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Bell P-63 Kingcobra

The Bell P-63 Kingcobra is an American fighter aircraft that was developed by Bell Aircraft during World War II.

Based on the preceding Bell P-39 Airacobra, the P-63’s design incorporated suggestions from P-39 pilots and was superior to its predecessor in virtually all respects.

The P-63 was not accepted for combat use by the United States Army Air Forces.

However, it was used during World War II by the Soviet Air Force, which had also been the most prolific user of the P-39.


XP-63 Prototypes

2 Built

(Company designation was Model 24)


Following the loss of the first two prototypes, an additional test aircraft was procured, USAAF serial 42-78015, originally ordered as a test bed for the proposed Rolls-Royce Merlin-powered P-63B.


The production model Bell Model 33; 1725 Built.


Proposed Rolls-Royce Merlin powered P-63B series was cancelled due to lack of availability of Merlin engines.


Second production series differed from the P-63A by being powered by the uprated Allison V-1710-117 engine with a war emergency rating of 1,500 hp (1,120 kW) at sea level and 1,800 hp (1,340 kW) with water injection.

The wingspan was reduced by 10 inches (250 mm).

1,227 Built.


One aircraft (43-11718) powered by an Allison V-1710-109 (E22) 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) featured a 10 in (25 cm) wingspan increase (to 39 ft 2 in (11.94 m), gross area being increased to 255 sq ft (23.7 m2) and, most noticeably, a rearward sliding bubble canopy.

The series was cancelled in 1945.

P-63E Essentially similar to the P-63D with the exception of a ventral fin extension and the use of a standard “cab” style cockpit, 13 built.


Bell Model 43 variant, this featured an enlarged vertical tail and Allison V-1710-135, two built.

RP-63A/C “Pinball”

Target aircraft with five modified from P-63As and 95 modified on production lines, in 1948, surviving RP-63A aircraft were redesignated QF-63A.

A further 200 production RP-63C aircraft were modified on the production line.

Similarly, the surviving RP-63Cs were redesignated QF-63Cs.

Many of the “target” aircraft were actually used as target tugs.

RP-63G “Pinball”

Dedicated flying targets which included two prototypes  and 30 production aircraft that incorporated a flush dorsal inlet but, more significantly, lights that would come on when the target was struck with frangible munitions.

In 1948, the remaining RP-63Gs were redesignated QF-63Gs.

Bell L-39 Swept-wing

Two war surplus P-63Cs modified by Bell under Navy contract for flight testing of low-speed and stall characteristics of high-speed wing designs.





32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)


38 ft 4 in (11.68 m)


12 ft 7 in (3.84 m)

Wing area

248 sq ft (23.0 m2)



NACA 66-116;


NACA 66-216

Empty weight

6,800 lb (3,084 kg)

Gross weight

8,800 lb (3,992 kg)

Max take-off weight

10,700 lb (4,853 kg)


1 × Allison V-1710-117 V-12 liquid cooled piston engine,

1,800 hp (1,300 kW)


4 bladed constant speed propeller


Maximum speed

410 mph (660 km/h, 360 kn) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)


450 mi (720 km, 390 nmi)

Ferry range

2,200 mi (3,500 km, 1,900 nmi)

Service ceiling

43,000 ft (13,000 m)

Rate of climb

2,500 ft/min (13 m/s)

Wing loading

35.48 lb/sq ft (173.2 kg/m2)


0.20 hp/lb (0.33 kW/kg)



1 × 37 mm (1.5 in) M4 cannon firing through the propeller hub.

For the A-9 version of the aircraft onward, the M4 gun was replaced with the slightly improved M10 37 mm cannon, which used a disintegrating link ammunition belt, increasing the ammo capacity to 58 rounds; the M10 also had a slightly higher rate of fire.

4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (two synchronized in the nose, two in the wings)


1,500 lb (680 kg) bomb load on wing and fuselage.






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