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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-36.3

The Curtiss Model 87 P-40 had the new Allison V-1710 engines.3,4 With the better engine it also added extra weight and the P-40 suffered at altitudes over 15,000'.5

The Curtis Model 87B P-40 was to have the licence built Merlin engine to improve its high altitude performance.3

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.1

The control surfaces were the only things that were fabric covered.1

Engine

The engine was the P-40's weak spot.6 It didn't perform well at high altitudes.6

Crew

The canopy was armored and had bulletproof glass.1

P-40B

The P-40B had two more machine guns installed.6

The pilot's protection was increased by additional armor.6

Self sealing fuel tanks were installed into the P-40B.6

P-40D

The P-40D had a newer engine.6

The fuselage and landing gear were made smaller.6 The radiators were moved and the forward fuselage was updated.6

P-40E

The P-40E had additional machine guns installed.6

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.6 However, priority for the engines was given to the P-51.6

P-40N

The P-40N had a more powerful engine and a lighter fuselage.6

Prototype

In March 1937 the XP-40 was converted from the 10th production P-36A.3,6 It installed an Allison V-1710 engine.6

Prototype flew on October 14, 1938.1,3,6 Tests showed that the XP-40 was about the equivalent of the Hawker Hurricane.6

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was suitably impressed and placed an order for 5005/5243,6 aircraft for a price of $12,872,8986 / $12,900,000, on April 27, 1939.3,6

The P-40 was selected over other designs from Bell, Lockheed, and Republic as Curtiss-Wright was ready to go into full production immediately.6 Curtiss-Wright increased its manufacturing plant by four times and eventually had 45,000 employees.6

Production

There were 16,802 produced and of those, 13,738 were used by United States' forces.1

  • Curtiss P-40: 1993
  • Curtiss P-40A:
  • Curtiss P-40B: 1313,6
  • Curtiss P-40C: 1933
  • Curtiss P-40D/ Curtiss Kittyhawk I: 223, 5822
  • Curtiss P-40E: 8203, 2,3202,4,6
  • Curtiss P-40F / Curtiss Kittyhawk II: 1,3113,6
  • Curtiss P-40K: 1,3003
  • Curtiss P-40L / Curtiss Kittyhawk II: 7003
  • Curtiss P-40M: 6003
  • Curtiss P-40N: 5,2163, 5,2192,4,6, 5,2447
    • Production: ? - November 19447
  • United Kingdom:
    • Curtiss Tomahawk I: 1403
    • Curtiss Tomahawk IIA: 1103
    • Curtiss Tomahawk IIB: 9303
    • Curtiss Tomahawk total: 1,1822,4
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk I: 5603
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk IA: 1,5003
    • Curtiss Kittyhawk total 3,3422,4
  • Total: 12,0142,4, 13,3783, 13,7336, 16,8021
    • Manufacturer: Curtiss-Wright Corporation6,7
    • Manufacturing location: Buffalo, New York7
    • Production: 1939 - 19446

Variants

  • Curtiss XP-40: Prototype.2 Initially had the radiator under the fuselage but was later moved to under the nose.3
  • Curtiss P-40 / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk I3:
    Curtiss P-40A / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk I4: Production.3 First flew in April 1940.3 Deliveries started in June 1940.3
  • Curtiss P-40B / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk IA / Tomahawk Mk II / Tomahawk Mk IIA: Had cockpit armor installed.2,3,4 Armament was two 12.7 mm machine guns and four 7.62 mm MGs.2,3,4
  • Curtiss P-40C / Curtiss Tomahawk Mk IIB: Self sealing fuel tanks were installed.2,3,4 The ability to carry a drop tank was added.3 First flew in April 1941.3
  • Curtiss P-40D / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk I: Had a shorter nose with the radiator moved forward and deepened.2,3,4 First flew in May 1941.3
  • Curtiss P-40E / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk IA: First version to be used by United States.2,4 Armament was six 12.7 mm MGs.2,4
  • Curtiss P-40F / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk II: Had Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.2,3,4 Internal fuel capacity was increased.3 The dorsal fin had an extension installed.3 The fuselage was lengthened by 19".3
  • Curtiss P-40K / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk III: Had Allison V-1710-73 engine.3
  • Curtis P-40 L / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk II:
  • Curtiss P-40M / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk III: Had Allison V-1710-81 engine.3 All but five went to British and Commonwealth forces.3 Lower takeoff speed.3 Better altitude performance.3
  • Curtiss P-40N / Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk IV: Had Allison V-1710 engine.2,4 Could carry up to 1,500 lb / 680 kg of bombs.2,4 Introduced in early 1943.3 The structured was lightened, armor reduced, forward wing tanks eliminated.3
  • Curtiss P-40Q: Had a cut down rear fuselage and bubble canopy.3
  • Curtiss TB-40N: Trainers with two seats.3

Usage

Used by Australia, Brazil (83)7,Britain, Canada, China (523)7, Egypt, France, Free French (74)7, Netherlands (597), New Zealand, South Africa, Soviet Union (2,430)7, Turkey, and the United States.1,3

First Deployments

United States Army squadrons started to receive the P-40s in May 1940.5,6

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 112.6

China

Used by General Chennault's Flying Tigers who shot down 286 Japanese planes with a loss of 23 Flying Tiger pilots.1,6 100 of the Tomahawk IIBs were diverted from a order placed by the United Kingdom.3,6

Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, there were 73 / 803 P-40 Warhawks destroyed by the Japanese.1 There were 107 P-40Bs and P-40Cs stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.3

End of War

There was only one group in service.1

United Kingdom

4,309 P-40s were delivered to Britain and Commonwealth countries.7

Most of the Tomahawk Mk Is produced went to the Royal Air Force (RAF).2 1406 / 230 were taken over from an order placed by France.3,6 These were made into trainers.6

The first models available under Lend Lease were the Kittyhawk IA model.3

The RAF changed the P-40 Tomahawks to Warhawks.2

In North Africa the No 112 Squadron first used the shark mouth markings made more famous by the Flying Tigers in China.3

Australia

Australia received 163 Kittyhawk IAs in March 1942.3 These fought in New Guinea and northern Australia.3

Soviet Union

In late 1941 240 P-40s (170 originally sent to Britain) were shipped to the Soviet Union.7

P-40B

The P-40B first appeared in 1941.6

The British first used the P-40B in combat in Africa.6

P-40D

The P-40D first appeared in May 1941.6 Most of the P-40D's that were produced were used by the RAF.6

P-40E

The P-40E was the first to see combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in Europe and the Mediterranean.6

P-40N

These were used by Australia6, Britain6, China6, South Africa6, and the Soviet Union6.

Specifications

  Curtiss P-40
Type Fighter3
Crew 13
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-333
Cylinders V 123
HP 1,0403
Propeller blades 33
Dimensions  
Span 37' 3.5"3
11.37 m3
Length 31' 8.5"3
9.66 m3
Height 10' 7"3
3.22 m3
Armament  
Nose 2: 0.5" MG3
Wings 2 or 4: 0.3" MG3
  Curtiss P-40B
Type Fighter6
Crew 16
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-336
Cylinders V 126
Cooling Liquid6
HP 1,0406
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"6
Length 31' 9"6
Height 12' 4"6
Weight  
Loaded 7,600 lb6
Performance  
Speed at 15,000' 352 mph6
Service ceiling 32,400'6
Range 940 miles6
Armament 4: MG6
  Curtiss P-40C
Weight  
Empty 5,812 lb1
2,636 kg1
Loaded 7,549 lb1
3,424 kg1
Maximum load 8,058 lb1
3,655 kg1
Performance  
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 345 mph1
555 kph1
Cruising speed 273 mph1
439 kph1
Climb 2,690'/minute1
820 m/minute1
Service ceiling 32,400'1
9,875 m1
Range 800 miles1
1,287 km1
Range with drop tank 1,230 miles1
1,979 km1
  Curtiss P-40D
Type Fighter bomber3
Crew 13
Engine (Type) 1: Allison6
1: Allison V-1710-393
Cylinders V 123
Cooling Liquid6
HP 1,1503,6
Propeller blades 33
Dimensions  
Span 37' 3.5"3, 37' 4"6
11.37 m3
Length 31' 7"6, 31' 9"3
9.68 m3
Height 12' 4"3,6
3.76 m3
Weight  
Loaded 8,000 lb6
Performance  
Speed 350 mph6
Range 700 miles6
Armament  
Wings 4: 0.5" MG3
  Curtiss P-40E
Type Fighter6
Crew 16
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-396
Cylinders V 126
Cooling Liquid6
HP 1,1666
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"6
Length 31' 3"6
Height 12' 4"6
Weight  
Empty 6,300 lb3
2,858 kg3
Loaded 8,400 lb3, 8,840 lb6
3,810 kg3
Maximum load 9,100 lb3
4,128 kg3
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 335 mph3
539 kph3
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 354 mph6, 362 mph3
582 kph3
Climb 2,050'/minute3
625 m/minute3
Climb to 20,000' / 6,096 m 13 minutes3
Service ceiling 29,000'3,6
8,838 m3
Range 670 miles3, 700 miles6
1,078 km3
Range with drop tank 900 miles3
1,448 km3
Armament 6: MG6
Wings 6: 0.5" MG3
Bomb under fuselage 1: 500 lb3
1: 227 kg3
OR  
Bomb under wings 2: 100 lb3
2: 45 kg3
Bombs 700 lb6
  Curtiss P-40F
Type Fighter6, Fighter bomber3
Crew 11,2
Engine (Type) 1: Packard Merlin8
1: Packard Merlin V-1650-11,2
Cylinders V 121,2
Cooling Liquid6
HP 1,1758, 1,3001,2
Propeller blades 33
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"2,3
Length 31' 8"8, 33' 4"6
Height 10' 7"8, 12' 4"6
Weight  
Loaded 9,350 lb6
Performance  
Speed 380 mph8
Speed at 20,000' / 6,096 m 364 mph6
Service ceiling 34,400'6
Range 375 miles6
Armament 6: MG6
Wings 6: 0.5" MG3
Bomb under fuselage 1: 500 lb3
1: 227 kg3
OR  
Bomb under wings 2: 100 lb3
2: 45 kg3
Bombs 500 lb6
  Curtiss P-40F-5
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"3
11.38 m3
Length 33' 4"3
10.16 m3
Height 12' 4"3
3.76 m3
Weight  
Empty 7,000 lb3
3,175 kg3
Loaded 8,500 lb3
3,855 kg3
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 320 mph3
515 kph3
Speed at 20,000' / 6,096 m 364 mph3
586 kph3
Cruising speed 208 mph3
335 kph3
Climb 2,400'/minute3
732 m/minute3
Climb to 15,000' / 4,572 m 7.6 minutes3
Range 600 miles3
965 km3
Range with drop tank 1,500 miles3
2,414 km3
  Curtiss P-40K
Type Fighter bomber1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-731
Cylinders V 121
HP 1,3251
Propeller blades 31
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"1
11.38 m1
Length 33' 4"1
10.16 m1
Height 12' 4"1
3.76 m1
  Curtiss P-40M
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-811
HP 1,2001
Propeller blades 31
  Curtiss P-40N
Type Fighter6,7, Fighter bomber1, Interceptor1
Crew 11,5,6
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-81 piston1,3,5,7
OR Allison V-1710-993
OR Allison V-1710-1153
Cylinders Inline1, V 126, 127
Cooling Liquid6,7
HP 1,2003,7, 1,3601,5
Propeller blades 31,3 , 3 electric controlled7
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"6,7, 37' 6"1
11.42 m1
Length 33' 4"5,7, 33' 6"1
10.2 m1
Height 12' 4"1,5
3.77 m1
Wing area 236 ft2 1,7
21.95 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 6,045 lb1, 6,200 lb7
2,724 kg1
Loaded 8,350 lb7, 8,850 lb6, 8,858 lb1
4,018 kg1
Performance  
Speed at 10,500' / 3,200 m 378 mph6
Speed at 10,530' / 3,210 m 378 mph1
609 kph1
Speed at 15,000' 343 mph7
Cruising speed 288 mph7
Service ceiling 31,000'7, 38,000'6, 38,160'1
11,630 m1
Range 240 miles1,5
386 km1
Range - loaded 340 miles7
Range - max 1,080 miles7
Armament  
Wings 6: MG6
6: 12.7 mm MG1
6: .50 cal MG7
Bombs 500 lb1,5, 1,500 lb7
227 kg1
OR  
Drop tank 197 liter1
  Curtis P-40N-1
Weight  
Empty 6,400 lb3
2,903 kg3
Loaded 8,850 lb3
4,014 kg3
Performance  
Speed at 5,000 ' / 1,524 m 313 mph3
504 kph3
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 m 348 mph3
560 kph3
Cruising speed 210 mph3
338 kph3
Climb 2,425'/minute3
739 m/minute3
Climb to 15,000' / 4,572 m 6.7 minutes3
Service ceiling 30,000'3
9,144 m3
Range 550 miles3
885 km3
Range with drop tank 1,250 miles3
2,011 km3
Armament  
Bombs 3: 500 lb3
3: 227 kg3
  Curtiss P-40N-20, Kittyhawk Mk IV, Kittyhawk Mk V
Type Fighter2,4, Fighter bomber2,4
Crew 12
Engine (Type) Allison V-1710-81 pison2,4
Cylinders Inline2, V 124
HP 1,3602,4
Dimensions  
Span 37' 4"2,4
11.38 m2,4
Length 33' 4"2,4
10.16 m2,4
Height 12' 4"2,4
3.76 m2,4
Wing area 236 ft2 2,4
21.92 m2 4, 21.95 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 6,000 lb2,4
2,722 kg2,4
Loaded 11,400 lb4
5,171 kg4
Maximum load 11,4002,3
5,171 kg2,3
Performance  
Speed at 10,500' / 3,200 m 378 mph2,4
609 kph2,4
Climb to 15,000' / 4,570 m 6.7 minutes2,4
Service ceiling 38,000'2,4
11,580 m2,4
Range 240 miles2,4
386 km2,4
Armament  
Wings 6: 12.7 mm MG2,4
Bombs 3: 500 lb2,4
3: 227 kg2,4

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
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