Bottom Places World War II Home

[image of flower] [image of flower]

Bell Aircraft, Wheatfield

Source: Wiki

Bell Aircraft was founded by Lawrence Dale ("Larry") Bell in 1935. In its Wheatfield, NY, plant Bell developed of the single engine P-39 that used an Allison engine placed in the center of the aircraft, with the propellor driven by a long shaft through which a cannon was also mounted that could fire directly out of the propellor's spinner. Lacking a supercharger or turbocharger, the P-39 performed poorly at higher altitudes compared to other fighters of the time, though many P-39s would find their way into the Soviet Air Force under the Lend Lease Act, where it proved to be an excellent ground attack aircraft. A slightly larger and more powerful version of the P-39 would arrive shortly before the end of WWII. Called the P-63 Kingcobra, it eliminated many of the P-39s shortcomings, although it arrived too late to make any contribution to the War effort. Bell's plant in Marietta, GA, produced many Boeing B-29s during the war. Air Transport Command ferry pilots, including U.S. women pilots of the WASP program, picked up the planes at the Bell factory at Wheatfield and flew them to Great Falls, Montana, and then onward via the Alaska-Siberia Route (ALSIB), through Canada to over Alaska where Russian ferry pilots, many of them women, would take delivery of the aircraft at Nome and fly them to the Soviet Union over the Bering Strait. (Note: Bell was famous after WWII for its P-59, the first jet fighter, for the X-1, the first jet to break the sound barrier, and for the Bell 47, the first helicopter to be certified for civilian use.)

Bottom Places World War II Home