Special one-of-a-kind 24x48-inch relic display. Bell P-400 Airacobra.
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. This 24x48 special display preserves a unique aluminum piece from AP335; a section of upper wing that includes a fuel tank auxiliary access hatch. Total size is 10x10-inches. Reveals extremely rare 'RAF camouflage' applied by Bell for export - both green and brown. The reverse reveals an ink stamp part number, and remains of the rubber bladder for the self-sealing tank. A truly rare and well preserved piece of history!
This display is Giclee printed on archival matte canvas. The black open frame (no glass) is custom finished to match the painting. Signed, numbered 1/1 and ready to hang.
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