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United States' flag United States' Army Air Corps aircraft marking

United States' Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter

Photos

  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40D Kittyhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40D Kittyhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40E Mk IA Kittyhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40E Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40F Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40F Warhawk fighter
  • Curtiss P-40

Design

The Curtiss Model 81 P-40 was to replace the Curtiss P-36.

The Curtiss Model 87 P-40 had the new Allison V-1710 engines. With the better engine it also added extra weight and the P-40 suffered at altitudes over 15,000'.

The Curtis Model 87B P-40 was to have the licence built Merlin engine to improve its high altitude performance.

Early models had a pair of 12.7 mm machine guns on top of the fuselage, but these were removed in most of the RAF aircraft.

The control surfaces were the only things that were fabric covered.

Engine

The engine was the P-40's weak spot. It didn't perform well at high altitudes.

Crew

The canopy was armored and had bulletproof glass.

P-40B

The P-40B had two more machine guns installed.

The pilot's protection was increased by additional armor.

Self sealing fuel tanks were installed into the P-40B.

P-40D

The P-40D had a newer engine.

The fuselage and landing gear were made smaller. The radiators were moved and the forward fuselage was updated.

P-40E

The P-40E had additional machine guns installed.

P-40F

The engine problems that the prior P-40 models had was fixed by installing a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, that was license built by Packard. However, priority for the engines was given to the P-51.

P-40N

The P-40N had a more powerful engine and a lighter fuselage.

Prototype

In March 1937 the XP-40 was converted from the 10th production P-36A. It installed an Allison V-1710 engine.

Prototype flew on October 14, 1938. Tests showed that the XP-40 was about the equivalent of the Hawker Hurricane.

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was suitably impressed and placed an order for 500/524 aircraft for a price of $12,872,898 / $12,900,000, on April 27, 1939.

The P-40 was selected over other designs from Bell, Lockheed, and Republic as Curtiss-Wright was ready to go into full production immediately. Curtiss-Wright increased its manufacturing plant by four times and eventually had 45,000 employees.

Production

There were 16,802 produced and of those, 13,738 were used by United States' forces.

  • Curtiss P-40: 199
  • Curtiss P-40A:
  • Curtiss P-40B: 131
  • Curtiss P-40C: 193
  • Curtiss P-40D/ Curtiss Kittyhawk I: 22, 582
  • Curtiss P-40E: 820, 2,320
  • Curtiss P-40F / Curtiss Kittyhawk II: 1,311
  • Curtiss P-40K: 1,300
  • Curtiss P-40L / Curtiss Kittyhawk II: 700
  • Curtiss P-40M: 600
  • Curtiss P-40N: 5,216, 5,219, 5,244
    • Production: ? - November 1944
  • United Kingdom:
    • Curtiss Tomahawk I: 140
    • Curtiss Tomahawk IIA: 110
    • Curtiss Tomahawk IIB: 930
    • Curtiss Tomahawk total: 1,182
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk I: 560
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk IA: 1,500
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk total 3,342
  • Total: 12,014, 13,378, 13,733, 16,802
    • Manufacturer: Curtiss-Wright Corporation
    • Manufacturing location: Buffalo, New York
    • Production: 1939 - 1944

Variants

  • Curtiss XP-40: Prototype. Initially had the radiator under the fuselage but was later moved to under the nose.
  • Curtiss P-40 / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk I:
    Curtiss P-40A / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk I: Production. First flew in April 1940. Deliveries started in June 1940.
  • Curtiss P-40B / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk IA / Tomahawk Mk II / Tomahawk Mk IIA: Had cockpit armor installed. Armament was two 12.7 mm machine guns and four 7.62 mm MGs.
  • Curtiss P-40C / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk IIB: Self sealing fuel tanks were installed. The ability to carry a drop tank was added. First flew in April 1941.
  • Curtiss P-40D / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk I: Had a shorter nose with the radiator moved forward and deepened. First flew in May 1941.
  • Curtiss P-40E / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk IA: First version to be used by United States. Armament was six 12.7 mm MGs.
  • Curtiss P-40F / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk II: Had Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Internal fuel capacity was increased. The dorsal fin had an extension installed. The fuselage was lengthened by 19".
  • Curtiss P-40K / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk III: Had Allison V-1710-73 engine.
  • Curtis P-40 L / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk II:
  • Curtiss P-40M / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk III: Had Allison V-1710-81 engine. All but five went to British and Commonwealth forces. Lower takeoff speed. Better altitude performance.
  • Curtiss P-40N / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk IV: Had Allison V-1710 engine. Could carry up to 1,500 lb / 680 kg of bombs. Introduced in early 1943. The structured was lightened, armor reduced, forward wing tanks eliminated.
  • Curtiss P-40Q: Had a cut down rear fuselage and bubble canopy.
  • Curtiss TB-40N: Trainers with two seats.

Usage

Used by Australia, Brazil (83),Britain, Canada, China (523), Egypt, France, Free French (74), Netherlands (59), New Zealand, South Africa, Soviet Union (2,430), Turkey, and the United States.

First Deployments

United States Army squadrons started to receive the P-40s in May 1940.

Shark Mouth

The famous shark mouth symbol that was painted on the Flying Tigers was actually first used by the Royal Air Force's Desert Air Force Squadron 112.

China

Used by General Chennault's Flying Tigers who shot down 286 Japanese planes with a loss of 23 Flying Tiger pilots. 100 of the Tomahawk IIBs were diverted from a order placed by the United Kingdom.

Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, there were 73 / 80 P-40 Warhawks destroyed by the Japanese. There were 107 P-40Bs and P-40Cs stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

End of War

There was only one group in service.

United Kingdom

4,309 P-40s were delivered to Britain and Commonwealth countries.

Most of the Tomahawk Mk Is produced went to the Royal Air Force (RAF). 140 / 230 were taken over from an order placed by France. These were made into trainers.

The first models available under Lend Lease were the Kittyhawk IA model.

The RAF changed the P-40 Tomahawks to Warhawks.

In North Africa the No 112 Squadron first used the shark mouth markings made more famous by the Flying Tigers in China.

Australia

Australia received 163 Kittyhawk IAs in March 1942. These fought in New Guinea and northern Australia.

Soviet Union

In late 1941 240 P-40s (170 originally sent to Britain) were shipped to the Soviet Union.

P-40B

The P-40B first appeared in 1941.

The British first used the P-40B in combat in Africa.

P-40D

The P-40D first appeared in May 1941. Most of the P-40D's that were produced were used by the RAF.

P-40E

The P-40E was the first to see combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in Europe and the Mediterranean.

P-40N

These were used by Australia, Britain, China, South Africa, and the Soviet Union.

Specifications

  Curtiss P-40
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-33
Cylinders V 12
HP 1,040
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 37' 3.5"
11.37 m
Length 31' 8.5"
9.66 m
Height 10' 7"
3.22 m
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.5" MG
Wings 2 or 4: 0.3" MG
  Curtiss P-40B
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-33
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,040
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
Length 31' 9"
Height 12' 4"
Weight  
Loaded 7,600 lb
Performance  
Speed at 15,000' 352 mph
Service ceiling 32,400'
Range 940 miles
Armament 4: MG
  Curtiss P-40C
Weight  
Empty 5,812 lb
2,636 kg
Loaded 7,549 lb
3,424 kg
Maximum load 8,058 lb
3,655 kg
Performance  
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 345 mph
555 kph
Cruising speed 273 mph
439 kph
Climb 2,690'/minute
820 m/minute
Service ceiling 32,400'
9,875 m
Range 800 miles
1,287 km
Range with drop tank 1,230 miles
1,979 km
  Curtiss P-40D
Type Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 1: Allison
1: Allison V-1710-39
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,150
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 37' 3.5", 37' 4"
11.37 m
Length 31' 7", 31' 9"
9.68 m
Height 12' 4"
3.76 m
Weight  
Loaded 8,000 lb
Performance  
Speed 350 mph
Range 700 miles
Armament  
Wings 4: 0.5" MG
  Curtiss P-40E
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-39
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,166
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
Length 31' 3"
Height 12' 4"
Weight  
Empty 6,300 lb
2,858 kg
Loaded 8,400 lb, 8,840 lb
3,810 kg
Maximum load 9,100 lb
4,128 kg
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 335 mph
539 kph
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 354 mph, 362 mph
582 kph
Climb 2,050'/minute
625 m/minute
Climb to 20,000' / 6,096 m 13 minutes
Service ceiling 29,000'
8,838 m
Range 670 miles, 700 miles
1,078 km
Range with drop tank 900 miles
1,448 km
Armament 6: MG
Wings 6: 0.5" MG
Bomb under fuselage 1: 500 lb
1: 227 kg
OR  
Bomb under wings 2: 100 lb
2: 45 kg
Bombs 700 lb
  Curtiss P-40F
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 1: Packard Merlin
1: Packard Merlin V-1650-1
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,175, 1,300
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
Length 31' 8", 33' 4"
Height 10' 7", 12' 4"
Weight  
Loaded 9,350 lb
Performance  
Speed 380 mph
Speed at 20,000' / 6,096 m 364 mph
Service ceiling 34,400'
Range 375 miles
Armament 6: MG
Wings 6: 0.5" MG
Bomb under fuselage 1: 500 lb
1: 227 kg
OR  
Bomb under wings 2: 100 lb
2: 45 kg
Bombs 500 lb
  Curtiss P-40F-5
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
11.38 m
Length 33' 4"
10.16 m
Height 12' 4"
3.76 m
Weight  
Empty 7,000 lb
3,175 kg
Loaded 8,500 lb
3,855 kg
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 320 mph
515 kph
Speed at 20,000' / 6,096 m 364 mph
586 kph
Cruising speed 208 mph
335 kph
Climb 2,400'/minute
732 m/minute
Climb to 15,000' / 4,572 m 7.6 minutes
Range 600 miles
965 km
Range with drop tank 1,500 miles
2,414 km
  Curtiss P-40K
Type Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-73
Cylinders V 12
HP 1,325
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
11.38 m
Length 33' 4"
10.16 m
Height 12' 4"
3.76 m
  Curtiss P-40M
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-81
HP 1,200
Propeller blades 3
  Curtiss P-40N
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber, Interceptor
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-81 piston
OR Allison V-1710-99
OR Allison V-1710-115
Cylinders Inline, V 12, 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 1,200, 1,360
Propeller blades 3 , 3 electric controlled
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4", 37' 6"
11.42 m
Length 33' 4", 33' 6"
10.2 m
Height 12' 4"
3.77 m
Wing area 236 ft2
21.95 m2
Weight  
Empty 6,045 lb, 6,200 lb
2,724 kg
Loaded 8,350 lb, 8,850 lb, 8,858 lb
4,018 kg
Performance  
Speed at 10,500' / 3,200 m 378 mph
Speed at 10,530' / 3,210 m 378 mph
609 kph
Speed at 15,000' 343 mph
Cruising speed 288 mph
Service ceiling 31,000', 38,000', 38,160'
11,630 m
Range 240 miles
386 km
Range - loaded 340 miles
Range - max 1,080 miles
Armament  
Wings 6: MG
6: 12.7 mm MG
6: .50 cal MG
Bombs 500 lb, 1,500 lb
227 kg
OR  
Drop tank 197 liter
  Curtis P-40N-1
Weight  
Empty 6,400 lb
2,903 kg
Loaded 8,850 lb
4,014 kg
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 313 mph
504 kph
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 348 mph
560 kph
Cruising speed 210 mph
338 kph
Climb 2,425'/minute
739 m/minute
Climb to 15,000' / 4,572 m 6.7 minutes
Service ceiling 30,000'
9,144 m
Range 550 miles
885 km
Range with drop tank 1,250 miles
2,011 km
Armament  
Bombs 3: 500 lb
3: 227 kg
  Curtiss P-40N-20, Kittyhawk Mk IV, Kittyhawk Mk V
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-81 pison
Cylinders Inline, V 12
HP 1,360
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"
11.38 m
Length 33' 4"
10.16 m
Height 12' 4"
3.76 m
Wing area 236 ft2
21.92 m2 , 21.95 m2
Weight  
Empty 6,000 lb
2,722 kg
Loaded 11,400 lb
5,171 kg
Maximum load 11,400
5,171 kg
Performance  
Speed at 10,500' / 3,200 m 378 mph
609 kph
Climb to 15,000' / 4,570 m 6.7 minutes
Service ceiling 38,000'
11,580 m
Range 240 miles
386 km
Armament  
Wings 6: 12.7 mm MG
Bombs 3: 500 lb
3: 227 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, General Editor Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific, Carl Molesworth, 2003
  6. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  7. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
  8. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site