This aircraft, serial number AP335, was one of several P-400, export versions of the Bell P-39, built and painted for delivery to the Royal Air Force under Lend Lease prior to Pearl Harbor in 1941. As a consequence of the outbreak of the WAr in the Pacific, these P-400s were instead delivered to the USAAF in Australia, and later, Papua New Guinea. The British roundels were painted over with US stars, but the RAF camouflage remained. These aircraft were flown hard over the next several years, long after they were technically obsolete, against the Japanese in the South Pacific.
AP335 was assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron, then operating from Port Moresby, PNG. On August 3rd, 1943, piloted by Lt. Everett H. Van Patten, this P-400 flew escort for several C-47 transports bound for Tsili-Tsili Airfield. The flight was jumped by several Japanese Air Force Ki-43 'Oscar' fighters, and AP335 took a hit to its coolant system. With his engine overheating, Van Patten made a wheels-up emergency landing on Bulldog Island. Van Patten returned to duty, but AP335 sat where it landed until 1984, when it was recovered for eventual restoration.
Several very well preserved parts from AP335 were preserved many years ago, prior to its salvage, and remain in excellent condition with superbly preserved original paint. These 11x17 inch displays combine Ron Cole's just-released original artwork of this aircraft with a large section of aluminum skin from the side of the fuselage under the tail section, with almost perfectly preserved pale blue/gray paint. This paint was originally applied for use by the RAF, and is very rare to find on these Bell aircraft built before the war. The first 12 of these displays will be shipped with the gray parts, and the remaining will include a piece from the green-painted aileron. The latter is also very nice, but not as unique or quite as well preserved as the 12 gray pieces.
So, don't wait! :)
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