Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
P-40 Warhawk
Tomahawk / Kittyhawk
A Hawk 87A-3 (Kittyhawk Mk IA) serial number AK987, in a USAAF 23d Fighter Group (the former "Flying Tigers") paint scheme, at the National Museum of the USAF.
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Buffalo, New York
Designer Donovan Berlin
First flight 14 October 1938[1]
Retired 1958: FAB (Brazil)
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Many others
Produced 1939–1944
Buffalo, New York
Number built 13,738
Unit cost US$44,892 in 1944[2]
Developed from Curtiss P-36 Hawk
Variants Curtiss XP-46

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by the air forces of 28 nations, including those of most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built,[3] all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

P-40s first saw combat with the British Commonwealth squadrons of the Desert Air Force (DAF) in the Middle East and North African campaigns, during June 1941.[4][5] The Royal Air Force's No. 112 Squadron was among the first to operate Tomahawks, in North Africa, and the unit was the first to feature the "shark mouth" logo,[6] copying similar markings on some Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighters.[6] [N 1]

The P-40's lack of a two-stage supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. Between 1941 and 1944, however, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific and China. It also had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy. The P-40's performance at high altitudes was not as critical in those theaters, where it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort and fighter bomber. Although it gained a post-war reputation as a mediocre design, suitable only for close air support, more recent research including scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons indicates that the P-40 performed surprisingly well as an air superiority fighter, at times suffering severe losses, but also taking a very heavy toll on enemy aircraft.[8] The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack fighter long after it was obsolete in the air superiority role. As of 2008, 19 P-40s were airworthy.[9]


Design and development

The P-40 was never an advanced fighter design. Its initial inadequacies, in the form of low firepower and lack of self-sealing fuel tanks or armor, were a consequence of mid-1930s US tactical concepts. The P-40 was developed basically as a low-altitude close-support fighter, suited for low-level ground support operations more than for high-altitude interceptions. At that time USAAC doctrine assumed that the prospect of high-altitude enemy air attack on the USA was extremely remote, with coastal defense and ground attack in the defense of US territory being seen as the main tasks for any future fighter aircraft. Most US Army officials assumed that the bombers would always get through and saw only a limited requirement for a high-altitude interceptor.

The P-40 was a sound design; it had above-average maneuverability, though less agile than Japanese fighters. The P-40's design focus in solid construction and structural integrity allowed to use dive speed and succesfully in hit-and-run combat tactics and also proved an amazing ability to absorb punishment. The P-40's armament was accurate and had good range; its six .50s or two .50s and four .30s packed enough punch.

The main flaw was its climb speed, inferior to many other types of World War II fighters. The service ceiling was comparatively low, rearward vision was limited and P-40 suffered from bad stall characteristics. The P-40's only way to survive was to stay around 15,000 feet as the higher a P-40 went the more its performance dropped. With experienced pilots,taught to avoid these problems, the P-40's shortcomings could be overcome with relative ease.

Curtiss P-36 (Model 75) fighter

The origin of the P-40 can be traced back to the Curtiss P-36 (Model 75) fighter, which was powered by a radial, air-cooled engine. A step in the direction toward what was eventually to emerge as the P-40 was the XP-37, in which the P-36 design was reworked to incorporate the Allison V-1710 liquid cooled V-type engine and a General Electric turbosupercharger, featuring a cockpit pushed far to the rear. Thirteen YP-37 service-test aircraft were built, but problems with the turbosupercharger caused the development of the P-37 to be abandoned in favor of a less complex and more straightforward conversion of the P-36 for the Allison V-1710 engine.

Realizing that the radial-engined P-36A was at the limit of its development, Curtiss designer Donovan Berlin got USAAC permission in July 1937 to install a 1150 hp Allison V-1710-19 liquid-cooled engine with integral supercharging in the P-36 airframe.

The USAAC had realized it was behind its European rivals and approved a project to find a fighter capable of matching European standards. This project was given the designation of Model 75P by Curtiss, and the USAAC gave the project a new fighter designation, XP-40. There was a considerable workload to adapt the P-36 airframe to the liquid-cooled Allison. Unlike in the XP-37, the cockpit remained in the same location as in the P-36. The XP-40 was actually the 10th production Curtiss P-36 Hawk.[10] The first prototype placed the glycol coolant radiator in an under belly position on the fighter, just aft of the wing's trailing edge.[11]


An XP-40, 11 MD, which was used for test purposes by the Materiel Division of the U.S. Army Air Corps

On 14 October 1938, Curtiss test pilot Edward Elliott flew the prototype XP-40, on its first flight in Buffalo. [12] USAAC Fighter Projects Officer Lieutenant Benjamin S. Kelsey flew this prototype some 300 miles in 57 minutes, approximately 315 miles per hour (507 km/h). Hiding his disappointment, he told reporters that future versions would likely go 100 mph faster.[13] Kelsey was interested in the Allison engine because it was sturdy and dependable, and it had a smooth, predictable power curve. The V-12 engine offered as much power as a radial engine but had a smaller frontal area and allowed a more streamlined cowl than an aircraft with radial engines, promising a theoretical 5% increase in top speed.[14]

Curtiss engineers worked to improve the XP-40's speed by moving the radiator forward in steps. Seeing little gain, Kelsey ordered the aircraft to be evaluated in a NACA wind tunnel to identify solutions for better aerodynamic qualities. From 28 March to 11 April 1939, the prototype was studied by NACA.[15] Based on the data obtained, Curtiss moved the glycol coolant radiator forward to the chin; its new air scoop also accommodated the oil cooler air intake. Other improvements to the landing gear doors and the exhaust manifold combined to give performance that was satisfactory to the USAAC.[11] Without beneficial tail winds, Kelsey flew the XP-40 from Wright Field back to Curtiss's plant in Buffalo at an average speed of 354 mph (570 km/h).[N 2] Further tests in December 1939 proved the fighter could reach 366 mph (589 km/h).[17]

An unusual production feature was a special truck rig to speed delivery at the main Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York. The rig moved the newly built P-40s in two main components, the main wing and the fuselage, the eight miles from the plant to the airport where the two units were mated for flight and delivery.[18]


In the late 1930s, the USAAC started planning to expand its force, and on January 25, 1939. manufacturers were invited to submit proposals for pursuit aircraft. The Army was still thinking in terms of low-altitude, short-range fighters. Among the contenders were the Lockheed XP-38, the Bell XP-39, the Seversky/Republic XP-41 (AP-2) and XP-43 (AP-4), and no less than three planes from Curtiss, the H75R, XP-37, and XP-42.

Although the XP-40 could not match the performance, especially at altitude, of the turbosupercharged types, it was less expensive and could reach quantity production fully a year ahead of the other machines. In addition, the XP-40 was based on a already-proven airframe that had been in production for some years. Consequently, on April 26, 1939, the Army adopted a conservative approach and ordered 524 production versions under the designation P-40 (Curtiss Model 81). At that time, it was the largest-ever production order for any US fighter, and dwarfed the service test orders placed that same day for YP-38 and YP-39 fighters. A couple of weeks later, 13 YP-43s were also ordered.

The P-40 was similar to the final XP-40 configuration except for the use of 1040 hp engines. The armament was the standard USAAC armament of two 0.50-inch machine guns, mounted in the upper nose and synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. Provisions were made for the mounting of one 0.30-inch machine gun in each wing. Flush riveting was used to reduce drag. Armor, bulletproof windshields, and leakproof fuel tanks were not initially fitted, but were later added to the aircraft while it was in in service. The P-40 was a relatively clean design, and was unusual for the time in having a fully retractable tailwheel.

Deliveries of the P-40 to US Army units began in June of 1940. The first USAAC units to operate the P-40 were the 33rd, 35th and 36th Pursuit Squadrons of the 8th Pursuit Group, based at Langley Field, Virginia. It was soon followed by the 55th, 77th, and 79th Pursuit squadrons of the 20th Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and the 21th, 34th, and 70th Pursuit Squadrons of the 35th Pursuit group which trained on P-40s prior to being issued with P-39s.

Foreign air forces were beginning to take notice of the P-40, and in May of 1940, the Armee de l'Air of France placed an order for 140 H-81As (export model of the P-40).

Only 200 of the initial P-40 order were actually completed as P-40s. In September 1940 the remaining aircraft of the initial order had their delivery cancelled to enable Curtiss to deliver the 140 French-ordered H-81As. The first export aircraft had actually been completed in French markings in April of 1940. However the contract was taken over by the Royal Air Force as Tomahawk I. Sixteen 16 P-40 Tomahawk I were sent to the Soviet Union after the German invasion.

The P-40 lacked armor for the pilot, self-sealing fuel tanks, and a bulletproof windshield, so it was not considered as being suitable for combat. On October 22, 1942, those P-40s still in USAAF service were ordered restricted from combat duty and were redesignated RP-40.

Early War P-40s (P-40B and P-40C)

In September 1940, 131 P-40Bs were procured by the US Army to replace the casncelled P-40s The P-40B (Model H81-B) differed from the P-40 in having an extra 0.30-inch machine gun in each wing, bringing the total to four 0.30-inch guns in the wings. The two 0.50-inch guns in the fuselage were retained. The engine was still the V-1710-33. The P-40B retained the same dimensions of the P-40, but weight was increased and the P-40B had an inferior performance to the P-40.

The export equivalent of the P-40B was the Tomahawk IIA (Model H81-A2). They differed from the American version by having the wing guns replaced by four 0.303-inch Brownings. 110 were produced for the RAF (23 of these planes were transferred to the USSR).

The P-40C retained the 1150 hp Allison engine, but was fitted with a new fuel system with 134 gallons in improved self sealing tanks. In addition, provision was made for a 52-gallon drop tank carried below the fuselage. This meant weight was increased. The RAF equivalent version of the P-40C was the Tomahawk IIB and were used by the RAF and South African Air Force in North Africa.

During 1941 many P-40Bs and Cs were shipped to USAAC bases overseas. This inclided the 15th and 18th Pursuit Groups at Wheeler Field, Hawaii and the 20th Pursuit Squadron of the 24th Pursuit Group at Clark Field in the Philippines. In addition, a dozen P-40Cs were delivered to the 18th Pursuit Group's 44th Pursuit Squadron at Bellows Field, Hawaii. At the end of the Pearl Harbor attack, only 25 Hawaiian based P-40s remained airworthy.

Tomahawk versions

The first Tomahawk Is reached England in September of 1940.The RAF quickly realized that the planes were not suitable for combat (they lacked armor protection for the pilot, armor-glass windshields or self-sealing fuel tanks). But as the risk of a German invasion existed they were actually issued to operational squadrons, as a reserve force in anticipation of the German invasion which never came. Later Tomahawk Is were used only for training roles in Britain.

Tomahawk II was an improved export Tomahawk, better equipped for combat. The Tomahawk IIB had four 0.303-inch Browning machine guns in the wings in addition to the two nose-mounted 0.50-in guns. The British did not like the externally sealed tanks of the Tomahawk IIA, so these were replaced by internally-sealed tanks on the Tomahawk IIB. As the RAF disliked the externally sealed tanks of the Tomahawk IIA these were replaced by internally-sealed tanks in the Tomahawk IIB.

After the German invasion RAF Tomahawk IIBs were shipped to the USSRR. ussian Tomahawks went into action on the Moscow and Leningrad fronts in October 1941, and were the first US-built planes to be used by the Russians in the new battle area. Some Tomahawk IIBs were sent to bolster Turkish neutrality in November 1941.

In North Africa the first Desert Air Force squadron to be equipped with Tomahawks was No. 112 which became famous for its "shark's tooth" insignia on the engine cowling. The Tomahawk IIs were fighting in the Middle East from October of 1941 onward. They served with RAF, SAAF and RAAF squadrons. They strafed and bombed German tanks, trucks troops, and regularly mixed it up with bombers and the Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Bf-110 fighters. Tomahawk IIs held its own against its German enemies and were considered by both the British and Germans to be superior to the Hawker Hurricane. In fact, in an effort to reduce losses for No. 33 squadron, its obsolescent Hurricanes were replaced with P-40 Tomahawk II.

In dogfight at low altitude the Tomahawk II was actually superior to the Bf-109, but this advantage rapidly disappeared when combat took place at altitudes above 15000 feet. The weight which handicapped the performance of the Tomahawk did have one tangible benefit, as the structure could absorb a terrific amount of battle damage and still allow the airplane to return to base. Although generally outclassed by the Bf109, the Tomahawk was a capable fighter in the hands of veteran pilots, as proved by Wing Commander Clive Caldwell of who scored more than twenty victories while flying a Tomahawk. However, much of the opposition to the Tomahawk was provided by obsolescent fighter biplanes (e.g. Fiat CR-42) and underpowered, lightly armed fighter monoplanes such as the Fiat G-50 of the Regia Aeronautica. It had difficulty with the more advanced Macchi C-202 Folgore.

Some Tomahawk planes were supplied to the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the Flying Tigers. Due to the urgency of the situation, the RAF agreed to deliver 100 of the Tomahawk IIBs to China in exchange for later model Kittyhawk Is. The fighter the Tomahawks encountered over China was the Nakajima Ki43 Hayabusa, Japanese army fighter. The most effective tactic against the Japanese planes was a diving pass followed by a rapid exit from the scene. The Tomahawk gained a reputation for ruggedness which enabled many an AVG pilot to return safely home after his plane was damaged in combat. The stress of combat and lack of spares tooktheir toll, and in March of 1942 only 20 Curtiss machines were serviceable.

A Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, at the Geneseo Airshow, 2006
File:File:76 Sqn RAAF Kittyhawk Kiriwina Jan 1944.jpg
A No.76 Squadron RAAF P-40 Kittyhawk undergoing maintenance at Kiriwina in January 1944.
This Curtiss P-40N-15 Kittyhawk, "Black Magic" (code name "HU-E") serial A29-575 (US 42-106386), flown by No. 78 Squadron RAAF. F/L Denis Baker scored the RAAF's last aerial victory of the New Guinea campaign in this plane, on June 10, 1944.
Vella Lavella airfield in the solomons on 10 December 1943. Visible U.S. Marine Corps and RNZAF Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.IV (P-40F).

Kittyhawk versions

In May 1941, the production lines at Curtiss were busy with the new P-40D model. The P-40D introduced a new engine of 1150 hp and a new shorter nose design that was retained by all subsequent P-40s. Some 175 pounds of armor were added. The fuselage guns were deleted, and two 0.50-inch machine guns with new hydraulic chargers were installed in each wing. There were additional provisions in the wings for two 20-mm cannon, but these were never actually used. Shackles were added under the belly to accommodate a 51-gallon auxiliary fuel tank or a 500-pound bomb. Wing rack attachment points were provided for six 20-pound bombs. Gross weight of the D model was increased to 8670 pounds and the climb rate and ceiling consequently continued to remain poor.

Even before the first P-40D had been built, the RAF ordered 560 examples in May of 1940 naming them Kittyhawk I. The US P-40D started production in September of 1940, 5 months after the RAF had ordered the Kittyhawk I. Many of the 1500 Kittyhawk IAs were diverted to Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

In February 1941 USAAF decided to increase the armament to six guns in the wings, and subsequent aircraft equipped with this armament were designated P-40E in the USAAF or Kittyhawk IA in the RAF. The P-40E was powered by one 1150 hp engine. In 1941 an experimental P-40D was fitted with a 1300 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin engine resulting in the P-40F version.

150 P-40Fs were supplied to the RAF but few actually served with the RAF. Some were were returned to the USAAF for use in North Africa, some others lost at sea before reaching the RAF, some others transferred to Free French and Soviet Air Forces.

Kittyhawk II and Warhawk versions

Despite the success of the Merlin engine in the Warhawk, parallel production of the Allison-powered version continued owing to the limited supplies of the license-built British engine. The P-40K series used a more powerful Allison engine with automatic boost control. Its range was 350 miles with a 500-pound bomb attached.

In October 1941, 600 P-40Ks were ordered for Lend-Lease supply to China and first P-40K model rolled off the production line in August 1942. Most of the 1.300 P-40Ks served with the US forces in Asia and the Pacific and with the Chinese Air Force. The US delivered 42 P-40K to the RAAF and 25 to Brazil.

In order to improve the Merlin-powered P-40s performance in short-range combat, the P-40L version was created. It was basically a P-40F in which 250 pounds of weight was saved by the partial removal of fuel, armament, and other equipment but the maximum speed of the P-40L was a only 4 mph greater than that of the P-40F at rated altitude. The RAF received 100 P-40Ls as Kittyhawk II.

Kittyhawk III and Warhawk versions

In 1943, the scarcity of Packard Merlin engines necessitated that the 1200 hp Allison engine be reintroduced yet again into the new P-40M version production line. The P-40M was essentially similar to the P-40K with a cooling grill forward of the exhaust stubs. Most of P-40M went to the RAF (264 planes), the RAAF (168), and the RNZAF (34) as the Kittyhawk III. The Kittyhawk III also served with British Commonwealth forces in the Far East. A nsmall umber were operated in Italy by No. 5 Squadron of the SAAF. Brazil received 19 P-40M.

Kittyhawk IV and Warhawk versions

By the summer of 1943, the performance of the P-40 Warhawk was leaving so much to be desired, especially when compared to the later types of US fighters which were beginning to come into service. The P-40N version was introduced in an effort to improve the capabilities of the basic design and avoid interrupting Curtiss production lines by having the company introduce an entirely new type.

A new lightweight structure was introduced, two of the six wing-mounted guns were removed, smaller and lighter undercarriage wheels were installed, head armor was reintroduced, and aluminum radiators and oil coolers were installed. The resulting reduction in the weight, along with the use of the same engine as used in the P-40M, made the P-40N the fastest of the P-40 series. Even though by 1943 standards the Warhawk was obsolescent the P-40N version became the version that was most widely built. There were several production blocks of the P-40N, which differed from each other. The P-40N was known as Kittyhawk IV in RAF service.

The first 1500 examples of this new version were to have been delivered as P-40Ps powered by Merlin engines, but shortages of the Packard-built Merlin caused this order to be cancelled and the P-40N with the 1200 hp Allison engine to be substituted in its place. The last production Warhawk was a P-40N which left the assembly line on November 30, 1944, being the 13739th P-40 built.

Many of the P-40Ns were shipped to Allied air forces, and comprised the main part of the 2097 P-40s sent to the USSR, but they were not very popular with the Russians, who considered them incapable of absorbing as much battle damage as the P-39 Airacobra.

Most of the Kittyhawk IVs operated in the South-West Pacific campaigns as low-altitude fighter and ground attack aircraft, flown by RAF (586), RAAF (468 ), and RNZAF (172). Most of these Kittyhawk IVs were phased out of service early in 1945, but one RAF squadron and three RAAF squadrons continued to fly the Kittyhawk IV until the end of the war.

In USAAF service, the P-40N was relegated largely to training roles, as modern types of fighters such as the P-51 Mustang or the P-47 Thunderbolt became increasingly available in quantity. 41 P-40Ns were supplied to Brazil, where some served until 1958. An unspecified number were delivered to the Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Corps. They flew them against the Japanese in the latter stages of the war, then against the nationalist rebels in Indonesia until February of 1949.

Performance characteristics

A three-quarter view of a P-40B, X-804 (39-184) in flight. This aircraft served with an advanced training unit at Luke Field, Arizona.

The P-40 had good agility, especially at high speed and medium to low altitude. It was one of the tightest-turning monoplane fighters of the war,[19] although at lower speeds it could not out-turn the extremely maneuverable Japanese fighters such as the A6M Zero and Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar".[8]

Allison V-1710 engines produced about 1,040 hp (780 kW) at sea level and at 14,000 ft (4,300 m): not powerful by the standards of the time and the early P-40 variants' top speeds were unimpressive. Also, the single-stage, single-speed supercharger meant that the P-40 could not compete with contemporary designs as a high altitude fighter. Later versions, with 1,200 hp (890 kW) Allisons or Packard Merlin engines were more capable. Climb performance was fair to poor, depending on the subtype.[8] Dive acceleration was good and dive speed was excellent.[8] The highest-scoring P-40 ace, Clive Caldwell (RAAF), who claimed 22 of his 28½ kills in the type, said that the P-40 had "almost no vices", although "it was a little difficult to control in terminal velocity".[20] Caldwell added that the P-40 was "faster downhill than almost any other aeroplane with a propeller."

The P-40 tolerated harsh conditions in the widest possible variety of climates. It was a semi-modular design and thus easy to maintain in the field. It lacked innovations of the time, such as boosted ailerons or automatic leading edge slats, but it had a strong structure including a five-spar wing, which enabled P-40s to survive some midair collisions: both accidental impacts and intentional ramming attacks against enemy aircraft were occasionally recorded as victories by the Desert Air Force and Soviet Air Forces.[21] Caldwell said P-40s "would take a tremendous amount of punishment, violent aerobatics as well as enemy action."[22] Operational range was good by early war standards, and was almost double that of the Supermarine Spitfire or Messerschmitt Bf 109, although it was inferior to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Nakajima Ki-43 and Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

Evidence of the P-40's durability: in 1944 F/O T. R. Jacklin (pictured) flew this No. 75 Squadron RAAF P-40N-5 more than 200 mi (322 km) after the loss of the port aileron and 25% of its wing area, to a direct hit from an artillery shell. [N 3]

Caldwell found the P-40C Tomahawk's armament of two .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns firing through the prop and two .303 Browning machine guns in each wing to be inadequate.[22] This was rectified with the P-40E Kittyhawk, which had three .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each wing, although Caldwell preferred the Tomahawk in other respects. It had armour around the engine and the cockpit, which enabled it to withstand considerable damage. This was one of the characteristics that allowed Allied pilots in Asia and the Pacific to attack Japanese fighters head on, rather than try to out-turn and out-climb their opponents. Late-model P-40s were regarded as well armored. Visibility was adequate, although hampered by an overly complex windscreen frame, and completely blocked to the rear in early models due to the raised turtledeck. Poor ground visibility and the relatively narrow landing gear track led to many losses due to accidents on the ground.[8]

Operational history

In April 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corps, witnessing the new sleek, high speed, in-line-engined fighters of the European air forces, placed the largest single fighter order it had ever made for fighters: 524 P-40s.

French Air Force

An early order came from the French Armée de l'Air, which was already operating P-36s. The Armée de l'Air ordered 140 as the Hawk 81A-1 but the French military had been defeated before the aircraft had left the factory, consequently, the aircraft were diverted to British and Commonwealth service (as the Tomahawk I), in some cases complete with metric flight instruments.

In late 1942, as French forces in North Africa split from the Vichy government to side with the Allies, U.S. forces transferred P-40Fs from 33rd FG to the GC II/5, a squadron that was historically associated with the Lafayette Escadrille. GC II/5 used its P-40Fs and Ls in combat in Tunisia and, later, for patrol duty off the Mediterranean coast until mid-1944 when they were replaced by Republic Thunderbolt P-47Ds.

12 Curtiss P-40F Warhawk fighters on 9 January 1943 in Casablanca during a ceremony which officially transferred these former USAAF 33rd Fighter Group P-40s to the French in North Africa. Actually, these aircraft had been handed over to the Armee de l'Air on 25 November 1942. The recceiving French unit was Groupe de Chasse GC II/5,

British Commonwealth units in Mediterranean and European theatres

Armourers working on a Tomahawk from No. 3 Squadron RAAF in North Africa, 23 December 1941


In all, 18 Royal Air Force (RAF) squadrons, as well as four Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), three South African Air Force (SAAF), and two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons serving with RAF formations, used P-40s.[23][24]

The first units to convert were Hawker Hurricane squadrons of the Desert Air Force (DAF), in early 1941. The first Tomahawks delivered came without armor, bulletproof windscreens or self-sealing fuel tanks. These were installed in subsequent shipments. Pilots used to British-designed fighters sometimes found it difficult to adapt to the P-40's rear-folding undercarriage, which was more prone to collapse than the lateral-folding landing gear found on the Hawker Hurricane or Supermarine Spitfire. In contrast to the "three-point landing" commonly employed with British types, P-40 pilots were obliged to use a "wheels landing": a longer, low angle approach that touched down on the main wheels first.

Testing showed the aircraft did not have adequate performance for use in Northwest Europe in high-altitude combat due to the effective service ceiling limitation. Spitfires used in the theater operated at heights around 30,000 ft (9,100 m), while the P-40's Allison engine, with its single-stage, low altitude rated supercharger, worked best at 15,000 ft (4,600 m) or lower. When the Tomahawk was used by Allied units based in the UK from August 1941, this limitation relegated the Tomahawk to low-level reconnaissance and only one squadron, No. 414 Squadron RCAF was used in the fighter role. Subsequently, the British Air Ministry deemed the P-40 completely unsuitable for the theater. P-40 squadrons from mid-1942 re-equipped with aircraft such as Mustangs.

A Kittyhawk Mk III of No. 112 Squadron RAF, taxiing at Medenine, Tunisia, in 1943. A ground crewman on the wing is directing the pilot, whose view ahead is hindered by the aircraft's nose.

The Tomahawk was superseded in North Africa by the more powerful Kittyhawk ("D"-mark onwards) types from early 1942, though some Tomahawks remained in service until 1943. Kittyhawks included many major improvements, and were the DAF's air superiority fighter for the critical first few months of 1942, until "tropicalised" Spitfires were available.

DAF units received nearly 330 Packard V-1650 Merlin-powered P-40Fs, called Kittyhawk IIs, most of which went to the USAAF, and the majority of the 700 "lightweight" L models, also powered by the Packard Merlin, in which the armament was reduced to four .50 in (12.7 mm) Brownings (Kittyhawk IIA). The DAF also received some 21 of the later P-40K and the majority of the 600 P-40Ms built; these were known as Kittyhawk IIIs. The "lightweight" P-40Ns (Kittyhawk IV) arrived from early 1943 and were used mostly in the fighter-bomber role. [N 4]

From July 1942 until mid-1943, elements of the US 57th Fighter Group (57th FG) were attached to DAF P-40 units. The British government also donated 23 P-40s to the Soviet Union.

Combat performance

Tomahawks and Kittyhawks would bear the brunt of Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica fighter attacks during the North African campaign. The P-40s were considered superior to the Hurricane, which they replaced as the primary fighter of the Desert Air Force.[8]

I would evade being shot at accurately by pulling so much g-force ... that you could feel the blood leaving the head and coming down over your eyes... And you would fly like that for as long as you could, knowing that if anyone was trying to get on your tail they were going through the same bleary vision that you had and you might get away. I had deliberately decided that any deficiency the Kittyhawk had was offset by aggression. And I'd done a little bit of boxing – I beat much better opponents simply by going for [them]. And I decided to use that in the air. And it paid off.

The P-40 initially proved quite effective against Axis aircraft and contributed to a slight shift of momentum in the Allied favor. The gradual replacement of Hurricanes by the Tomahawks and Kittyhawks led to the Luftwaffe accelerating retirement of the Bf 109E and introducing the newer Bf 109F; these were to be flown by the veteran pilots of elite Luftwaffe units, such as Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG27), in North Africa.[27]

The P-40 was generally considered roughly equal or slightly superior to the Bf 109 at low altitude, but inferior at high altitude, particularly against the Bf 109F.[28] Most air combat in North Africa took place well below 16,000 ft (4,900 m), thus negating much of the Bf 109's superiority. The P-40 usually had an edge over Bf 109 in horizontal maneuverability, dive speed and structural strength, was roughly equal in firepower, but was slightly inferior in speed and outclassed in rate of climb and operational ceiling.[8][27]

The P-40 was generally superior to early Italian fighter types, such as the Fiat G.50 and the Macchi C.200. Its performance against the Macchi C.202 Folgore elicited varying opinions. Some observers consider the Macchi C.202 superior.[29] Clive Caldwell, who scored victories against them in his P-40, felt that the Folgore would have been superior to both the P-40 and the Bf 109 except that its armament of only two or four machine guns was inadequate.[30] Other observers considered the two equally matched, or favored the Folgore in aerobatic performance, such as turning radius. Aviation historian Walter J. Boyne wrote that over Africa, the P-40 and the Folgore were "equivalent".[31][32][33]

Against its lack of high altitude performance the P-40 was considered to be a stable gun platform, and its rugged construction meant that it was able to operate from rough front line airstrips with a good rate of serviceability.[34]

The earliest victory claims by P-40 pilots include Vichy French aircraft, during the 1941 Syria-Lebanon campaign, against Dewoitine D.520s, a type often considered to be the best French fighter used during World War II.[4] The P-40 was deadly against Axis bombers in the theater, as well as against the Bf 110 twin-engine fighter.

In June 1941, Caldwell, who was serving at the time with No. 250 Squadron RAF in Egypt, and flying as F/O Jack Hamlyn's wingman, recorded in his log book that he was involved in the first air combat victory for the P-40. This was a CANT Z.1007 bomber on 6 June.[4] The claim was not officially recognized, as the crash of the CANT was not witnessed. The first official victory occurred on 8 June, when Hamlyn and Flt Sgt Tom Paxton destroyed a CANT Z.1007 from 211a Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica, over Alexandria.[5]

North Africa, c. 1943. A P-40 "Kittybomber" of No. 450 Squadron RAAF, loaded with six 250 lb (110 kg) bombs

Several days later, the Tomahawk was in action over Syria with No. 3 Squadron RAAF, which claimed 19 aerial victories over Vichy French aircraft during June and July 1941, for the loss of one P-40 (as well as one lost to ground fire).[35] Some DAF units initially failed to use P-40s according to its strengths and/or utilised outdated defensive tactics, such as the Lufbery circle. However, the superior climb rate of the Bf 109 enabled fast, swooping attacks, neutralizing the advantages offered by conventional defensive tactics. Various new formations were tried by Tomahawk units in 1941-42, including: "fluid pairs" (similar to the German rotte); one or two "weavers" at the back of a squadron in formation, and whole squadrons bobbing and weaving in loose formations.[36] Werner Schröer, who would be credited with destroying 114 Allied aircraft in only 197 combat missions, referred to the latter formation as "bunches of grapes", because he found them so easy to pick off.[36] The leading German expert in North Africa, Hans-Joachim Marseille, claimed as many as 101 P-40s during his career.[37]

From 26 May 1942, all Kittyhawk units operated primarily as fighter-bomber units,[38] giving rise to the nickname "Kittybomber". As a result of this change in role, and because DAF P-40 squadrons were frequently used in bomber escort and close air support missions, they suffered relatively high attrition rates; many Desert Air Force P-40 pilots were caught flying low and slow by marauding Bf 109s.

Victory claims and losses for three Tomahawk/Kittyhawk
squadrons of the Desert Air Force, June 1941–May 1943.
Unit 3 Sqn RAAF 112 Sqn RAF 450 Sqn RAAF*
Claims with Tomahawks 41 36
Claims with Kittyhawks 74.5 82.5 49
Total P-40 claims 115.5 118.5 49
P-40 losses (total) 34 38 28
* Began conversion to P-40s in December 1941; operational in February 1942.[39]

Caldwell believed that Operational Training Units did not properly prepare pilots for air combat in the P-40, and as a commander, stressed the importance of training novice pilots properly.[40]

Nevertheless, competent pilots who used the P-40's strengths were effective against the best of the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica.[8][41] At least 46 British Commonwealth pilots achieved ace status flying the P-40. For example, on one occasion in August 1941, Caldwell was attacked by two Bf 109s, one of them piloted by German Ace Werner Schröer. Although Caldwell was wounded three times, and his Tomahawk was hit by more than 100 7.92 mm (0.312 in) bullets and five 20 mm cannon shells, during this combat Caldwell shot down Schröer's wingman and returned to base. Some sources also claim that in December 1941, Caldwell killed a prominent German Experte, Erbo von Kageneck (69 kills) while flying a P-40. [N 5] Caldwell's victories in North Africa included 10 Bf 109s and two Macchi C.202s.[43] Billy Drake of 112 Sqn was the leading British P-40 ace with 13 victories.[41] James "Stocky" Edwards (RCAF), who achieved 12 kills in the P-40 in North Africa, shot down German ace Otto Schulz (51 kills) while flying a Kittyhawk with No. 260 Squadron RAF.[41] Caldwell, Drake, Edwards and Nicky Barr were among at least a dozen pilots who achieved ace status twice over while flying the P-40.[41][44] A total of 46 British Commonwealth pilots became aces in P-40s, including seven double aces.[41]

Chinese Air Force

Flying Tigers (American Volunteer Group)

3rd Squadron Hell's Angels, Flying Tigers over China, photographed in 1942 by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith. Smith commented on the challenge of taking this photo while "scanning the surrounding sky every few seconds to make sure no Jap fighters were about to ambush us." [45]

The Flying Tigers, known officially as the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG), were a unit of the Chinese Air Force, recruited from U.S. aviators. From late 1941, the P-40B was used by the Flying Tigers. They were divided into three pursuit squadrons, the "Adam & Eves", the "Panda Bears" and the "Hell's Angels".[46]

Compared to opposing Japanese fighters, the P-40B's strengths were that it was sturdy, well armed, faster in a dive and possessed an excellent rate of roll. While the P-40s could not match the maneuverability of the Japanese Army air arm's Nakajima Ki-27s and Ki-43s, nor the much more famous Zero naval fighter in a slow speed turning dogfight, at higher speeds the P-40s were more than a match. AVG leader Claire Chennault trained his pilots to use the P-40's particular performance advantages.[46] The P-40 had a higher dive speed than any Japanese fighter aircraft of the early war years, for example, and could be used to exploit so-called "boom-and-zoom" tactics. The AVG was highly successful, and its feats were widely-published, to boost sagging public morale at home, by an active cadre of international journalists. According to their official records, in just 6 1/2 months, the Flying Tigers destroyed 297 enemy aircraft for the loss of just four of their own (in air-to-air combat).

4th Air Group

China received 27 P-40E in early 1943. These were assigned to squadrons of the 4th Air Group.[47]

United States Army Air Forces

P-40K 42-10256 in Aleutian "Tiger" markings.
P-40B G-CDWH at Duxford 2011. It is the only airworthy P-40B in the world and the only survivor from the Pearl Harbor attack.[48]

A total of 15 entire USAAF pursuit/fighter groups (FG), along with other pursuit/fighter squadrons and a few tactical reconnaissance (TR) units, operated the P-40 during 1941–45.[44][49][50]

As was also the case with the Bell P-39 Airacobra, many USAAF officers considered the P-40 inadequate, and it was gradually replaced by the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the North American P-51 Mustang. However, the bulk of the fighter operations by the USAAF in 1942–43 were borne by the P-40 and the P-39. In the Pacific, these two fighters, along with the U.S. Navy's Grumman F4F Wildcat, contributed more than any other U.S. types to breaking Japanese air power during this critical period.

Pacific theaters

By mid-1943, the USAAF was phasing out the P-40F (pictured); the two nearest aircraft, "White 116" and "White 111" were flown by the aces 1Lt Henry E. Matson and 1Lt Jack Bade, 44th FS, at the time part of AirSols, on Guadalcanal.

The P-40 was the main USAAF fighter aircraft in the South West Pacific and Pacific Ocean theaters during 1941–42.

In the first major battles, at Pearl Harbor[51] and in the Philippines,[52] USAAF P-40 squadrons suffered crippling losses on the ground and in the air to Japanese fighters such as the Ki-43 Oscar and A6M Zero.

However, in the Dutch East Indies campaign, the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), formed from USAAF pilots evacuated from the Philippines, claimed 49 Japanese aircraft destroyed, for the loss of 17 P-40s[52][50] The USS Langley was sunk by Japanese planes while delivering P-40s to Tjilatjap, Java.[53] In the Solomon Islands and New Guinea Campaigns, as well as the air defence of Australia, improved tactics and training allowed the USAAF to more effectively utilize the strengths of the P-40.

Due to aircraft fatigue, scarcity of spare parts and replacement problems, the US Fifth Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force created a joint P-40 management and replacement pool on 30 July 1942 and many P-40s went back and forth between both air forces.[54]

The 49th Fighter Group was in action in the Pacific from the beginning of the war. Robert DeHaven scored 10 kills (from 14 kills overall) in the P-40 with the 49th FG. He compared the P-40 favorably with the P-38:

"If you flew wisely, the P-40 was a very capable aircraft. [It] could outturn a P-38, a fact that some pilots didn't realise when they made the transition between the two aircraft. [...] The real problem with it was lack of range. As we pushed the Japanese back, P-40 pilots were slowly left out of the war. So when I moved to P-38s, an excellent aircraft, I did not [believe] that the P-40 was an inferior fighter, but because I knew the P-38 would allow us to reach the enemy. I was a fighter pilot and that was what I was supposed to do."[55]

The 8th, 15th, 18th, 24th, 49th, 343rd and 347th PGs/FGs, flew P-40s in the Pacific theaters, between 1941 and 1945, with most units converting to P-38s during 1943-44. In 1945, the 71st Reconnaissance Group employed them as armed forward air controllers during ground operations in the Philippines until it received delivery of P-51s.[50] They claimed 655 aerial victories.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, with sufficient altitude the P-40 could actually turn with the A6M and other Japanese fighters, using a combination of nose-down vertical turn with a bank turn, a technique known as a low yo-yo. Robert DeHaven describes how this tactic was used in the 49th Fighter group:

[Y]ou could fight a Jap on even terms, but you had to make him fight your way. He could outturn you at slow speed. You could outturn him at high speed. When you got into a turning fight with him, you dropped your nose down so you kept your airspeed up, you could outturn him. At low speed he could outroll you because of those big ailerons ... on the Zero. If your speed was up over 275, you could outroll [a Zero]. His big ailerons didn't have the strength to make high speed rolls... You could push things, too. Because ... [i]f you decided to go home, you could go home. He couldn't because you could outrun him. [...] That left you in control of the fight.

China-Burma-India theater

USAAF and Chinese P-40 pilots performed well in this theater, scoring high kill ratios against Japanese types such as the Ki-43, Nakajima Ki-44 "Tojo" and the Zero. The P-40 remained in use in the CBI until 1944, and was reportedly preferred over the P-51 Mustang by some US pilots flying in China.

The American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) was integrated into the USAAF as the 23rd Fighter Group in June 1942. The unit continued to fly newer model P-40s until the end of the war, racking up a high kill-to-loss ratio. The P-40s tactic in CBI was created by the AVG and consisted on climbing above the Japanese planes altitude on an intercepting course. On sighting the Japanese they would dive on them at high speed and slash through their formation, guns blazing. After the attack the Tigers would use the speed from the dive to exit the combat zone and climb for another pass[44][56]

Units arriving in the China-Burma-India theater after the AVG in the 10th and 14th air forces continued to perform well with the P-40, claiming 973 kills in the theater, or 64.8 percent of all enemy aircraft shot down. As the Flying Tigers tactic was successful they adopted their tactics. Aviation historian Carl Molesworth stated that "...the P-40 simply dominated the skies over Burma and China. They were able to establish air superiority over free China, northern Burma and the Assam valley of India in 1942, and they never relinquished it."[44]

In addition to the 23rd FG, the 3rd, 5th, 51st and 80th FGs, along with the 10th TRS, operated the P-40 in the CBI [N 6] In addition to its role as a fighter aircraft, CBI P-40 pilots used the aircraft very effectively as a fighter-bomber. The 80th Fighter Group in particular used its so-called B-40 (P-40s carrying 1,000-pound high explosive bombs) to destroy Japanese-held bridges and kill bridge repair crews, sometimes demolishing their target with a single bomb.[57] At least 40 U.S. pilots reached ace status while flying the P-40 in the CBI.

North Africa and Mediterranean theaters

P40-E Kittyhawk in AVG colours
Top to Bottom: P-40 F/L, P-40K Warhawk

On 14 August 1942, the first confirmed victory by a USAAF unit over a German aircraft in World War II was achieved by a P-40C pilot. 2nd Lt Joseph D. Shaffer, of the 33rd Fighter Squadron, intercepted a Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 that overflew his base at Reykjavík, Iceland. Shaffer damaged the Fw 200, which was finished off by a P-38F.

Warhawks were used extensively in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) by USAAF units, including the 33rd, 57th, 58th, 79th, 324th and 325th Fighter Groups.[49]

While the P-40 suffered heavy loses in the MTO, many USAAF P-40 units achieved high kill-to-loss ratios against Axis aircraft. For example, the 324th FG scored better than a 2:1 ratio in the MTO.[19] In all, 23 U.S. pilots became aces in the MTO while flying the P-40, most of them during the first half of 1943.[49] As in the Pacific, success in combat depended in part on experience and effective tactics.

Individual pilots from the 57th FG were the first USAAF P-40 pilots to see action in the MTO, while attached to Desert Air Force Kittyhawk squadrons, from July 1942. The 57th was also the main unit involved in the "Palm Sunday Massacre", on 18 April 1943. De-coded Ultra signals had given away a plan for a large formation of German Junkers Ju 52 transports to cross the Mediterranean, escorted by German and Italian fighters. Between 1630 and 1830 hours, all wings of the Group were engaged in an intensive effort against the enemy air transports. Of the four Kittyhawk Wings, three had left the patrol area before a convoy of a 100 plus enemy transports were sighted by 57 Group, who tallied 74 aircraft destroyed. 57 Group was last in the area, and intercepted the Ju 52s escorted by large numbers of Bf 109s, Bf 110s and Macchi C.202s. In all, they claimed 58 Ju 52s, 14 Bf 109s and two Bf 110s destroyed with a number of others probably destroyed and damaged. Between 20–40 of the E/A were seen to land on the beaches around Cap Bon in order to avoid being shot down. Six Allied fighters were lost, five of them P-40s.

On 22 April, in Operation Flax, a similar force of P-40s attacked a formation of 14 Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant ("Giant") six-engine transports, covered by seven Bf 109s from II./JG 27. All the transports were shot down, for a loss of three P-40s destroyed. The 57th FG was equipped with the Curtiss fighter until early 1944, during which time they were credited with at least 140 air-to-air kills.[58]

In early 1943, 75 P-40Ls were transported on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. On 23 February, during Operation Torch, the pilots of the 58th FG flew these P-40s off Ranger to land at newly-captured Vichy French airfield, Cazas, near Casablanca, in French Morocco. The aircraft resupplied the 33rd FG and the pilots were reassigned.[59]

The 325th FG (known as the "Checkertail Clan") flew P-40s in the MTO. The 325th was credited with at least 133 air-to-air kills in April–October 1943, of which 95 were Bf 109s and 26 were Macchi C.202s, for the loss of 17 P-40s in combat.[49][60] An anecdote concerning the 325th FG, indicates what could happen if Bf 109 pilots made the mistake of trying to out-turn the P-40. 325th FG historian Carol Cathcart wrote: "on 30 July, 20 P-40s of the 317th [Fighter Squadron] ... took off on a fighter sweep ... over Sardinia. As they turned to fly south over the west part of the island, they were attacked near Sassari... The attacking force consisted of 25 to 30 Bf 109s and Macchi C.202s... In the brief, intense battle that occurred ... [the 317th claimed] 21 enemy aircraft."[61] Cathcart states that Lt. Robert Sederberg who assisted a comrade being attacked by five Bf 109s, destroyed at least one German aircraft, and may have shot down as many as five. Sederberg was shot down in the dogfight and became a prisoner of war.[61]

On 1 July 1943, 22 P-40s of 325 Fighter Group made a fighter sweep over southern Italy. Forty Bf-109s surprised the checker-tails, engaging them at moderate altitude where the P-40 performed best. After an intense dogfight the Germans lost half their force while only one P-40 failed to come back. A similar event took place on the 30th of the same month in which 20 P-40s were bounced by thirty-five 109s. The Germans limped home after losing 21 of their own while the P-40s came through with only one loss.

A famous African American unit, the 99th FS, better known as the "Tuskegee Airmen" or "Redtails", flew P-40s in stateside training and for their initial eight months in the MTO. On 9 June 1943, they became the first African American fighter pilots to engage enemy aircraft, over Pantelleria, Italy. A single Focke Wulf Fw 190 was reported damaged by Lieutenant Willie Ashley Jr. On 2 July the squadron claimed its first verified kill; a Fw 190 destroyed by Captain Charles Hall. The 99th would continue to score with P-40s until February 1944, when they were assigned P-39s.[62][63]

The much-lightened P-40L was most heavily used in the MTO, primarily by U.S. pilots. Many US pilots stripped down their P-40s even further to improve performance, often removing two or more of the wing guns from the P-40F/L.

Royal Australian Air Force

North Africa

A P-40E-1 piloted by the ace Keith "Bluey" Truscott, commander of No. 76 Squadron RAAF, taxis along Marsden Matting at Milne Bay, New Guinea in September 1942.

The Kittyhawk was the main fighter used by the RAAF in World War II, in greater numbers than the Spitfire. Two RAAF squadrons serving with the Desert Air Force, No. 3 and No. 450 Squadrons, were the first Australian units to be assigned P-40s. Other RAAF pilots served with RAF or SAAF P-40 squadrons in the theater.

Many RAAF pilots achieved high scores in the P-40. At least five reached "double ace" status: Clive Caldwell, Nicky Barr, John Waddy, Bob Whittle (11 kills each) and Bobby Gibbes (10 kills) in the Middle East, North African and/or New Guinea campaigns. In all, 18 RAAF pilots became aces while flying P-40s.[41]

Nicky Barr, like many Australian pilots, considered the P-40 a reliable mount: "The Kittyhawk became, to me, a friend. It was quite capable of getting you out of trouble more often than not. It was a real warhorse."[64]


At the same time as the heaviest fighting in North Africa, the Pacific War was also in its early stages, and RAAF units in Australia were completely lacking in suitable fighter aircraft. Spitfire production was being absorbed by the war in Europe; P-38s were trialled, but were difficult to obtain; Mustangs had not yet reached squadrons anywhere, and Australia's tiny and inexperienced aircraft industry was geared towards larger aircraft. USAAF P-40s and their pilots originally intended for the U.S. Far East Air Force in the Philippines, but diverted to Australia as a result of Japanese naval activity were the first suitable fighter aircraft to arrive in substantial numbers. By mid-1942, the RAAF was able to obtain some USAAF replacement shipments; the P-40 was given the RAAF designation A-29.

P-40N-15 "Black Magic",
No. 78 Squadron RAAF
F/L Denis Baker scored the RAAF's last aerial victory over New Guinea in this fighter on 10 June 1944. It was later flown by W/O Len Waters. Note the dark blue tip on the tailfin used to identify 78 Squadron.

RAAF Kittyhawks played a crucial role in the South West Pacific theater. They fought on the front line as fighters during the critical early years of the Pacific War, and the durability and bomb-carrying abilities (1,000 lb/454 kg) of the P-40 also made it ideal for the ground attack role. For example, 75, and 76 Squadrons played a critical role during the Battle of Milne Bay,[65][66] fending off Japanese aircraft and providing effective close air support for the Australian infantry, negating the initial Japanese advantage in light tanks and sea power.

The RAAF units which made the most use of Kittyhawks in the South West Pacific were: 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86 Squadrons. These squadrons saw action mostly in the New Guinea and Borneo campaigns.

Late in 1945, RAAF fighter squadrons in the South West Pacific began converting to P-51Ds. However, Kittyhawks were in use with the RAAF until the end of the war, in Borneo. In all, the RAAF acquired 841 Kittyhawks (not counting the British-ordered examples used in North Africa), including 163 P-40E, 42 P-40K, 90 P-40 M and 553 P-40N models.[67] In addition, the RAAF ordered 67 Kittyhawks for use by No. 120 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron (a joint Australian-Dutch unit in the South West Pacific). The P-40 was retired by the RAAF in 1947.

Royal Canadian Air Force

A total of 13 Royal Canadian Air Force units operated the P-40 in the North West European or Alaskan theaters.

In mid-May 1940, Canadian and US officers watched comparative tests of a XP-40 and a Spitfire, at RCAF Uplands, Ottawa. While the Spitfire was considered to have performed better, it was not available for use in Canada and the P-40 was ordered to meet home air defense requirements. In all, eight Home War Establishment Squadrons were equipped with the Kittyhawk: 72 Kittyhawk I, 12 Kittyhawk Ia, 15 Kittyhawk III and 35 Kittyhawk IV aircraft, for a total of 134 aircraft. These aircraft were mostly diverted from RAF Lend-Lease orders for service in Canada. The P-40 Kittyhawks were obtained in lieu of 144 P-39 Airacobras originally allocated to Canada but reassigned to the RAF.

However, before any home units received the P-40, three RCAF Article XV squadrons operated Tomahawk aircraft from bases in the United Kingdom. No. 403 Squadron RCAF, a fighter unit, used the Tomahawk Mk II briefly before converting to Spitfires. Two Army Co-operation (close air support) squadrons: 400 and 414 Sqns trained with Tomahawks, before converting to Mustang Mk. I aircraft and a fighter/reconnaissance role. Of these, only No. 400 Squadron used Tomahawks operationally, conducting a number of armed sweeps over France in the late 1941. RCAF pilots also flew Tomahawks or Kittyhawks with other British Commonwealth units based in North Africa, the Mediterranean, South East Asia and (in at least one case) the South West Pacific.[N 7]

In 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy occupied two islands, Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutians, off Alaska. RCAF home defense P-40 squadrons saw combat over the Aleutians, assisting the USAAF. The RCAF initially sent 111 Squadron, flying the Kittyhawk I, to the US base on Adak island. During the drawn-out campaign, 12 Canadian Kittyhawks operated on a rotational basis from a new, more advanced base on Amchitka,75 mi (121 km) southeast of Kiska. 14 and 111 Sqns took "turn-about" at the base. During a major attack on Japanese positions at Kiska on 25 September 1942, Squadron Leader Ken Boomer shot down a Nakajima A6M2-N ("Rufe") seaplane. The RCAF also purchased 12 P-40Ks directly from the USAAF while in the Aleutians. After the Japanese threat diminished, these two RCAF squadrons returned to Canada and eventually transferred to England without their Kittyhawks.

In January 1943, a further Article XV unit, 430 Squadron was formed at RAF Hartford Bridge, England and trained on obsolete Tomahawk IIA.[68][69] The squadron converted to the Mustang I before commencing operations in mid-1943.

In early 1945 pilots from No. 133 Squadron RCAF, operating the P-40N out of RCAF Patricia Bay, (Victoria, BC), intercepted and destroyed two Japanese balloon-bombs,[69] which were designed to cause wildfires on the North American mainland. On 21 February, Pilot Officer E. E. Maxwell shot down a balloon, which landed on Sumas Mountain in Washington State. On 10 March, Pilot Officer J. 0. Patten destroyed a balloon near Saltspring Island, BC. The last interception took place on 20 April 1945 when Pilot Officer P.V. Brodeur from 135 Squadron out of Abbotsford, British Columbia shot down a balloon over Vedder Mountain.[70]

The RCAF units that operated P-40s were, in order of conversion: 403 Squadron (March 1941), 400 Squadron (April 1941–September 1942), 414 Squadron (August 1941–September 1942), 111 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, IV, November 1941–December 1943 and P-40K, September 1942–July 1943), 118 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, November 1941–October 1943), 14 Squadron (January 1942–September 1943), 132 Squadron (Kittyhawk IA & III, April 1942–September 1944), 130 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, May 1942–October 1942), 430 Squadron (January 1943–February 1943), 163 Squadron (Kittyhawk I & III, October 1943–March 1944), 133 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, March 1944–July 1945) and 135 Squadron (Kittyhawk IV, May 1944–September 1945).

Royal New Zealand Air Force

F/O Geoff Fisken RNZAF. The 11 Japanese flags represent six aircraft he claimed while flying Buffalos, two shot down in Wairarapa Wildcat (NZ3072/19) on 12 June 1943 and three claimed on 4 July 1943, when Fisken was flying P-40 NZ3060/9. The "Wildcat" emblem was applied by a US unit which previously used the aircraft. Fisken kept it, while adding "Wairarapa", after his home region.

Some Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) pilots and New Zealanders in other air forces flew British P-40s while serving with DAF squadrons in North Africa and Italy, including the ace Jerry Westenra.

A total of 301 P-40s were allocated to the RNZAF under Lend-Lease, for use in the Pacific Theater, although four of these were lost in transit. The aircraft equipped 14 Squadron, 15 Squadron, 16 Squadron, 17 Squadron, 18 Squadron, 19 Squadron and 20 Squadron.

RNZAF P-40 squadrons were successful in air combat against the Japanese between 1942 and 1944. Their pilots claimed 100 aerial victories in P-40s, whilst losing 20 aircraft in combat[N 8][71] Geoff Fisken, the highest scoring British Commonwealth ace in the Pacific, flew P-40s with 15 Squadron, although half of his victories were claimed with the Brewster Buffalo.

The overwhelming majority of RNZAF P-40 victories were scored against Japanese fighters, mostly Zeroes. Other victories included Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers. The only confirmed twin engine claim, a Ki-21 "Sally" (misidentified as a G4M "Betty") fell to Fisken in July 1943.[71]

From late 1943 and 1944, RNZAF P-40s were increasingly used against ground targets, including the innovative use of naval depth charges as improvised high-capacity bombs. The last front line RNZAF P-40s were replaced by Vought F4U Corsairs in 1944. The P-40s were relegated to use as advanced pilot trainers.[72][73][74]

The remaining RNZAF P-40s, excluding the 20 shot down and 154 written off, were mostly scrapped at Rukuhia in 1948.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily (VVS; "Military Air Forces") and Morskaya Aviatsiya (MA; "Naval Air Service") also referred to P-40s as Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. In fact, the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk/Kittyhawk was the first Allied fighter supplied to the USSR under the Lend-Lease agreement.[75] Their units used 2,097 [76] 146 Tomahawks were shipped from Great Britain and 49 more arrived from the US, many of them coming incomplete, lacking machine guns and even the lower half of the engine cowling. In late September 1941, the first 48 P-40s were assembled and checked in USSR.[77] Test flights showed some manufacturing defects: generator and oil pump gears and generator shafts failed repeatedly, which led to emergency landings. The test report indicated that the Tomahawk was inferior to Soviet “M-105P-powered production fighters in speed and rate of climb. However, it has good short field performance, horizontal manoeuvrability, range and endurance”.[78] Nevertheless, Tomahawks and Kittyhawks were used against the Germans. The 126th IAP fighting on the Western and Kalinin fronts were the first unit to receive the P-40. The regiment entered action on 12 October 1941. By 15 November 1941, that unit had shot down 17 German aircraft. However, Lt (SG) Smirnov noted that the P-40 armament was sufficient for strafing enemy lines but rather ineffective in aerial combat. Another pilot, S.G. Ridnyy (Hero of Soviet Union), remarked that he had to shoot half the ammunition at 50–100 meters (164–339 ft) to shoot down an enemy aircraft.[78]

Hawk 81A-3/Tomahawk IIb AK255, at the US National Museum of Naval Aviation, is shown in the colors of the Flying Tigers, but never actually served with them; it began life with the RAF and was later transferred to the Soviet Union.

In January 1942, some 198 aircraft sorties were flown (334 flying hours) and 11 aerial engagements were conducted, in which five Bf 109s, one Ju 88, and one He 111 were downed. These statistics reveal a surprising fact: it turns out that the Tomahawk was fully capable of successful air combat with a Bf 109. The reports of pilots about the circumstances of the engagements confirm this fact. On 18 January 1942, Lieutenants S. V. Levin and I. P. Levsha (in pair) fought an engagement with seven Bf 109s and shot down two of them without loss. On 22 January, a flight of three aircraft led by Lieutenant E. E. Lozov engaged 13 enemy aircraft and shot down two Bf 109Es, again without loss. Altogether, in January, two Tomahawks were lost; one downed by German antiaircraft artillery and one lost to Messerschmitts.[21]

The Soviets stripped down their P-40s significantly for combat, in many cases removing the wing guns altogether in P-40B/C types, for example. Soviet Air Force reports state that they liked the range and fuel capacity of the P-40 which were superior to most of the Soviet fighters, though they still preferred the P-39. Soviet pilot Nikolai G. Golodnikov recalled: "The cockpit was vast and high. At first it felt unpleasant to sit waist-high in glass, as the edge of the fuselage was almost at waist level. But the bullet-proof glass and armoured seat were strong and visibility was good. The radio was also good. It was powerful, reliable, but only on HF (high frequency). The American radios did not have hand microphones but throat microphones. These were good throat mikes: small, light and comfortable."[79] The biggest complaint of some Soviet airmen was its poor climb rate and problems with maintenance, especially with burning out the engines. VVS pilots usually flew the P-40 at War Emergency Power settings while in combat, this would bring the acceleration and speed performance closer to that of their German rivals, but could burn out engines in a matter of weeks.[21] They also had difficulty with the more demanding requirements for fuel quality and oil purity of the Allison engines. A fair number of burnt out P-40s were re-engined with Soviet Klimov engines but these performed relatively poorly and were relegated to rear area use.[21]

Actually, the P-40 could engage all Messerschmitts on equal terms, almost to the end of 1943. If you take into consideration all the characteristics of the P-40, then the Tomahawk was equal to the Bf 109F and the Kittyhawk was slightly better. Its speed and vertical and horizontal manoeuvre were good and fully competitive with enemy aircraft. Acceleration rate was a bit low, but when you got used to the engine, it was OK. We considered the P-40 a decent fighter plane.[80]

N. G. Golodnikov,
2nd Guards Fighter Regiment (GIAP),
Northern Aviation Fleet (VVS SF)[81]

The P-40 saw the most front line use in Soviet hands in 1942 and early 1943. It was used in the northern sectors and played a significant role in the defense of Leningrad. The most numerically important types were P-40B/C, P-40E and P-40K/M. By the time the better P-40F and N types became available, production of superior Soviet fighters had increased sufficiently so that the P-40 was replaced in most Soviet Air Force units by the Lavochkin La-5 and various later Yakovlev types. In spring 1943, Lt D.I. Koval of the 45th IAP gained ace status on the North-Caucasian front, shooting down six German aircraft flying a P-40. Some Soviet P-40 squadrons had good combat records. They provided close air support as well as air-to-air capability while Soviet pilots became aces on the P-40, not as many as on the P-39 Airacobra, which was the most numerous Lend Lease fighter used by the Soviet Union.[21] However Soviet commanders considered the Kittyhawk to significantly outclass the Hurricane, although it was “not in the same league as the Yak-1”.[80][82]


The Japanese Army captured some P-40s and later operated a number in Burma. The Japanese appear to have had as many as 10 flyable P-40Es.[83] For a brief period in 1943, a few of them were actually used operationally by 2 Hiko Chutai, 50 Hiko Sentai (2nd Air Squadron, 50th Air Regiment) in the defense of Rangoon. Testimony of this is given by Yasuhiko Kuroe, a member of the 64 Hiko Sentai. In his memoirs, he says one Japanese-operated P-40 was shot down in error by a friendly Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" over Rangoon.

Other nations

The P-40 was used by over two dozen countries during and after the war. The P-40 was used by Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Finland and Turkey. The last P-40s in military service, used by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), were retired in 1958.

In the air war over Finland, several Soviet P-40s were shot down or had to crash-land due to other reasons. The Finns, short of good aircraft, collected these and managed to repair one P-40M, P-40M-10-CU 43-5925, "white 23", which received Finnish Air Force serial number KH-51 (KH denoting "Kittyhawk", as the British designation of this type was Kittyhawk III). This aircraft was attached to an operational squadron HLeLv 32 of the Finnish Air Force, but lack of spares kept it on the ground, with the exception of a few evaluation flights.

Variants and development stages

A USAAF Curtiss P-40K-10-CU, serial number 42-9985, c. 1943
An early USAAF Curtiss P-40
The original Curtis XP-40, ordered July 1937, was converted from the 10th P-36A by replacing the radial engine with a new Allison V-1710-19 engine. It flew for the first time in October 1938.

This new liquid-cooled engine fighter had a radiator mounted under the rear fuselage but the prototype XP-40 was later modified and the radiator was moved forward under the engine.

The P-40 (Curtiss Model 81A-1) was the first production variant, 199 built.
One P-40 was modified with a camera installation in the rear fuselage and re-designated P-40A.
  • Revised versions of the P-40 soon followed: the P-40B or Tomahawk IIA had extra .30in in (7.62 mm) U.S., or .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns in the wings and a partially protected fuel system; the P-40C or Tomahawk IIB added underbelly drop tank and bomb shackles, self-sealing fuel tanks and other minor revisions, but the extra weight did have a negative impact on aircraft performance. (All versions of the P-40 had a relatively low power-to-weight ratio compared to contemporary fighters.)
  • Only a small number of P-40D or Kittyhawk Mk Is were made, less than 50. With a new, larger Allison engine, slightly narrower fuselage, redesigned canopy, and improved cockpit, the P-40D eliminated the nose-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) guns and instead had a pair of .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each wing. The distinctive chin airscoop grew larger in order to adequately cool the large Allison engine.
  • Retrospective designation for a single prototype. The P-40A was a single camera-carrying aircraft.
  • The P-40E or P-40E-1 was similar in most respects to the P-40D, except for a slightly more powerful engine and an extra .50 in (12.7 mm) gun in each wing, bringing the total to six. Some aircraft also had small underwing bomb shackles. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IA. The P-40E was the variant that bore the brunt of air-to-air combat by the type in the key period of early to mid 1942, for example with the first US squadrons to replace the AVG in China (the AVG was already transitioning to this type from the P-40B/C), the type used by the Australians at Milne Bay, by the New Zealand squadrons during most of their air to air combat, and by the RAF/Commonwealth in North Africa as the Kittyhawk IA.
In the vicinity of Moore Field, Texas. The lead ship in a formation of P-40s is peeling off for the "attack" in a practice flight at the US Army Air Forces advanced flying school. Selected aviation cadets were given transition training in these fighters before receiving their pilot's wings, 1943.
  • P-40F and P-40L, which both featured Packard V-1650 Merlin engine in place of the normal Allison, and thus did not have the carburetor scoop on top of the nose. Performance for these models at higher altitudes was better than their Allison-engined cousins. The L in some cases also featured a fillet in front of the vertical stabilizer, or a stretched fuselage to compensate for the higher torque. The P-40L was sometimes nicknamed "Gypsy Rose Lee", after a famous stripper of the era, due to its stripped-down condition. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces under the designation Kittyhawk Mk II, a total of 330 Mk IIs were supplied to the RAF under Lend-Lease. The first 230 aircraft are sometimes known as the Kittyhawk Mk IIA. The P-40F/L was extensively used by U.S. fighter groups operating in the Mediterranian Theater.
  • P-40G : 43 P-40 aircraft fitted with the wings of the Tomahawk Mk IIA. A total of 16 aircraft were supplied to the Soviet Union, and the rest to the US Army Air Force. It was later redesignated RP-40G.
  • P-40K, an Allison-engined P-40L, with the nosetop scoop retained and the Allison configured scoop and cowl flaps. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk III, it was widely used by US units in the CBI.
  • P-40M, version generally similar to the P-40K, with a stretched fuselage like the P-40L and powered by an Allison V-1710-81 engine giving better performance at altitude (compared to previous Allison versions). It had some detail improvements and it was characterized by two small air scoops just before the exhaust pipes. Most of them were supplied to Allied countries (mainly UK and USSR), while some others remained in the USA for advanced training. It was also supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk. III.
  • P-40N (manufactured 1943–44), the final production model. The P-40N featured a stretched rear fuselage to counter the torque of the larger, late-war Allison engine, and the rear deck of the cockpit behind the pilot was cut down at a moderate slant to improve rearward visibility. A great deal of work was also done to try and eliminate excess weight to improve the Warhawk's climb rate. Early N production blocks dropped a .50 in (12.7 mm) gun from each wing, bringing the total back to four; later production blocks reintroduced it after complaints from units in the field. Supplied to Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IV. A total of 553 P-40Ns were acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force, making it the variant most commonly used by the RAAF. Subvariants of the P-40N ranged widely in specialization from stripped down four-gun "hot rods" which could reach the highest top speeds of any production variant of the P-40 (up to 380 mph), to overweight types with all the extras intended for fighter-bombing or even training missions.
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk "Little Jeanne" in flight
  • P-40P : The designation of 1,500 aircraft ordered with V-1650-1 engines, but actually built as the P-40N with V-1710-81 engines.
  • XP-40Q with a 4-bladed prop, cut-down rear fuselage and bubble canopy, supercharger, squared-off wingtips and tail surfaces, and improved engine with two-speed supercharger was tested, but its performance was not enough of an improvement to merit production when compared to the contemporary late model P-47Ds and P-51Ds pouring off production lines. The XP-40Q was, however, the fastest of the P-40 series with a top speed of 422 mph (679 km/h) as a result of the introduction of a high altitude supercharger gear. (No P-40 model with a single-speed supercharger could even approach 400 mph (640 km/h)) With the end of hostilities in Europe, the P-40 came to the end of its front line service.
  • P-40R : The designation of P-40F and P-40L aircraft, converted into training aircraft in 1944.
  • RP-40 : Some American P-40s were converted into reconnaissance aircraft.
  • TP-40 : Some P-40s were converted into two-seat trainers.
  • Twin P-40 : Probably the most unusual variant, it was a P-40C outfitted in 1942 with a pair of 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard V-1650-1 Merlin engines mounted atop the wings, over the main landing gear.[84]


Of the 13,738 P-40s built, only 19 P-40s remain airworthy, with three of them being converted to dual-controls/dual-seat configuration. Approximately 80 aircraft are on static display or under restoration.[85]

Famous P-40 pilots

  • Claire Chennault: commander, 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG; better known as the "Flying Tigers"), Chinese Air Force.
  • Nicky Barr: RAAF ace (11 victories); also a member of the Australian national rugby team.
  • Gregory Boyington: AVG/US Marine Corps; later commanded USMC VMF-214, the "Black Sheep Squadron".)
  • Clive Caldwell: RAAF, highest-scoring P-40 pilot from any air force (22 victories); highest-scoring Allied pilot in North Africa;[86] Australia's highest-scoring ace in World War II (28.5 victories).
  • Daniel H. David: USAAF; later famous as the comedian and actor Dan Rowan; scored two victories and was wounded, while flying P-40s in the Southwest Pacific.
  • Billy Drake: RAF, the leading British P-40 ace, with 13 victories.
  • James Francis Edwards: RCAF, 15.75 victories (12 on the P-40); also wrote two books about British Commonwealth Kittyhawk pilots.[87]
  • Geoff Fisken: RNZAF, the highest scoring British Commonwealth ace in the Pacific theater (11 victories), including five victories in Kittyhawks.
  • Jack Frost: SAAF, the highest scoring air ace in a South African unit, with 15 victories (seven on the P-40); missing in action since 16 June 1942.[87]
  • John Gorton: RAAF; Prime Minister of Australia, 1968–1971; flew Kittyhawks with No. 77 Squadron in New Guinea and was an instructor on the type.
  • John F. Hampshire Jr.: USAAF, 23rd FG, China; equal top-scoring US P-40 pilot (13 victories).
  • David Lee "Tex" Hill: AVG/USAAF, 2nd Squadron AVG and 23rd FG USAAF, 12.25 P-40 victories (18.25 total).
  • Bruce K. Holloway: AVG/USAAF, equal top-scoring US P-40 pilot (13 victories); later a USAF general (four-star) and commander of Strategic Air Command.[88]
  • James H. Howard: AVG/USAAF, six victories in P-40s with the AVG; later awarded the Medal of Honor following a single action in a P-51 over Europe.
  • Nikolai Fyodorovich Kuznetsov: VVS, twice Hero of the Soviet Union; most of his 22 victories were scored in P-40s.
  • Stepan Novichkov: VVS, highest scoring Soviet P-40 ace, with 19 victories; a further 10 victories on other types.
  • Petr Pokryshev: VVS, 14 victories in P-40s; twice Hero of the Soviet Union; eight victories on other types.
  • William N. (Bill) Reed: AVG/USAAF, commanded 3rd FG, Chinese-American Composite Wing (Provisional), 14th Air Force; nine victories in P-40s.
  • Robert Lee Scott, Jr.: USAAF, commander of the 23rd FG, China; more than 10 victories in P-40s.
  • Kenneth M. Taylor: USAAF; one of only two US pilots to get airborne (in a P-40) during the attack on Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941), during which he shot down two aircraft and was wounded in the arm.
  • Keith Truscott: RAAF; pre-war star of Australian football; became an ace in the UK during 1941, while flying Spitfires; commanded a Kittyhawk squadron at the Battle of Milne Bay (New Guinea, 1942); killed in an accident in 1943, while flying a P-40.
  • Boyd Wagner: USAAF; while flying P-40s, Wagner became the first USAAF ace of World War II (on 17 December 1941), during the Philippines Campaign.
  • Len Waters: RAAF, the only Australian Aboriginal fighter pilot of World War II.
  • George Welch: USAAF; one of only two US pilots to get airborne (in a P-40) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Welch destroyed three Japanese aircraft that day.


Royal Australian Air Force
Brazilian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Republic of China Air Force
Royal Egyptian Air Force
Finnish Air Force
French Air Force
Indonesian Air Force
Japanese Army Air Force - Captured P-40s.
Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force
 New Zealand
Royal New Zealand Air Force
 South Africa
South African Air Force
 Soviet Union
Soviet Air Force and Soviet Naval Aviation
Turkish Air Force
 United Kingdom
Royal Air Force
 United States
United States Army Air Force

Specifications (P-40E)

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics



  • Guns: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns with 150-200 rounds per gun
  • Bombs: 250 to 1,000 lb (110 to 450 kg) bombs to a total of 2,000 lb (907 kg) on three hardpoints (one under the fuselage and two underwing)

Notable appearances in media

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Inspired by 112 Squadron's usage of them in North Africa, and by the Luftwaffe's earlier use of it, both via Allied wartime newspaper and magazine article images, the "shark mouth" logo on the sides of the P-40's nose was most famously used on those of the Flying Tigers in China. The Bf 110s were from II Gruppe/Zerstörergeschwader 26. Shilling, an AVG pilot indicated, "I was looking through a British magazine one day and saw a photo of a Messerschmitt-110 with a shark face on it."[7]
  2. ^ Due to the reporter's unfamiliarity with the type, the XP-40 was inaccurately identified as an upgraded P-36. [16]
  3. ^ The fighter was repaired and served out the war.
  4. ^ Late P-40Fs, as well as the majority of the Ks, Ls and the P-40Ms had lengthened rear fuselages; the F/Ls had no carburettor airscoop on the upper engine cowlings.[25]
  5. ^ Kageneck's brother, August Graf von Kageneck, who corresponded with Caldwell after the war, was among those who believed that Caldwell shot down Erbo.[42]
  6. ^ Although part of the US 14th AF, the P-40s of 3rd and 5th FGs of the Chinese American Composite Wing were flown by both American and Chinese pilots.[44]
  7. ^ After being evacuated from Singapore to Australia in 1942, F/L Thomas W. Watson RCAF served for a period with No. 77 Squadron RAAF.
  8. ^ In total, the RNZAF claimed 106 victories in the Pacific: three by 488(NZ) Sqn in Singapore and Malaya (all confirmed), three by Lockheed Hudsons (one confirmed) and the remaining 102 by P-40 pilots. A total of 99 victories were officially confirmed, including 95 by P-40s.
  1. ^ Hagen, Brad. "XP-40." Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Retrieved: 21 August 2011.
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External links

Jackie Cochran in the cockpit of a P-40 fighter plane. She was head of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).

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