Curtiss P-40C Warhawk
FIREPOWER
4
MANEUVERABILITY
7
CLIMB RATE
5
DURABILITY
6
SPEED
6
GROUND ATTACK
1

Crew
1
Primary Guns
4 x 0.3" (7.62 mm) machine guns with 400 rpg in wings.
Secondary Guns
2 x Browning M2 0.5" (12.7mm) machine guns with 291 rpg in cowl.
Defensive Guns
Ordnance
1 x 250 lb (113 kg) bomb or 1 x 312 lb (142 kg) drop tank.
Engine(s)
1 x Allison V-1710-33 in-line-V rated for 1,150 hp at sea level.
Int Fuel Capacity
805 lbs (365 kg).
Ext Fuel Capacity
313 lbs (142 kg) in ventral drop tank.
Maximum Speeds
345 mph (555 kph) at 15,000 ft (4572 m).
Climb Rate
2,650 ftpm (808 m/min), 5.7 min to 15,000 ft (4572 m).
Service Ceiling
29,500 ft (8992 m).
Range
730 – 945 miles (1175 – 1520 km).
Wingspan
37 ft 3.5 in (11.37 m).
Length
31 ft 8.5 in (9.66 m).
Height
10 ft 7 in (3.23 m).
Loaded Weight
7,549 lbs (3,424 kg).
Wing Area
236 sq ft.
Wing Loading
32.0 lbs/sq ft.

History

During production of the Hawk 75 fighter for the US Army in 1937, Curtiss modified the original radial engine design to accommodate the new Allison V-1710 inline, liquid-cooled engine. The new design benefited from both streamlining and increased engine power and was flown for the first time in October 1938 as the XP-40. Performance was so impressive that the Army ordered 524 production machines, which was at that time the largest-ever single production order for a US fighter.

The first production P-40s began to appear in May 1940, and the US Army elected to defer delivery of the new fighter to allow production and delivery of the export version (known as the Hawk 81A) to France. However, the initial production version was hardly combat ready, lacking armor protection and self-sealing fuel tanks, and deliveries weren’t able to be made until September 1940. By then France had fallen and the RAF had taken over the production order from the French Air Force. The British replaced the two .30 caliber Browning machine guns in the wings with guns chambered for .303, but retained the two .50 caliber machine guns in the nose. With some armor protection and self-sealing fuel tanks, the new machine was designated the “Tomahawk IIA” for RAF service, and was virtually identical to the US AAF’s P-40B, which began to reach service units in early 1941.

For the next variant, the P-40C model (Tomahawk IIB to the RAF), improvements were made to the self-sealing fuel tanks and an additional .30 caliber machine gun was added to each wing, which increased gross weight and reduced the maximum speed. By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Army had 62 P-40Bs and 11 P-40Cs in Hawaii, the majority of which were destroyed on the ground. However, several survived the initial attack and were able to score the AAF’s first “kills” of the war.

Two weeks later, on December 20, 1941, the American Volunteer Group, aka the “Flying Tigers”, took to the skies in their P-40Cs Warhawks and destroyed six of ten Japanese bombers attacking Chinese Kunming.

Strengths

  1. Durability — The P-40 can absorb considerable battle damage and still bring its pilot back home.

Weakness

  1. Guns — Four .30 caliber and two .50 caliber guns are insufficient to deal much damage to enemy planes, particularly bombers.
  2. High Altitude Performance — While it is nimble and agile at low altitudes, the lack of a decent supercharger makes the P-40 a sluggish performer above 10,000 feet.

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