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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

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Known by many names, including Hawk,Kittyhawk, Tomahawk and Warhawk, 31 variants of the P-40 battled on every continent. The definitive P-40N entered production in 1943, and reached US Army Air Force squadrons in March 1944.

By then, the P-40 was not a world class pursuit ship. To some extent it was purposely assigned to secondary theatres so that more advanced warplanes 9P-38, P-47, P-51) could fly where the US perceived its first priorities. But none of this meant much to American pilots slogging in the Aleutians, Australians in New Guinea, or South Africans in Libya; they took this solid, rugged fighter and made the most of what they had.

It was plenty. The P-40 excelled when primitive maintenance, terrible weather and heavy odds were the order of the day. It was not in the category of a Bf 109 or Zero as a dogfighter, but was superb at providing close support to ground troops. When production ended in September 1944 the P-40 had served almost everywhere and had been used for just about everything.

Desprite criticisms of its inferiority to Spitfires, Messerschmitts, Zeroes and Mustangs, the P-40 was important - if not critical - to victory in World War II. As the most numerous US Army fighter at the time of Pearl Harbor, the P-40 bred a generation of fighter pilots and won fame with General Chennault's 'Flying Tigers', who took it to the limit against superior Japanese forces.


Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk single seat interceptor and fighter bomber Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Close air support in the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
Like many imperfect or obselete fighters, the P-40 came in very useful as a ground attack machine. The Dessert Air Force used the type extensively, often working alongside the equally rugged Hawker Hurricane. The P-40 was immortalised by the 'Flying Tigers' of the American Volunteer Group in China, who used the type with great success against the previously all-conquering Japanese. This P-40 has been restored and flew at a Broitish air show in 1984. The shark mouth marking was used by No. 112 Squadron RAF, which flew ground attack missions in Egypt in 1942.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk (Technical Specification)
Role Single seat interceptor fighter bomber
Manufacturer Curtiss
Maximum Speed 609 kmh (378 mph)
Maximum Range 386 km (240 miles)
Ceiling 11,630 meters (38,160 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

2,724 kg (6,045 lbs)
4,018 kg (8,858 lbs)
Wing Area

11.42 meters (37 ft 6 in)
10.2 meters (33 ft 6 in)
3.77 meters (12 ft 4 in)
21.95 square meters (236 sq ft)
Engines One Allison V-1710-81 inline piston engine providing 1,015-kW (1,360 hp)
Armament Six 12.7mm (0.50 cal) machine guns in wing; provision for 227 kg (500 lbs) bomb or
197 litres drop tank under fuselage

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