Airacobras to Australia

Last revised June 27, 1999

In mid-1942, a number of USAAF 5th Air Force Airacobras serving in the New Guinea theatre (including P-39Ds and P-39Fs) were diverted to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Fourteen Airacobras (serials A53-1/14) were received at No 2 AP Bankstown on July 27, 1942, and these aircraft subsequently served with Nos 23, 24, 82 and 83 Squadrons. A further five Airacobras arrived in May 1943 (serials were A53-15/19) and three more were received in July 1943 (serials were A53-20/22). The RAAF Airacobras were used exclusively for patrols against Japanese aircraft attempting to attack targets in Australia, and never saw any combat. By November 1943, all the RAAF Airacobras had been returned to the 5th Air Force, with the exception of A53-1, -3, -5 and -8, which had been written off in accidents.


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

  6. RAAF Museum web site,