Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Written by Tom Jenkins On December - 14 - 2011 under Airplanes Comments Off on Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

One of the most appreciated planes in the second World War, in spite of the fact that it was almost never able to take on its counterparts amongst the enemy’s ranks. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is a derivation of P-36 designed by a veteran, Don Berlin, in nineteen thirty-four as a means for Curtiss Co. to regain the first rank amongst the United States manufacturers of fighter aircraft’s. Although it got off to a bad start, it was ordered in large quantities by Air Corps and foreign buyers.

When the new V-1710 liquid-cooled V-12 engine became available, Don Berlin modified the plane and thus created the XP-40. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk then received the biggest order ever for American fighters: five hundred and twenty-four units, for thirteen million dollars. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk stayed in production through nineteen forty-four and was built in sixteen thousand, eight hundred and two examples.

It had a wingspan of 37 feet and 4 inches, a length of 33 feet and 4 inches and a height of 12 feet and 4 inches, weighing eight thousand, eight hundred and fifty pounds and having an empty weight of six thousand pounds. Its top speed was three hundred and seventy-eight miles per hour and it had a range of two hundred and forty miles. It used six .50 inch browning machine guns and a five hundred pound bomb and only had one seat. Its early combat operations pointed to the need of more armor and self-sealing fuel tanks.

These improvements came with a price: crucial loss of performance due to extra weight, and the armor improvements did not stop there, nor did the fuel tank ones. In the model P-40E, two more guns were added. This version was the one used with great success by General Claire Chenault’s American Volunteer Group (The Flying Tigers).

It achieved its greatest fame by flying with Claire Chennault’s AVG in China. They used dive and zoom tactics, following Claire’s orders. They managed to defeat the Japanese who were mostly flying Nakajima Oscars. It performed tremendously in the Pacific, Alaska, Africa and Russia. Its capability to compete with the enemy fighters derived from the heavy firepower, ability to dive and strong construction. Don Berlin fulfilled his dream of reviving the company’s fortunes through Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, but this model was the last one to reach the state of production, a rather ironic end for an otherwise great company.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk Pictures Gallery

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