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United States' Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter

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Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter:
United States' Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter
Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter:
United States' Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter
Bell P-63A Kingcobra fighter:
United States' Bell P-63A Kingcobra fighter
Bell P-63A Kingcobra fighter:
United States' Bell P-63A Kingcobra fighter

Design

The Bell P-63 Kingcobra was larger and had a more powerful engine than the Bell P-39.2,3,4

In June 1941 the US Army Air Force ordered two prototypes to be built.1

Like the P-39 it also had tricycle landing gear, engine behind the pilot, and a door similar to a car for the pilot.1 The P-63 had a taller tail.1

The intake, right behind the cockpit glass, provided air to the carburator.1

Prototype

The first flight of the XP-63 prototype was in / on December 19424,5 / December 7, 1942.1,2,3,4 Both prototypes were lost in early accidents.1

The third prototype, XP-63A, was first flown on April 26, 1943.2

Production

An order was placed in September 1942, before the prototypes first flight.5 Deliveries of the production version began in October 1943.1,3

  • Bell XP-63/A: 33
  • Bell P-63A: 1,7252,3,4,5
  • Bell P-63C: 1,2272,3
  • Bell P-63D: 12,3
  • Bell P-63E: 132,3,5
    • Production: May 19455
  • Bell P-63F: 12, 23
  • Bell RP-63A: 903, P-63A conversion: 1005
  • Bell RP-63C: 2003 , P-63C conversion: 2005
  • Bell RP-63G: 423
  • Total: 3,3001, 3,3033,4,5
    • Manufacturer: Bell Aircraft Corporation4,5
    • Manufacturing location: Buffalo, New York5
    • Production: ? - 19454

Orders Cancelled

At the end of World War II orders for 2,930 P-63Es were cancelled.3

Variants

  • Bell XP-63: Had an Allison V-1710-47 engine (1,325 HP).2
  • Bell XP-63A: Was the third prototype.2 Had an Allison V-1710-93 (1,500 HP).2
  • Bell P-63A-1: Delivery started in October 1943.2,5
  • Bell P-63A-10:
  • Bell P-63B: Was to have a Packard-Merlin engine but was never produced.3,5
  • Bell P-63C: Most supplied to the Soviet Union.2 Used Allison V-1710-177 engine.5 Wingspan reduced by 10".5
  • Bell P-63C-5: Ventral fin added below the tail.5
  • Bell P-63D: Larger wing and bubble canopy.2,3,5 Had an V-1710-109 engine.2 Aerodynamics were cleaned up.5 Could go 437 mph5.
  • Bell P-63E: Used standard canopy of earlier models (pre P-63D).2,3,5 Had the V-1710-109 engine.3
  • Bell P-63F: New vertical tail surfaces.2,3 Used an V-1710-135 engine.2,3
  • Bell RP-63A: Had armor and armament removed.3,5 A tough aluminum skin was added to the wings, fuselage, tail, and canopy.3,5 Firing aircraft fired frangible bullets.3,5 If a hit was scored a red light on the spinner would blink giving the aircraft the nickname "Pinball."3,5 100 P-63As converted.5
  • Bell RP-63C: Had armor and armament removed.3 A tough aluminum skin was added to the wings, fuselage, tail, and canopy.3 Firing aircraft fired frangible bullets.3 If a hit was scored a red light on the spinner would blink giving the aircraft the nickname "Pinball."3 Allison engine was water injected.5
  • Bell RP-63G: Had armor and armament removed.3 A tough aluminum skin was added to the wings, fuselage, tail, and canopy.3 Firing aircraft fired frangible bullets.3 If a hit was scored a red light on the spinner would blink giving the aircraft the nickname "Pinball."3

Usage

Countries Using P-63s

France (P-63C: 1145) , Soviet Union (P-63A: 1,3865, total: 2,3765), United Kingdom and the United States used the P-63.3 However, the United States never used it in combat, only as a trainer or a target aircraft.1,3,4,5

The US Army Air Force decided it wasn't advanced enough and around 2,400 / 2,4213 P-63s were shipped to Russia.1,3 Around 300 went to the Free French forces.1,3,4 One was sent to the RAF.1

Korea

There were some reports by United Nations' pilots that they encountered P-63s flown by North Koreans.1 They were code named "Fred" by NATO.5

Indo China

The French Armée de l'Air flew 5 squadrons of P-63C Kingcobras in Indo China.5

Specifications

  Bell P-63 Kingcobra3
Type Fighter bomber3, Manned target3
Crew 13
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades 43
Dimensions  
Span 38' 4"3
11.68 m3
Length 32' 8"3
9.95 m3
Height 12' 7"3
3.83 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Through propeller hub 37 mm3
Nose 2: 0.5" MG3
Under wing 2: 0.5" MG3
Bombs 3: 500 lb3
3: 227 kg3
  Bell P-63A Kingcobra1,4
Type Fighter1,4, Ground Attack1
Crew 11,4
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-931,3, Allison V-1710-954
Cylinders V 121,3,4
Cooling Liquid1,4
HP 1,3251,3,4
Propeller blades 41
Dimensions  
Span 38' 4"1,4
11.68 m1
Length 32' 8"1,4
9.96 m1
Height 12' 7"1,4
3.84 m1
Wing area 248ft2 1
23.04 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 6,375 lb3, 6,932 lb1
2,892 kg1,3
Loaded 10,479 lb1, 10,500 lb3,4
4,763 kg1,3
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 24,450' /
7,450 m
408 mph3,4
656 kph3
Speed @ 25,000' /
7,620 m
409 mph1
660 kph1
Cruising speed 377 mph1
608 kph1
Climb to 25,000' /
7,620 m
7.3 minutes3
Service ceiling 43,0003,4, 43,200'1
13,105 m3, 13,106 m1
Range 450 miles1,3,4
724 km1,3
Armament 1: 37 mm4
4: MG4
Through propeller hub 37 mm1
30 rounds1
Nose 2: 12.7 mm1
Under wing 6 rockets1
Bombs 520 lb1, 1,500 lb4
237 kg1
  Bell P-63A-1 Kingcobra2
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Through propeller hub 37 mm M42
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG2
Wings 2: 12.7 mm MG2
Bombs 3: 500 lb2
3: 226.8 kg2
  Bell P-63A-10 Kingcobra2
Type Fighter bomber2
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 38' 4"2
11.68 m2
Length 32' 8"2
9.96 m2
Height 12' 7"2
3.83 m2
Wing area 248 ft2 2
23.04 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 6,375 lb2
2,892 kg2
Loaded 10,500 lb2
4,763 kg2
Performance  
Speed @ 5,000' /
1,524 m
361 mph2
581 kph2
Speed @ 25,000' /
7,620 m
410 mph2
660 kph2
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Range with external tanks
@ 177 mph / 285 kph
@ 10,000' / 3,048 m
2,200 miles2
3,540 km2
Armament  
  Bell P-63C Kingcobra3
Type Fighter bomber5
Crew 15
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-1173,5
Cylinders 125
Cooling Water5
HP 1,5103, 1,8005
Propeller blades 4 constant speed5
Dimensions  
Span 38' 4"5
Length 32' 8"5
Height  
Wing area 248 ft2 5
Weight  
Empty 6,800 lb5
Loaded 8,800 lb5
Performance  
Speed @ 25,000' 410 mph5
Cruising speed 356 mph5
Climb  
Service ceiling 38,600'5
Range - loaded 320 miles5
Range - max 2,100 miles5
Armament  
Propeller hub 1: 37 mm5
Nose 2: .50 cal MG5
Wing pods 2: .50 cal MG5
Bombs - fuselage and wings 1,500 lb5

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. The Great Book of Fighters, William Green, Gordon Swanborough, 1994
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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