Bell P–63A King Cobra at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory



Washington, DC, United States

The Army Air Forces lent the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory a Bell P–63A King Cobra in October 1943 to complement the lab's extensive efforts to improve the Allison V–1710 engine. The V–1710-powered P–63A was a single-seat fighter that could reach speeds of 410 miles per hour and an altitude of 43,000 feet. The fighter, first produced in 1942, was an improvement on Bell’s P–39, but persistent performance problems at high altitudes prevented its acceptance by the Air Corps. Instead many of the P–63s were transferred to the Soviet Union.

Almost every test facility at the NACA’s engine lab was used to study the Allison V–1710 engine and its supercharger during World War II. Researchers were able to improve the efficiency, capacity and pressure ratio of the supercharger. They found that improved cooling significantly reduced engine knock in the fuel.

Once the researchers were satisfied with their improvements, the new supercharger and cooling components were installed on the P–63A. The Flight Research Division first established the aircraft’s normal flight performance parameters such as speed at various altitudes, rate of climb, and peak altitude. Ensuing flights established the performance parameters of the new configuration in order to determine the improved performance. The program increased V–1710’s horsepower from 1650 to 2250.


  • Title: Bell P–63A King Cobra at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory
  • Date Created: 1944-01-01
  • Rights: GRC
  • Album: edrobin1

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