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Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk) Fighter (1938)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/16/2013

The P-36 was a widely operated fighter type before and during World War 2.

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk aircraft saw considerable operational service in the years leading up to, and during, World War 2. Its basic appearance was not unlike Curtiss' more famous product - the P-40 Warhawk - and sported a heavily framed canopy and raise fuselage spine. Though not an overly impressive aircraft by any stretch, the P-36 Hawk nonetheless was a serviceable mount that could - at the very least - help national air forces compete against the likes of the Axis powers. Donovan Berlin was attributed with the design of the aircraft and a first flight was achieved on May 6th, 1935. The aircraft was formally introduced into service in 1938 and it was not - amazingly - fully retired until 1954, this with Argentina. Despite the 215 or so P-36s produced for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), the Hawk made more of a splash in foreign hands (as the Hawk 75 and Mohawk) which accounted for 900 examples.

Design of the P-36 was conventional though it did promote several rather evolutionary features for its time including an enclosed cockpit and a powered, fully-retractable undercarriage. The engine was traditional mounted at the front of the fuselage and powered a three-blade propeller assembly. The fuselage was tubular and tapered at the rear. The wings were low-mounted and straight in their design with rounded wing tips. The cockpit was set above and behind the wing assemblies and offered up adequate views. The fuselage spine was raised, however, which made a clear view to the "six" nearly impossible. The canopy was also heavily framed in true 1930s fashion. The empennage consisted of a single, rounded vertical tail fin and applicable rounded horizontal planes. The undercarriage was conventional with two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a small tail wheel for ground maneuvering.

Basic armament was rather weak by comparison to other American warplanes of the war, consisting of a 1 x 0.50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine gun and 1 x 0.30 caliber M1919 Browning general purpose machine gun. Later production versions featured 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in the engine cowl synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. This was further supplemented by the addition of 2 or 4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in the wings. Still later production models were given provision for 2 x underwing drop bombs (100lbs each) or 3 x 50lb bombs or 5 x 30lb bombs allowing pilots to undertake strike missions with their fighter.

Power for the P-36A production model was provided for by a single Pratt & Whitney R-1830-17 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial piston engine of 1,050 horsepower. Radial piston engines in the war gave good performance while being able to withstand much more punishment than their sexier liquid-cooled brethren. Performance specifications included a top speed of 313 miles per hour with a range of 625 miles and a service ceiling of approximately 32,700 feet. Rate of climb was 3,400 feet per minute.

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Picture of Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)
Pic of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)
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Specifications for the
Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)
Fighter


Focus Model: Curtiss P-36G Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Curtiss - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1938
Production: 1,115


Crew: 1


Length: 28.51ft (8.69m)
Width: 37.01ft (11.28m)
Height: 9.25ft (2.82m)
Weight (Empty): 4,676lbs (2,121kg)
Weight (MTOW): 5,880lbs (2,667kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone piston radial engine developing 1,200 horsepower.


Maximum Speed: 322mph (518kmh; 280kts)
Maximum Range: 650miles (1,046km)
Service Ceiling: 32,349ft (9,860m; 6.1miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,500 feet per minute (762m/min)


Hardpoints: 2
Armament Suite:
ORIGINAL:
1 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun

ENHANCED:
2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in engine cowl.
2 to 6 x 0.30 caliber heavy machine guns in wings

EVALUATED:
2 x 23mm Madsen autocannons underwing

OPTIONAL:
Underwing drop bombs of various weights.


Variants:
P-36 Hawk - Base Series Designation


Model 75A - Curtiss company prototype used to test aerodynamics and various engine types.

Model 75B - Prototype fitted with Wright R-1820 radial piston engine.

Model 75D - Prototype fitted with Wright Whirlwind R-1670 radial piston engine.

Model 75I - Curtiss designation for P-37 model

Model 75H - Curtiss designation of simplified export models for China and Argentina.

Model 75J - Modified Model 75A fitted with supercharger for evaluation.

Model 75K - Proposed variant; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-2180 Twin Hornet radial piston engine.

Model 75P - P-40 Prototype; fitted with Allison V-1710 inline piston engine; based on P-36A production model.

Model 75R - Prototype fitted with R-1830-SC2-G turbo-supercharged engine.

Y1P-36 (Model 75E) - USAAC prototype fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine.

P-36A (Model 75L) - Initial USAAC production model.

P-36A-3 - Fitted 4 x 7.62mm machine guns in wings; nose armament retained.

P-36B - Modified from P-36A production model; fitted with R-1830-25 radial piston engine of 1,100 horsepower; single example tested and reverted back to P-36A standard.

P-36C - Fitted with R-1830-17 radial piston engine of 1,200 horsepower; additional 7.62mm machine gun added to each wing with corresponding ammunition packs fitted.

XP-36D - Prototype; based on P-36A; 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns fitted in engine cowling along with 4 x 7.62mm machine guns in wings.

XP-36E - Prototype; based on P-36A; 4 x 7.62mm machine guns added to wings; original nose armament retained.

XP-36F - Prototype; modified from P-36A production model; fitted with 2 x 23mm Madsen cannons in wings; reverted back to P-36A form after testing.

P-36G - Norwegian export designation; fitted with R-1820-G205A radial piston engine of 1,200 horsepower; operated in training in Canada before being sold to Peru.

Hawk 75 - French export designation

Hawk 75A-1 - Initial French production models; fitted with R-1830-SC-6 radial piston engine of 900 horsepower; 4 x 7.5mm machine guns; 100 examples produced.

Hawk 75A-2 - Fitted with R-1830-SC-G or R-1830-SC3-G of 1,050 horsepower; 6 x 7.5mm machine gun armament; 100 examples produced.

Hawk 75A-3 - Based on Hawk 75A-2; 135 examples produced.

Hawk 75A-4 - Based on Hawk 75A-2; fitted with Wright Cyclone radial piston engine of 1,200 horsepower; 285 examples produced with 81 of these sent to France, the rest to Britain following the Fall of France.

Hawk 75A-5 - Chinese license production variant; based on Hawk 75A-4; models overtaken by RAF.

Hawk 75A-6 - Norwegian export variant; confiscated by Germans after Fall of Norway, sold to allied Finland.

Hawk 75A-7 - Netherlands East Indies export variant; fitted with Cyclone radial piston engine of 1,200 horsepower; 3 x 7.7mm machine gun armament later upgraded to 4 x 7.7mm machine guns and provisions for light bomb load.

Hawk 75A-8 - Norwegian Export Variant; becoming the P-36G.

Hawk 75A-9 - Persian Export Variant; 10 examples delivered and confiscated by RAF; becoming Mohawk IV service marks.

Hawk 75M - Chinese Export Variant simplified with fixed undercarriage; local US and license Chinese production.

Hawk 75N - Siam Export Variant simplified with fixed undercarriage.

Hawk 75O - Argentina Export Variant simplified with fixed undercarriage; 50 examples produced locally in US and in Argentina.

Hawk 75Q - Simplified evaluation models for China; two examples produced.

XP-37 - Prototype fitted with Allison V-1710 inline piston engine; cockpit relocated to rear placement.

YP-37 - Evaluation model of the XP-37 prototype; 13 examples produced.

XP-42 (Model 75S) - Technology demonstrator

H75 - Alternative designation for French export models.

P-36 "Mohawk" - RAF Designation


Operators:
Argentina; Brazil; Canada; China, Finland; France; Vichy France; India; Iran; Nazi Germany; Netherlands East Indies; Peru; Portugal; Thailand; United Kingdom; United States