The VVS/Allied Bell Airacobras

One of my favourite planes

Weapons and Warfare

Conceived by Lawrence Dale Bell and made practicable by his
gifted chief engineer, Robert J. Woods, the P-39 emerged from two ideas for
fighters that sought to improve maneuverability by locating the engine near the
center of gravity, using a ten-foot shaft to connect it to the propeller. The
Bell Model 3, with the cockpit placed far aft behind the engine, afforded poor
visibility for the pilot, so the Model 4, with the pilot sitting just ahead of
the engine, was selected for development, using an Allison V-1710-E4 engine with
a B5 turbosupercharger. Never a man to stop at one novel approach when a second
or third would be even better, Bell also proposed installing a 25mm cannon,
which would fire through the propeller shaft, and a tricycle landing gear
arrangement. His proposal was approved on October 7, 1939, and the first XP-39
was completed in March 1939, with the…

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