Bell P-39 Airacobra (oz10061)
About this Plan
Bell P-39 Airacobra. Wing area 743 sq in, for .60 - .75 2 cycle or .70 - .91 4 cycle engines.
Discontinued kit from Top Flite. This is the Gold Edition kit. Scale is 1/7.
Quote: "Congratulations and thank you for purchasing the Top Flite Gold Edition P-39 Airacobra. We are sure you are eager to build and fly your P-39 Airacobra just as we were eager to build and fly our prototypes.
The nice thing about the Gold Edition P-39 Airacobra is that although it is a highly detailed scale model with all the goodies, such as a realistic looking scale outline, built up tail surfaces, retracts and flaps, it is one of the few military aircraft that had a tricycle gear configuration. Those of you who have not yet mastered airplanes that are tail draggers, will appreciate this model's great ground handling characteristics.
One last note before you continue: we highly recommend you get some pictures or a book about P-39 Airacobras or send for your documentation package as soon as possible. This way you can study the drawings and photos to get a feel for how your P-39 Airacobra should look when you're done. This will also help you figure out what scale details to add and decide on a trim scheme.
Well, this should be enough to get your juices flowing, so get your other projects off your workbench, say goodbye to your significant other for a while and...keep reading!"
Note the Topflite site has a free download available of the complete kit manual (48 pages) for this discontinued kit. Also page with full parts listing, and 2 further downloads of diecut sheet drawings. See https://www.top-flite.com/manuals/index.html
Direct submission to Outerzone.
Update 17/05/2018: added Top Flite build manual, thanks to JPM.
Update 18/06/2018: added kit review from R/C Scale International, November/December 2000, thanks to RFJ.
Update 23/10/2019: Added kit review from Flying Scale Models, May/June 2000, thanks to RFJ.
Quote: "Review. Andy Ward builds this off-beat WWII fighter.
For many years now TopFlite, in USA, have had a reputation for fine quality, all-wood kits and their recently updated 'Gold' series has continued this tradition into slightly larger models than the original series which is a growing trend, I think.
I did not have to think too long when offered the opportunity of reviewing the Bell P-39 Airacobra kit as it had long been an ambition of mine to build a TopFlite kit. Their range consists of several warbirds and civilian aircraft and now a growing collection of large scale warbirds too - so there's something for everyone!
The kits are extremely well presented, full colour boxes showing the assembled model whet the appetite and a range of accessories are also available, including quality air retracts specially designed by Robart for each model. The Airacobra kit just oozes quality, even before the box lid is opened. Inside, the wood quality is superb, the die cutting on the ply is exem-plary and all hardware is of a decent quality.
Very clear, easy-to-understand plans are included, as are several vac-formed ABS components and a very comprehensive assembly manual which takes the builder from start to finish without drama. I really could not wait to start building this one, as it promise several months of traditional balsa bashing with not a scrap of foam in sight!
The builder is given the option of building the P-39 as a straight four function models with fixed undercarriage or with flaps and/or trike retracts. It was my intention to go the 'full house' route and consequently a set of Robart retracts were ordered (more of this later).
I found it very helpful to read through the assembly booklet a couple of times before starting construction as it gave me a 'feel' for the way the model was to be assembled. A comprehensive parts list and scaled-down plan are provided within the booklet and I found these two items very useful during assembly. Right then, let's get out the glue and make a start!
TAIL SURFACES: In the handbook, assembly begins with the tail surfaces which consist of a balsa skinned framework for the fin and horizontal tailplane, while the elevator and rudder and made up on a centreline sheet core with ribs either side. The basic tailplane framework is built over the plan with the ribs having removable alignment 'tabs' on them to aid true assembly. These are trimmed off when sheeting the underside. All sheeting is from 1.5mm balsa and no problems were experienced here, the instructions being very explanatory. The fin is constructed in an identical manner.
TopFlite provide their own special hinges which are like a kind of fibrous mylar. Now, I'm a big fan of mylar hinges anyway and found these to be excellent and easy to install. The elevators are joined by a metal joiner wire which incorporates a horn for the elevator operating 'snake'. It's important to ensure that full and free movement is available on these surfaces and so the leading edges of the rudder and elevator are bevelled in order to achieve this.
FUSELAGE: The basic construction of the fuselage consists of top and bottom halves built over the plan on a horizontal crutch. The engine (.61 upwards) is side mounted on the right hand side. Using the excellent booklet photos for guidance, it was straightforward to build the basic crutches..."
Update 06/04/2020: Added kit review from RCM March 2000, thanks to RFJ.
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User commentsBoy do I remember this one. Spivey, notorious owner of one of the local hobby shops, sold one of these kits to a customer as his first airplane. He appeared at our field seeking help with the test flight, and I was selected. He did a real nice job with the construction and radio installation, even though it was a bit heavy with the shiny paint job applied by his buddy, an auto body man. A honkin' Enya 60, latest in their product line, ran well and produced tons of power, more than enough for the model. I ran it down the runway and gently lifted it off, whereupon it instantly tried to snap roll, all by itself. Somehow I was lucky enough to recover and get it leveled out and flying straight, but every time I so much as touched the elevator it tried to snap roll again. I gently flew it around until I could get it lined up for a landing and back on the runway, after a few more snap roll heart attacks. Then we started to look a little closer to find the source of the problem. I suspected too much elevator movement but inspection showed it to be about right, in the opinion of the assembled R/C'ers, a ring of tennis shoes surrounding the cooling model. When we looked closely at the severely tapered scale wing, the situation became obvious. Yes, you guessed it, he had built washin instead of washout into the wing, no way it was ever going to fly. The kit came with little shims to enable the wing to be built flat on the board, including the proper washout, but he had somehow done it backwards and ruined the whole project. Later I found out he had employed Dusty Shinn, long time club member to test fly it the week before, with similar results which he hadn't mentioned. I guess he thought Dusty just couldn't fly it. It was a truly beautiful model, so I told him to just hang it up and never fly it again, it would make a nice display piece. This is what happens when you try to build the wrong model as your first attempt. We never saw him again.
DougSmith - 13/05/2018
Great! I really liked your post. Very rich. I am building, on this date, the TOPFLITE P-39, but I expanded the scale to 1/4. Great challenge. I hope everything will be okay. 35 cc motor.
Pedro Galluzzo Junior - 14/12/2020
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- Bell P-39 Airacobra (oz10061)
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