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The Curtiss P-40 was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. It was used by the air forces of 28 nations, including those of most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. By November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s main production facility at Buffalo, New York.

The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36; this reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s.

The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

The P-40 was the United States’ best fighter plane available in large numbers when World War II began. P-40s engaged Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines in December 1941. They also served with the famed Flying Tigers in China in 1942.

The aircraft was a descendent of the “Hawk” line produced by the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation in the 1930s and 1940s. It shared certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk.

Though often slower and less maneuverable than its adversaries, the P-40 earned a reputation in battle for extreme ruggedness. The airplane served throughout the war but was eclipsed by more capable aircraft.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s.

The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

More than 13,738 P-40 planes were built during 1939-1944 at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, NY. The P-40 served in the air forces of 28 nations, and was the third-most numerous US fighter plane produced for World War II.

Curtiss P-40F

Aircraft specs (P-40F-5):
  • Year: 1942
  • Crew: 1
  • Engines: 1 * 1300 hp Packard V-1650-1
  • Wing Span: 11.38 m
  • Length: 10.17 m
  • Height: 3.76 m
  • Wing Area: 21.92 m2
  • Empty Weight: 3178 kg
  • Max.Weight: 4540 kg
  • Speed: 586 km/h
  • Range: 2414 km
  • Armament: 6*mg12.7mm,
    227 kg payload

Curtiss P-40F featured Packard V-1650 Merlin engine in place of the normal Allison, and thus did not have the carburetor scoop on top of the nose. Performance for this model at higher altitudes was better than their Allison-engined cousins.

The first 230 aircraft are sometimes known as the Kittyhawk Mk IIA. The P-40F was extensively used by U.S. fighter groups operating in the Mediterranean Theater.

This Merlin-engined P-40F is one of only two left airworthy anywhere in the world. Manufactured at the Curtiss facility in Buffalo, New York in the autumn of 1942 and allocated Bu No. 41-19841.

She was delivered by land to the Stockton In-Transit Depot in California for onward shipment in November, where she was then shipped to the Thirteenth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific on Christmas Eve 1942.

Unfortunately her service career remains a mystery, but the only P-40Fs to see combat in the Pacific Theatre were flown by the 44th and the 68th Fighter Squadrons of the 347th Fighter Group in the Solomon Islands from November 1942 to October 1943.

She ended her wartime career when she was condemned by the USAAF in November 1943, when she was dumped on the largest of Vanautu’s islands, Espiritu Santo. She was recovered from the island in the 1970s, and acquired by The Fighter Collection some years later and stored in Australia until the restoration commenced in Wangaratta, Victoria.

The in-depth restoration was completed in early 2011 and the P-40F made her first flight for 68 years in April.2011 Due to the lack of information on her service history, this P-40F wears the stunning scheme of Lee’s Hope from the 85th Fighter Squadron, 79th Fighter Group, which was flown by Lt Robert J Duffield from Capodichino airfield, southern Italy in early 1944.

Curtiss P-40F Warhawk
Curtiss P-40F Warhawk

Curtiss P-40B

Aircraft specs (P-40B):
  • Wingspan 37 feet 4 inches
  • Length 33 feet 4 inches
  • Height 12 feet 4 inches
  • Empty Weight 5,812 pounds
  • Max. Weight 7,549 pounds
  • Powerplant 1 Allison V-1710-33 1040 hp
  • Armament 4x Wings Mounted .30 Cal Machine Guns
    2 x .50 cal fuselage mounted machine guns.
  • Crew 1
  • Max Speed 345 mph.
  • Service Ceiling 15,000 feet
  • Range 800 miles with no drop tanks

The P-40B is basically a P-36 airframe withe a so-called long-nose Allison V12 engine of less than 1000 hosepower, which puts the propeller some 12 inches further forward than the letter short-nosed Allison.

The combination of long nose and short fuselage, with guns on top of the engine and two in each wing panel, the lower-powered engine and 30-inch wheels makes it a beautiful period aircraft, but with a period reputation being a groun-looper. It is also slighltly faster than a P-36/hawk 75, but somehow slightly less agile.

This Warhawk is a truly unique machine, as she is the only remaining airworthy survivor from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941. In additional to this auspicious history she is also the oldest airworthy P-40B in the world.

One of the 131 P40-Bs built at the Curtiss facility in Buffalo, New York during 1940-1941 and allocated the Bu No. 41-13297, she was delivered to the USAAC in March 1941. She was quickly sent to Wheeler Field, Hawaii in April of that year, becoming part of the 19th Pursuit Squadron of the 18th Pursuit Group.

She crashed on a Hawaiian hillside in February 1942 when Lt Ken Sprankle failed to recover from a spin. The substantial remains were recovered in 1987 when she underwent some restoration work until the Warhawk eventually joined The Fighter Collection in June 2003.

The completion of the P-40B restoration was carried out in California and she flew once again at Chino with Steve Hinton at the controls in October 2004. This Warhawk flies wearing the scheme she wore during her time in Hawaii with the 18th Pursuit Group.

Curtiss P-40B – Warhawk 41-13297
Curtiss P-40B – Warhawk 41-13297
Curtiss P-40B – Warhawk 41-13297

Curtiss P-40 C

Aircraft specs:
  • Built: 1941?
  • Lenght: 9.68 m
  • Height: 3.22 m
  • Wingspan: 11.38 m
  • Weight: Emty 2,636 kg
    Loaded: 3,655 kg
  • Engine: Allison V-1710-39, liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,150 hp.
  • Maximum: speed: 580 kph360mph.
  • Range: 1,100km
  • Armament: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns and 250 to 1,000 lb bombs to a total of 2,000 lb

Curtiss P-40C Warhawk 41-13357 was accepted by the United States Army Air Corps on 6th April 1941, where it went on to serve at Patterson Field, Ohio. After recording around 100 hours there, it was shipped to Puerto Rico where it is presumed that 41-13357 was used for coastal and anti-submarine patrols.

Having amassed 603 hours, it was returned to the Curtiss Factory in Buffalo, New York, where it was overhauled for the Lend-Lease programme with the Soviet Union. Curtiss P-40C Warhawk 41-13357 was then duly shipped to the USSR in December 1941. The history past this point is still relatively unknown until it was acquired from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s by The Fighter Collection in a pretty poor state.

During the restoration it was decided to finish the aircraft in the scheme of a P-40 based at Chanute Field, Kansas. Curtiss P-40C Warhawk 41-13357 wears the scheme of 39-159, a P-40C that was stripped of its olive drab camouflage paint and used as a personal ‘hack’ for base commanders.

The restoration culminated on the 5th August 2011 when the aircraft (then registered N80FR) had its first post restoration flight in the hands of Steve Hinton. The aircraft was shipped from Chino to Duxford during May/June 2014, in time for Flying Legends 2014 where it made its UK debut.

Curtiss P-40C
Curtiss P-40C & Curtiss P-40F

Curtiss P-36 – Hawk 75

Aircraft specs:
  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Length: 28 ft 6 in (8,7 m)
  • Wingspan:37 ft 0 in (11,3 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 2 in (2,8 m)
  • Empty weight: 9,205 lb (4,174 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 4665 lb (2116 kg)
  • Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial piston engine. 1,050 hp
  • Maximum speed: 322 mph (5718 km/h)
  • Range: 1,005 mi (650 nmi (1046 km)
  • Service ceiling: 32349 ft (9860 m)
  • Rate of climb: 42.6509187 ft/min (137 m/s)

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was a U.S.-built fighter aircraft of the 1930s. A contemporary of the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful piston engine.

Obsolete at the onset of World War II and best known as the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40, the P-36 saw only limited combat with the United States Army Air Forces but was extensively used by the French Air Force and also by British Commonwealth (where it was known as the Mohawk), and Chinese air units. Several dozen also fought in the Finnish Air Force against the Soviet Red Air Force. With around 1,000 aircraft built, the P-36 was a major commercial success for Curtiss.

Curtiss P-40N

Aircraft specs (P-40N):
  • Engine: 1360hp Allison V-1710-81 inline piston engine
  • Weight: Empty 6,000 lbs.
  • Max Takeoff 11,400 lbs
  • Wing Span: 37ft. 4in.
  • Length: 33ft. 4in.
  • Height: 12ft. 4in.
    Maximum Speed at 10,000ft: 378mph
  • Ceiling: 38,000ft
    Range: 840 miles (with no external tanks)
  • Armament: Six 12.7mm (0.5-inch) wing-mounted machine guns Up to 1,500lbs of bombs on three wing hard-points

This aircraft is not a Kittyhawk and is often confused with the P-40E Kittyhawk. (However,in RAF /Commonwealth service, this type was referred to as a “Kittyhawk MK IV).

P-40N with c/n 29677 was built at the Curtiss plant at Buffalo, New York with United States Army Air Force (USAAF) serial 42-105915. She was originally destined for delivery to the Chinese Air Force, but was rushed into service with the 5th Air Force in the Pacific.

After delivery she was assigned to the 7th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group. She was found again in the 1970s at Tadji Airfield in Papua New Guinea, without an engine but still at her legs. Although her unit was never based at Tadji she was probably abandoned due to technical problems. During the six-week recovery operation mounted in 1974 the best airframes, and most of the American wrecks were collected.

In total 6 P-40’s, several frames of Beauforts and Anson’s, and a Tiger Moth were recovered from the field. After recovery she was transported to Lae, Papua New Guinea. From there, she was exported to Auckland, New Zealand. Shortly after arrival in Auckland she was sold to Malcom Long, who owned her from 1974 until 1991. She was displayed at a variety of locations over the years in both private collections and museums.

She went to Jack McDonald and John Rayner who bought her in 1991. In the consquent years she changed hands several times until she was restored to flying condition in 2002 and was registered in the Australian register as VH-KTI, being the only airworthy P-40 in Australia.

In 2007 she was sold to the French Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis association. She arrived at her new home La Ferté Alais in February 2008 and registered in the French register as F-AZKU. She was first shown in public when she participated in the 2008 edition of the Meeting Aérien la Ferté Alais, at her homebase, just south of Paris.

The Warhawk flies in her original colours of the 7th Fighter Squadron, serial 42-105915 code 12, the P-40 assigned to Lieutenant Robert Warren who named her “Little Jeanne”. Today the 7th Fighter Squadron is part of the 49th Fighter Wing, flying the state of the art Locheed-Martin F-22A Raptor out of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Curtiss P-40N-5 CU Warhawk
Curtiss P-40N-5 CU Warhawk
Curtiss P-40N-5 CU Warhawk