Bell RP-63G “Pinball”: DING, DING, DING !!!!

The P-63 Kingcobra was the ultimate iteration of the, not very loved, Airacobra formula. These very decent fighters were mass produced,for various reasons, even if they were already other better and easily available fighter; read P-51’s. So what do you when you have such an unwanted, but usable fighter and, at the same time, you need to improve bomber gunner marksmanship? The answer was “manned targets”, one of the most bizarre use of an aircraft during WW2. The RP-63G was the most highly modified of the “Pinball” models. The RP-63G pilot was protected by its airframe provided with a thicker duraluminium skin, some armour and a flush dorsal inlet. The real icing of the cake on these “livin’ targets” was the special frangible bullets (lead-bakelite) used. As we can see in this model kit self-explanatory artwork, every time the aircraft was hit, a red light flashed to indicate an impact.

Pretty neat, methinks, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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