Bell P-39N Airacobra

The Bell P-39N was the first version of the Airacobra to be produced in truly large numbers, with a total of production run of 2,095 aircraft in three main sub-series. All three were powered by the Allison V-1710-85 (E19) engine, and could carry 75 US gallon and 175 US gallon belly fuel tanks.


The first 500 aircraft were produced as the simple P-39N. Of these the first 166 aircraft carried the same amount of internal fuel as earlier Airacobras – 120 US gallons – but after that three fuel cells were removed to reduce weight, reducing the internal fuel capacity to 75 US gallons. All 500 P-39Ns used the 10ft 4in Aeroproducts propeller.


The 900 P-39N-1s differed from the P-39N only in that they used the 11ft 7in Aeroproducts propeller.


The P-39N-2 designation was given to 128 P-38N-1s converted to act as photographic reconnaissance aircraft.


The P-39N-3 designation was given to a further 35 aircraft converted in the same way.


The 695 P-39N-5s were similar to the -1, but with a series of minor changes. The bullet-proof glass behind the pilot’s head was replaced with armour plate, while the radio and oxygen systems were improved.

Bell P-39 Airacobra, Robert F. Dorr with Jerry C. Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed looked at the development and service history of this controversial American fighter aircraft. The P-39 had a poor reputation amongst British and American pilots, and Dorr examines the reasons why, as well as looking at why the same aircraft was so much more popular in Soviet Service. Scutts provides a chapter on the P-63 Kingcobra, and the book also covers the numerous Bell fighter projects that failed to enter production.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 July 2008), Bell P-39N Airacobra ,

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