Bell's mid-engined P-39 Airacobra was featured in a Design Analysis article [ PDF, 28 MiB ], [ HTML ] in the May, 1943, issue of Aviation magazine.
The PDF is recovered from microfilm.
Air Tech also published a fairly detailed design analysis [ HTML ], in their August, 1944, issue.
While not the darling of the press that some of the other planes herein were, the Airacobra nonetheless garnered its fair share of magazine articles.
Because of its close relationship, the P-63 Kingcobra and XFL-1 Airabonita are included in this page. The P-63 was widely considered to be a straightforward upgrade of the P-39. The XFL was an experimental modification for carrier use; it would appear that the US Navy was not prepared to deal with tricycle landing gear or liquid-cooled engines on their carriers in 1939.
- A news clip [ HTML ] in the "Aviation News: Defense" column for March, 1940, mentions announcement of the Airacobra.
- "Unveiling The Airacobra" [ HTML ] is an introduction to the new pursuit plane.
- The P-39 is described and discussed in "New Eagles for the Army" [ PDF, 12.2 MiB ] , [ HTML ]
- "Why a Rear Engine Installation" [ HTML ] describes the design considerations and issues of implementing the mid-engine installation that was perhaps the most defining character of the Airacobra.
- "Keep 'Em Flying Abroad" [ HTML ] describes how Bell made provision for servicing Airacobras in England.
- "Bell P-39D Airacobra" includes a photo: "Belly tank increases Airacobra's range."
- "Our Planes Can Fight!" [ PDF, 9
5 MiB ] , [ HTML ] mentions the P-39 and "its superiority to the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt in the medium-altitude field"
- "American Aircraft in the RAF" [ HTML ] describes RAF reaction to the Airacobra.
- "Cobra" [ HTML ] is a one-page introductory article with a few specs.
- "Has Aviation Doomed the Tank?" [ HTML ] mentions the Airacobra as an effective tank buster in Africa and Russia.
- A news clip, "'Teepee Airacobra' Makes Debut" [ HTML ] describes the two-place transition trainer model, the TP-39. A field mod kit made it possible to convert any P-39 in the field to a transition trainer.
- Early Bell Aircraft ads featured black-and-white imagery:
- "Wings for the Cobra" shows a P-39, insignia and tail stripes dodged out, in flight, seen from 11 o'clock.
- "The Cobra bares its fangs
," features a painting of a P-39 ("meatball insignia, striped rudder, no camouflage) climbing to meet a formation of generic two-engined bombers. Plane is seen from 8 o'clock low.
- "A thoroughfare for freedom beat" features a painting of a P-39 over a stereotypical American small town. Plane seen from 4 o'clock close.
- "The echo rings throughout the land" features a painting of a P-39 flying over Independence Hall. Plane is seen from 8 o'clock high.
- "Casting Tomorrow's Shadow" features a small image of a P-39 over the gnomon of a sundial. Plane has "meatball" insigne, striped rudder, is seen from 2 o'clock low.
- "Fire Power in the air" shows a P-39 from 2 o'clock low and (actual size in the original) representative .30-cal, .50-cal and 37-mm rounds.
- "Making Aviation History, 10,000 pledges to America's 'Minute' Men" shows a pilot entering the cockpit from the righthand side; door is open; small image of a P-39 overhead.
- "Not to stop
but to Destroy Invaders" has a drawing of P-39s shooting down Stukas.
- "We beat the Axis to it
", shows a pilot in foreground with a P-39 on hardstand behind. Plane view is from 12 o'clock low. Plane does not show wing guns in this view.
- "Clearing the Sky for Peace!", shows a P-39 from 10 o'clock low.
- Bell Aircraft later ran a series of ads from late 1942 through 1944, color drawings or paintings (signed "Stahl"), featuring the Airacobra"
- "When Johnny comes Flying home" shows a P-39 landing at night, seen from the 11 o'clock position.
- "He's betting plenty 'on the nose'" shows the forward part of a P-39, seen from 2 o'clock.
- "Takeoff without trumpets shows P-39s taking off into the dawn; viewpoint is 7 o'clock.
- "Your son may be our boss shows an officer "Awarding Wings to Army Air Cadets" with a row of P-39s in the background.
- "Headaches for Hitler Coming Up!" shows pilots running to P-39s on an English grass airfield.
- "Meet Joe Brown, A M" shows ground crew working on a P-39 at a tropical site. Access panel on LH nose is off, LH cockpit door open.
- "Tonight's lesson for Japs
subtracting Zeros" looks at a P-39 on the ground from just to the right of the nose.
- "There goes a Headline
the Axis won't print" shows a P-39 from 10 o'clock low. The text talks about New Guinea, but the painting looks like North Africa.
- "Pied Piper of the Pacific" shows a pilot with 4 P-39s above, planes seen from below right.
- "Sudden death
made in USA" shows an Airacobra strafing a Japanese air field.
- "'That nice Jones boy' is sure raising Hell" shows pilot and ground crew in an Aleutian setting. View is of right nose.
- "While you read this magazine __ we'll build Another Airacobra" shows a P-39 being towed by a tractor; view is from 11 o'clock.
- "Stalingrad Story" shows Airacobras with Red Air Force markings flying close ground support for Rer Army troops' planes viewed from 3 o'clock.
- "It's OK, Mom" is a homefront drawing, with a small Airacobra, seen from 3 o'clock low, in the midground.
- "Nightwatchman on Duty" shows a P-39 from 10 o'clock low over an island in the middle of a large ocean expanse.
- "See why we build them so fast?" has 12 thumbnails of P-39s in different war theaters.
- "Upstairs Entrance to Hitler's Fortress" shows an Airacobra with Soviet markings over a port area; plane is seen from 2 o'clock low.
- "'Skytown,' USA, pop: 2,000,000" is a closeup from just ahead of the right wing machine-gun stations.
- "The Guy on the Ground Crew" shows an armorer working with .50-cal rounds; P-39 in background is seen from left, wing and forward.
- "Preview of a new Bell Fighter" looks over the shoulder of a German gunner at P-63s attacking; lead plane is firing; view is headon.
by proxy" shows ground crew in parkas servicing a P-39Q in a wintry scene. Plane is shown from engine forward, seen from the left.
- A Bell Aircraft ad not in the series, "Move Over, Merlin!", features a color photo of P-39Qs on the assembly floor.
It is interesting to note that while other manufacturers talk of sending the finished plane off to the paint shop, Bell chose to build Airacobras with panels that were already painted with tail numbers already stenciled on.
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" featured several detail drawings of the P-39"
- "Unveiling The Airacobra" [ HTML ] includes four photos of the newly introduced fighter:
- Plane in flight, seen from 1 o'clock. [ photo ]
- "Tricycle landing gear retracts and is completely faired. Note air scoops in leading edge for oil and radiator." [ photo ]
- "Narrow, tapering nose and unusual amount of windshield and window area give pilot excellent visibility in several directions. Carburetor air scoop is just aft of cockpit cover." [ photo ]
- "Allison V-12 liquid-cooled engine is behind the pilot and an extension drive shaft runs forward to the propeller. Engine location near center of gravity gives added maneuverability to this sleek fighting ship." [ photo ]
- A Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Co (Aerol shock-absorbing oleo-pneumatic struts) ad, "Two of Aviation's Greatest Achievements both equipped with Aerol struts," features photos of a P-39, seen from 3 o'clock on the ground, and a Curtiss-Wright CW-20 transport.
- A Goodyear ad, "Chosen for Safety on one of America's mightiest fighters", shows the prototype from 3 o'clock, with a small inset showing a headon view. The ad includes the original specs for the tires used on the Airacobra.
- A news clip with photo from December, 1940, shows an early model P-39 in flight seen from 2 o'clock.
- A Curtis Propeller Division ad, "Spearheads of Defense", shows an early P-39 in natural metal (with red-striped rudder) and another, above and behind it, in OD camo. Both are seen from about 2 o'clock. Both have meatball insignia. There are also a detail photo of the nose of the prototype P-39 and a small photo of an Airacuda on the ground, seen from about 3 o'clock.
- A Continental Machines (DoAll Contour machine a high-quality bandsaw) ad, "DoAll speeds the Airacobra on its way", shows an early P-39 from 7 o'clock and two detail photos of DoAll equipment at work on the production floor.
- Cover page for "Manufacturing Section of Aviation", February, 1942, features P-39s on the assembly line. Foreground is lefthand tail, midground shows 6 workmen on the lefthand side of a fuselage assembly.
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" includes a Labeled cutaway drawing shows the major systems and arrangements of an RAF-version Airacobra. Redrawn from The Aeroplane.
Bill Gunston has nothing to say about this drawing, so it would seem to be without glaring errors.
- The "Have You Seen?" section for February, 1942, shows a squadron of Airacobras in RAF livery; near plane is seen from 9 o'clock; planes have been re-armed.
- "War in the Air" [ HTML ] includes a photo of Airacobras in a row on the ground, seen from 2 o'clock; planes have been re-gunned with 20-mm cannon in place of the 37-mm gun originally delivered.
- A Curtis Propeller Division ad, "Artillery of the Air", features a color painting of Airacobras in RAF colors.
- An Allison ad, "Action speaks
", shows an Airacobra with RAF markings from 2 o'clock low. The camouflage scheme seems unusual.
- A photo from a Synthane ad shows a P-39 at night, firing all guns, seen from about 1 o'clock.
- "Remote Propeller Drives" includes an exploded view of a P-39 fuselage, highlighting engine and driveshaft locations.
- Working Transparent Plastics, Part I" includes a photo looking through the canopy into the cockpit from above the engine location.
- An ID entry for the P-39D shows a P-39D with belly tank "Belly tank increases Airacobra's range", seen on the ground from 2 o'clock, along with a short descriptive article.
- A photo from a Plexiglas ad shows what appears to be the P-39 prototype from 3 o'clock.
- "American Aircraft in the RAF" [ HTML ] includes a photo of Airacobras in RAF markings, on the flight line.
- A Curtis Propeller Division ad, "Focal Fire Power Heart of the Modern Flying Cannon" is a color drawing of the Curtiss hollow propeller hub as used in the Airacobra.
- A Sinclair Refining (aviation oils) ad, "Lone fighter with a cannon punch", shows a P-39 from 10 o'clock low and a detail photo of the spinner and nose. Nose has a marking, "Gear Box Hoist."
- "Report from the British Airfront" includes a photo of an Airacobra in RAF markings, seen from 3 o'clock.
- A GM Aeroproducts (Aeroprop propeller blades) ad, "Here's where you pay through the nose" features a color painting of a P-39D shooting a somewhat stylized Heinkel 111; view is from 4 o'clock high.
- A Fafnir Ball Bearings ad, "The Mighty Mite of the Air Corps", shows a P-39 from 2 o'clock high.
- A BF Goodrich "Airplane of the Month" ad, "Bell Airacobra", is a color painting of a P-39 in OD, seen from 8 o'clock high.
- A photo from an American Wire & Cable Co (steel cables) ad shows a "P-39 Airacobra the famed interceptor pursuit ship produced by Bell", shows a P-39 on the ground, seen from 11 o'clock.
- A Pesco (pumps) ad, "Time to Attack! and our fighting pilots deserve the best!", features a color painting of 4 P-39s taking off from an advance airfield, apparently tropical; viewpoint for lead plane is 11 o'clock low.
- A GM Aeroproducts (Aeroprop propeller blades) ad, "This Aeroprop does everything but talk!", features a color drawing of the righthand nose of a P-39, pilot at cockpit door, armorer in foreground, mechanic approaching nose gear.
- A Sinclair Refining (aviation oils) ad, "Salute to sky sluggers", shows a P-39D in flight from 2 o'clock low and a row of P-39Ds on the ground, seen from 10 o'clock.
- An Ostuco (Ohio Seamless Tube Company) ad, Just try to pass the 'Ps', Herr Goering" shows a P-39 on the ground, seen from 1 o'clock close, pilot on wing preparing to open the cockpit door. There is also a detail photo of what appears to be the engine compartment, showing Ostuco tubing in situ.
- A diagram showing Arrangement of Armament and Engine Location in P-39.
- A color Gallery photo shows two P-39D-1-BEs in flight, seen from 3 o'clock.
- A color Gallery photo, "Bell P-39," shows an Airacobra, RAF AH621, in full RAF livery, in flight, seen from 2 o'clock.
- A Remington Rand Kardex (index file system) ad, "Airacobras on schedule! with Kardex", shows a P-39 on the ground, seen from 7 o'clock; viewpoint is from under the inboard right wing of another P-39.
- A color Gallery photo shows a P39D-1-BE in flight seen from 3 o'clock high.
- A news clip, "'Teepee Airacobra' Makes Debut" [ HTML ] includes 2 photos:
- A Jacoel (cable splicing equipment) ad, "We're Coming Over", shows a view of the Bell assembly line and an inset of a cable-splicing workshop.
- A Champion Spark Plugs ad, "A source of dependability in any aircraft engine" shows three men provisioning the guns of a P-39. Access covers are off; view is from 2 o'clock.
- "Fighter design" [ HTML ] includes a sketch showing the key structural elements of the plane and a small photo of a P-39 on hardstand, seen from 1 o'clock.
- A photo of 3 P-39s in Red Star livery, flying en echelon, seen from 2 o'clock, from "I Saw Russia's Air Power" [ HTML ].
- The Air Tech design analysis [ HTML ] included
- Aviation's Yearbook for 1945 includes an ID entry for the P-63 Kingcobra, including an inflight photo from 10 o'clock and a three-view line drawing.
- A Spencer Thermostat Co ad, "Kingcobra Gets Dependable Electrical Circuit Protection with Klixon Aircraft Circuit Breakers," shows P-39Q-20-BE Airacobra 43474 flying formation with P-63A-1-BE Kingcobra 2368871. Planes are seen from about 3 o'clock.