|Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo|
The Bell Aircraft P-39Q Airacobra Miss Connie featured here is operated by the Commemorative Air Force's Central Texas Wing in San Marcos, TX. The P-39 entered service in 1939 and proved to be inadequate for frontline fighter combat due to lack of a turbocharger. However, its greatest asset, the 37mm cannon mounted to fire through the propeller hub, made it effective against low-flying attack aircraft and in its own ground attack role mainly with Russian forces under the Lend-Lease program. The P-39Q was a Russian export version.
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang earned a legendary reputation for turning the tide in the European bombing campaign by escorting the U.S. heavy bombers to and from targets over Germany. The Mustang proved to have the best combination of speed, range and maneuverability to counter the attacking fighters and stop the massive losses of American bombers. Mustangs served during the Korean War and in Air National Guard units through the 1950s. Today, many survive in flying condition with civilian warbird owners sporting two seats and with air racing teams, and there is nothing like the sound of the Mustang's Merlin engine as it makes a fast pass during an airshow. We even saw World War II Triple-Ace Colonel Bud Anderson interacting with some period reenactors near the Mustangs.
The North American Aviation P-64 was a fighter development of the AT-6 Texan trainer series meant for export as the clouds of war were building. The aircraft was slightly smaller than the Texan, and it was armed with two machine guns. Seven were delivered to Peru by 1939, and they were used in a brief conflict with Ecuador. Also in 1939, six cannon-armed fighters were being shipped to Thailand, but were held in Hawaii when Japan invaded that country. They were returned to the U.S. and used as advanced fighter trainers at Luke Field, AZ. The one featured here survives today with the Experimental Aircraft Association and was flown at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 for the first time in many years.