Curtiss P-40 Warhawk / P-40D Kittyhawk

The younger sibling to the Curtiss P-36, the P-40 is generally considered an all around improvement and the next logical step of the Curtiss fighter aircraft line. The P-40 differed from the -36 in many ways, the largest of which was an Allison liquid-cooled engine instead of a Wright Cyclone radial engine. The P-40, more aerodynamically efficient then the -36 due to the use of flush rivets, and became the principle fighter of the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) pursuit fighter squadrons. France had placed an order for the fighter aircraft, which was instead sent to Britain after Germany invaded France. The RAF discovered that the Allison engine failed to provide the performance required for air combat in Europe in 1941 and RAF P-40's were used purely as low-level tactical reconnaissance aircraft. However, 100 P-40's diverted to the American Volunteer Group operating in China, where they recieved many victories against Japanese aircraft.

The P-40D first flew in May 1941 and was a major improvement on previous models, with a new, more powerful Allison engine. The nose cross-section was reduced and the guns formerly carried in the nose were dropped. Main armament was now four .5 in / 12.7mm machine guns in the wings and a rack could be added beneath the fuselage to carry a 500lb / 226 kg bomb. It was the British that ordered the newer P-40D and named it the "Kittyhawk", which was mistakenly used to describe the entire P-40 line.

By now, the P-40 was way behind in contemporary fighter perforance and was not capable of holding its own against crack pilots. Nevertheless, the later P-40E model was also supplied to the American Volunteer Group in China, where it continued to achieve kills. Even in the Western Desert, where the RAF's fighter-bomber achievements are well known, giving Rommel and the Afrika Korps quite a headache, the type had achieved many victories in the air against other aircraft.

P-40N / Kittyhawk IV

First flight: October 1938

Power: Allison 1360 hp V-1710-81 inline piston engine

Armament: Six .5 in / 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings and one 500 lb / 227 kg bomb rack under fuselage

  • Wingspan - 37 ft 4 in / 11.42 m
  • Length - 33 ft 4 in / 10.2 m
  • Height - 12 ft 4 in / 3.77 m
  • Wing area - 236 sq ft / 21.95 sq m
  • Empty - 6000 lb / 2724 kg
  • Maximum loaded - 8850 lb / 4018 kg
  • Maximum speed - 378 mph / 609 kph
  • Ceiling - 38,000 ft / 11,630 m
  • Range - 240 miles / 386 km
  • Climb - 15,000 ft / 4590 m in 6 minutes, 42 seconds

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