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P39 vs P63
10-17-2011, 02:02 PM
Post: #1
P39 vs P63
The P39 and it's cousin, the P400 had poor altitude performance. This was a common problem with nearly all of the Allison engined aircraft of WW2. However, the Russians had decent success with the P39, both as a fighter and as a ground attack aircraft. There are some experts who claim that the main reason the Russians initially lover the P39s, P40s, and Hurricanes sent to them was because they had an actual gunsight vice a circle painted on the windsheild like many of the early MiG and Yak variants. The second highest Russian ace Pokyrishkin (sp?), with 59 kills, claimed most of his victories while flying a P39. HOWEVER, Gunter Rall, the German ace with 275 kills, claimed that the P39 was a relatively easy kill, as "you could hit it almost anywhere and it would start tumbling."

The P39s tendency to tumble and spin was well documented among the many Americans who flew the P39. Bud Anderson noted this in his book To Fly and Fight.

The P63 was a great improvement over the original P39 airframe, but it was never used by the USA in combat. Many of them were exported to the USSR.

It is important to remember that the nature of the theater and the nature of the enemy played a significant role in detirmining the success of a particular aircraft in combat. The P39, P36, P40, and Buffalo were initially unsuccessful in the far east, BUT the AVG was very successful with earlier variants of the P40, the best fighter the had in any quantity was the P36, the Russians loved the P39, and a Finnish ace Jutilainen (sp?) had 36 of his 97 victories over the Russians while flying a Buffalo.
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10-18-2011, 04:42 AM
Post: #2
Re: P39 vs P63
Typo in the last paragraph.

The best fighter that the french had in any quantity was the P36.

Mikhail: tag, yer it.... Icon_cool
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10-22-2011, 09:18 AM
Post: #3
Re: P39 vs P63
Say didn't the P 400 have a belly mounted radiator, or was that a P-46? Sorry, TA, I've been away for a while.

Say, did you ever see that WW II documentary with Charlton Heston and Pokrishkyin? Translated, the Russian ace's comments were that the '39 was a good fighter. He especially liked the nose mounted 37 mm cannon firing out the prop spinner. I think the Aerocobra was better suited for the Russians in that particular theatre of operations.

I recall from a documentary that an American ace, forget the name now, who trained on the P-39 in Tonopah, Nevada, along with Chuck Yeager, said the Germans shot down the P-39 as fast as it would fly in Europe. I just have to wonder why the engine wasn't turbocharged for high altitude performance. After, IIRC the P-82 twin Mustang utilized GM built Alison engines too.

Heck, getting even one victory flying an old Navy Brewster Buffalo is some accomplishment, same as with a Curtiss P-36 Hawk. When the radial engined FW 190 first appeared to counter the Spit V initially it was thought that the Germans were using captured P-36's! Couldn't be, as this new mystery fighter was superior on almost all counts, (not turning, of course), to the Spit V, then state-of-the art equipment in use.

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10-23-2011, 06:13 AM
Post: #4
Re: P39 vs P63
The P 400 was basically a P39 with a 20mm gun and no oxygen equipment.

I think it was Pokyrishkin who also stated that the best fighter that he flew was the LaGG 5/7 variants.

Josef Frantisek got I believe 11 germans while flying a P36 for the French. By october of 1940, when he was killed in an accident, he had 28 total. He was a Czech pilot who flew for the french, Poles, and the brits. Not sure, but he may have flown for the Poles too....

The Buffalo did not do well anywhere except in Finland. The Marine Squadron VMF 221 lost 13 of 20 Buffalos during the opening phases of Midway.
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10-24-2011, 01:28 AM
Post: #5
Re: P39 vs P63
That's impressive, 28 victories in a P-36.

IIRC the F4F Wildcat replaced the Brewster Buffalo as the Navy's frontline fighter, and the Wildcat was obsolete when WW II started, but they sure gave a good account against the enemy nonetheless. I recall reading that the F4F Scored the war's 1st. official aerial combat victory, over a German Junkers Ju88.

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10-25-2011, 01:54 AM
Post: #6
Re: P39 vs P63
No, 11 victories with the french. He scored a majority of his kills flying Hurricanes with the RAF.

The F4F scored it's first victory over a Ju88 in december of 1940. French P36s shot down 2 Bf109Es in 1939. Overall, French P36s shot down over 200 German aircraft, the top P36 ace had 15. When tested by the Brits, the P36 was more manuverable than the Spitfire at speeds over 300mph. But the spits higher speed/rate of climb won out over the Hawk.

It is unclear when the F2A achieved its first kills. The Brits and the Dutch flew them in combat during the early part of WW2, but they got their collective a__'s kicked and the records are unclear. The Finns did not start achieving kills with them until after 1941. But they had several aces who scored over 20 victories with the F2A.

I do not believe that the P40 had any victories with the Brits until 1941.
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10-25-2011, 04:29 AM
Post: #7
Re: P39 vs P63
Well, you obviously have a lot of knowledge about air combat, more than I. And I guess I can't believe everything I've read in the past, it's well to verify from more than one source.

I think history doesn't give the Hurricane enough credit. Most accounts of the Battle of Britain give the lion's share of credit to the Spitfire for saving Britain from Nazi invasion, but I consider the Hurricane just as important an aircraft during the war, and not just during the B.O.B. I don't know it the info is true or not, it doesn't jibe with other information, but I once read that the Hurricane actually had a tighter turning radius than the Spitfire. Maybe at low speed. I think it was a more stable gun platform, and sending the Hurricanes after the Nazi bombers while the Spits held off the 109's made the both of them important in the overall victory.

The old Monogram Hurricane was one of the first 1/48 scale kits I ever built, (badly at that time!), and I thought it was a "neat" looking airplane.

It's a shame that the P-39 didn't have the high altitude turbocharging for the Alison engine. This was the fighter that airmen trained on at Tonopah Nevada before being shipped "over there". And I think the P-63 is a very beautiful, sleek and graceful looking airplane.


I don't believe I ever had a model of either the Buffalo or the Hawk.
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10-28-2011, 09:51 PM
Post: #8
Re: P39 vs P63
You are absolutely correct about the Hurricane. The Hurricane got 1593 of the ~2700 planes claimed during the battle of Britain. However, it has been stated that Hurricane kills v. Spitfire kills were nearly the same proportion to the respective numbers employed during the Battle. There were roughly twice as many Hurricanes. Additionally, the two highest scoring fighter squadrons during the battle were both Spit squadrons....

Also right on about the Hurricanes stability as a gun platform. Robert Stanford Tuck commented on this and the overall ruggedness of it after his transfer from a Spit sqn to a Hurrie sqn.

Not sure about the respective turn radius, but agree that it differs with respect to speed. Knowing what one's aircraft can do at the point of time you enter combat makes the difference between winning and losing. In North Africa, the P40 in the hands of a good pilot could be deadly. Additionally, the 49th (USAAF) fighter group used P40s very effectively. In fact, one pilot declared that the P40N-5 was superior to the KI 61 "Tony" in speed, climb, dive, AND turn rate!!! Of course, the P40N5 was a "hot rodded" variant that was considerably lightened.

When I was a boy in the 1960s Revell offered 3 in 1 1/72 scale kits that offered "oddball" variants that were flown by smaller airforces. Included in them were Finnish F2A, P 36, and Fokker DXXIs, Russian I-15 and I-16, Polish PZL P24..... Oh yes, there was also a P36 kit in one that was supposed to be painted with a tri-color camo scheme that was used as an "aggressor" in Hawaii and actually entered combat vs the Japanese during the Pearl Harbor debacle.

Lindberg offered some neat 1/72 kits back then. FW 190D9, HE 100, Do 335, Me 163 and He 162. The He100 was superior in all counts to the Me109. BUT they were not produced in any great numbers....
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10-29-2011, 04:33 AM
Post: #9
Re: P39 vs P63
There are a couple of those 3-in-1 kits on ebay right now, The Polikarpov I-16, Chinese markings, a PZL llC, and a Swedish Air Force Fiat CR 42, also a P-26, Macchi MC 200 and a Curtiss P-36. Those 3-in-1 kits were cool, the box had different paintings of the planes than the ones in a single kit box, and I always thought Revell had the best box art as far as being a traditional classic type artist's painting.

I just got home from work and have some water and cat food to put out for the neighborhood strays that don't get fed by their owners; I hate to see them eat tree 'shrooms and get sick on them, or drink out of a dirty rain puddle. And it's raining tonight. Got a pair of kittys that stop by every night about this time. Back in a few.

I regarded the Hurricane as important because there wern't many Spitfire squadrons at first during the B.O.B., Hurricanes made up for in numbers and were more than capable of fighting any German bomber. The Hurricane is more rugged than the Spit, and could carry more guns. Judging solely from viewed combat gun camera footage, of which I'd collected many examples, while they turn beautifully, Spitfires under attack seem more fragile and delicate than any other fighter under fire I've seen in combat footage.

Very interesting about the P-40N5 vs. the Kawasaki Ki 61 Hien "Tony", as this was regarded as a capablly manauverable and lethal fighter as well, light too, because of the lack of self sealing fuel tanks and armor plate. Perhaps more delicate even than the Spit, but I've never seen a Tony being attacked. Also interesting that Japan seemed to field about (Icon_cool main fighters if my memory does disservice.

I have a built-up of the Heinkle HE 100, not good but it's survived many years, I had an He 162 in the 60's, and I now have a Me 163 I accquired long after childhood.

Heinkle vs. Messerschmitt, didn't know about the decision of Messerchmitt favored over Heinkle involved the fact that the Heinkle fighter had some superiority over the Me, I had always read that the Me was the better airplane, but I do suspect politics played part in their usual way of having the military fail to field the best weaponry and equipment for a war due to official meddling. I know Willy Messerschmitt had trouble with Erhardt Milch, and somehow despite his opposition to Messerchmitt and the trouble he caused him, Messerschmitt succeeded in having his fighter accepted by the Luftwaffe.

But I would love to accquire some of those old Revell 3-in1 kits, One set had a P-39 with a VERY cool painting, I think one was an F4F, and maybe one was a Tony, or maybe a Nakajima. I had the (3) WW I planes, the British SE5a, German Fokker DVII, and the French Spad XIII.

I have some old classic kits from the 60's & onward, but, like with other things you collect, there's always at least a few you'd like to run across.

Here's an update:

I knew the 3-1n-1 kit with the P-39 was called "3 Pacific Fighters", and the three were the P-39, F4F, and a Royal Thai Airforce Nakajima Hayabusa, my brother used to have the single Revell kit version, another 3-in-1 kit has the Nakajima Ki84 Hayate "Frank", the P-51D Mustang, (kinda looks like Shomo's aircraft), and the Kawasaki Ki61 Hien Tony, I just looked that up and found out which three for this latter one. But there are a few other 3-in-1 kits.

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11-03-2011, 05:27 AM
Post: #10
Re: P39 vs P63
WOW your email about the 3 in 1 kits brought back some great memories. I shall have to investigate eBay...

I have been thinking about getting back into model planes for awhile. But they can be like anything else one collects and run you out of room. Well, I could hang them from the ceiling.

The Japanese had 10 single engined fighters in production during the war and a few more under varying stages of research. They were: (Army) Ki 27 Nate, Ki 43 Oscar, Ki 44 Tojo, Ki 61 Tony, Ki 84 Frank, Ki 100 (no code name), (Navy) A5M Claude, A6M Zero/Zeke, N1K George, J2M Jack. The Ki 100 was essentially a Ki 61 airframe with a radial engine. It was considered an excellent plane, but only a hundred or so were produced.

The Heinkel 100 was faster and more manuverable than the Me109E. It could hit over 420mph at combat altitudes. German authorities wanted Heinkel to concentrate on bombers. Heinkel also produced the best night fighter of the war (HE 219) and a better jet fighter (HE 280), but in both cases the Germans were not interested. Heiinkel produced the 219 on their own to continue to support the few German units equipped with this excellent plane.
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11-05-2011, 04:41 PM
Post: #11
Re: P39 vs P63
Hi TA,

Oh, yeah, ten fighters for the Japanese. I have some high quality Japanese kits, and one of the manufacturers, can't recall just who now, Otaki or Fujimia, or Fujiyma or something, had a kit for eight of the ten you've described. Ironiclly I have only one Japanese kit of a Japanese plane, I think it's a 1/48 scale Frank. I have this beautiful little 1/72 scale F6F Hellcat, and I think a 1/48 scale Corsair, all high quality Japanese kits, those are some I'm recalling, I'd have to get into my collection to see all that's there but there is a lot of plastic in storage.

Something I recall about the Heinkel, a model for the attempt on the world's speed record for a piston engine aircraft it holds this record for it's type, (or it did for a time, is that record held by a Hawker Sea Fury now?), that was achieved honestly and with integrity. As I recall reading, the ME 109R, Messecschmitt's foray into the game, beat it by about 4-5 m.p.h., the minimun required to beat the old record, but the engine was never meant to last beyond the speed record attempt so they could beat it all to hekk, and I guess they did. So, as Schultz would say, "There is some mon-key business around here!"

Revell had a nice kit of the He 219 Owl. I agree this was their best night fighter. I don't recall, was the Ta 154 used as a night fighter?

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11-05-2011, 05:22 PM
Post: #12
Re: P39 vs P63
TA 154 was an all wood airframe designed as a night fighter. Pretty good plane, but has several problems during testing that ranged from delamination of the fusalage to landing gear breakage. Very few (~50) were produced, some saw service with NJG3.

The He219 was a better plane. Heavier armament(6X30mm forward firing, 2X30mm jazz music), fast enough in operational trim to deal with the Mosquito, excellent visability, excellent handling quality. Also had ejection seats.

Oh yes, you had mentioned in a previous entry about the fragility of the Spit. I have seen a few gun camera films myself of various german ac vs the spit, and agree, hits often resulted in serious damage incl entire wings blowing off. I always assumed that these were the earlier Mk1 and Mk2 variants, which had minimal protection for the fuel and pilot.
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11-05-2011, 05:41 PM
Post: #13
Re: P39 vs P63
You're right, these Spits under fire were the earlier marks, I's or II's, probably from B.O.B. time or thereabouts.

Seems I recall about some problem with the glue for the Ta 154 now that you mention it. Kurt Tank was almost arrested for halting work on the fighter, almost suspected of sabotage for his prudent act of attempting to avoid a disasterous situation. More official meddling.

Holy something or other, there's a Philco 37-690 on my local craigs' for $100. Dunno if it's a for-real ad but I E-mailed an inquiry as to when it might be viewed for appraisal. I'll let everyone know if anything happens with it, but that's a holy grail of a Philco, isn't it? I'm attempting to slap Ron awake by having e-mailed the posted ad to him.

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11-06-2011, 03:46 AM
Post: #14
Re: P39 vs P63
WOW if that's legit you had better act fast! Hope it is and hope you get it. Man oh man that is a fine set!

The glue issue was one that the Germans had with several of their later aircraft. The He162 test first had a landing gear door come off, but testing was so promising that they continued. During a high speed pass days later the entire wing came off.

US pilots did not see much of the He 162, but in the low altitude air war conducted by brit and french pilots, the He162 was encountered, as was the D0335. Some of the heaviest air combat in 1945 was here. Bruce Carr, a US 9th AF mustang pilot, got a majority of his 14 kills during this period. Carr is the guy who was shot down and managed to return to a friendly airfield by STEALING A FW190 from a German airfield. Somehow he managed to fly it to his own home field, and when he taxied and shut it down, his commanding officer climbed the wing and yelled "Carr, where the H**l have you been?"
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11-06-2011, 05:35 AM
Post: #15
Re: P39 vs P63
Yes, don't know, haven't heard from anyone in regard to the Philco so can't say if it's legit. Hoping since the weather was so nice the seller took the day off someplace, or even the residue of the weekend since posting. Looking for a call or E-mail, that's all I can do right now. I think I acted in a timely manner, of course, never know if someone bribed the seller with a higher offer for the set, I'm hoping everyone missed the boat entirely. I'll be standing by the phone as much as I can tomorrow, just in case I should luck into this.

Geeze, stealing an FW 190, like to try for one myself. Amazing. I had always had a special fondness for the Mustang, having seen one at age 8 flown by Bob Hoover in June 1964, doing four and eight point hesitation rolls 35-50 feet off the ground. Was the combat with the DO 335 also at low altitude? Would tend to think not as this was a high altitude fighter; admittedly I don't know very much about the "Pfeil", (Arrow), except that it has a cruciform tail, the bottom vertical fin could be jettisoned in case of an anticipated belly landing, the top fin and rear propeller could be kicked off with the canopy for bail-out, and it was a hot airplane. I think that with one engine out it was faster than an RAF Hurricane.

That's classic about the "Where the h*** have you been?!", Make one wish they'd been there! Icon_biggrin

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