P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

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KirkR63
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P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by KirkR63 » 23 Apr 2022 13:59

I was wondering if anyone out there has any online archives, websites, or material that they would be willing to share concerning the aerial tactics of the P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk. I am mostly looking for after actions combat reports written by the pilots who flew these fighters in the Southwest Pacific, against the Japanese during World War II. In addition, does anyone have any combat reports from the Japanese fighter pilots concerning their experiences in combatting these two fighter planes. I have the usual books on Japanese fighter pilots, Samurai by Saburo Sakai and the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series, but that is all. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

V/R

Kirk

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fontessa
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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by fontessa » 02 May 2022 13:22

As for P-39

There weren't many opportunities to engage the IJNAF fighters with the P-39s, so there aren't many pilot recollections left. I found the kill scores of P-39s by Zeke were as below. They say nothing about the performance of P-39. But IJNAF called P-39 “鰹節 Katsuobushi”. The reason is clear from the figure below. "Katsuobushi" is a very hard-smoked bonito. In Japan, "Katsuobushi" was / is sliced thinly by a "Katsuobushi slicer" to obtain the soup stock of inosinic acid. Their evaluation of P-39 should be clear from the fact that Japanese pilots used such a playful name.
笹井醇一中尉 LTJG Sasai Jun’ichi (TNAG): P-39 x 3 (35FS) over Port Moresby on 4 May 1942
岩本徹三飛曹長 FWO Iwamoto Tetsuzo (281NAG): P-39 x 2 over Rabaul on 17 February 1943
太田敏夫2飛曹 FPO2 Ota Toshio: P-39 x 1 (35FS) + P-39 x 1 (36FS) both over Port Moresby on 16 June 1942
羽藤一志3飛曹 FPO3 Hato Kazushi: P-39 x 1 (35FS) over Port Moresby 25 June 1942 + P-39 x 1 (41FS) over New Guinea on 2 August 1942
The only one P-39’s kill of Zeke I could find is as follows. P-400 was an export model that replaced the 37mm canon with a 20mm canon for the RAF. Did 39FS use them?
39FS Lieutenant Karan L. Jones' P-400 shot down HFPO Yoshino's Zeke over Lae on 9 June 1942.

A 5th Air Group detachment was dispatched to Aleutian to defend Attu and Kiska, which were captured in June 1942. The detachment was equipped with a Rufe (Fighter Seaplane) because it was difficult to build an airfield there. The P-39 vs Rufe kill score was as follows;
A P-39 (45FS) was shot down on 26 September 1942.
A P-39 (54FS) and two Rufes were shot down on 29 September 1942.
Two Rufes were shot down on 2 October 1942.
P-39 did not seem to lag behind the Seaplane Fighter.

I have one question about the use of the 37mm canon;
The YFM Airacuda for long-range bomber escort which was proposed by Bell Aircraft was also equipped with 37mm canons. 37mm canon has a slow rate of fire and a small number of ammunition, so I don't think it was suitable for anti-fighter combat. But Bell Aircraft seems too particular about the 37mm canon. Why?

鰹節.jpg

2式水戦.jpg

BellAiracuda.jpg

fontessa
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Sheldrake
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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by Sheldrake » 02 May 2022 15:57

Try "Bloody Shambles" by Chris Shores for accounts of actions by P40 pilots in the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies and Burma.

The Bell aircraft company emphasized the 37mm cannon in its marketing literature. There was an advertisement for the P39 in a 1941 issue of The War Illustrated that included an artists impression of the P39 in the tank buster role.

The 37mm was an effective aircraft gun in WW1. Georges Guynemer a high scoring French ace shot down aircraft with a SPAD XII mounting a 37mm gun firing through the propeller shaft

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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by Orwell1984 » 02 May 2022 16:34

The best and most recent books that would help you are published by Avonmore Books in Australia.

Both the South Pacific Airwar series and the Pacific Adversaries series will be useful.

Both Japanese and Allied sources are used by author in both cases.

They are the new standard in writing on air combat in the SWP theatre.

https://avonmorebooks.com.au/?page=2

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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by KirkR63 » 03 May 2022 02:23

I want to thank you all for your help and input. I will look into your suggestions.!!!!!

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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by Cantankerous » 14 May 2022 18:04

fontessa wrote:
02 May 2022 13:22
As for P-39

There weren't many opportunities to engage the IJNAF fighters with the P-39s, so there aren't many pilot recollections left. I found the kill scores of P-39s by Zeke were as below. They say nothing about the performance of P-39. But IJNAF called P-39 “鰹節 Katsuobushi”. The reason is clear from the figure below. "Katsuobushi" is a very hard-smoked bonito. In Japan, "Katsuobushi" was / is sliced thinly by a "Katsuobushi slicer" to obtain the soup stock of inosinic acid. Their evaluation of P-39 should be clear from the fact that Japanese pilots used such a playful name.
笹井醇一中尉 LTJG Sasai Jun’ichi (TNAG): P-39 x 3 (35FS) over Port Moresby on 4 May 1942
岩本徹三飛曹長 FWO Iwamoto Tetsuzo (281NAG): P-39 x 2 over Rabaul on 17 February 1943
太田敏夫2飛曹 FPO2 Ota Toshio: P-39 x 1 (35FS) + P-39 x 1 (36FS) both over Port Moresby on 16 June 1942
羽藤一志3飛曹 FPO3 Hato Kazushi: P-39 x 1 (35FS) over Port Moresby 25 June 1942 + P-39 x 1 (41FS) over New Guinea on 2 August 1942
The only one P-39’s kill of Zeke I could find is as follows. P-400 was an export model that replaced the 37mm canon with a 20mm canon for the RAF. Did 39FS use them?
39FS Lieutenant Karan L. Jones' P-400 shot down HFPO Yoshino's Zeke over Lae on 9 June 1942.

A 5th Air Group detachment was dispatched to Aleutian to defend Attu and Kiska, which were captured in June 1942. The detachment was equipped with a Rufe (Fighter Seaplane) because it was difficult to build an airfield there. The P-39 vs Rufe kill score was as follows;
A P-39 (45FS) was shot down on 26 September 1942.
A P-39 (54FS) and two Rufes were shot down on 29 September 1942.
Two Rufes were shot down on 2 October 1942.
P-39 did not seem to lag behind the Seaplane Fighter.

I have one question about the use of the 37mm canon;
The YFM Airacuda for long-range bomber escort which was proposed by Bell Aircraft was also equipped with 37mm canons. 37mm canon has a slow rate of fire and a small number of ammunition, so I don't think it was suitable for anti-fighter combat. But Bell Aircraft seems too particular about the 37mm canon. Why?


鰹節.jpg



2式水戦.jpg



BellAiracuda.jpg


fontessa
P-39 Airacobra pilots reported that when the P-39s fought against the A6M Zeros in the skies over New Guinea, they found out that the Zero was either equal to or close to the P-39 in speed at the altitudes of various low level combat encounters. It's no surprise that the P-39's lack of a turbosupercharger handicapped its ability to perform combat at high-altitudes.

The FM-1 Airacuda was meant for intercepting bomber aircraft, like the Bf 110, Me 210, Me 410, P-38, and Pe-3, not air-to-air duels with enemy fighters.

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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2022 18:57

fontessa wrote:
02 May 2022 13:22
I have one question about the use of the 37mm canon;
The YFM Airacuda for long-range bomber escort which was proposed by Bell Aircraft was also equipped with 37mm canons.
As far as I can tell, the Airacuda was only proposed as a bomber destroyer, i.e., a long-range bomber interceptor, and was never proposed as an escort fighter. It was also not built to any USAAF specification, but was rather built by Bell as a speculative venture. The original 37mm armament proposed was by the American Armaments Corporation run by the famous - or infamous - Miranda brothers, rather than the much later 37mm M4. The Miranda's had considerable influence with both Bell and Brewster prewar, and I believe the Airacuda was mostly a marketing tool to promote the supposed virtues of the 37mm gun armament in aircraft. The gun itself was a variant on the McClean (AKA "Macklen") 37mm pre-WW I "heavy 1-pounder" gun.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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fontessa
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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by fontessa » 14 May 2022 20:04

Thanks for your comments.

P-39
My understanding is;
P-39 was initially conceived as an interceptor with a turbocharged engine. But high altitude interceptor was integrated into the P-38 and the turbocharger of P-39 disappeared.

Airacuda
My understanding was;
In the 1930s, many twin-engine fighters were put into practical use for a long-range bomber escort which was thought to be impossible with a single-engine fighter at that time.
Potez 601 (French Air Force)
Bf-110 (Luftbuffe)
Whirlwind (RAF)
JN1N After called Irving (IJNAF)
Ki-45 After called Nick (IJAAF)
In Japan, it is believed that Airacuda was proposed for a long-range bomber escort as part of this trend.
I also believed it. But it is understandable your below comment;
It was also not built to any USAAF specification, but was rather built by Bell as a speculative venture.

Potez 631
Potez 631.jpg

Bf-110
Bf-110A.jpg

Whirlwind
Westland Whirlwind.jpg

JN1N
13試双発陸上戦闘機.jpg

Ki-45
Ki-45.jpg

fontessa
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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 May 2022 21:47

fontessa wrote:
14 May 2022 20:04
Thanks for your comments.

P-39
My understanding is;
P-39 was initially conceived as an interceptor with a turbocharged engine. But high altitude interceptor was integrated into the P-38 and the turbocharger of P-39 disappeared.
Yes, XP-39 was in response to a June 1936 Army Air Corps request for a single-seat fighter. Note that most histories of the P-39, like the Airacuda, claim the 37mm gun was a "T9 cannon designed by the American Armament Corporation, a subsidiary of the Oldsmobile automobile manufacturer", which is entirely incorrect. American Armament Corporation was a shell company run by the Miranda brothers, initially to sell arms to South American countries in contravention of American neutrality laws and was never affiliated with General Motors or Oldsmobile. In the process, they managed to pick up a number of patents for various weapons, principally the 37mm gun, and peddled it in various guises (slightly different chamber sizes and different cases, different barrel lengths, and various "automatic" feed systems that never worked). Their biggest success prewar was with the Netherlands, selling various models of their 37mm guns for naval and army use. They also repeatedly got into hot water and were convicted in 1938 of violating the Neutrality Act, spending some time in jail and then again caused a stink in 1942 over their questionable dealings with Brewster Corporation.

However, their guns have nothing to do in reality with the 37mm aircraft cannon M4 and M9 of the USAAF, all of which derived from John Browning's three 37mm designs he built and tested between 1921 and 1936.
Airacuda
My understanding was;
In the 1930s, many twin-engine fighters were put into practical use for a long-range bomber escort which was thought to be impossible with a single-engine fighter at that time.
Potez 601 (French Air Force)
Bf-110 (Luftbuffe)
Whirlwind (RAF)
JN1N After called Irving (IJNAF)
Ki-45 After called Nick (IJAAF)
In Japan, it is believed that Airacuda was proposed for a long-range bomber escort as part of this trend.
I also believed it.
Yes many twin-engine fighter designs came out of the 1930s worldwide. For the US Army Air Corps, it was design competition X-608, also from June 1936. It was competed by Lockheed, Boeing, Consolidated, Curtiss, Douglas, and Vultee, but not Bell AFAIK. The result was the Lockheed XP-38.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

Post by fontessa » 15 May 2022 04:49

Hello Anderson,

Thanks for the useful comments especially for 37mm cannon. Unfortunately for P-38, neither Japan nor German couldn’t develop high-altitude bombers that needed high-altitude interceptors. But I don't know of any example where P-38s were even used for mid-low altitude interception. If you know something, please let me know. Unfortunately, the IJN pilot's evaluation of P-38 involved in the dogfight with Zero was not high. They used to call P-38 the playful name "ペロ八 Pelo8 Licking-8? : English translation is difficult.", '"ロ lo" and “8” meant l of Lockheed and 8 of P-38 each. Impressive on P-38 was an ambush attack on Yamamoto Isoroku based on the code-breaking. Unfortunately, the difference in the ability of code-breaking between the US and Japan was extremely large. And it was a serious mistake for IJN to attach only 6 Zeros escorts for 2 Bettys.

fontessa

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