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When contemporary fighters still rested on tailwheels, the P-39 used a long nosegear strut to put the airframe in a horizontal attitude on the ground.

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The aircraft’s historic stint with the NACA prompted the CAF to restore it as it actually was in 1945, complete with large yellow TEST lettering on the nose.

(NASA Ames Research Center) While this improved performance, and was sufficient in flight, Airacobra pilots found the P-39 tended to overheat on the ground because the inlets and radiator area were so small.

Craig Hutain flies the two P-63s and one P-39 of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

(Bell photo) But those radicals at Bell put the engine farther aft, at mid-fuselage, leaving the nose compartment open for stowage of landing gear and mounting of a cannon and machine guns.

The engine, an Allison V-1710, was behind the pilot, transmitting power to a propeller in the nose by way of a segmented drive shaft.

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