In the early stages of US involvement in the war, the P-40 was arguably America's front-line fighter. Considered by many to be obsolete, or at least obsolescent with respect to British and Axis fighters, the P-40 received a lot of bad press. The effectiveness of the AVG "Flying Tigers" was considered almost miraculous, considering the supposed inferiority of their equipment (and their always-precarious supply conditions.) In hindsight, the bad reputation probably was unjustified.
True, it was not as nimble as the Zero (but who was?), nor was it an agile dogfighter to match the Spitfire or Me-109. Allison-powered (the Merlin-powered P-40F and P-40L didn't become a factor until the Mustang and Thunderbolt pretty much overshadowed everything else), it lacked the high-altitude performance of some of its contemporaries. But in spite of all that, when the RAF found the appropriate niche for the Tomahawk, it became a star performer. Its detractors, of course, were unwilling to consider that they might have been overly critical.
The high-altitude plane is at as much a disadvantage at medium and low altitudes as the low-altitude craft is when it ventures above its optimum level. At 20,000 feet the newest version of the Curtiss P-40 series, the P-40F Warhawk, is considerably faster than the FW-190 and as fast as the latest Spitfire V.
Editor's note in Air News Yearbook for 1942.
Especially in the earlier phases of US involvement, combat reports had a lot of accounts of P-40 actions, and many of them reflected well on the airplane.
For convenience (mine), this page will also be the repository for links to earlier Curtiss fighters the famous Hawk family.
- "New Curtiss P-40" [ HTML ] introduced the P-40 to the reading public. The article supplied the cutaway drawing at the top of the page.
- "Our Planes Can Fight!" [ HTML ] , [ PDF, 9.5 MiB ] was written as a counter to claims in the press of American warplane inadequacies. It mentions several successes with the P-40.
- "American Aircraft in the RAF" [ HTML ] mentions the success of the Kittyhawk with Allison engine and looks forward to the P-40F with Packard-built Merlin engine.
- "Look At the Record!" [ HTML ] , [ PDF, 3.2 MiB ] discusses combat successes with the P-40 and other types.
- Air Tech's "Shop Talk" column for April, 1944, includes a news clip, "Fastest Engine Change on Record" [ HTML ] which describes a 3:21 engine change on an operational P-40 in the 14th AAF.
- Air Tech's "Shop Talk" column for July, 1944, includes "Introducing the 'C'-40" [ HTML ], which describes the use of 110-gallon belly tanks to carry urgent cargo.
- "'Home-Made' P-40s Knock Down Jap Planes" [ HTML ] recounts a classic example of Yankee ingenuity.
- A news clip with photo from July, 1940, shows a P-40 with the engine cowling off at a trade show.
- The "Have You Seen?" section for March, 1941, shows a P-40 Tomahawk in RAF markings, seen from 7 o'clock.
- "Why the Luftwaffe Will Lose!" [ HTML ] includes a photo of a flight of Tomahawks (P-40B or P-40C) in RAF livery
- The "Have You Seen?" section for March, 1942, shows a Kittyhawk (P-40D) in RAF colors, seen in flight from 10 o'clock.
- "War in the Air" [ HTML ] includes
- a photo of a lineup of Hawk 75s (export version of P-36) in Netherlands East Indies service.
- RAF Tomahawks in Libya. These planes have the shark-mouth nose treatment.
- "American Aircraft in the RAF" [ HTML ] includes 2 photos of P-40s in RAF colors:
- The "Have You Seen?" section for July, 1942, shows a P-40E Kittyhawk on the firing range, shot at night from 1 o'clock high.
- A news clip with photo from August, 1942, "Tomahawks Can Take It", shows battle damage to the rudder of an RAF P-40 in Egypt.
- "Report from the British Airfront"[ HTML ] includes a photo of a Kittyhawk in RAF markings, seen from 10 o'clock high.
- A drawing showing the engine mount, including much of the associated plumbing and wiring
- A drawing showing the coolant expansion tank mounted on the firewall; also shows part of the carburetor air intake port
- A color Gallery photo, "Curtiss P-40" shows P-40F 113997 in flight, seen from 10 o'clock. Plane has star-in-circle insigne, overall OD paint, belly drop tank.
- A color Gallery photo, "North American AT-6, Curtiss P-40," shows P-40 9184 flying formation with AT-6C-NT 132161; planes are seen from 3 0'clock. P-40 has fuselage marking X-804, AT-6 is X-376.
- "Fastest Engine Change on Record" [ HTML ] includes a photo of the ground crew manhandling the chin cowling of a P-40.
- Aviation's Yearbook for 1945 has an ID entry for P-40N Warhawk including an inflight photo from 10 o'clock high and a three-view line drawing.