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Julien

Bell P-63A/C Kingcobra (14401) - 1:144 Dora Wings

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Bell P-63A/C Kingcobra (14401)

1:144 Dora Wings

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The P-39 was developed to meet a proposal in 1937 for a single engine high altitude interceptor having the tactical mission of interception and attack of hostile aircraft at high altitude. Specifications called for a level airspeed of 360mph at altitude, and a climb to 20,000 feet in under 6 minutes. Armament was to be heavy including a cannon, the engine was to be liquid cooled, and the aircraft was to feature a tricycle undercarriage. Bell had previously designed the YFM-1 Aracuda featuring a mid-fuselage mounted engine to free up space for a large calibre 37mm cannon which would fire through the propeller hub. This was unusual as fighters were normally designed around an engine, not a weapons system. The Bell XP-39 would make its maiden flight in April of 1938 reaching 20000 feet in 5 minutes and maintain 390 mph. However it was found that top speed at 20000 feet was lower than the original proposed 400 mph. Bell would change the aircraft configuration for production to remove the turbo charger so production aircraft were only fitted with a single-stage, single-speed supercharger. Its been argued that Bell did this to save money, though its been said that testing showed aerodynamic issues with it. As a result production aircraft performance declined above 12000 feet and it was never able to serve as a medium level let alone high level aircraft.

The RAF ordered the aircraft based on the XP-39 specifications however limitations of the "new" aircraft became apparent, and despite modifications it never was deemed acceptable. Only one Squadron No. 601 would use the aircraft operationally. All UK based aircraft would be sent to Russia, along with aircraft being built under contract in the US. In contrast to the UK, the USSR appreciated the P-39, although they would use it primarily in the ground attack role. The tactical environment of the Eastern front suited a low speed, low altitude aircraft much better. As well as in ground attack the USSR developed successful group aerial fighting tactics for the aircraft. 5 out of the 10 high scoring Soviet aces scored a majority of kills flying P-39's. Contrary to popular myth the Soviets did not use the aircraft for Tank Busting as the US did not supply any armour piercing rounds for the aircraft. A total of 4758 aircraft we sent to Russia.

Following on from the P-39 the USAAF wanted a larger aircraft based on the same principal design, this was originally designated the XP-63. The wing was larger with a laminar airflow design and the engine gained a second turbocharger which was remotely mounted to augment the principle unit. The USAAF concluded that the new aircraft was inferior to the Mustang and decided against adopting the type. However as the Russian had shown a liking for, and were the biggest users of the P-39 it was ordered into production as a lease-lend aircraft for them. The Soviets had input into the design and added more armour, extra fuel tanks, and underwing hard points. Bell was happy to do this due to the number of aircraft the Soviets were taking. In later models the cannon was moved forward changing the centre of gravity and allowing more ammunition to be carried. Over 70% of production would reach the USSR. The French Air Force would later get 114 aircraft which arrived to late for WWII but would see service in Frech Indo Chinna. These were mothballed on arrival of the Grumman Bearcat. Post WWII some aircraft were purchased as surplus and made into Air Racers.

 

 

The Kit

Dora Wings is a new company to us, and have kindly agreed to send samples for review.  Kits in 1.144 are new to Dora Wings, this being their first, and they have kindly provided us with a sample in advance of them being on sale. Being 1.144 you get two kits n the pack. The kits do not have a mass of parts, but they are detailed for the scale. Construction starts with the cockpit, the front ad rear bulkheads are installed with the seat moulded in. The nose gear is installed on the underside of this part. The fuselage can then be closed up. The wings can then be made up and attached to the fuselage, this is followed by the tailplanes. The canopy can be put on along then with the front gear doors. On the underside of the aircraft the main gear can be fitted along with the tanks and gun pods if needed. Last up the prop & spinner are added.

 

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Markings

Decals are printed in house and appear to have no issues. An impressive 9 decal options have been provided. 

 

  1. P-63C Soviet lease lend aircraft, USSR 1944.
  2. P-63C Soviet lease lend aircraft, USSR 1945 "Bell Booby TRAP" painted by unknown American Mechanic.
  3. P-63C SC44126 Glendale, 1946.
  4. P-63C French Air Force, "Normandie-Nieman" French Indochina 1950.
  5. P-63C French Air Force, "Lle France" French Indochina 1950.
  6. RP-63A Pinball 1947 (All over yellow).
  7. P-63A "55" Winner Sohio Handicap Trophy Race 1948.
  8. P-63C "Tucker SPECIAL" Thompson Trophy Race 1946.
  9. P-63C "4""Join The Navy Reserve" Sohio Handicap Trophy Race 1948.

 

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Conclusion

It is good to see a new company producing new aircraft in this scale as fans of 1:144 appear to have less choice than other scales. 

 

Highly recommended.

 

Review sample courtesy of

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I had a squint at this before I sent it over to Julien and it's really crispy moulding :yes:

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Nice - I have a couple on their way to me. I can barely wait. I love the P-63 (and I'm a sucker for that many decal options). The built up shots that Dora have posted on FB look lovely too so these should build up nicely. Did I mention I was excited?

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By the way Julien, the historical background is for the P-39 not the P-63, superficially similar but not the same aircraft at all. Thought it worth pointing out. 

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38 minutes ago, ajmm said:

By the way Julien, the historical background is for the P-39 not the P-63, superficially similar but not the same aircraft at all. Thought it worth pointing out. 

err...  I seemed to have missed a whole paragraph from my review :whistle:

 

Corrected now, Thx.

 

Julien

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