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Two-seater P-39s
Updated on May 1, 2008
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TP-39F

By late 1941, Bell produced 229 P-39Fs, fitted with Aeroproducts Hydromatic propellers. One of these, or a few (sources aren't clear on this) were converted into two-seat trainers, under the designation TP-39F.

All armament, both the gun and the synchronized machine guns, was removed, and the spinner was sharp-pointed. The second cockpit, fitted with only rudimentary controls for the instructor, was added in front of the original cockpit, and covered by a side-hinged canopy. The original cockpit, for the pupil, retained the same controls and instruments as the standard P-39. They communicated via an intercom telephone. The tail fillet was enlarged, and an additional ventral fin was added under the rear fuselage to increase directional stability.

Note: it's not clear if images of TP-39F are available. There is some confusion with TP-39Q-5 and with Soviet variants, that appear based on P-39F too.
 
 


 
 

Image from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra. Is this a TP-39F or a TP-39Q-5?


TP-39Q-5

A few P-39Qs were modified into two seaters with dual controls for use as advanced trainers under the designation RP-39Q (redesignated TP-39Q after 1944).
The first example, converted from P-39Q-5 42-20024, was rolled out for the first time on September 16, 1943. It was designated TP-39Q-5.

This image of TP-39Q-5, from Bell Company, has been modified by removing the background and the serial number.

An enlarged detail of the same photo.

The full version of the same image, showing the building and serial number of the plane.


The same plane without mark (or another with the same shape of canopy) fitted for training to blind flight.


Again, 220024 with a different painting.



TP-39Q-20

2 two-seater fighter trainers were converted from P-39Q-20s, and were designated RP-39Q-22. Serials were 44-3879, 3885, 3886, 3887, 3889, 3895, 3897, 3905, 3906, 3908, 3917, and 3918.

The canopy and the ventral fin were different in shape from that of the original TP-39Q-5 and TP-39F. The nose wheel had an unusual disk with holes, instead of the flat one of the single-seater P-39Q.
 
 
 
 


 
 

Image from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra


Some TP-39Qs. Image of Wildr1.
 
 


An enlarged detail. Image of Wildr1.
 
 


Image from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra


Image from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra
 
 
 
 

Image of TP-39Q from Red Stars 4, of C.F. Geust.


 
 


P-39 UTI



Soviet Airacobras were involved in many fatal accidents, because the plane has a tendence to flat spin, due to the too moved back CG.
The Bell corporation was visited by an high-level Soviet delegation, including two of the best test pilots of the NII VVS, to remedy the problem, and examined the two-seater TP-39Q at the Bell factory in Buffalo on April 1944.
After that, in the Soviet Union, some P-39s were transformed into P-39 UTI, probably by conversion kits supplied by Bell.
The Soviet version of the two-seater was slightly different by US versions, particularly in the shape of the extended canopy, that had additional frames. Observing photos, it looks that there were at least two Soviet versions, probably based on different versions of the fighter and featuring slightly different canopy and ventral fin.
 
 

Image from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra
 
 

Above: This version has a low windshield (as on TP-39F, but with additional frames, and different profile of the lower frame), lack of dorsal fin extension, a trapezoidal ventral fin, a cutten spinner (as on single-seater, but without the gun) painted of a light color.
 
 

Below: three images of another plane, characterized by an higher windshield, pointed spinner, triangular ventral fin, extended dorsal fin, 12- pipes exhaust stacks; it looks made on the base of a P-39F.

Image from Avions, article of V.Kulikov

Image from Red Stars 4 of C.F. Geust. Below: an enlarged detail.

from Plastic Kits Revue 1-1991
 
 

P-63 UTI

In 1946, an equivalent training conversion was made on Soviet P-63s, that remained serviceable after the war.

Images from Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra


Bibliography and links:

Samolot mysliwski P-39 Airacobra

Aerei Modellismo 6/86

Red Stars of Geust, Keskinen, Stenman;

Red Stars 4 of Geust and Petrov;

Plastic Kits Revue 1-1991

http://www.airwarfareforum.com/viewtopic.php?p=44056#44056

http://sovietwarplanes.com/board/index.php?PHPSESSID=c0a3a5b956e914d3ee6f037cc44da989&topic=531.new

http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p39_8.html
 
 

Links on P-39:

http://www.cobrasoverthetundra.com/restoration_page.htm

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/photogallery/p-39_tikkakoski/index.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-39
 
 

Many thanks to:

Plator Kalakulla, Jarda Rankl, Wildr1, Jure Miljevic, Tehuelche, Dark Green Man, Viktor Kulikov.
 
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