|Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk|
The P-40 retained the structure of the Curtiss P-36/H-75 Hawk, the Allison V12 replacing the Pratt & Whitney
Twin Wasp radial engine.
- Role: single-seat fighter
- Conception: Donovan Reese Berlin, for Curtiss Wright Corporation
- First flight of prototype: Model 75 prototype: May 1935; XP-40: October 14th, 1938
The P-40 was used by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia,
Egypt, Finland, France, Great-Britain, Iraq, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Peru,
Portugal, South Africa, Turkey, USA and USSR !
The only American fighters built in larger numbers than the P-40 are the
P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang.
- The XP-40 prototype first flew on October 14th, 1938. Powered by a 1,050 hp
Allison V-1710-19 liquid-cooled engine with integral supercharging, it could reach 550 km/h (342 mph)
at 3,720 m (12,200 feet).
|The XP-40 prototype|
- The P-40 delivery to the USAAC (200 planes) started in June of 1940. Powered by the 1,040 hp
V-1710-33, it could fly at 575 km/h (357 mph), and was armed by two cowl-mounted 12.7mm (.50 cal)
and two wing-mounted 7.7mm (.30 cal) guns.
The 140 planes ordered by France were taken over after June 1940 by the
RAF under the name Tomahawk I.
- The P-40B had an extra 7.7mm machine gun in each wing. 131 were ordered by the USAAC,
and 110 by the RAF as the Tomahawk IIA.
Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk
Allison V-1710-33 liquid-cooled V12
empty: 2,536 kg (5,590 lb) - with full load: 3,450 kg (7,600 lb)
Two cowl-mounted 12.7mm (.50 cal) and
four wing-mounted 7.7 mm (.30 cal) guns
Max speed: 566 km/h (352 mph)
Ceiling: 9,875 m (32,400 ft)
- The P-40C had bigger and self-sealing fuel tanks, an improved radio, and was able to carry a drop tank.
193 were buit for the USAAC and 930 for the RAF as the Tomahawk IIB.
100 of the RAF Tomahawk IIs were transferred to China where
they were used by the American Volunteer Group - the famous "Flying Tigers". Some others were sent
to Turkey and USSR; it was the first American fighter to be operated in USSR.
The Tomahawk IIs were active in the Middle East from October of 1941 onward.
- The P-40D was powered by the 1,150 hp V-1710-39 engine, which required large modifications to the
cowling design: the nose of the new fighter was shorter, and the chin radiator was bigger and moved forward.
The plane was armed by four wing-mounted 12.7mm (.50 cal) machine guns; only 22 were built for the USAAC,
the RAF ordered it as the Kittyhawk I.
- The P-40E only differed from the P-40D by its better armament: six wing-mounted 12.7mm (.50 cal) machine guns.
1,500 were supplied to Britain as the Kittyhawk IA.
Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk
Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled V12
empty: 2,880 kg (6,350 lb) - with full load: 4,173 kg (9,200 lb)
Six wing-mounted 12.7 mm (.50 cal) machine guns
Max speed: 583 km/h (362 mph)
Ceiling: 8,840 m (29,000 ft)
Kittyhawk Is and IAs became operational with the RAF in North Africa on January 1, 1942.
Thirty P-40Es were delivered to the Flying Tigers in China in March of 1942.
- Another engine change for the P-40: the P-40F Warhawk was powered by a 1,300 hp Packard-built
Merlin V-1650-1 liquid-cooled V12. It was called Kittyhawk II by the RAF.
- The P-40K, delivered from August of 1942, was again fitted with an Allison engine:
the 1,325 hp Allison V-1710-73.
Most of the P-40Ks served with the US forces in Asia and the Pacific and under Lend-Lease with the Chinese Air Force
- The P-40L was a light-weight evolution of the Merlin-powered P-40F: it had smaller fuel tanks, less equipment
and most had a reduced armament of four 12.7 mm (.50 cal) guns.
- The Allison-powered P-40M, flying in November of 1942 with a 1,200 hp engine, was made for export:
it went to the Commonwealth forces as the Kittyhawk III.
- The P-40N, or Kittyhawk IV for the RAF, had a new lighter structure, lighter wheels, and only retained four 12.7 mm (.50 cal) guns.
With 5,220 planes, this is the version that was most widely built, entering service in March of 1943.
The last production Warhawk was a P-40N which left the assembly line on November 30, 1944, being the 13,738th P-40 built.
- The P-40Q prototype was the result of a complete redesign of the P-40; however it had no advantage over the
P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang, and the
project was cancelled.
Stof's notes about this plane in iMOL's WarBirds
The opinions expressed below are only my own, and nothing more...
The P-40 is a decent early war fighter. Availability of the P-40 isn't a big deal for "general arena"
players, but it offers us great opportunities for history-based
- The P-40E has strong firepower (6 x .50cal guns), and handles surprisingly good
at high speeds for such an "old" design.
- With no particular defect and being quite easy to fly, it should be a winner in scenarios
restricted to early war planes.
- The P-40 is not powerful enough to fight efficiently against anything but other early
Back to Stof's Plane Info Center
Back to Stof's "Virtual Flying" Page.
Send comments/suggestions to
Copyright ©: Christophe "stof" Arribat - last update:
(Color photo from the Internet, b&w photo from "Le fana de l'Aviation")