 400 built.
United States Navy designation for two P-39Qs used as target drones. Assigned to NAS Cape May for test work. Later redesignated F2L-1K.


The P-45 was the initial designation of the P-39C or Model 13.
XFL-1 Airabonita
One prototype for the United States Navy.


On display

  • 41-6951 – Beck Military Collection in Mareeba, Queensland.

Under restoration

  • 41-7215 – Precision Aerospace Productions in Glenrowan, Victoria.
  • 42-4312 – Classic Jet Fighter Museum in South Australia.


  • 44-2664 – Aviation Museum of Central Finland in Tikkakoski.

Papua New Guinea

  • 42-19039 – J. K. McCarthy Museum in Goroka, Papua New Guinea.

United States


  • 42-8740 (unnamed) – Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California.
  • 42-19597 Miss Connie – Commemorative Air Force (CenTex Wing) in San Marcos, Texas.
  • 42-19993 Brooklyn Bum – Lewis Air Legends in San Antonio, Texas.

On display

  • 42-18814 Girlie – Pima Air & Space Museum, adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona.
  • 42-18408 Snooks 2nd / Betty Lou 3rd – Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York.
  • 42-19027 Small Fry/Little Sir Echo – Planes of Fame in Chino, California.
  • 42-20000 (unnamed) – March Field Air Museum at March ARB (former March AFB) in Riverside, California.
  • 42-20007 (unnamed) – Virginia Air & Space Center near Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia.
  • 44-2485 (unnamed) – Erickson Aircraft Collection in Madras, Oregon
  • 44-3887 (unnamed) – National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
  • 44-3908 Whistlin Britches – Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Under restoration or in storage

  • 44-2433 Galloping Gertie – in storage at the Paul Garber Facility of the National Air and Space Museum in Silver Hill, Maryland.
  • 44-2911 Miss Lend Lease – under restoration at the Niagara Aerospace Museum in Niagara Falls, New York.

Bell P-63 Kingcobra

  • P-63A Specifications
  • P-63 Variants
  • P-39 On Display

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
  • XP-63 Prototypes (two) (company designation was Model 24); USAAF serials (41-19511 and 41-19512).
  • XP-63A Following the loss of the first two prototypes, an additional test aircraft was procured, USAAF serial 42-78015, originally ordered as a testbed for the proposed Rolls-Royce Merlin-poweredP-63B.
  • P-63A The production model Bell Model 33; 1725 P-63As produced in various sub-marks.
  • P-63B Proposed Rolls-Royce Merlin-poweredP-63B series was cancelled due to lack of availability of Merlin engines.
  • P-63C Second production series differed from the P-63A by being powered by the uprated Allison V-1710-117 engine with a war emergency rating of 1,500 hp (1,120 kW) at sea level and 1,800 hp (1,340 kW) with water injection. The wingspan was reduced by 10 inches (250 mm). A total production run of 1,227 was completed.
  • P-63D One aircraft (43-11718) powered by an Allison V-1710-109 (E22) 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) featured a 10 in (25 cm) wingspan increase (to 39 ft 2 in (11.94 m), gross area being increased to 255 sq ft (23.7 m2) and, most noticeably, a rearward-sliding bubble canopy. The series was cancelled in 1945.
  • P-63E Essentially similar to the P-63D with the exception of a ventral fin extension and the use of a standard “cab”-style cockpit; only 13 built.
  • P-63F Bell Model 43 variant featured an enlarged vertical tail and Allison V-1710-135; only two (43-11719 and 43-11722) built.
  • RP-63A/C “Pinball” Target aircraft with five modified from P-63As and 95 modified on production lines; in 1948, surviving RP-63A aircraft were redesignated QF-63A. A further 200 production RP-63C aircraft were modified on the production line. Similarly, the surviving RP-63Cs were redesignated QF-63Cs. Many of the “target” aircraft were actually used as target tugs.
  • RP-63G “Pinball” “Dedicated” flying targets which included two prototypes (43-11723and 11724) and 30 production aircraft that incorporated a flush dorsal inlet but, more significantly, lights that would come on when the target was struck with frangible munitions. In 1948, the remaining RP-63Gs were redesignated QF-63Gs.
  • L-39 Two war surplus P-63Cs modified by Bell under Navy contract for flight testing of low-speed and stall characteristics of high-speed wing designs.


On display

  • 43-11730 – Museo Del Aire, Toncontin International Airport, Tegucigalpa.


On display
  • 42-68875 – Russian Air Force Museum, Moscow.
  • 44-4011 – Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow.

United Kingdom

Under Restoration

  • 43-11137 – under restoration at the Wings Museum, Balcombe, West Sussex. The museum also has 5 other P-63 Airframes.

United States


  • 42-68864 Pretty Polly – Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, California.
  • 42-69080 Fatal Fang – Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California.
  • 43-11223 – Legacy of Flight Museum in Rexburg, Idaho.
  • 43-11719 – Commemorative Air Force (P-63 Sponsor Group) in San Marcos, Texas.

On display

  • 42-70609 – Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • 43-11727 – Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. It is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
  • 43-11728 – National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
  • 45-57295 – Lackland AFB, Texas.

Under Restoration or in storage

  • 42-68941 – to airworthiness by Commemorative Air Force (Dixie Wing) in Peachtree City, Georgia.
  • 42-70255 Edyth Louise – in storage at the Paul Garber Facility of the National Air and Space Museum in Silver Hill, Maryland.
  • 43-11117 – in storage at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.