Airacobras to Portugal

Last revised June 19, 1999




During late 1942/early 1943, some P-39Ls and P-400s en route from the UK to Tunisia to reinforce the 81st and 350th Fighter Group participating in Operation Torch were forced by malfunctions or bad weather to land in Lisbon, Portugal. Since Portugal was neutral, these planes were interned and were taken on strength by the Portuguese Air Force. USAAF sources have records of 17 Airacobras that ended up in Portugal. In April of 1943, an agreement was signed in which Portugal would pay $20,000 for each of the planes and would be provided with four additional crated Airacobras. This was done in exchange for Portugal's agreement that they would release any interned US airmen. The Model 14s (P-400s) were assigned FAP serial numbers 300-314, whereas the P-39Ls were assigned serial numbers 315-318, so a total of 19 were on strength. They were finally retired from service in 1950.

Sources:

  1. War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Volume Four, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.

  2. The American Fighter, Enzo Anguluci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.

  3. United States Military Aircraft since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  4. P-39 Airacobra in Action, Ernie McDowell, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1980.

  5. Airacobra Advantage: The Flying Cannon, Rick Mitchell, Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana

  6. The Calamitous 'Cobra, Air Enthusiast, August 1971.