Under the Lend-Lease agreement with the US during WWII, the Soviet Union received large quantities of war materiel, including many aircraft; the Bell P-39 Airacobra takes a special place among them. The P-39 was dismissed as hardly suitable for combat both by the US and England, who turned it over in large numbers to the USSR. Soviet pilots had different views, though, and achieved excellent results while flying the type; more than twenty Soviet aces flew the P-39. As air combat over the Russian front was conducted mostly at low altitudes, the P-39 came into its own. Innovative tactics and motivation, coupled with the P-39's sturdy construction and adequate firepower, proved successful for the Soviets. The P-39 was in Soviet service since 1942; nearly 5,000 were supplied and used on the Soviet-German front, along with 2,400 P-63 Kingcobras, which saw only limited action against Japan at the close of the war. This detailed, illustrated history features many color side views and previously unpublished photographs.
Yefim Gordon is an aviation journalist and photographer who has been researching Soviet/Russian aviation history for more than forty years. He has authored and coauthored more than 120 books on the subject and published hundreds of features and photographs in Russian and foreign aviation magazines. Sergey Komissarov is editor-in-chief of Kryl?a Rodiny (Wings of the Motherland) magazine and a researcher of aviation history. He is the author/co-author of more than twenty books and numerous magazine features on Soviet/Russian aviation. Dmitriy Komissarov is a translator and journalist whose work has been associated with aviation since 1993. He has translated or authored/coauthored more than seventy books on Soviet/Russian aircraft and written numerous features for Russian and foreign aviation magazines.