The Bell P-63 Kingcobra was designed based on the company’s experience with the P-39, and while the two planes appear nearly identical, they are in fact quite different and share no parts in common. The Kingcobra is significantly larger and uses an advanced laminar flow wing design similar to that of the P-51 Mustang. Originally proposed in June 1941, the first P-63 flew on December 7, 1942. The Kingcobra proved to be generally superior to the P-39 and the first aircraft were delivered to the Army Air Force in October 1943. Despite the improvement over the P-39, the P-63 was still inferior to other fighters that were in production for the Army Air Force, and very few Kingcobras entered service with the U. S. military and none saw combat. The vast majority of the 3,303 built were delivered to Russia through the Lend-Lease program. After the war, P-63s were used by France in Vietnam and by the Honduran Air Force.
U.S. Army Air Forces, 1945
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