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P-39 Airacobras related to A.I. Pokryshkin, 16th GIAP

By Michal Sekula

 

Updated on February 26, 2014
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This article is the summary of the discussion about Victory marks on Pokryshkin's P-39 "100" I started at http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?topic=1367.0. This part is focusing on the P-39s somehow related to Pokryshkin and profiles of possible appearance of P-39s flown by Pokryshkin. It would not be possible without invaluable help of forum members, mainly KL and Massimo Tessitori.

There were only 21 Airacobras with ready to fly status in 16 GIAP on April 29, 1943 – and only 5 of them were P-39D-2, rest of them were P-39K-1 and L-1. P-39K-1 S/N: 24421 was on the first place of the list (belonged to unit commander?), and P-39D-2 S/N: 138520 was the last one on the list. The list was not in alphabetical order, or version order, or S/N order. It looks more like unit hierarchy order.
The presence of the different (Pokryshkin's?) P-39s in 16 GIAP is interesting - the first one was S/N: 24421, then 10 days latter S/N: 138520 came and finally, after cca 1 month, S/N: 29004 came. If dates in Tabachenko’s book Pokryshkinskiy aviapolk - Nelakirovannye boevye chroniki (Pokryshkinsky Regiment - unvarnished combat chronicles) are correct, these three P-39 were in 16GIAP during period from cca 15-May to 20-Jun and they all could be flown by Pokryshkin, that time with already 21-25 victories.
However, there are "windows" in latter period when non of above mentioned Pokryshkin's plane was in the unit but Pokryshkin evidently flew fight flight. Either there were several another "100"s or he regularly used someone's else plane. After he was assigned commander of 16 GIAP at the end of 1943, it was only upon his discretion whose plane he will use.
The most probably these all three Cobras wore the same camouflage and marking - without red spinner, without red tail tip and without victory marks.
I tried to summarize all photos of Pokryshkin with P-39s somehow related to him I found on the internet and frame them by some events from Pokryshkin’s WWII period to better understand historical background when particular aircraft and camo/marking was used. Info and photos are taken from different sources on Internet.
All those photos show interesting pattern, if not rule. Pokryshkin is near by the either unidentificable (e.g. his?) aircraft or near by identificable but someone’s else aircraft (Rechkalov, Sukhov etc.).

No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane.

However, V. Romanenko writes in his book "Aerokobri vstupyut v boi", that Pokryshkin photographed in front of his P-39D-2 (41-38520) on 28.05.1943 at Popovicheskaya airfield.

No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane.

Pokryshkin nowhere nearby.

Original text accompanying photo says: “Pokryshkin’s aircraft from kino news from year 42/43. To keep in secret photo is made from such angle that no numbers are visible.”

 

Serial number 29004 (42-9004), board number “100” visible, but Pokryshkin nowhere nearby.
- Plane is probably undergoing some repair/maintenance

- front fuselage is lift up and supported by construction,
- cover on the left main landing gear is missing,
- manufacturer logo and bright stencils visible on the propeller blades, e.g. bladed should have yellow tips.

Is this still Pokryshkin’s aircraft on this photo or is it already someone’s else when it was repaired after crasch with Il-2 on 3-Aug-1943 and transfered to the other unit?

 Pokryshkin standing by Rechkalov’s plane.

 

 

No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane. Winter 1943/spring 1944?

 

 

Pokryshkin and D.B. Glinka in front of Airacobra.
No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane. Winter 1943/spring 1944?

 

K.G. Vishnevetskiy, A.I. Pokryshkin, N.E. Lavitskiy, D.B. Glinka, B.B. Glinka, I.M. Dzusov, I.I. Babak, G.A. Rechkalov.
No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane. Winter 1943/spring 1944?

 

 

Screenshot from the doc film about Pokryshkin found on Youtube.

No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane.

 

September 1944.  Pokryshkin in the cockpit of Rechkalov's P-39N S/N: 42-8747.
Colorized photo from Sept 1944.
Stills from 1945 movie taken in Germany. Pokryshkin is again in Rechkalov’s P-39 and he is again greeted by his pilots. The plane is P-39Q S/N: 44-2547. This Rechkalov's plane had the same victory stars on its nose and RGA on its fuselage as his earlier P-39N S/N: 42-8747.  
Pokryshkin, B.B.Glinka (shot down on 14-Jul-1944, did not fly anymore), Rechkalov, Klubov (died on 1-Nov-1944 in La-7 accident) and some others.
No board and serial number visible, not possible to identify that plane.
   

 

P-39K-1, serial number 42-4421, board number "130"


This is profile of Pokryshkin's first plane, P-39K-1, S/N: 24421, board no. "130".


This plane was in 16GIAP together with the first P-39s. According to Romanenko, Pokrishkin flew this P-39K-1 from April 02 to June 20. It was then re-numbered to "130" and passed to Samsonov who flew on it till October 1943. Pokryshkin get reward 5000 rubels for 100 combat flights without aircraft damage, crash and without lost of orientation in the plane P-39 serial no. 24421 during time period from 9-Apr to 20-Jun 1943 (no board no. mentioned). It is quite safe to consider that plane P-39K-1 of serial no. 24421 had board no. 130 and was flown by Pokryshkin regularly.
According to the Tabachenko's book Pokryshkinskiy aviapolk - Nelakirovannye boevye chroniki (Pokryshkinsky Regiment - unvarnished combat chronicles) P-39K-1, 42-4421 (24421) was delivered to 16th GIAP on 8-Apr-1943.

To know more, go here

 

P-39D-2, serial number 41-38520, no board number


This is the profile of the P-39D-2, serial no. 41-38520 (138520), no board no. from April/May 1943.


This plane was delivered to 16th GIAP on 22-Apr-1943. Pokrishkin flew this plane once in April once or very rarely. From April 24, 1943 it was "personal" plane of P.P. Ketov. It survived till end of 1943. No tactical Number is known for this P-39D-2.
This plane was not in 16 GIAP yet when Pokryshkin already flew P-39 board no. 130, so it is quite safe to not consider this plane as Pokryshkin's one. Was P-39D-2 138520 comander’s plane? But is it possible that Isaev, commander of 16th GIAP was without his personal plane untill 22-Apr-1943?

To know more, go here.

 

 

 

P-39N-0, serial number 42-9004, board number “100”


This is the profile of the next P-39 flown by Pokryshkin - P-39N-0, Serial No. 29004, Board no. 100.

This plane was delivered to 16 GIAP on 15-May-1943, only 3 weeks after P-39D-2 S/N: 138520 and month plus something after P-39K-1, S/N: 24421.
Its fate is a bit controversial. This P-39 was damaged at the end of July or beginning of August 1943 (depends on sources) and written off from 16GIAP. Then it served as a training plane in the different unit until 1944 and destroyed after the war (again depends on sources).

To know more, go here

 

P-39N-5, serial number 42-19158, board number "100"


The fourth plane flown (or could be flown) by Pokryshkin - P-39N-5, serial no. 219158, board no. "100" from winter 1943.


Pokryshkin returned to the front on May/Jun 1944 after he was promoted to colonel and given command of 9th GIAD - Guards Fighter Air Division division, composed by 16, 100 and 104 GIAP.
The profile of Pokryshkin’s late Cobra is hypothetical. There is no known direct evidence about it. The profile is based on indirect info, partial photos and analogies.

Grigory Chuvashkin, technician of Pokryshkin's plane, was awarded on November 6, 1943, because he successfully prepared plane 219158 for 158 flights, allowing its pilot to shot down 21 enemy planes.

Besides many sources mention a n.100 flown by Pokryshkin and survived up to 1947 after the writing off of the first one in July or August, hit by a landing Il-2.

To know more, go here

 

 

References