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RedKestrel

Dare I ask? Getting the most out of the P-39

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I know that the P-39 is not held in high regard around here, to say the least. However, I've been flying it quite a bit in late war scenarios on Combat Box and KOTA. I don't have Bodenplatte yet (plan to purchase in the near future) so in these scenarios its often one of the only fighters I can fly. Despite its numerous downsides, I can't help but have a soft spot for it, and I've even gotten some kills with it, though most often I get obliterated.

So what do you do when flying the P-39 to level the playing field a bit? What does it do well compared to its opposition? What kind of maneuvers and tactics are to be avoided? 

Things This Is Not A Thread About: Engine limit validity, flight model critique, etc.  I just want some opinions on making the most of it in-game. 

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The P-39 dives very well, and in a purely horizontal fight against it's contemporaries (the 109 E and F series) it's a very competent turn fighter. 

Avoid climbing, and if you have to disengage just run in level flight.   Ditch your wing .30's and enjoy having a lighter aircraft. Be judicious about your trigger discipline as you only have 30 or so rounds of your .37 and only 400 rounds for your two .50 cals. 

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From what I have seen keeping the 30 cal guns might be viable and extend the combat usefulness of the plane. They don't hit very hard, granted, but they do set planes on fire fairly regularly. And even if they don't spark up the enemy if you peck at the enemy enough even the little guys can take down a plane. The down side is the obvious weight these guns bring, especially if you pack the extra ammo, but if you don't plan on mixing it up with the enemies in a close turning fight that weight won't hamper you much, mostly you will notice the difference in roll rate, maybe climb too but the plane climbs like a dog in any configuration. By far the best situation you can find yourself in with this plane is behind your enemy when they are trying to dive away, the plane dives like a champ and will run down just about anything in the German arsenal in a dive but it will lock up hard.

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59 minutes ago, MeoW.Scharfi said:

 

 

 

The P39 is awesome! 😊

I'm glad I'm not alone in liking it! Obviously I don't have your magic touch with it yet though lol!

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7 hours ago, Rekt said:

Then again you would probably club the hell out of everyone flying a Bloch 152 🤣

 

I want to mention that the last two videos are from a great dogfighter named Krupinski in IL2. Not mine.

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The P39 is the plane I want to get good in the most, but its biggest issue for me is SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. That armor plating at the back is too thick and cover your high 6 too much, it just take too much time to check around it for me, I get bounced less often without noticing in LAGG 3s.. In terms of performance I find it really good at dogfighting and energy fighting ( need to be more disciplined than in its german counterparts in that regard due to climbspeed though). My advice is keep your speed in dogfights, try not to get in slow scissors, just disengage. If a 109 gets the better of you dive away, if its a 190 pray that it can't shoot and get in a sustained turnfight with him, if the 190 doesnt take the bait try to head home and evade his passes 

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I think in VR the view is not so bad, easy to look around those big old struts. I do struggle with this bird though. I usually end up killing the engine in combat, not from timers but from prop over speed presumably when diving. I intend to use it a bit more in the ground attack role just to get more used to it. 

I tried a SP career mode, and got a free hunt mission. 2 of us against 4 109's . . . that was the end of that career lol.

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I really want to like the P39 and have tried hard but I have never mastered it.    Here are my thoughts.

 

When the guns hit, they hit hard which is probably why Sharfi does so well. She is a very good shot so can get a kill on pretty much her first burst and extend away with most of her E intact.  I am not so good so I must spend longer chasing the enemy before I get the kill and the P39 loses E fast when you do that even if you avoid hard turns. I am also not very good at fighting with rolls.   I wish I was then I could also get more out of the La5-FN. 

 

A weakness I find with the P39 is that the engine gets killed more often than in other aircraft but I suppose the flip side of that is that pilot kills are less frequent.  Fewer RTBs, longer virtual lives 🙂

 

Engine management is reasonable because once you go into combat you just set 3000rpm and 42 inches and occasionally increase to 60 inches for short bursts.  There is a clear change in the  engine note as you go from Military/Combat mode into Max Mode so you can keep your eyes off the gauges.

 

Do not make quick large changes of throttle.   Herne says he often breaks the engine but when I break the engine it is almost always from chopping the throttle to avoid an overshoot or get out of a spin then ramming it forward again.  Perhaps it is something to do with having a long prop shaft.  By avoiding that mistake I don't get engine failures any more (NOTE:  The Mig-3 has the same weakness)

 

Keep it fast and use rolls and gentle scissors to get enemies off your six and never climb to escape (again like the Mig-3).

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 To me the worst charactetistic of the P39 is that it is such an unstable gun platform. You will try to bring the guns to bear on a target and the nose keeps bouncing all over the place.

 

... but then again, it's interesting nobody mentioned this.  Could this be a 'me' issue, like my joystick configs or something? Anybody else also thinks the P39 lacking in that respect?

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20 minutes ago, danielprates said:

 To me the worst charactetistic of the P39 is that it is such an unstable gun platform. You will try to bring the guns to bear on a target and the nose keeps bouncing all over the place.

 

... but then again, it's interesting nobody mentioned this.  Could this be a 'me' issue, like my joystick configs or something? Anybody else also thinks the P39 lacking in that respect?

 

No you are correct.   I forgot to mention that but many others have said the same.  It is not so bad at high speeds but the nose does wander in slow turns or the top of climbs.

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28 minutes ago, danielprates said:

 To me the worst charactetistic of the P39 is that it is such an unstable gun platform. You will try to bring the guns to bear on a target and the nose keeps bouncing all over the place.

 

... but then again, it's interesting nobody mentioned this.  Could this be a 'me' issue, like my joystick configs or something? Anybody else also thinks the P39 lacking in that respect?

I wouldn't call it the worst characteristic but it is a downside I've noticed. At higher speeds, like in a dive, it holds very steady for me, but in mid to low speeds it wobbles quite a bit. Really noticeable when you fly the Yak-1 or 7B right before. Combine this with the poor ballistics of the 37mm cannon and it has even more of an impact.

(Although I do love the 37mm, I've gotten a couple truly ridiculous snapshots with it out of pure luck and its very satisfying ).


 

57 minutes ago, 56RAF_Roblex said:

I really want to like the P39 and have tried hard but I have never mastered it.    Here are my thoughts.

 

When the guns hit, they hit hard which is probably why Sharfi does so well. She is a very good shot so can get a kill on pretty much her first burst and extend away with most of her E intact.  I am not so good so I must spend longer chasing the enemy before I get the kill and the P39 loses E fast when you do that even if you avoid hard turns. I am also not very good at fighting with rolls.   I wish I was then I could also get more out of the La5-FN. 

 

A weakness I find with the P39 is that the engine gets killed more often than in other aircraft but I suppose the flip side of that is that pilot kills are less frequent.  Fewer RTBs, longer virtual lives 🙂

 

Engine management is reasonable because once you go into combat you just set 3000rpm and 42 inches and occasionally increase to 60 inches for short bursts.  There is a clear change in the  engine note as you go from Military/Combat mode into Max Mode so you can keep your eyes off the gauges.

 

Do not make quick large changes of throttle.   Herne says he often breaks the engine but when I break the engine it is almost always from chopping the throttle to avoid an overshoot or get out of a spin then ramming it forward again.  Perhaps it is something to do with having a long prop shaft.  By avoiding that mistake I don't get engine failures any more (NOTE:  The Mig-3 has the same weakness)

 

Keep it fast and use rolls and gentle scissors to get enemies off your six and never climb to escape (again like the Mig-3).

Most of the time when I kill the engine on the P-39, for whatever reason, it is on takeoff. I feel like I'm advancing the throttle slowly enough but I must not be. The only other way I do it is by overspeeding the prop in a dive, its pretty sensitive to that I find. I've killed teh engine in a MiG from overspeed in a dive but not from rapid throttle changes. 

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Posted (edited)

One reason you will see the engine getting knocked out in combat more often is the placement. The engine is, more or less, right at the center of mass. This makes it likely to get hit in high rate deflection shooting that the 109's and 190's favor. The other aspect is when taking fire from dead six. There is very little between the engine and the incoming rounds to detonate any penetrating HE rounds or deflect or stop the AP and MG rounds. This results in a lot more ammo finding a new home in your engine block and the engine will not wear such damage for long, unlike the engines in an LA-5 or Yak which will take a bullet fairly well all things considered.

Edited by Disarray

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Pretty sure the Dev's stated that all in line engines had same damage strengths/resistance. This was some time ago, has this changed and is Yak Klimov engine "tougher" than Allison regarding taking hits or lasting after taking hits? Has anyone tested this, would there be a real life reason/justification , or is it just hearsay or supposition 

 

Cheers, Dakpilot 

 

 

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13 hours ago, =11=Herne said:

I think in VR the view is not so bad, easy to look around those big old struts. I do struggle with this bird though. I usually end up killing the engine in combat, not from timers but from prop over speed presumably when diving. I intend to use it a bit more in the ground attack role just to get more used to it. 

I tried a SP career mode, and got a free hunt mission. 2 of us against 4 109's . . . that was the end of that career lol.

 

You're changing the throttle too quickly. The aircraft has a long shaft with a gearbox running under your seat. Because of this, suddenly throttling up or down can damage the drivetrain. Real P-39 had this issue. 

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Posted (edited)

OMG the infamous P39... Only guys i ve seen doing well with it are world class in gunnery...true air snipers.. and would do much better in any other plane.

Cant climb, cant accelerate( insanely slow to reach decent speed) , cant sustain turns without bleeding massive energy, cant fight in the vertical plan, unstable gun platform at low to medium speed, terrible visibility from the cockpit.... also i lost count of the number of times i crashed it when fighting medium speed near ground level when pulling too tight or reacting too sharply when someone shoots me from behind.

 

I truly respect you a lot, all of you who try really hard to make it viable. Cannot think of a worse airplane in the sim really. I d have even a P40 instead anyday of the week, at least it can carry that 500kg bomb and divebomb ships like a champ with good SA and stable gunnery.

 

But the Airacobra? Only way i make it work is high speed diving on someone with the surprise effect... then runaway home if it missed.. which is most of the time with the slow firing m4. If i stay in a fight, my life expectancy is about 3 minutes, when emergency power runs out. 

 

Not qualified to give advices on this plane, but i guess a competent wingman is highly recommended :)

Edited by Fennec
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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Fennec said:

OMG the infamous P39... Only guys i ve seen doing well with it are world class in gunnery...true air snipers.. and would do much better in any other plane.

Cant climb, cant accelerate( insanely slow to reach decent speed) , cant sustain turns without bleeding massive energy, cant fight in the vertical plan, unstable gun platform at low to medium speed, terrible visibility from the cockpit.... also i lost count of the number of times i crashed it when fighting medium speed near ground level when pulling too tight or reacting too sharply when someone shoots me from behind.

 

I truly respect you a lot, all of you who try really hard to make it viable. Cannot think of a worse airplane in the sim really. I d have even a P40 instead anyday of the week, at least it can carry that 500kg bomb and divebomb ships like a champ with good SA and stable gunnery.

 

But the Airacobra? Only way i make it work is high speed diving on someone with the surprise effect... then runaway home if it missed.. which is most of the time with the slow firing m4. If i stay in a fight, my life expectancy is about 3 minutes, when emergency power runs out. 

 

Not qualified to give advices on this plane, but i guess a competent wingman is highly recommended :)

I miss the old stats system that was used on some of the IL-2 1946 servers.  You could dump stats on how well a given plane type performed on a server relative to other plane types.  It would be illuminating to tally up the kill-death ratio of all p39 sorties and compare it to other planes.  I suspect it would be right at the bottom. A great bomber killer though.

Edited by NO_SQDeriku777

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The P39 is a weird beast to fly. To me, it seems to perform well so long as a fight doesn't reach some sort of edge case, meaning: Once the opponent goes for hard turning, scissors with strong throttle changes, climbs, the P39 loses out. It's a master of the middle ground it seems to me. Same applies to the armament. The .50 cals are great, the melon lobber is only good for surprise shots as the ROF just isn't high enough to hit scan anything. You either snipe and hit on first shot or you don't get anything done with it. Having the .303 installed isn't necessary but helps because they're good at fishing for that one critical hit (as previous posters have mentioned). Efficiency wise, I value them over the cannon actually.

 

What I don't get is how unstable the whole plane seems to be and once an opponent so much as scratches the paint, it becomes even worse. Which in turn, devalues the cannon and increases the value of the .303s.

 

 

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The wing guns are in the US caliber .30-06 actually, not .303 British.

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7 hours ago, Fennec said:

OMG the infamous P39... Only guys i ve seen doing well with it are world class in gunnery...true air snipers.. and would do much better in any other plane.

Cant climb, cant accelerate( insanely slow to reach decent speed) , cant sustain turns without bleeding massive energy, cant fight in the vertical plan, unstable gun platform at low to medium speed, terrible visibility from the cockpit.... also i lost count of the number of times i crashed it when fighting medium speed near ground level when pulling too tight or reacting too sharply when someone shoots me from behind.

 

I truly respect you a lot, all of you who try really hard to make it viable. Cannot think of a worse airplane in the sim really. I d have even a P40 instead anyday of the week, at least it can carry that 500kg bomb and divebomb ships like a champ with good SA and stable gunnery.

 

But the Airacobra? Only way i make it work is high speed diving on someone with the surprise effect... then runaway home if it missed.. which is most of the time with the slow firing m4. If i stay in a fight, my life expectancy is about 3 minutes, when emergency power runs out. 

 

Not qualified to give advices on this plane, but i guess a competent wingman is highly recommended :)

Totaly agree, ad even P-40 is more user frendly then this thing

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On 4/29/2019 at 12:01 PM, MeoW.Scharfi said:

 

 

 

The P39 is awesome! 😊

I gotta say I adore your videos.  Usually I really dig the music but your shooting is out of this world. By far the beat aerial gunnery Ive ever seen.much respect Ariane.  I also thought the blown into a different universe vid was clever. :)

You really taught me that even in a vid game a superior pilot can always win - just as it should be like irl.

one thing Id add or ask if you ever are inclined. Ive often sent your videos to people who note your amazing gunnery abilities but also say they didnt learn from the videos.  Whether or not you can learn (I disagree but you have to really pay attention) is debateable however I think many would love a video or series on your thoughts on aerial gunnery and using for example the P39.  Of course I know you probably make these vids for entertainment not as a job.

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11 hours ago, Fennec said:

OMG the infamous P39... Only guys i ve seen doing well with it are world class in gunnery...true air snipers.. and would do much better in any other plane.

Cant climb, cant accelerate( insanely slow to reach decent speed) , cant sustain turns without bleeding massive energy, cant fight in the vertical plan, unstable gun platform at low to medium speed, terrible visibility from the cockpit.... also i lost count of the number of times i crashed it when fighting medium speed near ground level when pulling too tight or reacting too sharply when someone shoots me from behind.

 

I truly respect you a lot, all of you who try really hard to make it viable. Cannot think of a worse airplane in the sim really. I d have even a P40 instead anyday of the week, at least it can carry that 500kg bomb and divebomb ships like a champ with good SA and stable gunnery.

 

But the Airacobra? Only way i make it work is high speed diving on someone with the surprise effect... then runaway home if it missed.. which is most of the time with the slow firing m4. If i stay in a fight, my life expectancy is about 3 minutes, when emergency power runs out. 

 

Not qualified to give advices on this plane, but i guess a competent wingman is highly recommended :)


The more I fly it, the more I come up against the fact that more than any other plane, this thing has a timer on its effectiveness. Not just because of engine limitations.

If you keep your speed up, its stable and relatively responsive. But you run out of speed, and that's gone. 

It has a good dive but a bad climb. Once you give up your altitude, you're not getting it back for a looooong time.

It has a really good instantaneous turn rate, but that's a trap: keep that turn up and you're low and slow and everybody eats you for lunch.

So basically, in the P-39 longer fights are particularly deadly. Which may be why the Russians actually liked the thing, IRL most air combat was over more quickly than what we see in-game,  so maybe there was less time for the Airacobra's vices to emerge.

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Why people keep saying it has bad visibility? 

It has one of the best visibility of all cockpits... if you have two eyes. 

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9 hours ago, Mauf said:

.... The .50 cals are great, the melon lobber is only good for surprise shots as the ROF just isn't high enough to hit scan anything. You either snipe and hit on first shot or you don't get anything done with it. Having the .303 installed isn't necessary but helps because they're good at fishing for that one critical hit (as previous posters have mentioned). Efficiency wise, I value them over the cannon actually.

...

 

 

I found the most effective way to use the guns was to load up with everything then use the larger amount of 30 ammo to try to cause enough long range damage to slow the enemy down and/or reduce its maneuverability.   The cannon is held back for the coup de gras on a damaged enemy or for times when you happen to find yourself with a lucky close gun solution or close snap shot eg your enemy attempting a bad scissors across your nose.   Yes you lose roll & climb rate but the roll is still quite good and you will never use the climb to escape anyway even with most of the guns removed.

14 minutes ago, CptSiddy said:

Why people keep saying it has bad visibility? 

It has one of the best visibility of all cockpits... if you have two eyes. 

 

Yes if you have the ability to lean you can cover a lot of rear view while looking over your shoulder and it has to have one of the most useful mirrors.

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Posted (edited)

I really like the p39, I know most hate the the visibility from it but for me its great and the instrumentation is clear.  Someone told me not to exceed ~91% on the rpm and I haven't broke an engine since.  The m4 auto cannon is not easy to use but it sure is satisfying and it is also effective against ships and trains.  I'm usually the type to load extra .50s in my p40 and p47, but just like the mc202 i tend to leave the .30s at home.  For me they make it too hard to hit with the .50s which for me are plenty (im far better with nose mounted than wing guns) and the 37mm is the cherry on top.  My only problem I have with the 39 which afflicts me in no other plane is i have to pull the trigger 4-6 times for the 1st 37mm to fire, after which I'm good.  I see some say that they feel limited by the amount of useful combat time they have in a cobra sortie and my advice there is bring less fuel and ditch the .30s and the plane feels way better.  I also like the engine placement, I for better or worse accept any head on that comes my way so its saved engines in that aspect and the engine actually saved me a few nights back when a not so friendly p47 gave me quite the burst while I was typing in chat what are you doing instead of evading.  I feel like many dislike the aircraft because it doesn't have an area of performance where it dominates but it is still dangerous in good hands and spending time in it will help in other more forgiving aircraft.

Edited by Joeasyrida

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4 minutes ago, ACG_Kai_Lae said:

Closest analogue to the plane is a La-5F.

Maybe you are right as both are in my top 3 vvs fighters (mig is #1 tho) but I dont approach them the same way.  I typically run the la5f boosted 24/7 on the deck or low clouds while the 39 I feel like I need some alt

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1 hour ago, ACG_Kai_Lae said:

Closest analogue to the plane is a La-5F.

Interesting opinion. How do you figure? I completely disagree. I cant honestly think of a good analogue plane in BoS with the nasty spin and stall characteristics.  The La5 series 8,F, FN, so its not armament?

My fav VVS fighters in game - LA5FN, Yak7B (my favorite armament on a homegrown Sov plane), and the Yak1.  If its BoM its a toss up for me between Mig3s and P40s.  At first I liked the mig3 best and did best in it, as Ive gotten better at the game overall ironically I somehow got worse at the Mig3 and way better with a P40.

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Speed, useless over about 3.5-4k, roll rates on both are either good or excellent, heavy nose mounted firepower which can be difficult to aim. 

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Thanks.  Good point.

Only thing I disagree on is the speed.  I could be wrong I havent actually done conversions into imperial besides fast and loose off the top of my head but my combat speed usually seems to be around 250 with maneuvering 300 in a dive. And thats doing good... 

A 5F or esp FN Id expect 350 mph at least...

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4 hours ago, Sublime said:

my combat speed usually seems to be around 250 with maneuvering

 

Sometimes it is misleading seeing speeds in MPH.  You see 250 during combat and think 'Why can I not get this thing up to an effective combat speed?' but you see your Yak or Mig is doing 400kph in a fight and you say 'Cool.Easily holding enough combat speed here.'   They are the same speed of course 🙂

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Oh quite. I undertand the difference.  I wish people would tell me more mental tricks.  Someone told me 80 km/h is 50 mph amd suddenly I finally understand in my Ami mind how fast im going.

That said I never break 250 unless in dives really with a P39 (in combat not a 5 mile straighr run like a test) and in the other planes even a 109 E I can push 300mph 

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22 hours ago, CptSiddy said:

Why people keep saying it has bad visibility? 

It has one of the best visibility of all cockpits... if you have two eyes. 

That may be true, but the fact is that there are a number of thick bars that you have to look around at the very least. It reminds me of my minivan lol. it may not be atrocious if you have VR or something but still not as good as the MiG or Yaks.

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4 hours ago, RedKestrel said:

not as good as the MiG or Yaks.

 

the MiG's rearward visibility is fantastic! Yet another reason why I love it!

 

#MIGLYFE

 

 

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23 hours ago, Joeasyrida said:

Someone told me not to exceed ~91% on the rpm and I haven't broke an engine since.

 

Wrong. I didn't found any difference in engine durability by reducing RPMs (or not interesting due to the loss of speed). You can keep 3000rpm during the whole flight. It's the manifold pressure that will break your engine. 

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4 minutes ago, F/JG300_Faucon said:

 

Wrong. I didn't found any difference in engine durability by reducing RPMs (or not interesting due to the loss of speed). You can keep 3000rpm during the whole flight. It's the manifold pressure that will break your engine. 

Interesting, good to know

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The only thing with max rpm is that if you go into a steep dive you can over speed the engine, so pull the rpm and throttle back a touch when doing that.

 

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22 hours ago, BlitzPig_EL said:

10kph = 6.21371mph.

Thanks.  See thats not neat enough for my mind.  The 80 / 50 thing is.

 

Anyonegot a good conversion (pls without decimals) for kilometers to miles?  The original worked good asI finally got a sense in my head of how fast these plames were going - now I just want to understand besides mt very very vague notion its about 2/3rds of a mile.

I really have been tooling around in this plane since this thread...

The RPM thing is totally true.  No negative effects ramping it up to 100 nonstop..

Watching the slip ball I noticed she yaws to the right like a 109 seems too but much worse.  If I trim like 30 sonethibg percent right yaw it helps a lot especially aiming.  Im sure this needs to be fiddled with for different altitudes etc

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