Curtiss P-36 Hawk photo gallery

Curtiss H-81A Hawk - Tomahawk photo gallery

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk photo gallery

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk photo gallery

Curtiss P-40B-C Warhawk and P-40CU - Tomahawk

National origin:- United States
Role:- Fighter, Fighter-bomber
Manufacturer:- Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Location:- Buffalo, New York.
Designer:- Don R. Berlin.
First flight:- 14 October 1938[1] Retired Brazilian Air Force (1958)
Introduction:- January 1944
Primary users:- United States Army Air Forces, Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, USSR
Produced between 1939–1944:- 13,738[2]
Unit cost:- USD $44,892 in 1944[3]
Development:- Curtiss P-36 Hawk
Variants:- Curtiss XP-46

Hawk 81A-1 / P-40B / P-40C / Tomahawk I / Tomahawk IIA and Tomahawk IIB

Distinguishing Features: Twin nose guns, smaller engine cowling, 'long' nose

Time in Service: 1941–43

Major Operators

RAF Army Cooperation Command 1941–43, with 10+ squadrons equipped by early spring 1942. All based in UK.

Desert Air Force (DAF) 1941–43: North Africa and Syria

Royal Canadian Air Force RCAF squadrons based in the U.K. included 400, 403, 414 and 430 in the Army Cooperation Role.

Republic of China Air Force (American Volunteer Group; AVG; “Flying Tigers”) 1941–42: China/Burma/India (CBI)[3]

United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) 1941–42: Pearl Harbor,[4] Philippines[5] and Java[6]

Военно-воздушные силы (Soviet Air Forces; VVS) 1942–43: Eastern Front (World War II) and Continuation War


This was a very important type for the allies in the early part of the war. Many were destroyed on the ground at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines in December 1941; it did well with the AVG in China and Burma, and was an effective fighter available to the RAF in the early months of the Desert War. It was also a small but important part of the Soviet arsenal in 1942, being one of the few types available to them which could take on the Bf 109. The earliest version (P-40) had only four guns and lacked armor plate or self-sealing tanks, but the British pressed these into service into North Africa anyway as Tomahawk Is. The P-40B (Tomahawk IIa) had armor behind the pilot, an armored windscreen and partially protected fuel tanks, the P-40C (Tomahawk IIb) had a fully protected fuel system, provisions for a drop tank, and became heavier, reducing speed to under 350 mph. The Soviets reportedly stripped the wing guns from some of their Tomahawks to improve performance. Used extensively by the RAF's Army Cooperation Command from February 1941 in developing high speed, low level, tactical reconnaissance for the British Army. Replaced by the Mustang I in mid 1942.

There were a variety of differences between the British Commonwealth and US variants, (starting with the guns, .303 instead of .30 caliber) so that there is not actually an exact correlation between specific US variants (P-40B etc.) and British Commonwealth export versions (i.e. 'Tomahawk')

P-40D / P-40E / Kittyhawk Mk 1 / Kittyhawk Mk Ia

Distinguishing Features: Deeper engine cowling, ('definitive' P-40 "Look") four/six wing guns, "short" nose

Time in Service: 1941–43

Major Operators

USAAF (1941–43) Philippine Islands, Java (NEI), Australia, New Guinea, Guadalcanal, CBI

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) (1942–43) Kokoda Track, Battle of Milne Bay, Darwin

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) (1941-44) Home War Establishment and Aleutian Campaign (1942)

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) (1942–43) South Pacific

DAF (1942) Desert War, principle air superiority fighter for early 1942

VVS (late 1942–43)

Chinese Air Force (1943–27 P-40E)[7]


This was the first version armed with six .50 caliber machine guns. More powerful than the P-40B/C in terms of armor, armament and performance, this was the type which fought as a fighter during the most crucial period in both the Pacific and North African campaigns. The P-40E played a major role in the defense of Philippines, Java (NEI), Australia and New Guinea in 1942, and with the Desert Air Force (DAF) in intense fighting against the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica also in 1942. The P-40E was also an important type for the Soviets.

In the Desert War the arrival of the Kittyhawk led to the early retirement of the Bf 109E and its replacement by the faster and more maneuverable Bf 109F. The top scoring DAF squadrons, including No. 3 Squadron RAAF and No. 112 Squadron RAF, transferred from the Tomahawk to the Kittyhawk, scoring many kills against Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica types, helping the DAF to hold on through this tough period.

The Kittyhawk also played an important role in the Soviet Air Force in 1942, notably during the Battle of Leningrad.

P-40K / P-40M / Kittyhawk Mk III

Distinguishing Features: P-40K has expanded fin, later M models had extended tail

Time in Service: 1942–43

Major Operators

USAAF (1942–43) New Guinea, Guadalcanal, CBI

RAAF (1942–43) Kokoda Trail, Milne Bay, Darwin

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) 1942–43 South Pacific

VVS (late 1942–43)


These were the slowest and heaviest P-40 variants. The P-40K was the primary type used by the 10th Air Force to establish air superiority in the China/Burma theater, achieving dominance over Japanese Army types in that theater. The P-40M was also an important type for the Soviets.

P-40F / P-40L / Kittyhawk Mk II and Kittyhawk Mk IIa

Distinguishing Features: Packard-Merlin engine, no intake on top of engine, some models were lengthened, some had deleted wing guns.

Major Operators

USAAF (1943) Operation Torch, Mediterranean Theater; South-West Pacific Theater[8]

VVS (1943)

Free French Air Force (1943) Mediterranean Theater


This version fulfilled the long-standing wish of the British to fit the P-40 with a Merlin engine (which is what ultimately led to the development of the P-51), but it arrived in combat relatively late and ironically, few of this type made it to Commonwealth units. It was however the variant with which the USAAF faced the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica in the Med. The Packard Merlin engine improved performance, but the single stage, two-speed supercharger still limited the effective ceiling to about 20,000 feet. Many P-40Fs were lightened in the field by US squadrons to make them 'hot' by removing some armor and wing guns. The P-40L was an official light version nicknamed "Gypsy Rose Lee" after the famous stripper. Some had four guns, some only had two. Top speed for this type was 368 mph; climb and acceleration were better as well. This fighter could cope with the Bf 109F and G within its effective performance ceiling. It was the variant used by the successful 324th, 325th and 57th Fighter Groups, and also by the Tuskegee Airmen's 99th FS in Italy for a short time.

P-40F/L variants were supplied to Free French squadrons flying in North Africa.

Some of the later run P-40F/L types were lengthened like the later P-40N, a measure to cope with the increased torque of more powerful engines.

P-40N / Kittyhawk Mk IV / Warhawk

Distinguishing Features: Modified rear cockpit with expanded view, lengthened fuselage, some models had two deleted wing guns

Major Operators

USAAF: (1943–44) CBI

DAF: (1943–44) Mediterranean Theater

RAAF: (1943–44) South West Pacific

RNZAF: (1943–44) South West Pacific

VVS: (1943)

RCAF: (1944-45) Home War Establishment (Operational Training)


This version (Model 87V, 87W) remained in use as an air superiority fighter in the CBI. It was the most produced of all P-40s, with 5,220 examples built. In other theaters it was principally used as a fighter/bomber. It featured a lengthened fuselage and a more powerful 1300 hp Allison engine but the use of a single speed, single stage supercharger gave the model only a marginally better effective altitude than a P-40E. As with the F/L, there were both 'light' and 'heavy' versions, the lightest 'hot' fighter-configuration-with-four-guns P-40Ns achieved a top speed of up to 378 mph. The first sub-model, P-40N-1-CU, weighted only 2,700 kg (max 4,015) and it was meant to be a high-altitude interceptor. It was the fastest of all P-40s with 608 km/h or 378 mph at 3,100 m (one of the best performances at such altitude), 6.7 minutes to 4,570 m, and a ceiling of 38,000 ft. Only 400 were built. Later run P-40Ns were made with a lower-power engine, specifically for training or fighter-bomber missions and had a top speed of only 345 Mph. The production led to many blocks, up to P-40N-40-CU with 1,360 hp and metal-covered ailerons. One of the most important sub-model, the P-40N-15-CU, weighed 6,200 pounds empty, 8,350 loaded, 11,400 max. Its performance dropped to 208 mph/5.000 feet, 325 mph/10,000 feet (thus almost 100 km/h slower), 343 mph/15,000 feet, at 20,000 feet in 8.8 min, service ceiling was 31,000 feet.


The Curtiss P-40B-C Warhawk and P-40CU

Technically the aircraft was a monocoque monoplane, all-metal except for the fabric-covered metal structure of the wing and tail moving surfaces. The wings had a NACA 2215 profile tending towards a NACA 2209 at the wing tips which had already been tried out on the P-36.

The fuel which was stored in four wing tanks between the fillet radius and the landing gear and a fifth behind the pilot (988 litres in all) supplied a 1040bhp Allison V-1710-33 engine. Armament was rather feeble for the times as far as Western counterparts were concerned and consisted of two Colt-Browning 12.7mm machine guns housed in the engine cowling. The landing gear was entirely retractable but left a part of the tyres visible; the tailwheel was completely hidden. Note that the prototype had two trap doors on the undercarriage legs near the torsion links and two front trap doors at the root of the struts; these disappeared with the model under discussion here.

Production was kept up well since by September 1940, 168 P-40 had been delivered. It was the 8th Pursuit Group made up of the 33rd, 35th and 36th Pursuit Squadrons at Langley Field in Virginia which got them first, then the 20th Pursuit Group (55th, 77th, 79th Pursuit Squadrons) based at March Field in California, then the 31st Pursuit Group (39th, 40th, 41st Pursuit Squadrons) based at Selfridge, Michigan and then, very briefly, the 35th Pursuit Group (21st, 34th, 70th Pursuit Squadrons).

Meanwhile in March 1940, it was decided to honor a large order dating back to October 1939 for 230 Curtiss H-81 As (the export designation for the first P-40s) ordered by France. These machines could be fitted with four Browning FN 387.5mm machine guns in the wings and be equipped with French equipment.

They never reached their destination, and thanks to the British Purchasing Commission, in September 1940, a first batch of 140 machines (serial N° AH-741 to 880) was acquired by the RAF, which immediately drew attention to certain deficiencies like the absence of cockpit armor, the lack of self-sealing tanks, the weak armament despite the installation of the four wing mounted Browning 7.7mm machine guns. The official British designation changed from Tomahawk MkI, MkIA to MkIB.

These planes were delivered to a large number of squadrons (2, 13, 16, 26, 94, 112, 168, 171, 208, 231, 241, 250, 260, 349, 414, 430 and 613) but never really had the favor of the authorities who relegated them to training and to ground support in North Africa mainly with the Desert Air Force. The remainder of the French order, 90 planes, was also taken up by the RAF (together with another batch of 20 machines, serial numbers AH881-990) who obviously insisted on the fitting of more powerful armament, i.e. the four wing-mounted guns as well as those already fitted over the engine, and the protection for the pilot and the fuel tanks already mentioned. Indeed, the deficiencies already listed by the RAF had led Curtiss to bring out a new model, the H-81B, incorporating all the modifications mentioned as well as more powerful armament with 380 rounds instead of the original 200. This version was called the P-40B or Hawk 81A-2 (Tomahawk MkIIA) and delivered to the USAAC which had asked for 131 examples (serial N° 5205 to 5304 and 41-13297 to 13327) during the winter of 1940 and the spring of 1941.

The next stage was an order for 930 Hawk 81A-3s (Tomahawk MkIIBs) from Great Britain in which the radio equipment (SCR-274) and the fuel supply were modified; armament was still four Browning 7.7 mm machine guns in the wings as well as the two 12.7 mm guns over the engine. A lot of machines (about 300) were then transferred to other allies like China and Russia which greatly needed high performance fighters.

The interest which the British order aroused prompted Curtiss to develop the H-81B, or the P-40C which took into account all the previous modifications (self-sealing tanks, wing and engine-mounted guns with 490 rounds, new SCR-274 radio) as well as provision for a 197 liter drop tank. The USAAC ordered 193 examples, and production started in the spring of 1941. Deliveries first went to the 36th Pursuit Group in Puerto Rico and the 16th Pursuit Group (24th, 29th, 43rd Pursuit Squadrons) based at Panama; after that, other units already equipped with the P-40B, like the 8th and the 18th Pursuit Groups, were given them.

The first P-40s saw service on many fronts particularly Russia which received 146 Tomahawk MkIIB’s taken from British stocks together with 49 others coming directly from factories in the USA. They were used in the defense of Leningrad and Moscow during the winter of 1941-42. Other small batches from England were sent to Egypt and Turkey.

Apart from the North African operations, the RAF used them over the Channel with No’s 2, 26, 231and 241 Squadrons, in the Middle East against Vichy, and two others, No’s 400 and 403 operated in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the 15th and 18th Pursuit Groups at Wheeler Field lost 62 P-40Bs on the ground and the 4th Pursuit Group based a Bellows Field lost 10 P-40Cs out of 12.

The Flying Tigers was set up by a forceful character, General Claire Lee Chennault, with the tacit approval of the American authorities in order to contain the Japanese advance in China and Bur-ma, and relieve Tchang Kai Tchek's nationalist troops, this air force was equipped with about a hundred British Tomahawk MkIIs worth 8.9m by the Chinese, flown by American volunteers, some of doubtful reputation, for 600 to 750 dollars a month, which was a real godsend even without the 500 dollars paid in gold for every Japanese plane brought down in aerial combat.

In six months' operations, the three squadrons ‘Adam and Eve’, ‘Panda Bear’ and ‘Hell's Angels’ destroyed 286 planes in the air and 240 on the ground for the loss of only 16 planes (four in the air, six during ground attacks, three through accidents and three during air raids). In July 1942, the AVG (American Volunteer group) was incorporated into the 23rd Fighter group and carried on the war against the Japanese, but this time officially. It was the beginning of the Curtiss fighter's legend.

A listing of specifications for major P-40 variants.

P-40C Technical Specifications.
  P-40B P-40E P-40F P-40N
General characteristics
Crew One One One One
Length 31 ft 8 in (9.66 m) 31 ft 8 in (9.66 m) 31 feet 2 in, from P-40F-5-CU 33 feet 4 in (11,38 m) 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)
Wingspan 37 ft 4 in (11.38 m) 37 ft 4 in (11.38 m) 37 ft 4 in (11.38 m) 37 ft 4 in (11.38 m)
Height 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m) 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m) 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m) 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m)
Wing area 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²) 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²) 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²) 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
Empty weight 5,590 lb (2,535 kg) 6,350 lb (2,880 kg) 6,590 lb (2,990 kg) 6,405 lb (2,905 kg)
Loaded weight 7,326 lb (3,323 kg) 8,280 lb (3,760 kg) 8,500 lb (3,855 kg) 7,730 lb (3,505 kg)
Maximum gross takeoff weight 7,600 lb (3,447 kg) 8,810 lb (4,000 kg) 9,350 lb (4,238 kg) 8,860 lb (4,020 kg)
Powerplant 1x Allison V-1710-33, 1,040 hp 1x Allison V-1710-39, 1,150 hp (860 kW) 1x Packard V-1650-1, 1,390 hp
  • 1x Allison V-1710-81, 1,200 hp (895 kW)
  • Late-series P-40N-40 had V-1710-115, 1,360 hp (1,015 kW)
Maximum speed 352 mph (566 km/h) 360 mph (580 km/h) 364 mph at 20,000 ft (585 km/h) 378 mph (608 km/h) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft)(light version)
Cruise speed n.a. 270 mph (435 km/h) n.a. 280 mph (455 km/h)
Range 730-1230 mi (1,173-1,977 km) 650 mi (1,050 km) 700-1500 mi with 141.5 Imp gal drop tank (1k125-2,400 km) 745 mi (1,200 km)
Service ceiling 32,400 ft (9,875 m) 29,000 ft (8,840 m) 34,400 ft (10,500 m) 31,000 ft (9,450 m)
Climb rate 2,860 ft/min (14.5 m/s) 2,100 ft/min (10.7 m/s) 1725 ft/min (8.8 m/s) 2,240 ft/min (11.4 m/s)
Wing loading 152.3 kg/m² 35.1 lb/ft² (171.5 kg/m²) 36.0 lb/ft² (176 kg/m²) 32.8 lb/ft² (159.9 kg/m²)
Power/mass 0.16 hp/lb 0.14 hp/lb (230 W/kg) 0.15 hp/lb (245 W/kg) 0.16 hp/lb (260 W/kg)
  • 2x 50 cal (12.7 mm) and 4x .30 cal Browning
  • 6x .50 cal (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns, 281 rounds/gun
  • Up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of bombs on three hardpoints.
  • 4 or 6x .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns, 240-312 rounds/gun
  • 2x227 kg bomb
  • 6 or 4x .50 cal (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns
  • Up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of bombs on three hardpoints.


Data from Dean's America's Hundred Thousand, page 235.

Specifications Specifications (Curtiss P-40C Warhawk)

General characteristics

Data from Dean's America's Hundred Thousand, page 235.

General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 9.68 metres (31 ft 9 in)
Wingspan: 11.38 metres (37 ft 4 in)
Height: 3.23 metres (10ft 7in)
Wing area: 22 sq. metres (236sq.ft)
Airfoil: NACA2215 / NACA2209
Weight Empty: 2,638kg (5,600lbs)
Loaded: 3,393kg (7,464lbs)
Max. takeoff weight: 8,810 lb (4,000 kg)
One Allison V-171-33 rated at 1040bhp at take-off and 1090bhp at 4 metres (13,123ft), fitted with a Curtiss Electric constant speed 3.36 meter (11 feet) propeller.
Max. Speed: between 550 and 565kph (344mph and 353mph) at 4500m; 450kph (281mph) at 9,000m
Cruising speed: 435kph (272mph)
Range: 650 mi (560 nmi, 1,100 km)
Ceiling: 8,850m (29,028ft) to 9,000m (29,520ft)
Rate of Climb: 810m (2,656ft)min.
Wing loading: 35.1 lb/ft² (171.5 kg/m²)
Range: 1,168km (730 miles) and 1,968km (1,230miles) with drop tank.
6 machine guns (2 x 12.7mm Browning M-2s over the engine and 4 Colt. Browning 7.7mm MG-40s in the wings).


 Mingladon Rangoon Burma Map

 Cumming, China Map


    Citations and Notes: +

  1. Hagen, Brad. 'XP-40.' Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Retrieved: 21 August 2011.
  2. LAST, FIRST (2012). 'Army Air Forces Statistical Digest,World War II'. United States Air Force. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  3. Rossi, J. R. 'History.' AVG: American Volunteer Group, The Flying Tigers, 1998. Retrieved: 5 July 2011.
  4. Jordan, Corey C. (1998–2000). 'The Amazing George Welch: Part One - The Tiger of Pearl Harbor'. Planes and Pilots Of World War Two.
  5. L, Klemen (1999–2000). 'Chronology of the Dutch East Indies, 7 December 1941 – 11 December 1941'. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015.
  6. L, Klemen (1999–2000). 'The conquest of Java Island, March 1942'. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
  7. Demin, Anatolii (2000). 'Changing from 'Donkeys' to 'Mustangs' Chinese Aviation In The War With Japan, 1940–1945'. Planes and Pilots Of World War Two.
  8. 'Curtiss P-40E, K, M, N Warhawk/Kittyhawk.' Air Force Museum of New Zealand. Retrieved: 5 July 2011.

    Bibliography: +

  • Baugher, Joe. 'Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Tomahawk, Kittyhawk.' American Military Aircraft.
  • Planes and Pilots: Curtiss P40 Vol 3 From 1939 to 1945. ISBN: 2913903479 Author: Anis Elbied Publisher: Histoire & Collections Paperback Pages: 84
  • Osprey - P-40 Warhawk Aces of the CBI (Aircraft of the Aces 35) ISBN: 184176079X Author: Carl Molesworth Publisher: Osprey Paperback Pages: 96.
  • Osprey - P-40 Warhawk Aces of the Pacific (Aircraft of the Aces 55) ISBN: 1841765368 Author: Carl Molesworth   Publisher: Osprey Paperback Pages: 96.
  • RAAF Camouflage & Markings 1939-45 Vol 1 ISBN: 0858800365 Author: Geoffrey Pentland Publisher: Kookaburra Hard Cover Pages: 144
  • RAAF Camouflage & Markings 1939-45 Vol 2 ISBN: 0858800373 Author: Geoffrey Pentland Publisher: Kookaburra Hard Cover Pages: 144
  • Jane's - Fighting Aircraft of World War II ISBN: 1851701990 Author: Bill Gunston Publisher: Janes Hard Cover Pages: 320

    Magazines: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) -
  • Avions (French) -
  • FlyPast (English) -
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) -
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) -
  • Klassiker (German) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Osprey (English) -
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) -

    Web References: +

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This webpage was updated 30th March 2021