Curtiss XP-40Q (Warhawk) Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype
The Curtiss XP-40Q became the fastest of the Warhawk fighter line but still could not match the capabilities of competitors during World War 2.
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As important as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter series was to the Allied cause in the early-going of World War 2 (1939-1945), it nonetheless held roots in the pre-war period. As such, it was quickly becoming outpaced by more modern wartime developments that were driven by practical combat experience. Curtiss attempted several programs to evolve their P-40 product along but all failed in the end. The XP-40Q was one such attempt and this work was intended as an ultimate incarnation of the P-40 but it, too, failed to see adoption as it was still an outmoded design when compared to contemporaries like the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang fighters.
The XP-40Q began in offshoot projects like the Model 87X and the XP-40N of 1943 and each incorporated several modern changes to keep the machine a viable gunnery platform for the foreseeable future. The Model 87X evolved to become the XP-40Q and this endeavor involved a pair of P-40K airframes and a single P-40N.
The first P-40K aircraft was outfitted with an Allison V-1710-121 rated at 1,425 horsepower output and held its cooling intakes at the wings. The engine cowling was redesigned as a much closer-fitting cover to encourage aerodynamic efficiency. All other qualities of the fighter were still rooted in the original P-40 which only worked against the design. This prototype was designated simply as "XP-40Q".
The second P-40K had the cooling intakes replaced by a more traditional, small-area chin scoop and was completed with a more useful bubble-style canopy. The bubble canopy allowed the rear dorsal section of the fuselage to be cut-down for streamlining and as a weight-savings measure. A section of bulletproof glass was mounted inside the curved windscreen for pilot protection. The supercharged engine featured water injection for additional war power output and drove a four-bladed propeller unit over the original's three-bladed unit. This prototype became "XP-40Q-1" in the lineup.