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How we searched for Alsib planes. Part six. “Aircobra”?

07/27/2022. 10:30. We fly to the area of ​​the Markovo airfield in search of a presumably twin-engine Boston A-20 bomber.

This is according to information received from the aviation forest protection. Most of the route we fly in milk. Closer to Markov, we enter a band of variable cloudiness. The chances of being found increase. True, I am absolutely relaxed – we have already completed the main task, and if we find another plane, this will be our legitimate bonus.

By the end of the second hour, we reach the point, about which Pavel Filin informs the commander. There is an anomaly, but from above it bears little resemblance to what we are looking for. The commander, too, apparently expected to see something more grandiose and continues to cut turns. Circle, one more, we go to the oil rig and return again to the starting point. Obviously, this is still what we are looking for.

The commander makes an attempt to sit down, but the chassis instantly sticks into the swamp – a few minutes, and we will smooth the tundra with our blue belly. Our search party is disembarking – the crew will look for a better place and return for us in two hours. The spinner literally blows us out of its belly, and we immediately lose our orientation – it seems to be somewhere near the anomaly, maybe a hundred meters or a little more, and nothing can be seen behind the tall grass. It’s a pity for the batteries, but what to do – raise the copter.

Oriented – we, it turns out, very close. We go carefully – we really don’t want to fail and get wet. Five minutes later we see what was once an airplane. And not at all what we were looking for. It doesn’t smell like two engines, you can’t even see one. Luckily for us, the place where the center section lies is rather dry – at least we are lucky in this. But you can’t step aside – a full-fledged Chukchi swamp. We look around. The center section is intact, but there is no cockpit, the upper part too, the wingtips are broken off, the front and rear parts of the fuselage too. We find the tail part closer to a small lake, twenty meters away. With the whole crowd we lean on and tear it out of the grass captivity – a white star clearly appears on a brown background.

We return to the center section, trying to understand the type of machine. On the left we find a very small fragment of the pilot’s door. At first glance, it is not obvious, but we, having a good knowledge of the device and features of Lend-Lease technology, no longer doubt.

From below, under the feet of the pilot’s cabin, we find a shaft – this is probably the Airacobra P-39. This fighter had a unique design for that time – ammunition in front, engine in the back. Between the blades and the engine is a pilot’s cabin and a long shaft. And he also had a pilot’s door – and it was on the left side. However, it could also be the P-63 Kingcobra – the layout is the same, but in this state of the machine, we cannot establish this more precisely.

Under the wings we find cables and barrels from American gasoline – obviously someone was trying to pull the plane out of here. It is understandable – every machine was needed at the front. But to take out even such a relatively small “unit” from here by the technical means of that time – it was out of the realm of non-science fiction. Therefore, techies robbed the Airacobra like a dead man, removing everything that could be taken out: the engine, weapons, ammunition, radio equipment, levers, drives – as they say, in the kulak economy, even a machine gun is not a hindrance.

One gets the impression that we are not dealing with a catastrophe, but with an accident – the fighter clearly made an emergency landing.

Oddly enough, traces of this accident could not be found in any archival document. And who knows, maybe one day it will grow into another mysterious story? Wait and see.

PS And yet it turned out to be “Kingcobra”. Later, experts identified the aircraft by characteristic details.

To be continued.

Alexey Nikulin

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