One of the important items in the new defense program is the building up of our single seat pursuit type airplane. In this classification falls the Curtiss P-40 and it is probable that this type will be one of the mainstays in the pursuit expansion program.
At present the Curtiss Aeroplane Division in Buffalo is actively engaged in turning out more than $14,000,000 worth of these ships as part of a record peacetime order awarded during 1939 by the War Department. Types similar to these have also been ordered by England and may see a great deal of action before long.
The P-40 has been the outgrowth of the familiar long line of Curtiss Hawk airplanes. One of the most prominent recent versions has been the Hawk 75A, the export version of the Army P-36. The XP-37 was also a Curtiss design and was one of the first ships to use the liquid-cooled Allison engine. Shortly following this came the P-40 with increased speed and performance. Although performance figures on this ship are still withheld it is interesting to note that a P-36, a slower plane, was flown from Dayton, OH, to Buffalo, NY, a distance of 360 miles, in a total elapsed time of 1 hr, 1 min at an average speed in excess of 350 mph. It was this same model which has received such favorable comment on its record during the French participation in the war.
The P-40 was delivered to the Materiel Division of the Air Corps just in time to be flown to Bolling Field where it was shown to the President. It made such a favorable impression during the demonstration that the large order was placed which is now under way in Buffalo. The same group of engineers that had charge of designing the P-36 had control of designing the P-40.
Releasable information concerning the ship is still rather limited. However in the next few paragraphs is listed all that is available at this time.
Single-seat pursuit plane.
Low-wing cantilever monoplane. Structure consists of longitudinal stringers, shear beams and bulkheads of aluminum alloy flush-riveted to smooth Alclad skin. Aluminum alloy framed ailerons are fabric-covered. Split trailing edge flaps extend from center of fuselage to aileron.
Aluminum alloy monocoque structure flush-riveted to smooth Alclad skin.
Cantilever monoplane type. Fixed surfaces have an aluminum alloy frame covered with sheet of the same metal. Movable surfaces are metal framed and fabric covered.
Fully retractable type with wheels swiveling 90°, to lie flush in the wing panel. Curtiss oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers standard equipment. Aluminum alloy fairings on struts. Tail wheel completely retractable and steerable.
One Allison V-12 liquid cooled inline engine equipped with integral supercharger to Air Corps specifications.
Three-bladed Curtiss electric constant speed propeller standard equipment.
Inclosed cockpit with sliding top. Heating and ventilation are provided. Armament and Equipment
This plane is equipped as a normal fighter in accordance with US Army Air Corps specifications.
This article was originally published in the August, 1940, issue of Aviation magazine. vol 39, no 8, pp 60-61, in the "Flying Equipment" column.
The original article includes 2 photos and a cutaway line drawing.