Curtiss P-40 Series I

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Weapons and Warfare

Arguably the best-known fighter in the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the first year of direct American participation in the war was the Curtiss P-40. Designed by Donovan Reese Berlin, the prototype XP-40 was more evolutionary than revolutionary in conception, being nothing more than the tenth production airframe of Berlin’s P-36A Hawk fighter with an Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled inline engine substituted for the P-36’s 875-horsepower Wright GR-1820-G3 Cyclone air-cooled radial.

Donovan’s original monoplane design dated to 1934. He designated it the Curtiss Model 75, reflecting his obsession with that number, while the emotive nickname of “Hawk,” already famous from an earlier generation of Curtiss biplane fighters, was revived for the new-generation monoplane. Although the Hawk 75 first flew in 1935, engine problems delayed its development until July 7, 1937, when the Army Air Corps gave Curtiss the largest American peacetime production order up to that time—210 P-36s, as the…

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P-40 in Combat

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Weapons and Warfare

largeScottys Last Combat

“Scotty’s Last Combat” – Roy Grinnell-P-40 Warhawk Ace Robert L. Scott Art


The Curtiss P-40 achieved its greatest fame with the Flying Tigers, but it also proved itself in every theater of war. Rarely the fastest or most maneuverable aircraft in a combat, it was often the most rugged and served its nation well.


World War II U.S. fighter. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, made famous by the legendary Flying Tigers, was one of America’s most important fighter aircraft of World War II. The P-40 originated in 1938 as the XP-40, a derivation of the mid- 1930s Curtiss radial-engine design, the P-36 Hawk. Unlike the Hawk, however, the P-40 was equipped with a liquid-cooled Allison V-1710-33 inline engine, which greatly reduced frontal area and increased performance.

Although the P-40 was sturdy, with good diving characteristics and an attractive, sleek-looking design, it exhibited only mediocre performance compared to most other fighters of…

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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

More about the P-40

Weapons and Warfare


The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk 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. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

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…

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Curtiss P-40 Series II

About a P-40 pilot and his favorite plane

Weapons and Warfare

It was July 1943. Parked on the ramp of Sunrise Airport at Tifton, Georgia, was a P-40F painted in wartime camouflage. To a pilot with a total of about 190 hours, all in trainer aircraft, this was an impressive sight. Stories were coming in from North Africa, where American Warhawks and British Kittyhawks of the Desert Air Force were harassing Rommel’s army and shooting down German aircraft. The Palm Sunday Massacre had taken place the previous April, when Desert Air Force fighters—mostly P-40s—had shot down sixty-five German aircraft as they desperately attempted to get out of Cape Bon. This was a real warplane, one that I had wanted to fly for four years. My time had come.

I first saw the 400-mile-per-hour Curtiss P-40 at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, where the Army Air Corps was displaying this newest fighter. Three years later, I was a second lieutenant on…

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