The first successful run of the P-59A jet engine was in April of 1937. The engine was designed in Britain by Sir Frank Whittle. Two years later in 1939, the Germans flew the first jet propelled aircraft. The “Whittle” technology was passed to the United States in late 1941. General Electric was awarded the contract to build the engines. And the Bell Aircraft was given the task of building an airframe suitable for the new engines.
The P-59A planes were built by Bell Aircraft in Wheatfield, New York. The P-59A Airacomet was accepted from Bell Aircraft on the 25th of September, 1944, and was assigned to the 412th Fighter Group, located sequentially at Muroc, Bakersfield, and Santa Maria Army Air Fields in California. In October of 1945, the unit was stationed at March Field, and in 1946 the plane was retired. After service with the Air Force, the Airacomet was used as an instructional airframe at a technical school in Santa Maria, California. Sometime later it went into storage at Edwards AFB.
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