Curtiss P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk

The Curtiss P-40 was a development of the company’s older P-36 Hawk design. The tenth P-36 was modified to replace the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine with a more streamlined Allison V-1710 inline engine. Although initial results were disappointing improvements came rapidly and the P-40 went on to become one of the most important Allied fighters of the war.

The initially low top speed of the P-40 was improved by altering the positioning of the radiator intake. As newer models of the P-40 were produced the engine configuration was often changed, with one model even introducing a version of the British Merlin engine in place of the Allison. Armament also improved, as the twin .30cal and twin .50cal battery of the first models eventually expanded to six .50cal from the P-40E and onwards.

The P-40 saw its first combat in British hands in the deserts of North Africa. It later became a favourite of the ANZAC air forces, equipping RAAF and RNZAF fighter squadrons throughout the South Pacific where it performed with distinction. USAAF P-40s were in action from the first day of the Pacific War, as several scrambled to intercept the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – many more were destroyed on the ground during the attack, however. Export model Hawk 81s also equipped the American Volunteer Group in China, also known as the ‘Flying Tigers’, which attempted to slow the Japanese advance into Burma and India.

For much of 1942 and 1943 the P-40 was numerically the most important Allied fighter in the South Pacific, where it helped to defend Java, Australia, the Aleutians (with some assigned to Canadian squadrons) and New Guinea during the Japanese offensive. Later as the Japanese began to be pushed back the P-40 largely took on secondary roles as longer-ranged fighters like the P-38 carried the fight, but the Warhawk was nevertheless in action through to the end of the conflict as the Australians retook Borneo.

In total almost 14,000 P-40s of all types were manufactured. The aircraft was known as the ‘Tomahawk’ in RAF service in the Mediterranean, the ‘Kittyhawk’ by the RAAF, and the ‘Warhawk’ by the USAAF.

Specifications:

Curtiss P-40B Warhawk
RoleFighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Allison V-1710-33, 1,040hp
Speed352mph (max)
Ceiling32,400ft
Range1,230 miles
Armament2x .50cal machine guns, 4x .30cal machine guns
Ordnance
Dimensions31ft 9in (length)
37ft 4in (wingspan)
10ft 7in (height)
Weight5,590lb (empty)
7,326lb (gross)
7,600lb (max)
Number produced131
In service withUSAAF
Curtiss P-40E Warhawk
RoleFighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Allison V-1710-39, 1,150hp
Speed362mph (max)
Ceiling29,000ft
Range650 miles (internal)
1,400 miles (external)
Armament6x .50cal machine guns
Ordnance500lb bomb
Dimensions31ft 3in (length)
37ft 4in (wingspan)
10ft 7in (height)
Wing Area236 sq.ft.
Weight6,350lb (empty)
8,280lb (gross)
9,200lb (max)
In service withUSAAF
Curtiss P-40F Warhawk
RoleFighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Packard Merlin V-1650-1, 1,300hp
Speed364mph (max)
Ceiling34,400ft
Range700 miles (internal)
875 miles (external)
Armament6x .50cal machine guns
Ordnance500lb bomb
Dimensions33ft 4in (length)
37ft 4in (wingspan)
10ft 7in (height)
Wing Area236 sq.ft.
Weight6,590lb (empty)
8,500lb (gross)
9,350lb (max)
Number produced1,311
In service withUSAAF
Curtiss P-40L Warhawk
RoleFighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Packard Merlin V-1650-1, 1,300hp
Speed368mph (max)
Ceiling34,400ft
Range650 miles (internal)
1,400 miles (external)
Armament6x .50cal machine guns
Ordnance500lb bomb
Dimensions33ft 4in (length)
37ft 4in (wingspan)
10ft 7in (height)
Wing Area236 sq.ft.
Weight6,340lb (empty)
8,250lb (gross)
9,100lb (max)
In service withUSAAF
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
RoleFighter
Crew1
Powerplant1x Allison V-1710-81, 1,200hp
Speed343mph (max)
Ceiling31,000ft
Range750 miles (internal)
1,080 miles (external)
Armament6x .50cal machine guns
Ordnance500lb bomb
Dimensions31ft 3in (length)
37ft 4in (wingspan)
10ft 7in (height)
Wing Area236 sq.ft.
Weight6,200lb (empty)
8,350lb (gross)
11,400lb (max)
In service withUSAAF

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