P-39 Airacobras related to A.F. Klubov, 16 GIAP

by Michal Sekula

Updated on July 2, 2018

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Alexandr Fedorovich Klubov was born on January 18, 1918. During World War II Klubov took his first aerial fight in August 1942 as a part of the 84 iap in the North Caucasus. On November 2, 1942 his biplane I-153 was shot down and he saved himself on parachute from the burning plane.
After treatment at hospital Lt. Klubov was transferred to the 16 giap at the end on May 1943. As a part of the 1st Squadron he mastered a new fighter “Aircobra” under the direction of A. Pokryshkin.
On July 13, 1943 after aerial combat his "Cobra" was so deformed by machine overload that it was not subject to the recovery. Appearance of this P-39 is not known.
On April 13, 1944 Senior Lieutenant Klubov was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin for 14 individual and 19 shared victories. Next days and weeks a number of photo sessions took place, also together with Rechkalov.

On all pictures where Klubov has HSU Gold medal and Lenin Order with the banner, there is some Cobra without visible victory stars, either his or someone's else:


It is very probable that if Klubov's plane had painted some victory markings that time, he would have been photographed with his own decorated plane.
The last two photos show boad number „125“ and tail number 42589. It idientifies this plane as P-39Q-15, serial no. 44-2589, which came to the 16 giap on March 21, 1944 and was lost on April 16, 1945, then already flown by Petr Tabachenko.
Number "125" looks darker then white, even darker than yellow serial number on the tail.
The red number without outline (no outline is visible on the photo) disappears on the Olive Drab background. Even on I-16 painted AII Green, which is surely darker than weathered brownish OD the red numbers are not very visible. There are photos showing Cobras red stars with black outline although it already was not standard. It was due to the low contrast and visibility of the red star on the OD background. The red color alone was not an ideal option for marking on OD surface.

Blue color was not used for marking, or at least there are not known examples of using blue color for marking in 16 giap.
Therefore, silver color for the board number is the acceptable option.
USAAF modified national insignias - white rectangle/bar was added on each side of the blue circle with a red outline surrounding the entire insignia on June 29, 1943. Approximately month latter, on August 14, 1943 the red outline was replaced by blue one.
So all Cobras produced after August 14, 1943 should have either new standard USAAF insignias with white bar on sides or Bell "transport" insignia, e.g. white circle with red star inside. Not only blue disc with white star.
P-39Q-15 "125" serial number 44-2589 could be produced sometime around December 1943, e.g. long enough after August.

On August 25, 1944 HSU Guard Captain Klubov in his P-39N-1 s/n: 42-9434 board number "white 45" and his wingman Ivankov got in the air. Klubov shot down Me-110, his last victory in WWII.
P-39N-1 "45" s/n 42-9434 could be produced sometime about February 1943, when white star in the blue disc still was standard USAAF insignia.
The following photo with description „Technician serving Klubov's P-39N from 16 giap, year 1944“ is from the Czech magazine Plastic Kit Revue no.4, 1991:

Interesting details:
- there are 49 victory stars, the last one, the 50th one from August 25, 1944 is missing,
- there is red star with white outline on the upperwing and darker disk is visible under the star,
- it should be N-version. And yes, the small vent on the front bottom fuselage between propeller and spinner is missing, see green elipse on the photo bellow:

On September 13, 1944 the newspaper "Krasnaya Zvezda" published an article about Guards Captain Klubov and his 50th victory. He personally shot down 31 aircraft and 19 in a group.


Klubov tragically died on November 1, 1944 when after landing his new La-7 fighter skidded off the airfield and nosed over.
On June 27, 1945 Guards Captain Alexander Fedorovich Klubov was posthumously awarded the second HSU.

UPDATE July 2, 2018:

The following photo of Klubov's Kobra was posted at http://www.soviet-aces-1936-53.ru/abc/k/klubov.htm

Interesting details:
- board number looks like 30,
- serial number in the tail starts with digits 291..,
- inner wing gun is missing in the (al least right) wing, there is only a hole visible,
- leading edge of the tail is repainted (after repair?),
- the original dark starlet without white outline in the bottom row is repainted white.
There is an interesting info in A.I. Tabachenko's book « Pokryshkinskiy aviapolk - Nelakirovannye boevye chroniki (Pokryshkin Regiment - unvarnished combat chronicles) 1943-1945» - the order from March 4, 1944, according to which Klubov was paid 7000 rubels for 50+80 combat flights from Sep 1 till Dec 3, 1943 at his Aerocobra No. 29157.
The photo of the Cobra with the board number "30" shows digits 291... from the serial  number on the tail. 
So the Cobra with board number "30" could have the serial number 29157 and it could be the Cobra mentioned in the A.I. Tabachenko's book:


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