With auxiliary belly gasoline tanks converted to cargo compartments by relatively simple modifications in the field, Curtiss Warhawks have become the world's fastest freighters in a war theater where cargo planes are not always available when needed. They are able to carry up to 660 pounds of "rush" freight inside the converted 110-gallon tank, at speeds far beyond those of any transport airplane.
A good sample of the average "C"-40's cargo load was landed at a front-line airport in New Guinea recently, when airfield mechanics fished a carburetor, a dozen small tools, a wheel assembly, badly-needed medical supplies, a propeller hub, Prestone, spark plugs and, last but not least, mail from home out of the belly tank.
Pilots of P-40 fighters in the North African campaign occasionally used auxiliary tanks to carry small items of cargo, but a fighter group in Upper Assam in India is believed to have been the first to detach P-40s for regular cargo service. In that theater, cargo tanks were prepared by the Hindustani Aircraft Company. Baffles were cut from a standard 75-gallon Bangalore gas tank and a 24" hole was cut in the front end to serve as a door. To reinforce the tank, two rings from a 48" gasoline drum were placed around it at the bomb shackles.
This news clip was originally published in the "Shop Talk" column of the July, 1944, issue of Air Tech magazine, vol 5, no 1, p 10.