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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk


One of the most rugged fighters ever built, the P-40 was the Army Air Forces' front-line fighter at the start of World War II. The P-40 is among the top five aircraft in US history in terms of number of aircraft produced and was eventually flown by 28 countries. The lone XP-40 was a modified P-36 airframe with the V-1710 engine installed. Not an advanced design (nonsealing fuel tanks, no cockpit armor), the P-40 was actually obsolescent when production began, but its straightforward design allowed for a rapid ramp up to quantity production. Pilots with the 46th and 47th Pursuit Squadrons (both units flying P-40s) scored the first American victories of World War II when they downed 10 Japanese aircraft over Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. Lt. Boyd "Buzz" Wagner, based in the Philippines and also flying a P-40, became the first American ace of the war when he downed his fifth Japanese aircraft on December 16. The P-40's greatest notoriety, though, came with the American Volunteer Group in China. Organized under the command of Claire Chennault, the AVG, better known as the Flying Tigers, entered combat on December 21, 1941. In existence only until July 6, 1942 (when it was absorbed in the Army Air Forces and became the 23d Fighter Group), the AVG shot down approximately 300 Japanese aircraft. The P-40 was also used extensively in North Africa and was flown off escort carriers during the initial stages of the invasion. As late as April 1944, nearly 2,500 P-40s were in AAF service.
P- 40 production ran until November 1944. After the war, the decision to keep the P-40 in production for so long, even after more modern aircraft became available, was severely criticized in the Truman Report. A majority of P-40 production went to Britain, where the RAF called them Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. Large numbers of aircraft were also used by Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The Brazilian Air Force flew P-40s into the mid-1950s.
General characteristics P-40C
Primary function Fighter/bomber
Contractor Curtiss-Wright Corp.
Power plant One Allison V-1710-85 liquid-cooled V-12 engine
Thrust 1,200 HP 895 kW
Wingspan 37.3 ft 11.37 m
Length 31.7 ft 9.66 m
Height 10.6 ft 3.22 m
Wingarea 236 sq ft 21.92 sq m
Weight empty 5,811 lb 2,636 kg
max. 8,058 lb 3,655 kg
Speed 345 mph 555 km/h
Ceiling 29,450 ft 8,990 m
Range 800 miles 1,287 km
Armament 2x 12.7mm machine gun, 4x 7.62mm machine gun
Crew One
First flight October 14, 1938 (XP-40)
Date deployed 1941
General characteristics P-40F-5
Primary function Fighter
Power plant One Packard V-1650-1 engine
Thrust 1,300 HP 970 kW
Wingspan 37.3 ft 11.38 m
Length 33,4 ft 10.17 m
Height 12.3 ft 3.76 m
Wingarea 236 sq ft 21.92 sq m
Weight empty 7,000 lb 3,178 kg
max. 10,010 lb 4,540 kg
Speed 364 mph 586 km/h
Range 1,500 miles 2,414 km
Armament 6x 12.7mm machine guns, 227kg bomb
Crew One
Date deployed 1942
Cost $52,869
Number built 13,738 (all types)


Jirka Wagner

 

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Last updated 01.01.2017