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thierry laurent

"Air a cutie" mystery

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Hello Gents,


I just received the very nice Zotz decals for the Airacobra. I was particularly

interested in the terrific "Air a Cutie" nose art. Unfortunately, some research

activities brang a lot of conflicting info about this plane.


I believe that only one plane was named "Air a Cutie". Nose art modification was

quite common but I seriously doubt such a large and complicated nose art was painted

on two different planes (even in case of plane change by a pilot). Accordingly, I

think that the plane was modified along her life. My research seems to demonstrate

that the plane 41-28267 had at least two markings periods for the 1942-1943



- first period: port side nose art with the right arm up, stars without bar, OD

tail with white fin top, no external MLG doors and 12 exhausts stacks

- second period: port side nose art modified (right arm down), stars with bars, full

white tail & wing front edge and 6 exhausts stacks (MLG doors?)


Unfortunately, I've only found one good wartime picture of "Air a cutie" (the one in

the "in action" book). Does anybody know other pictures of this plane? I guess they

should exist as Zotz produces decals for the 2nd period whereas the aforementioned

picture corresponds to the 1st one. If my memory's right someone mentioned a 8th FG

group book many moons ago?


Conflicting info emerge regarding the plane type: P-39D or P-400 (with a 20mm nose

gun)? Re-engined or not? This plane was not camo painted as were normally the P-400s

used in New Guinea (at least in 1942). However, the picture shows the 12 exhausts

stacks that were typical of P-400s. Moreover, I also think that the plane had the

20mm gun and the small hub NLG wheel.

Hence, is it a P-400 that has been overhauled and re-equiped with a P-39D type

engine? This is possible and would explain the late six exhausts stacks but in this

case why was the plane initially re-painted in plain OD?

Or is it a plain OD P-39D that has been re-equiped with a P-400 engine? This is

possible but as Zotz only shows six exhausts on this plane, this is neither logical

or would imply it has been again re-engined later but with a six exhausts stacks

P-39D engine (if I did not inverted the two time periods...)! Moreover, this would

mean that either I misidentify the gun muzzle type or that the 37mm gun has been

replaced as well!


The 8th FG surely demonstrated that necessity is the mother of invention as they

even rebuilt planes from wrecks. This may explain the seemingly odd features



Does anybody have additional information regarding this intriguing


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Jeff, Great Link. Thierry, I think there were more than one Air-A-Cuties. I would recommend a shout out to Steven Eisenmann over on Hyperscale on the "Plane Talking" forum - he is a regular there, and, if I am not mistaken - he helped do the research on the decal sheet you are holding in your hands... :)




Scott Gentry


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Thanks guys!


I checked on Hyperscale and Steve already replied to a similar question. Seemingly the mystery is not going to be dissipated easily... Nonetheless, I got some interesting info:


Even if they were exceptions, there were P-400s with what appear to be single tone paint jobs but all P-400's appear to have a recognition flare tube on the starboard gun access panel. "Air-a-cutie" doesn't have this vent that does not seem to be present on other P-39 variants. This seems to indicate that the P-400 hypothesis is probably wrong. Moreover, some P-39D (the P-39D-1s) had the 12 vent exhausts with the 20mm M1 gun and were used in squadrons flying the P-400s. Last but not least, this complies with the serial as Bell P-39D-1-BE used the 41-28257-28406 range. Such planes used .30 wing MGs rather than .303s.


Consequently, I think that the P-39D choice begins to make more sense. According to this hypothesis, "Air a Cutie" would simply be a plain OD P-39D variant similar to the P-400 one (12 exhaust stacks & 20mm nose gun) that has been re-engined with a 6 exhaust stacks Allison engine when/before/after it was repainted.


I'm not sure this is the final word but at least this is plausible!

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I have read that most P-39 pilots did not like the 37mm gun and when they could they had it replaced in the field with the p-400's 20mm weapon.

besides having more ammo, the 20mm was less prone to jamming after only 1 or 2 rounds.


Jon Payne

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New publication about Air A Cutie coming soon!!!


It will answer following questions:

- correct version?

- number of aircrafts named Air A Cutie?

- comouflage and marking variants?


Also will contain:

- 4 available photographs with comments,

- 3 camouflage schemes for all marking versions,

- modeller´s section with decal reviews in 1/72 and 1/48 scale.


Order it now for free in pdf-format here: airacut@gmail.com

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I can't recall the publication but i seem to remember reading about the early war conflict in the SE Pacific where the mechanics in Port Moresby and in Australia would try and assemble the incoming and crated aircraft with whatever managed to make it through from the States, sometimes without instruction manuals, and to repair and keep the planes flying, mixed and matched parts from various editions of the Airacobra. I seem to recall one Frankenstrin build where the plane had a P-400 right wing, P-39 left wing, different engine, cannon, etc.

I wouldn't rule out anything for early war aircraft and trying to identify the various marks based on a single visual clue. Add in battle damage and subsequent repairs, and it can be anyones guess as to what is what.

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On 8/20/2009 at 10:24 PM, Eli Raphael said:

some pics used on my decal:




I’m sorry if this topic had been discussed 10 years ago, but am I correct in assuming that the aircraft doesn’t have main landing gear covers?

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