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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

United States (1941)
Picture of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft
Picture of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft Picture of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft
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The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter was used to good effect by Allied pilots during the early stages of World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Curtiss P-40 "Warhawk" series of fighter aircraft was a further development of the Curtiss P-36 "Hawk" line (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Warhawk became a legendary aircraft of the famous American Volunteer Group (AVG) fighting in China against the Japanese, earning themselves the nickname of "The Flying Tigers". Over the course of the war, the P-40 would be generally replaced by incoming improved types but she nonetheless remained one of the more important Allied fighters early in the World War 2 - used by the desperate Americans, British and Soviets alike. It was a pair of P-40s, piloted by American airmen George Welch and Ken Taylor, who were able to get airborne during the December 7th, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while Soviet pilots Nikolai Fyodorovich Kuznetsov, Petr Pokryshev and Stephan Novichkov all became aces flying their Lend-Lease P-40s. The P-40 was a good. solid gunnery platform for its time, limited to an extent by production numbers and demand of the wartime economy. Eventually technological developments found in incoming fighter lines like the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair pushed the P-40 past its usefulness and strengths.

Some 13,738 P-40s were produced from 1939 into 1944. Operators included Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (Taiwan), Egypt, Finland, France, Indonesia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Some fell to Imperial Japanese forces and were reconstituted to fight for their new owners.

Not an overly exceptional aircraft in any one category, the P-40 Warhawk could be a deadly fighting machine in trained hands. She fielded a formidable armament of 4 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns (with up to 200 to 235 rounds per gun) in her nose and wings. This would later be complemented by the airframe's ability to carry a modest bombload in an attempt to increase the workhorse's workload in war. Warhawks were fitted with a liquid-cooled in-line piston engine at the head of their design, a departure from the more popular air-cooled radials seen in many fighter types of the period (including the P-36 Hawk). The engine consisted of an Allison V12 providing over 1,000 horsepower.

Though the French Air Force had placed orders for the P-40 at the outset of the war, the eventual Fall of France forced the order to be diverted to Britain where it was promptly redesignated as the "Tomahawk". British versions installed the readily-available .303 machine gun in place of the 0.50 caliber types. Some Tomahawk models would eventually end up in the hands of the American Volunteer Group in China which, in turn, offered up an increasing amount of aerial victories against marauding Japanese fighters and bombers. Initial P-40 models included te P-40B and P-40C as well as the Tomahawk I, Tomahawk IIA and Tomahawk IIB. These served from 1941 into 1943 and primarily over North Africa, China/Burma/India, the Philippines and Pearl Harbor. Soviet units operated over the East Front as well as over Finland during the "Continuation War". P-40B models introduced some cockpit and fuel tank armoring while the C-model had an all-armored fuel system which reduced its speed.


Picture of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft
Picture of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft


Further improvements to the P-40 line produced the "D" model which raised performance specifications of the Allison piston engine. By this time, armament had increased to 6 x 12.7mm machine guns and the addition of an optional undercarriage bomb rack that allowed for the provision of a single 500lb bomb adding to the versatility of the aircraft. The engine cowling was revised some. On top of the diverted French Warhawks/Tomahawks, the British also ordered their own P-40D models and assigned the name of "Kittyhawk" to these. The notable follow-up marks, therefore, included the P-40D, P-40E, Kittyhawk Mk 1 and Kittyhawk Mk Ia. These served from 1942 into 1943 and fought over New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Kokoda, Milne Bay, Darwin, North Africa and over China.

From 1942 to 1942, the P-40K, P-40M and Kittyhawk Mk III all made their appearance in the war. The K-model had a revised, larger-area tail fin while M-models saw lengthened tail units altogether. These served over Guadalcanal, Kokoda, Milne Bay and Darwin.

The P-40F, P-40L, Kittyhawk Mk II and Kittyhawk Mk IIa introduced the Packard-Merlin engine and lost their top-mounted engine intakes. Armament varied some across the new marks and some featured lengthened fuselages. These airframes operated over North Africa, the Mediterranean Sea and across the Pacific Theater during 1943 with American and Free French air forces.

The P-40N, Kittyhawk Mk IV and Warhawk lines appeared from 1943 to 1944 over the Mediterranean and South West Pacific theaters of war. These featured a revised rear cockpit section promising improved situational awareness. A lengthened fuselage promoted more internal volume as well as stability. Some versions lacked the wing guns to save weight.

By this in the war, the Warhawk line was increasingly out-classed by newer generation enemy fighters. Regardless, the Warhawk - in all its varied forms, continued to find success wherever it was fielded up to the closing weeks of the conflict, solidifying her place as one of the classic American fighters of World War 2.




Cockpit picture from the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Cockpit Picture


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (378mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Curtiss P-40N / Kittyhawk IV's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
16800
16800


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1941
Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter-Bomber / Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss-Wright Corporation - USA
Production: 16,800
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; Egypt; Finland; France; Indonesia; Japan; Netherlands; New Zealand; Poland; South Africa; Soviet Union; Turkey; United Kingdom; United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Curtiss P-40N / Kittyhawk IV model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
33.46 ft


Meters
10.2 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
37.47 ft


Meters
11.42 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
12.37 ft


Meters
3.77 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
6,005 lb


Kilograms
2,724 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
8,858 lb


Kilograms
4,018 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Allison V-1710-81 in-line piston engine developing 1,360 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
378 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
609 kph


Knots
329 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
240 mi


Kilometers
386 km


Nautical Miles
208 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
38,156 ft


Meters
11,630 m


Miles
7.23 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,142 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
653 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (3):

STANDARD:
6 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns OR 6 x 0.303 caliber machine guns.

OPTIONAL (Model Dependent):
Up to 2,000lb of external ordnance across three hardpoints (one underfuselage and two underwing).
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Model 75I - Prototype Base Model derived from XP-37A airframe fitted with Allison 1,150hp V-1710-11 inline engine.
• P-40 - United States Army Air Corps production version fitted with V-1710-33 powerplant.
• Hawk 81-A1 - Export model for French use.
• P-40B - Improved model featuring improved armor and armament with seal-sealing fuel tanks.
• P-40C - Additional 2 x 12.7mm machine guns added to wings; improved seal-sealing fuel tanks.
• P-40D - Fitted with V-1710-39 generating 1,150hp; increase performance at high altitude; improved supercharger.
• P-40E - Only 4 x 12.7mm machine guns in wings.
• P-40F - Improved supercharger.
• P-40L - Similar to the P-40F with improved supercharger and 1,300hp Packard V-1650-1 (license-built 1,300hp Rolls-Royce Merlin) powerplant.
• P-40K - Based on the P-40E model with V-1710-33 powerplant.
• P-40M - Fitted with V-1710-71 powerplant.
• P-40N - Fitted with V-1710-81 OR V1710-99 OR V1710-115 powerplants; improved performance capabilities; decreased overall weight.
• Tomahawk Mk I - Export model for British use.
• Tomahawk Mk IIA - British export model of the P-40B.
• Tomahawk Mk IIIB - British export model of the P-40C.
• Kittyhawk Mk I - British export version of the P-40D.
• Kittyhawk Mk IA - British export version of the P-40E with 6 x 12.7mm machine guns in wings.
• Kittyhawk Mk II - British export version based on the P-40L with 1,300hp Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
• Kittyhawk Mk III - British export version based on the P-40K.
• Kittyhawk Mk IV - British export version based on the P-40N.