Bell P-63 Kingcobra
Other P-63 Models
But the most unique versions were those built as manned aerial targets. Beginning with the first RP-63A-11 flown on September 1, 1944, combat equipment was removed, and a 1,488-pound extra-thick skin applied to shatter frangible dummy bullets fired by student gunners. A red nose light blinked like a pinball machine when hits were felt. One hundred RP-63A and 200 RP-63C target planes were built during the war to train bomber gunners, followed by 32 RP-63Gs after the war.
Efforts to improve the Kingcobra began with an XP-63B proposal to use the Packard V-1650-5 offering 1,300 hp at 24,000 feet, but when efforts to perfect the extension shaft and gears faltered, an Allison V-1710-109 was chosen for the single P-63D, or Bell Model 37. Featuring a bubble canopy and modified wing tips, the P-63D was followed in May 1945 by 13 P-63Es (Model 41) with the standard cockpit doors. Contracts for 2,930 more were canceled by the war’s end. A tall tail and the 1,500-hp
After the war, P-63As were reworked for numerous tests, including those of a V-shaped “butterfly” tail, swept-back wings, and a second cockpit for instrument training. A P-63E became an XP-63H when testing a V-1710-127 engine. Five P-39Es found their way to Honduras in 1948.
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