|This page is about the French fighter P-63C-5 (France). For other versions, see P-63 (Family).
Most P-63s never saw use with the USAF, and instead were sent to Allied nations like the USSR. France operated a total of 114 aircraft ordered from the United States shortly before the end of WWII. These aircraft were mostly used against the Viet Minh in the French Indochina War of 1947, replacing the outdated Spitfires donated by the RAF. Since the Viet Minh lacked any kind of air force, France used the P-63s as ground attackers. For this, the aircraft was adapted to carry napalm bomb. However, the aircraft soon started to suffer from high casualties against Viet Minh AA guns, and with the arrival of surplus F6F, F8Fs, and F4Us, the P-63C was retired from service in Indochina.
It was introduced in Update 1.73 "Vive la France". The aircraft is a high altitude interceptor/energy fighter, with its turn radius slightly better than before. The quick dive speed and high energy retention allows the player, with the correct altitude, to engage opponents below numerous times using the high yo-yo method. This aircraft can be used to some success in ground battles thanks to its access to 3 x 500 lb bombs, however more conventional bombers like the SB2C-5 are more suited for this task. There is an identical variant in the US tree - P-63C-5. The key difference is in the fact that the French variant has access to the incendiary bombs, while the US model doesn't.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 4,572 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
Survivability and armour
- 12.7 mm Steel plate in front of the engine.
- 38 mm Bulletproof glass in front of pilot.
- 19.05 mm Steel plate behind 37 mm autocannon / in front of the pilot.
- 15.87 mm Steel plates in front of pilot's feet.
- 6.35 mm Steel plates on cockpit doors.
- 12.7 mm Steel plate behind pilot's top body.
Modifications and economy
Tier I would be best started with either Radiator or Offensive 12 mm. Tier II would be best-started with Compressor, due to it's increase in rate of climb, followed by either Airframe (for construction strength and rate of climb) or FMBC mk.1 (for additional experience from destroying ground targets in both: air and ground battles). Tier III would be best-started with Engine followed by either Wings repair or Offensive 37 mm. The best choice in the Tier IV is the Engine injection due to the huge increase in engine power making a significant difference in climb and turn rate. From there on continue through the remaining modifications.
The P-63C-5 (France) 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-63C-5 (France) can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- Without load
- 3 x 500 lb AN-M64A1 bombs (1,500 lb total)
- 3 x Mk 78 incendiary bombs
Usage in battles
The P-63C-5 is a superb energy fighter, especially at low-to-mid altitudes, with a very respectable turn performance. Its extremely high top speed and climb rate at low altitudes, along with good turn performance, allow it to out-energy most opponents, especially if care is taken to lure them into high-speed fights, where most opponents will lose their energy much more quickly than the P-63.
While better at altitude than the P-39 from which it was developed, the P-63 loses much of its performance edge around 3,000-4,000 m compared to its main competitor, the BF-109F, along with many other air superiority fighters. If you find yourself in a dogfight at altitude with such an aircraft, try to lure them to a lower altitude where you can better leverage your performance advantages. If the situation allows, a shallow dive is often a good technique, as it takes advantage of the airframe's low drag to neutralize any performance deficit relative to most opponents. A steep dive can be useful in a pinch, but allows the canny enemy to retain a defined altitude advantage while staying above you.
The M2s are strong machine guns with a relatively long range. While effective out past 500 m, especially against relatively slow targets, care should be taken when firing relative to many other M2-carrying fighters due to the relatively low number of rounds per gun. Remember that you out-speed most opponents, so burning ammo to spook fleeing opponents isn't always necessary.
The 37 mm M10 cannon is ridiculously powerful, but not horribly accurate and gains dispersion quickly when burst firing. Aim carefully when firing, and prioritize its use on stalling fighters or larger opponents such as attackers or bombers. A single shot to a wing or fuselage of an enemy plane is often all that it takes to bring it down. Try to wait until you are within a few hundred metres to fire, even at what would be a dead easy shot for a gun or cannon with better velocity and accuracy. Never fire more than a few shots of 37 mm at a time to minimize dispersion and ensure the cannon does not jam.
Head-on attacks are a mixed bag in the P-63. While the Brownings are strong in a head-on due to their high general damage and good accuracy, the P-63 is generally fragile and extremely prone to fires on the wing fuel tanks, which will immediately neutralize you as a threat even if you survive the fire due to massively increased drag and degraded turn performance. The best way to approach head-ons in this fighter is to dodge using your strong roll to stay off-axis relative to your opponent and use your strong performance and turn characteristics to gain the upper hand in the subsequent fight. If confident in your aim, try firing a short burst at around 800 m from your opponent before dodging. With their high velocity, a well-aimed burst from the Brownings can take a naive opponent by surprise, and will often cause critical damage to their plane. The 37 mm is not generally useful in a properly-executed head-on, as its poor accuracy makes it unlikely to land a hit if you break off to dodge at a safe point. Save the ammo for later when you've drained your opponent of their energy and have a clear shot.
While the P-63 excels as an energy fighter, if you find yourself in the position to boom-and-zoom, it is extremely good at doing so. Its high top speed and strong climb enable you to maintain the decisive energy/altitude advantage that defines boom-and-zooming. The P-63's main disadvantage in a high-speed boom manoeuvre is relatively strong elevator control stiffening at speed, which can make lining up a shot difficult. Remember that against most enemies, as long as you are pushing them down in altitude, it is easy to maintain an energy advantage in this plane, so transitioning from a high energy differential with extremely long boom-and-zoom yo-yos to a lower energy differential with tighter loops can be advantageous, as it puts the opponent under more pressure as they have less time to prepare between each of your approaches.
The P-63 can make effective bomber hunter as a typical bomber makes an easy shot, even with the 37 mm. Ensure you set up your runs effectively, as the P-63's fragility means a well-placed burst from the bomber's turrets can easily take you out of the fight. It's often inadvisable to pursue bombers at high altitude due to the P-63's relatively poor performance above 4,000 m. A canny bomber pilot that is above or even at the same altitude as you will simply turn away and rake you with their defensive armament. However, if you find yourself above a bomber, the P-63's speed can enable safe, high-speed runs that will often net easy kills due to the P-63's strong armament.
Manual Engine Control
| Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Auto control available
Auto control available
| Not controllable
Pros and cons
- Excellent dive speed
- Excellent energy retention
- Better-than-average climb rate
- Good flat out speed
- Good cannon damage
- Average turn time
- Worse-than-average performance at low speeds
- Ineffective armament against higher rank aircraft
- Prone to engine damage when being chased
The P-63C saw little use with the US Air Force, and most were exported via Lend-Lease to the USSR. However, France also placed an order for 300 P-63C Kingcobras, to be delivered in 1945; of these, 114 aircraft were delivered before the rest of the order was voided, as the US found it unprofitable to continue producing Kingcobras after the war's end. By the time of contract cancellation, 3 full squadrons had converted to the Kingcobra while many more planes weren't ready for service. The first squadron to convert to the P-63 was the II/9 "Auvergne", based in North Africa.
The delivery of these aircraft to France caused a diplomatic stir in the United States, where the Lend-Lease program had been subsidized using taxpayer dollars. It was hoped that the aircraft would see service fighting the Luftwaffe in WWII, rather than sit the war out. However, the French soon made good use of their P63C Kingcobras with the outbreak of conflict in French Indochina between 1946-47.
The first Kingcobras arrived in 1949, replacing ex-WWII Spitfires that had been donated by the RAF. As the Viet Minh had no air force, the P-63Cs were used as ground attack aircraft, dropping WWII-era 250 lb bombs or non-finned napalm bombs. However, the Viet Minh soon began to receive advanced AA guns from the USSR and China, resulting in a dramatic increase of aircraft loss rates. At one point, the attrition rate reached 25% per year, with 30 aircraft losses between 1949 and 1951. The majority of these aircraft were written off due to flak damage, or were destroyed in runway accidents due to the poor quality of the French airfields. The aircraft were further limited by a lack of spare parts (the US refused to supply any) and a general hostile attitude towards the conflict in the United States.
By 1951, the American attitudes changed and began actively supporting the French forces. As a result, the French started receiving surplus F6F, F8F and F4U aircraft from American inventories. By winter of that year, the P-63C Kingcobra had disappeared from service in Indochina. None of the airframes were ever shipped back, and several wrecked aircraft remain in present-day Vietnam. The final French P-63 was retired in 1962, having served as a trainer with the French Air force.
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