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P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War 2

P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War 2 Book Review

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review January 2008 Title P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War 2
Author George Mellinger & John Stanaway Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2001 ISBN 978-1841762043
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $20.95


The first American fighter fitted with a tricycle undercarriage and mid-mounted engine, the P-39 proved less than successful in the hands of its launch customer, the U.S. Army Air Force (AAF). Hampered by unreliability and poor engine performance at high altitude, the P-39 nevertheless served alongside the P-40 and P-38 in the bitter struggle to capture Guadalcanal in 1942/43.

It also saw much action defending New Guinea. It was used in the Mediterranean by the AAF too. The fighter’s true success came whilst serving with the Soviet Red Air Force, whose pilots rated the Airacobra as probably the best lend-lease fighter of the war. Indeed, well over 30 communist pilots used the aircraft to make ace, with several finishing with scores in excess of 50 kills.

The first title ever published on Airacobra aces, this volume recounts the exploits of the elite pilots from both air forces that flew the much-maligned Bell fighter.

The book is in Osprey’s usual 9 ¾” x 7 ¼” soft-cover format of 96 pages for their series of aircraft books. There are 101 black and white wartime photos of P-39’s and AAF and Soviet pilots that flew them. There are 38 full color side profiles. Usually, there are 6 illustrations, also in color, of pilots in these books. This book does not include these.

The appendices includes a list of USAAF aces, P-39 types lend-leased to the USSR and their serial numbers, P-39 units, a list of Soviet P-39 aces and 1/72nd scale line drawings of P-39 variants.

This is one neat book and highly recommended to aircraft enthusiasts and modelers.