Notebook – Stalag Luft VI & IV – P-39 Bell Aerocobra & FW-190

(Posted: June 26, 2011)

This sketch of the German and American fighter planes is the result of the thoughts of a young man who is imprisoned after his own B-17 is shot down.  The War is over for him (and he begins a new battle) but he dreams still of the combat that is occurring and hopes for the best for his Country to be the ultimate victor.  It looks by the shading as though these 2 enemy fighters are in motion and trying to get the best shot at each other to claim credit for a kill.

This is the second and clearer attempt of my father to draw the American and German fighter planes.  You can notice how the “P-39 Bell Aerocobra” is changing his course from a downward position to upward to deal with his enemy, the “FW 190” (Focke Wulf).   Dad must have imagined the swooping towards and away from each other and the rolling.  He obviously had a fascination with aircraft which was evident throughout his life.

I’ve read that the “Bell P-39 Airacobra” was one of America’s fastest and most perfectly streamlined fighters.  The drawings certainly indicate the speed of this fighter. 

The P-39 is a single-seat, single engine fighter with tricycle landing gear and is armed with a shell cannon, firing through the propeller hub, and four machine guns, two in the wings and two firing through the propeller.  No wonder this plane is giving its all in the sketch to turn to face the FW 190.

My father was certainly well-acquainted with this fighter as it was manufactured by the Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, NY.  Dad worked at Bell Aircraft in Buffalo before his enlistment in the Army Air Corps.  He more than likely had an idea of the plane’s specifications and performance ability.  It was powered with a 1350 horsepower liquid-cooled Allison engine placed back of the cockpit and driving the propeller through a long shaft and reduction gear.  It is reported that the P-39 could do well over 400 miles per hour but the top speed was a military secret.  This information was obtained from a small booklet that my father owned called “A Guide to Airplanes of the USA” by John B. Walker and copyrighted 1940, 1942 and 1943 by Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin.  It’s quite a book that I’m sure my father studied many times throughout the years in his possession.

In my research on the Focke Wulf 190, I’ve read that it was one of the greatest fighters of World War II.  It had a maximum speed of 389 miles per hour and had a range of 497 miles.  The aircraft was armed with 4 machine-guns and two 20 mm cannons.  It was reported as the best fighter plane in the Luftwaffe.  It was not only fast but its superior handling and faster roll rate gave it an edge in the hands of even less experienced pilots.

It looks like these two fighters drawn by my father gave each other a run for their money during the War.  Each did what they had to do for their Country and how brave they were as they faced each other.

5 responses to “Notebook – Stalag Luft VI & IV – P-39 Bell Aerocobra & FW-190”

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