Bell P-39N Airacobra – Little Sir Echo – Small Fry

Bell P-39 Airacobra - Little Sir Echo

This is P-39N-5 “Little Sir Echo / Small Fry” Serial Number 42-19027 which served with the USAAF 5th Air Force (AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (TRG), 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), from June 1943 to July 16, 1944. It was abandoned at Tadji, Papua New Guinea, a Japanese airfield that was liberated by the US Army on April 26, 1944. Tadji became a major Allied air depot for American and Australian forces, and the resting place for this P-39 for the next thirty years. It is now on static display at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.

This specific P-39 was delivered to the US Army on April 28, 1943, and sent to the Pacific in May. Lyndall W. Tate was assigned to this aircraft. Lyndall was born Oct 20, 1920 in Texas, and passed away Sept 15, 2008. He served over 28 years in the military. If anyone else has any further information on Lyndall, please let us know more about this hero. The aircraft was recovered from Tadji in a 1974 salvage operation funded by David Talichet’s Yesterday’s Air Force (MARC). It currently is on static display at the Planes of Fame museum. It still supports its original markings of Olive Drab over Neutral Grey with White New Guinea theatre markings on tail unit, wing leading edges and spinner (thin White band on nose). In addition it features an interesting shark mouth on the center drop-tank.

The Bell P-39 was one of the US’s main-line fighters when war first broke out in the Pacific at the beginning of World War II. It was unique at the time for having a tricycle undercarriage and a mid-mounted engine located behind the pilot. This arrangement was due to the proposed installation of a powerful 30 mm cannon in the nose. Ultimately, the P-39 was unable to achieve the same performance of later US and European fighters, mainly due to a lack of a turbo-supercharged engine which greatly limited the P-39’s ceiling and speed. However, its low-altitude performance, mid-mounted engine, and armor plating allowed it to become a great ground-support aircraft, most notably used by the Soviet Air Force. In the end, the Bell P-39 became Bell’s most successful fixed-wing aircraft that they ever produced.

5 thoughts on “Bell P-39N Airacobra – Little Sir Echo – Small Fry

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  2. Mike Doerflinger

    Info on Colonel Lyndall Tate.
    “Tate” or “the Colonel” as he liked to be called was a friend of my father, and retired a full Colonel from the Air Force. He flew fighter aircraft in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He told me several times that the P39 was his favorite aircraft and died before knowing about his P39 in your museum. He granddaughter learned of Little Sir Echo while doing research on him after he died. He ended his Air Force career flying the F4 Phantom out of Saigon Vietnam in a reconnaissance squadron. He is buried in Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver Colorado.

  3. Lee Tate

    Hello, My name is Lee Tate and I am the younger brother of Lyndall Tate.
    Please contact me regarding the information I can contribute about my brother.

    The email is my daughters, please go through her

  4. Randall Carl Crocker

    My Uncle, Lyndall Tate, my Mother Gerie Sue Tate a Sister, were just (2) of (10) children of the Tate family. It was very interesting growing up not sure who was your Uncle or Cousin in the Sixties & Seventies, the age varietion really threw me off a bit at my young age. I remember old Army panoramic photos of Uncle “Bud” if I recall correctly, and his platoon hanging up at PawPaw’s house in Ferris Texas. I’ll have to ask Mom if “Bud” is what they called him or am I confused with another Brother of theirs. I’m sure there are cherished photos of Lyndall still in the Family. Maybe I have a few, not sure! Anyway here is a small contribution, Thanks Randall Carl Crocker.

  5. Peggy Holland

    Hi Randall,
    Yes, “Bud” was his nickname, most of the siblings had nicknames. I am the daughter of “Piney” the youngest son of the 10 children.
    His name is Lee Alan Tate. I am Peggy Tate Holland.
    My dad and mom are in So. California where I also live in Riverside County.
    Bud’s plane “Little Sir Echo” is in a museum not far from us. My parents have visited the plane and talked to people there and had their picture taken in front of the plane.
    I think I remember you- you were a little younger than me and we called you “Randy” you sister is Mandy? You lived in Louisiana and we all thought you had a funny accent. Your family would come to Pop’s house and visit when we drove from California and stayed with him.
    I would love to hear from you and I’ll be talking to my dad about your email.
    Thanks, Peggy

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