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World War II

Bell 33 Kingcobra (P-63A)

It soon became clear a larger and more powerful aircraft was needed for a close support fighter bomber. Experimental XP- 63’s used the P-39 fuselage and added aerodynamic improvements.  

The P-63 King Cobra was produced and supplied in great numbers to the USSR and France. Outperformed at high altitude by the P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt, the P-63 King Cobra was relegated to training duty by the AAF.  

Over 300 P-63s were used by the AAF as manned targets. All armament was removed and duralumin alloy was added to the fuselage and tail for protection. Bulletproof glass, steel plate  and a special hollow blade prop allowed the plane to withstand  impact from the training programs infrangible bullets.  

Service History

Delivered: May 8, 1944

May 1944 - Base Unit 4th AAF Portland, OR

June 1944 - 433 Base Unit 4th AAF Chico, CA

August 1944 - 31st Fighter Sqd 4th AAF Palmdale, CA

November 1944 - 421st Base Unit 4th AAF Muroc, CA

July 1945 - 405th Base Unit 4th AAF Paine, WA

Oct 1945 - Ontario, CA disposed as surplus

 

MFG: Bell

First Produced: 1943

Powerplant: Allison V1710-117

Horsepower: 1325

Prop: Aero Products

Service Ceiling: 38,600 ft.

Cruise: 356 mph

Top Speed: 410 mph

Range: 2,000 miles

Empty Weight: 6,800 lbs

Gross Weight: 10,700 lbs

Wing Span: 38’4”

Wing Area: 248 sq. ft.

Length: 32’8”

Height: 12’7”

Armament: (1) 37 mm hub

canon, (2) .50 cal machine

guns through prop, (1) .50

cal machine gun starboard

wing, (1) 500 lb. bomb

Number Built: 3,300 total

1,003 A models

 
The P-63 seen here “Fatal Fang” was acquired from the Bob Bean Collection in 1978 and restored.