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  P-39Q-15-BE Airacobra Serial Number 44-2911 Nose 23
VSS
773 IAP

Click For Enlargement
Aeropace Musuem 2009

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2010

Pilot  Lt Ivan Ivanovich Baranovsky (MIA / KIA)
Crashed  November 19, 1944


Aircraft History
Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York. Completed during November 23, 1943, the last of 1,000 Q-15 models built for contract AC-40071. Painted in US markings and assigned U.S. Army serial number 44-2911. Available for issue on December 22, 1943.

This P-39 was part of Lend Lease bound for the Soviet Union.

Wartime History
Ferried across the United States, from Buffalo to South Bend, Indiana, arriving on December 25, 1943 then delayed a day due to bad weather. Next, flown to Fargo, North Dakota remaining overnight on December 30. Finally to Great Falls, Montana arriving on December 31.

On January 5, 1944 took off from Great Falls and flown through Canada over four days, stopping at a number of airfields before arriving at Fairbanks Airfield, Alaska on January 9, 1944 and was accepted by the Soviet Red Arm Air Force (VSS) Foreign Dept. At the time, this aircraft had 20 hours of flight time.

On February 1, 1944, flown from Fairbanks to Siberia by Soviet Red Arm Air Force 1PAD (1 Ferry Aviation Division) over the ALSIB (Alaska–Siberia) route, via Nome then landing at Anadyr Airfield, across the Bearing Strait, then piloted by Shishkin to Markovo Airfield for a month and was serviced on March 4. 2PAP then ferried this Airacobra to Sejmchan Airfield. Next, flown by 3PAP to Yakutsk and again serviced on March 6. 4PAP pilot Korolyov ferried to Kirensk and was serviced on March 9. Finally, flown by 5PAP to Krasnoyarsk Airfield, the end of the ferry route, and was likely painted in VSS markings and assigned the nose number "White 23" and assigned to 773 IAP. Afterwards, flown to Novinka Airfield.

On June 4, pilot Golovnyov of 773 IAP flew this aircraft, and other flights were made until mid July when the unit moved to Videlitsa. On July 18, flown by Lt Ivan Ivanovich Baranovsky with crew chief was Vetlich. Participated in "Svir Operation" over Finland durng June 21 - August 9, clashing with the Finnish Air Force. During this period, the unit recorded shoot downs of 6 Moranes and 1 Buffalo and lost at least 9 P39's.

During August, was only flown 4 hours, and likely that repair work was done to the fuselage to strengthen it with additional supports to the tail to prevent twisting of the rear fuselage. Afterwards, flew 15hrs/45min/16 landings, and October 12hrs/38min/13 landings. At some point in its history, this Airacobra had a replacement tail added with another serial number with "7" as one of the digits.

Afterwards, transfered to Murmashi Airfield south of Murmansk area during early October, and flew twice on October 9 against Luftwaffe JG5, III and IV.

Mission History
On November 19, 1944 took off from Murmashi Airfield piloted by Baranovsky on a transfer flight 65 miles to the northwest bound for Luostari Airfield. This Airacobra was loaded with extra boxes of ammunition and tins of food inside the wing ammunition bays. Baranovsky went out of sight and did not arrive at Luostari airfield, and was reported as missing.

In fact, Baranovsky had suffered engine failure when at least two cylinders broke through the engine block and would have caused severe vibration. With enough time to prepair for a force landing unbuckling his harness and attempting to bellyland on the still thin winter ice. Crashed onto frozen Lake Mart-Yavr, 29km southeast of Luostari Airfield, he died in the cockpit, knocked out or killed during the force landing.

Wreckage
Discovered in Lake Mart-Yavr, in 5m of water, covered by fine silt. Discovered by a local fisherman who saw the plane's outline in the crystal clear water.

Recovery
The pilot's remains were recovered on October 6, 2004 still inside the cockpit, plus personal effects including a shoe and Order of Glory Medal and Military Red Banner medals.

Memorials
Baranovsky remains were buried with full military honors at the Glory Valley Memorial, near the Litza Valley, northwest of Murmansk.

Export
Transported to Moscow where an export licence was issued. Exported to the United Kingdom during 2005 and arrived at Jim Pearce’s facility in West Sussex.

In 2009, acquired by the Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum (Niagra Aerospace Museum) in Buffalo, NY. Known as "Miss Lend Lease".

During August 2010, restoration work has been undertaken, removing the engine and other components for repair and preservation work.

References
Lend Lease Air Force - Bell P-39Q 44-2911 Airacobra
Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum - Historic P-39 Comes Home
Vimeo Video - Bringing Her Home
AP "History written on plane's surface" by Chris Carola

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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