|This page is about the American fighter P-63A-10. For other versions, see P-63 (Family).|
The P-63A-10 Kingcobra is a rank III American fighter with a battle rating of 4.0 (AB/RB) and 4.7 (SB). It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27.
This later mark of the A-model Kingcobra is quite similar to the earlier P-63A-5. Aside from the striking golden target camouflage, the airframe itself only has minor detail differences. Internally, it has modified armament and extra engine power. The best performing Kingcobra at low altitudes, the P-63A-10 is a versatile fighter with good speed, climb, armament, and agility. Intercepting bombers up high, zooming around at sea level with a hefty bombload, and diving on unfortunate victims with talons drawn are all within a day's work for this lethal aircraft. It requires some finesse to fly but can give feared opponents like the Bf 109 F-4 a serious run for their money.
Kingcobra fans can try the foldered P-63C-5, a very similar aircraft tuned for better performance at medium to high altitudes.
The P-63A-10 has fairly good all-round characteristics. As with most US aircraft, it handles well at high speeds. The elevator and roll do not compress much even past 600 km/h IAS, though the rudder does lose effectiveness past that point. Low speed manoeuvrability is poor and the turning performance becomes sluggish under around 300 km/h IAS. Unique for a US fighter is the good climb rate, comparable to the German Bf 109 series. It matches the Bf 109 F-4 in climb up to 2,000 m and starts to fall behind slightly at 3,000 m. Past that, the P-63's performance decreases and the difference in climb rate becomes more pronounced, though it is still quite decent at 4,000-5,000 m and can outclimb Fw 190s and most Soviet fighters at these altitudes. Try not to go much higher than that.
Kingcobras are known for their excellent roll rates, good vertical/horizontal energy retention, and poor manoeuvring energy retention. The P-63A-10's low-altitude speed and climb are excellent. Its top speed at sea level is about 595 km/h, matching the P-51D-5 Mustang. It takes some time to reach this speed in level flight. Having some altitude and entering a shallow dive speeds up the process.
The P-63A-10 shares the same Allison V-1710-93 engine with the P-63A-5 but has a higher boost pressure. It has about 150 less horsepower on normal settings and about 300 more when using WEP. The engine tends to run hot when using WEP as a result and it's important to manage the temperature. Aggressive throttle control can over-rev the engine, so avoid gunning straight to WEP during takeoff.
The overall handling is very familiar for anyone used to flying the P-63A-5, but it may feel slightly heavier at times due to the weight introduced by the new features on this variant. The increased engine power is more than enough to compensate for the most part.
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 5,650 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 410||< 380||< 410||> 420|
Survivability and armour
- 15.87 mm Steel - Plates x 2, lower fore cockpit
- 19.05 mm Steel - Plate, upper fore cockpit
- 12.7 mm Steel - Plate behind pilot's seat
- 12.7 mm Steel - Plate protecting oil cooling system
- 38 mm Bulletproof glass - Windscreen
The Kingcobra provides quite a lot of protection for its pilot in both the front and back. Pilot snipes are a relatively rare occurrence as a result. However the rear placement of the engine poses some issues; it can block some fire from the rear, but this means that pursuing fighters can potentially damage or even knock out the engine. Another issue with the design is that the fuselage has essentially no room for fuel tanks, and they are placed in the outboard section of the wings as a result. The fuel tanks, though self-sealing, can be ignited by stray fire and will often spell doom for the Kingcobra. The durability is otherwise quite decent. Given some distance and mild evasive manoeuvres, incoming fire will often bounce off with little damage.
The US P-63A-10 and P-63C-5 are known for their garish paint schemes, which come from their real life use as "Pinball" gunnery targets by the US military. This can be a liability in Ground RB or Simulator battles since it's easier for enemies to spot than the typical brown or blue camouflages of US aircraft. If looking like a ripe banana is a problem, the P-63A-10 has an unlockable silver USAAF camouflage more similar to the P-51D-20-NA or French P-63C-5. Pristine aluminum is not low profile either, but at least it does not literally invite enemy fire!
Modifications and economy
The P-63A-10 is armed with:
- 1 x 37 mm M10 cannon, nose-mounted (58 rpg)
- 2 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, nose-mounted (250 rpg = 500 total)
- 2 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, wing-mounted (200 rpg = 400 total)
The P-63A-10 replaces the P-63A-5's M4 cannon, originally inherited from the P-39 Airacobra, with a new M10 cannon. The M10 uses a disintegrating link feed system and has better performance: faster rate of fire, lower chance of jamming, and almost twice the ammunition. Unfortunately it still has atrocious accuracy when stock, so don't use it outside of point-blank range until the New 37 mm Cannon upgrade is researched. It takes practice to aim and is best used within 500 m since it has a tendency to spark upon glancing hits. The good news is that a successful hit will usually obliterate any single-engined aircraft. For larger aircraft hits to the tail or wings can be instantly fatal. The Default belt works well since it consists entirely of HE rounds. The Ground Targets belt with 50% AP-T content may seem like a good choice for attacking tanks, but anyone expecting similar results to the Yak-9T's 37 mm cannon will be disappointed. The poor muzzle velocity, lower penetration, and lack of a full-AP belt make the M10 cannon much less lethal in Ground RB. A good strafing run would be lucky to knock out a crew member or module. As such, reserve the cannon for harassing tanks if bombs are unavailable or expended.
The four M2 Browning machine guns are still equipped with mid-war belts. For anti-aircraft purposes the Universal belt is the best due to the high content of M8 AP-I rounds. They are good at starting fires and will dispatch fragile opponents like Yaks and Bf 109s with ease. Unfortunately they don't have much burst mass and are less effective against sturdy targets than the typical US 6-gun complement; this is noticeable when fighting Fw 190s, for example. Another downside specific to the P-63A-10 and P-63C-5 Kingcobras is that their machine guns have less ammunition than the P-63A-5. The wing guns lost 50 rounds per gun to make room for the new wing hardpoints and the nose guns lost 20 rounds because of the new cannon installation. Mind your aim and fire in long bursts only if you're sure that they will hit. The cannon can finish off twin-engined fighters and bombers.
The nose guns are tightly clustered and the two wing-mounted M2 Brownings are mounted midway on the wings. This makes convergence an issue. A common recommendation is to use 400-500 m convergence to concentrate the machine gun fire. Consider turning on vertical targeting if using a lower convergence setting, this makes leading the cannon easier by compensating for its poor muzzle velocity. Vertical targeting will make attacking ground vehicles more awkward so it has more drawbacks in Ground RB.
The P-63A-10 can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 3 x 500 lb AN-M64A1 bombs (1,500 lb total)
The P-63A-5 only had a single hardpoint under the fuselage for a 500 lb bomb. The P-63A-10 has new wing hardpoints and can carry triple the bomb load, a welcome improvement. The wing bombs will drop as a pair first and the second drop will release the fuselage bomb. The US 500 lb bomb is not particularly powerful but can still do good work if delivered with reasonable accuracy. The first drop is more forgiving since the two bombs have a decent combined blast radius. The second drop is more demanding but the centreline position allows you to deliver it precisely; it is very satisfying to land it next to or on top of an enemy tank.
Usage in battles
The P-63A-10 has good all-round characteristics and lends itself to several possible strategies. Examine what nations are present on the enemy team; Axis teams usually have Bf 109s, C.205s, J2Ms, and similar fighters that climb well and typically attack from above, while Soviet teams tend to stay at low to medium altitudes and can be comfortably outclimbed. If you want to work with an altitude advantage against Axis teams, try sideclimbing once you reach 3,000-4,000 m, but remember that high altitude operations are better left to Thunderbolts, Lightnings, and Mustangs. If using Manual Engine Controls, open up the radiators to high percentages while climbing. They effectively keep the engine cool on WEP and can be closed more at high altitude or during combat.
Going after bombers is a valid option provided that they are not at extreme altitudes; attack from underneath, directly above, or the side and try not to sit on their tails. Open up with the machine guns early on, and once the distance is short enough for consistent hits to be scored, start using the cannon in short bursts. Ideally the machine guns can knock out defensive gunners and start fires while the cannon can rip off tails or wings. It is very satisfying to dismember a bomber with a well-placed cannon shot. Remember that though the P-63's engine is not located in the front, the unarmoured propeller hub is part of the same damage model. And even small calibre machine guns can ignite the wing fuel tanks with fatal results.
The P-63 excels at diving attacks on attackers and fighters due to its mild control compression, durable wings, and good energy retention. If the target evades, simply zoom climb back up or extend away, then look for an opening to engage again. Wear down their energy, get some hits in, and use the Kingcobra's potent bite to finish them off once they are low and slow. This tactic works well against climbing targets since they will be continuously forced down. Just be careful against Soviet fighters since they perform optimally at low altitude.
When committing to a dogfight, keep hard turns at high speed to a minimum. Although the P-63 is surprisingly nimble in these conditions, such manoeuvres tend to bleed its energy and put a lot of stress on the pilot. It is safer to keep some distance from your opponent and turn more gently instead of aggressively following; only do the latter if you are certain that you can secure the kill. This does not mean that turning engagements are forbidden since that would be a waste of the P-63's good manoeuvrability (for a US fighter). Just avoid dumping speed all at once and getting sucked into a difficult low-speed engagement. If the P-63's speed drops below 300 km/h during turnfights or loops, use combat flaps to improve the turn rate in the meantime and try to regain speed as quickly as possible.
With WEP, the P-63A-10 has a significantly better power-to-weight ratio than the somewhat underpowered P-63A-5. This means that you can engage in turnfights, spiral climbs, and stall climbs more comfortably. The low speed handling isn't any better so try to avoid those if you can.
Evasive manoeuvres and defensive flying are important skills to master in the P-63. If the pursuer has a lower top speed than the P-63 and does not have ludicrously powerful cannons, extend away in a shallow dive and make slight dodges upwards and downwards to easily dodge incoming fire. With the P-63A-10 you can escape by diving to sea level, almost no contemporary fighters can keep up if you hold onto your speed. Rolling scissors are effective to force overshoots against opponents with poor roll rates. As a last resort, combining roll, elevator, and rudder results in an unpredictable and rapid spiral while bleeding speed quickly.
The general flow of battle can be unpredictable. If your team has numerous sideclimbing fighters like the contemporary P-51C-10, you can enter battle slightly ahead of them and tie up the enemy, setting them up for friendly boom-and-zoom attacks. Dragging Axis fighters to lower altitudes can work well since they tend to be significantly slower there. Against Soviet aircraft, stick to boom-and-zoom attacks and maintain a safe distance. Their low speed handling and power-to-weight are significantly better and their speeds are comparable. The Yak-3 is superior in a dogfight and the Yak-9U exceeds the P-63A-10 in almost all metrics except high-speed handling, roll, and armament.
The P-63A-10 is a good yet uncommon choice for Ground RB. Many US fighters or attackers like the Hellcat and Thunderbolt can carry heavy ground attack ordnance but are out of their element in the low-altitude environment of Ground RB matches. Their high altitude performance advantages are moot and they struggle to turn or climb effectively, making it easier for Bf 109s, C.205s, and even Zeroes to mop them up. The P-63A-10 has excellent performance at low altitudes and is right at home in the skies above tank battles.
If there are no enemy fighters, take the bomb payload and consider loading the Ground Targets belt for the cannon. After spawning in, gain some altitude or speed and look for targets to bomb. When the bombs have been expended, extend away and gain some altitude while getting your bearings. If enemy aircraft are present, climb some more and engage once you have an energy advantage. If the skies are clear you can fly around the map and strafe targets. Returning to base to reload the bombs is an option if the battle is not moving very quickly. If you think enemy aircraft will be inbound soon, climb to get the drop on them when they spawn in.
The P-63A-10 cannot cope with enemy fighters when burdened with its full bombload. There is unfortunately no option to take only the centreline bomb, so think carefully before spawning in. If it turns out that your team does not have control of the air, you can ditch the ordnance and go after fighters, then return to the airfield once it's safe to reload the bombs. A more risky option is deliver the bombs and make a beeline towards your airfield using your sea level speed. Once covered by friendly airfield AA, you can climb and reset the engagement on your terms.
A well-flown P-63A-10 can destroy and harass both ground and air targets. As long as you stay aware of your surroundings, few opponents will give you trouble and your team will appreciate the close air support and clear skies.
Manual Engine Control
|Controllable|| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
|Separate|| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Good horizontal speed and acceleration
- Excellent dive speed
- Excellent performance at high speed, relatively minor compression
- Good climb rate
- Good turn radius
- Good energy retention if manoeuvring is kept to a minimum
- 37 mm cannon can dismantle bombers' airframes easily
- No fuel tank in the fuselage
- Can carry an impressive 1,500 lbs worth of bombs if the need arises
- Good amount of 37 mm shells
- Poor turn time at lower speeds
- Poor manoeuvring energy retention, bleeds speed in hard turns
- Large difference in trajectory between 37 mm and 12.7 mm, limiting the opportunities at which the firepower of both can be utilized
- 37 mm cannon is not very effective against tanks
- Limited ammunition for the machine guns
- Wings are littered with fuel tanks and easily set ablaze
- Default paint scheme makes the aircraft visible at a longer distance
The P-63 Kingcobra was an improved version of the P-39 Airacobra. The P-63A was the first production variant, and production began in October 1943. The USAAF found the P-63 to be inferior to other designs such as the P-51 Mustang, so it was not ordered in quantity. But, production began to facilitate export to the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease Act.
The Soviet Union played a major role in the development of the P-63, and it was tested heavily in Russia. The P-63A sub-variants were mostly developed as a result of Soviet feedback since the Soviet Union was the largest buyer of the Kingcobra. The P-63A-5 sub-variant incorporated more pilot armour and a fuselage hardpoint, the A-6 added two wing hardpoints and extra fuel tanks, and the 37 mm gun was moved forward on the A-9 due to Soviet feedback - increasing the ammunition load from 30 to 58 rounds.
The P-63A was not used for combat operations by the USAAF. Instead, they were often converted to target aircraft for aerial gunnery training. Most P-63s, though, were exported to the Soviet Union during the war through the Lend-Lease Act.
The P-63 was removed from the Soviet western front in 1943 in order to focus the units on the east for an eventual invasion of Japan. However, both Soviet units and German units reported the presence of P-63 fighters on that front. One Soviet account goes as far as to say that the entire 4th Guards Aviation Regiment (4 GvlAP) was converted to the P-63 in 1944, while they were officially flying the P-39. German accounts also detail the downing of P-63 aircraft by flak guns and fighter aircraft. The official Soviet records still claim that only P-39s were used against Germany.
In the time before the P-63s were transferred to the east, it had been proven as a capable fighter, although there is a widely believed myth that P-63s were used only in the ground attack role. The Kingcobra was able to achieve a number of victories over German aircraft in that time. In the Pacific theatre, P-63s were used during the Soviet invasion of Manchuko and northern Korea. They flew ground attack, close air support, and escort missions in that theatre. The first Soviet air victory with the type in the Pacific was on 15 August 1945, when Lejtenant I. F. Miroshnichenko from 17th IAP/190 IAD, shot down a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa IJAAS fighter off the coast of North Korea.
The Soviet Air Force maintained large quantities of P-63 Kingcobras after the war, with P-63s remaining in service throughout the Korean War in the 1950s.
The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) received 114 P-63 Kingcobras in 1945. These units were received too late to participate in World War 2, and they were first deployed to Algeria. When the French Indochina War broke out, the P-63s were sent to Indochina immediately. By January 1950, only 60 P-63s remained operational due to a lack of spare parts since the United States refused to provide them. The squadrons equipped with the Kingcobra began to receive the F8F Bearcat in February 1951, and the P-63 was taken out of service soon after. The last flight of a P-63 in Indochina occurred in September 1951.
Bell P-63A-6/A-7/A-8/A-9/A-10 Kingcobra Army Fighter
The A-6 series introduced two additional multipurpose pylons under the wings, which could hold two 500 lb (227 kg) bombs or two additional fuel tanks with a capacity of 75 gallons (284 liters). To provide the extra space needed, the Colt-Browning M2 .50 cal 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings had their ammunition reduced from 250 to 200 rounds per gun. To reduce the risk of the plane going into a flat spin, the shape of the elevator fin was changed, and its area was reduced. A total of 130 A-6 aircraft were built.
During operation, the A-1, A-5, and A-6 aircraft exhibited a strain in the skin of their wings, so the A-7 series (150 planes) featured a thicker lining and reinforced structure. The fighter also had difficulty when exiting a dive or performing vertical manoeuvres. This was partially countered by installing a counterbalance in the elevator control system and by increasing the area of the elevator fin. The problem was completely eliminated only by the time modification C was released.
The A-8 series (200 aircraft) had the Allison V-1710 engine, equipped with a water-methanol mixture direct-injection afterburner which could be used to briefly increase engine power to 1,800 hp. Also, the airplane was fitted with an improved propeller (the Aeroproducts A6425-D3), an N-6 camera was installed, and the aircraft's armour was upgraded to 85.5 kg.
The A-9 series (445 aircraft) had its armament strengthened at the request of the Red Army Air Force. A Colt-Browning M10 37 mm cannon was installed. The new gun featured improved ballistics and 58 more rounds of ammunition per gun. To make space for this change, the ammunition for the fuselage guns was reduced to 250 rounds each. In addition, 5 kg of armour were added when the pilot's seat was upgraded.
The A-10 series (730 aircraft) received new N-9 sights. The mass of the aircraft's armour had reached 121 kg, and the aircraft could carry 6 unguided rockets.
As the improved P-63A was being delivered to the Soviet Union, priority shifted to supplying the eastern armies preparing for military action against Japan. During the campaign of August 1945 in the Far East, the P-63 was used to escort bombers and reconnaissance aircraft as well as to cover troops from the air and attack Japanese encampments.
From October 1943 to December 1944, Bell Aircraft produced a total of 1,725 P-63A fighter aircraft, after which the design was replaced by the C modification.
- ▂P-63A-10 - USSR lend-lease aircraft
|Bell Aircraft Corporation|
|Fighters||P-39N-0 · P-39Q-5|
|P-63A-10 · P-63A-5 · P-63C-5 · ␠Kingcobra|
|Export||▂P-39K-1 · ▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0 · ▂P-39Q-15 · ▄P-39Q-25|
|▂P-63A-5 · ▂P-63A-10 · ▂P-63C-5 · ▄P-63C-5|
|Attack||AH-1F · AH-1G · AH-1Z|
|Utility||UH-1B · UH-1C · UH-1C XM-30|
|Export/Licensed||▅UH-1B · ◄UH-1D|
|Tzefa A · Tzefa B · Tzefa D/E · ▅AH-1S early · ▅AH-1S · ▅AH-1S Kisarazu|
|See Also||Fuji Heavy Industries · Agusta|
|P-26 Peashooter||P-26A-33 · P-26A-34 · P-26A-34 M2 · P-26B-35|
|P-36 Hawk||P-36A · Rasmussen's P-36A · P-36C · ○P-36C · P-36G|
|P-39 Airacobra||P-400 · P-39N-0 · P-39Q-5|
|P-40||P-40C · P-40E-1 · P-40E-1 TD · P-40F-10|
|P-47 Thunderbolt||P-47D-22-RE · P-47D-25 · P-47D-28 · P-47M-1-RE · ⋠P-47M-1-RE · P-47N-15|
|P-51 Mustang||P-51 · P-51A (Thunder League) · P-51C-10 · P-51D-5 · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · P-51D-30 · P-51H-5-NA|
|P-63 Kingcobra||P-63A-5 · P-63A-10 · P-63C-5 · ␠Kingcobra|
|F2A Buffalo||F2A-1 · Thach's F2A-1 · F2A-3|
|F3F||F3F-2 · Galer's F3F-2|
|F4F Wildcat||F4F-3 · F4F-4|
|F4U Corsair||F4U-1A · F4U-1A (USMC) · F4U-1D · F4U-1C · F4U-4 · F4U-4B · F4U-4B VMF-214 · F2G-1|
|F6F Hellcat||F6F-5 · F6F-5N|
|F8F Bearcat||F8F-1 · F8F-1B|
|Other countries||▃Ki-43-II · ▃Ki-61-Ib · ▃A6M2 · ▃Bf 109 F-4 · ▃Fw 190 A-8 · ▃Spitfire LF Mk IXc|