|This page is about the Soviet fighter P-63A-5 (USSR). For other variants, see P-63 (Family).
The P-63 was a vastly improved "version" of the P-39. Although they look quite similar, they are functionally completely different and no parts can be swapped into one another. The Kingcobra features a laminar flow wing, four-bladed propeller, and various other airframe changes. The Kingcobra saw massive use by the Soviet Union during World War 2. Although the P-63 was seen as a good aircraft in the US, it was ultimately rejected as it never passed the requirements set by the USAAF (United States Army Air Force). 3,303 Kingcobras were built and over 70% were sent to the Soviet Union by ferry pilots. The A-5 block was essentially an up-armoured XP-63A with provisions for more fuel. It also featured the 12 cylinder Allison V-1710-93 engine which could produce an impressive 1,500 hp at sea level. The Kingcobra, although played down by Soviet officials, was very successful in its use for air combat. It would also receive the NATO reporting name "Fred" after the war.
The ▂P-63A-5 Kingcobra is a premium Soviet fighter that has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27. It is essentially the P-63A-5 found in the US tree but has better reward modifiers. The Kingcobra shares a few similarities with other Soviet fighters. It features a high calibre cannon, succeeds at low altitude, and is overall a manoeuvrable aircraft. However, unlike many of the fighters in the Yak line, the Kingcobra has a very high structural speed limit of almost 900 km/h (562 mph), which is incredibly fast for its battle rating. It does compress at high speeds, so players should be careful when performing aggressive dives at low-altitude. Overall, the P-63A-5 is a capable fighter thanks to its various improvements over the P-39.
The P-63A-5 is a pleasant aircraft to fly and has competitive performance for its rank. The top speed is impressive, exceeding almost all of its Soviet stablemates like the La-5FN or Yak-9T. The climb rate and acceleration are excellent at lower altitudes and will start to drop noticeably after about 3,000 m of altitude. From 4,000-5,000 m, these characteristics remains decent, fixing a notable flaw of the original P-39. Handling at high speeds is good, courtesy of the laminar flow wing; the rudder tends to compress above 600 km/h, but the roll and pitch remain responsive. On the other hand, low speed manoeuvrability is poor and it becomes much more sluggish under 300 km/h. The roll rate is excellent. Vertical and horizontal energy retention are both good.
The P-63 is sleek and streamlined, gaining speed quickly in a shallow dive. However, the engine is not very powerful compared to the weight of the plane, which causes issues with energy loss and acceleration when manoeuvring.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 6,850 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
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.
Modifications and economy
The P-63A-5 (USSR) is armed with:
- 1 x 37 mm M4 cannon, nose-mounted (30 rpg)
- 2 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, nose-mounted (200 rpg = 400 total)
- 2 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, wing-mounted (250 rpg = 500 total)
The P-39 was essentially designed around the 37 mm M4 cannon, and the P-63 inherits this weapon. Unfortunately, it has a lot of unfavourable characteristics: the muzzle velocity and accuracy are poor, it tends to spark upon glancing shots, and it jams quickly. On the plus side, a single good hit can remove tails or wings. Unless the pilot is very familiar with the ballistics, it is best treated as a situational secondary weapon for harpooning large or heavily armoured targets and finishing off crippled aircraft. Unlike the original American version, the Soviet P-63 does not have access to belts containing AP rounds and it is useless against armoured targets as a result. On the plus side, since this is a premium aircraft, the painful stock grind can be avoided.
The four M2 Browning machine guns are much more reliable than the M4 cannon, but they still present some issues in usage. Two of them are located in the nose and the other two are located in the wings. The former have problems with convergence and the overall volume of fire is not very high. Those not used to the P-39s or P-63s may be frustrated when using them against manoeuvring targets, and it may take some time and practice to successfully land hits. They do have good ballistics and access to mid-war belts. The best belts for anti-aircraft usage are Universal and Stealth since they have a high proportion of M8 AP-I rounds, which are quite good at starting fires.
The different ballistics of the machine gun and cannon can pose an issue. A good option is to use a 400 m convergence and turn on vertical targeting, this makes it easier to lead the cannon and concentrates the otherwise sparse machine gun fire. However, this makes it difficult to attack enemies at longer distances, so experimenting with different settings is recommended.
The P-63A-5 has slightly more ammunition for the machine guns than the later variants of the P-63 and significantly more than the P-39s.
The P-63A-5 (USSR) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 1 x 250 kg FAB-250sv bomb (250 kg total)
Unlike the later Kingcobras, the P-63A-5 only has one hardpoint for bombs. The lone 250 kg bomb is not particularly destructive and is suitable for dealing with medium or light tanks. More heavily armoured vehicles may require almost a direct hit. That said, the bomb has relatively little effect on the P-63's flight performance and can be delivered accurately.
Usage in battles
The P-63A-5 has good all-round characteristics and lends itself to several possible strategies. However, try to make use of its strengths compared to other Soviet aircraft. The excellent climb rate allows the Kingcobra to reach high altitudes quickly and it has better performance at 4,000-5,000 m than the Yaks or Lavochkins. If using Manual Engine Control, open up the radiators fully when climbing to prevent overheating while using WEP. Once at high altitude, they can be closed more. From this vantage point, the pilot can examine the situation and act accordingly.
Going after bombers is a valid option provided that they are not at extreme altitudes; attack from underneath 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. Optimally, the machine guns can knock out defensive gunners and start fires, while the cannon can rip off tails or wings. It is very gratifying to dismember a bomber with a well-placed cannon hit. Going head-on is a good strategy with some aircraft, such as the A6M2. The powerful 37 mm can knock the enemy pilot out or destroy the wings, and a battery of 4 x M2 Brownings will destroy the engine and light them on fire, while the sturdy plane's fuselage will survive a few hits. Even a fuel tank fire is not a death sentence, since most enemies when lighting you up will pull away, and if you take a minimum amount of fuel in battle, you will most likely survive the burning out of the whole tank and return to the airfield, or even kill the enemy that can come back to finish you off.
The P-63 also excels at diving attacks on attackers and fighters. The mild control compression and durable wings means that steep or extended dives that would be fatal for typical Soviet aircraft can be safely attempted. If the target evades, simply zoom climb back up and look for an opening to engage again. When committing to a dogfight, avoid turning for more than short periods of time. Although the P-63 turns well at high speed, such manoeuvres tend to bleed its energy and put a lot of stress on the pilot. If an engagement has cost a lot of speed, altitude, and ammunition, consider disengaging. The P-63 relies on being able to enter engagements with an energy advantage and using that to win; unlike the La-5FN and its monstrously powerful engine, it is not stellar at regaining that energy in the middle of fight. And during heated combat, avoid letting the P-63's speed drop below 300 km/h. If this happens, use combat flaps and try to regain speed as quickly as possible.
Despite its climb rate, it is not uncommon for the P-63 to see enemy fighters at comparable or higher altitudes. Besides the common Bf 109s, as a Soviet aircraft, the P-63 can encounter Spitfires and P-38 Lightnings. The latter have interceptor spawns and great high-altitude performance, making them especially dangerous. It is unlikely that teammate backup will be available at these altitudes, so a safe strategy is to stay back and wait for these opponents to dive on other players. Then, attack them when they are zoom climbing or otherwise preoccupied. If the enemies go after the P-63 directly, try dragging the fight down towards teammates through dives or downward spirals.
Evasive manoeuvres and defensive flying are important skills to master in the P-63 since it cannot always rely on outrunning enemies, outturning them, or having teammates nearby. 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 continuously make slight dodges upwards and downwards. 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. Avoid climbing spirals or stall climbs unless the pursuer has much less energy. As mentioned before, the P-63's power-to-weight ratio is not great, and the poor low speed handling does it no favours either.
As a whole, the P-63 is a great plane that can destroy pillboxes and light ground targets with its 4 x high-calibre machine guns and a 500 lb bomb, destroy bombers with its good climb rate and a 37 mm cannon, outturn interceptors and energy fighters and outrun or outgun other fighters
The P-63A-5 is decidedly not a ground pounding aircraft but still has its uses in Ground RB for counter-CAS, similar to the Bf 109s. Its high performance, good protection, and powerful cannon are good for destroying attackers and bombers. When spawning in, take the 500 lb bomb; it does not affect performance much, and unlike most Soviet fighters, is large enough to be useful and can be delivered with great precision due to its centreline mounting. Gain some altitude and look for something to bomb. Prioritize ground targets that have weaker armour (e.g. light tanks, distracted SPAAs, certain tank destroyers) and will be easy to hit. Enter a fairly steep dive and drop it, then immediately zoom climb up and take a look at the battlefield. If enemy aircraft are present, climb some more and pursue them when a sufficient energy advantage is attained. If the skies are clear, the P-63 can either fly around the map and spot targets with the machine guns, return to base to reload the bomb, or side climb to get the drop on enemy aircraft when they spawn in.
Manual Engine Control
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Decently manoeuvrable, especially at high speeds
- Hard-hitting 37 mm cannon
- Four M2 Brownings with mid-war belts
- Good climb rate and energy retention
- Decent performance at 4,000-5,000 m, not as constrained as other Soviet fighters
- Can carry a 500 lb bomb
- Cannon has only 30 rounds
- Guns can be difficult to use
- Bleeds speed in hard turns
- Poor low speed handling
- Wing fuel tanks easily catch fire
- Unimpressive power-to-weight ratio
The Bell P-39 Airacobra was an unusual fighter, having an engine mounted behind the cockpit with a driveshaft connecting it to the propeller at the front. This was intended to create a more favourable centre of gravity for manoeuvring and free up room for heavy nose-mounted armament. After initial testing of the XP-39 prototype, the turbocharger was removed from the design, leaving only a single-stage supercharger. Some sources claim that this decision was made since the US military did not need high altitude performance, while others claim that wind tunnel testing revealed that the turbocharger's benefits were not worth the penalties to aerodynamics. Regardless, this robbed the Airacobra of its high-altitude capabilities. For the British, who were interested in the P-39 for use as an interceptor, this was unacceptable. The US military was not impressed by the P-39 either, finding it difficult to handle, and only used the type until around 1942. However, the Soviet Union used the majority of its fighters for low-altitude engagements anyway and became an enthusiastic foreign user of the aircraft. Soviet pilots were more used to dealing with unusual handling characteristics, had clear guidelines about the P-39's operation found from exhaustive testing, and admired its heavy firepower, good protection, and comfortable ergonomics. It was the aircraft of choice for several aces like Alexander Pokryshkin and proved to be effective against the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front.
Bell was well aware of the P-39's issues. From 1941 onwards, the company explored several potential derivatives even as it produced improved versions of the P-39. The XP-39E was intended to improve the high altitude performance and used new airfoils plus a more powerful engine. While it was faster than the basic Airacobra, the other performance characteristics suffered and it was shelved. The XP-63 was an enlarged design with laminar airfoil, four-bladed propeller, and a second stage for the supercharger. The resulting aircraft was much improved from the P-39, but the US military declined to order it in large numbers since the P-51 Mustang was deemed superior. The Soviet Union was interested, however, and some 2400 P-63 Kingcobras were delivered. Exhaustive testing was performed, with feedback being given to Bell. Officially, the P-63 saw little combat in Soviet service. They were supposed to be stationed in the Far East for combat with Japan. However, several unconfirmed reports from the Germans and Soviets claim that P-63 saw combat on the eastern front, and a memoir from a Soviet pilot claimed that a regiment was secretly converted from P-39s to P-63s.
The Kingcobra remained in Soviet service for several years after WWII. Besides being a solid aircraft, the tricycle undercarriage was considered good practice for jet fighters. Two Soviet P-63s are known to exist today and are on display at two museums in Moscow, Russia.
Bell P-63A-1/A-5 (Model 33) Kingcobra Army Fighter
A single-seat, closed-canopy, all-metal monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear and a nose strut. The P-63 Kingcobra was developed as an improved version of the P-39 Airacobra and had a similar layout, with the engine located just behind the cockpit.
Work on the plane, originally designated the XP-39E, began in February 1941. The first prototype, designated XP-63, flew on December 7, 1942, and production of the P-63A-1 (Model 33) began in October 1943, along with the P-39.
The general layout of the P-39 Kingcobra was preserved, but the P-63 featured new, streamlined wings. In order to remedy the P-39's main weakness, a propensity to falling into a flat spin, the area of the vertical tail fin was increased and the aft section of the fuselage was lengthened.
The first production models were equipped with a V-12 liquid-cooled Allison V-1710-93 engine (1,325 hp). The aircraft was armed with a Colt-Browning M4 37 mm cannon with 30 rounds and 2 synchronous Colt-Browning M2 .50 cal 12.7 mm machine guns with 270 rounds per gun. An additional two M2 0.50 cals with 250 rounds each were placed in the wing compartments.
Aircraft of both series (except some A-1 planes) were fitted with a ventral pylon which could hold a fuel tank of 75 gallons (284 litres) or one 500 lb (227 kg) bomb.
The aircraft was continually tweaked from one production run to the next, improving its ability to support troops on the field. However, the differences between the A-1 and the A-5 were only slight. The most significant difference, though not a visible one, was the increase in armour from 40 kg to 81. 50 P-63A-1 and 20 P-63A-5 planes were produced.
The Red Army became the main consumers of the P-63A. Deliveries to the Soviet Union began in the summer of 1944, via Alaska and the Northwest Staging Route. The P-63A began to support Soviet anti-aircraft operations in the spring of 1945.
The Soviet version of the P-63A differed from the American in one important feature: the presence of a crank to start the engine. In addition, the Soviets equipped the plane with FAB-100 and FAB-250 bombs under the fuselage.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the aircraft;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Bell Aircraft Corporation
|P-39N-0 · P-39Q-5
|P-63A-10 · P-63A-5 · P-63C-5 · ␠Kingcobra
|▂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
|AH-1F · AH-1G · AH-1Z
|UH-1B · UH-1C · UH-1C XM-30
|▅UH-1B · ◄UH-1D
|Tzefa A · Tzefa B · Tzefa D/E · ▅AH-1S early · ▅AH-1S · ▅AH-1S Kisarazu
|Fuji Heavy Industries · Agusta
|I-15 WR · I-15 M-22 · I-15 M-25 · I-15bis · Krasnolutsky's I-15bis
|I-153 M-62 · Zhukovsky's I-153-M62 · I-153P
|I-16 type 5 · I-16 type 10 · I-16 type 18 · I-16 type 24 · I-16 type 27 · I-16 type 28 · I-180S
|I-185 (M-71) · I-185 (M-82)
|MiG-3-15 · MiG-3-15 (BK) · MiG-3-34
|I-301 · LaGG-3-4 · LaGG-3-8 · LaGG-3-11 · LaGG-3-23 · LaGG-3-34 · LaGG-3-35 · LaGG-3-66
|La-5 · La-5F · La-5FN · La-7 · Dolgushin's La-7 · La-7B-20 · La-9 · La-11
|Yak-1 · Yak-1B · Yak-7B
|Yak-3 · Yak-3P · Yak-3T · Yak-3U · Yak-3 (VK-107)
|Yak-9 · Yak-9B · Golovachev's Yak-9M · Yak-9T · Yak-9K · Yak-9U · Yak-9UT · Yak-9P
|▂P-40E-1 · ▂P-47D-27 · ▂Hurricane Mk IIB · ▂Fw 190 D-9 · ▂Spitfire Mk IXc
|▂P-39K-1 · ▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0 · ▂P-39Q-15
|▂P-63A-5 · ▂P-63A-10 · ▂P-63C-5
|USSR premium aircraft
|Krasnolutsky's I-15bis · I-16 type 28 · Zhukovsky's I-153-M62 · I-153P · I-180S · I-301 · ITP (M-1)
|LaGG-3-4 · LaGG-3-23 · LaGG-3-34 · Dolgushin's La-7 · La-11
|Yak-3 (VK-107) · Yak-3T · Golovachev's Yak-9M
|▂P-39K-1 · ▂Pokryshkin's P-39N-0 · ▂P-39Q-15 · ▂P-40E-1 · ▂P-47D-27 · ▂P-63A-5 · ▂P-63A-10 · ▂P-63C-5
|▂Hurricane Mk IIB · ▂Spitfire Mk IXc · ▂Fw 190 D-9
|Su-11 · MiG-15bis ISH · MiG-17AS · MiG-21S (R-13-300) · MiG-23ML
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|▂PBY-5A Catalina · ▂Hampden TB Mk I · ▂A-20G-30 · ▂B-25J-30