P-63s in the Soviet Union

Last revised September 18, 1999

Of the 3303 P-63s built, 2397 were delivered to the Soviet under Lend Lease. All of these were delivered between 1942 and 1945, and 21 were lost during ferrying.

The means of transfer was for US pilots to fly the Soviet-bound machines from Niagra Falls to Selfridge Field, Michigan, stop for refuelling, and then to continue on to Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin. The planes were picked up at Truax by female Soviet pilots, who flew them to Edmonton Field in Anchorage, Alaska and then over to the Soviet Union.

Very little is known about their service with the V-VS. Postwar Soviet sources tended to downplay their role in the war, in favor of stories which praised the home-built Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik. However, it is known that the P-63, like its P-39 cousin, was a potent ground attack aircraft and a good tank buster.

There were enough Lend-Lease supplied Kingcobras remaining in service in the Soviet Union after the war in Europe ended that they were assigned the NATO code name *Fred* when the Cold War got underway.


  1. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  2. War Planes of the Second World War, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.

  3. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  4. P-39 Airacobra In Action, Ernie McDowell, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1980.

  5. Bell Cobra Variants-P-39 Airacobra and P-63 Kingcobra, Robert F. Dorr, Wings of Fame, Vol 10, 1998.