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Curtiss P-40

Although somewhat of an old design by World War Two standards, the Curtiss P-40 often held it's own in the face of superior aircraft. An inline engine development of the old radial engine P-36, the early P-40's had an awkward appearance due to the Allison engine installation. The prototype P-40 first flew on October 14, 1938. P-40B's had an armament of four .30 caliber machine guns, while the P-40C's had six. France ordered 230 Hawk 81A versions of the P-40, although the British later received all of these aircraft under the name Tomahawk. The U.S.A.A.F. also ordered examples, as did Russia and China. Hawk 81A's were flown by the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) in China and performed brilliantly agianst overwhelming odds. The P-40D changed the appearance of the nose. Instead of the two air intakes of the early versions, one above the nose and the other below, the later versions had only one under the nose. The armament was also increased to six .50 caliber machine guns. In the U.S.A.A.F. the new P-40's were called Warhawks. P-40's were used in North Africa by the British and Americans. The last operational version of the P-40 was the P-40N, the last being built in Decemer 1944 after a production run of 13,738 aircraft. A lesser known variant of the P-40 was the P-40Q. This plane utilized a bubble canopy, four bladed propeller, a more powerful Allison engine, and new air intake. It was the fastest Warhawk at 422 mph. The sole example was later used as a racer and was destroyed in a race it hadn't even qualified for.

An early P-40 with the RAF. Note the ungainlyness of the nose. It wasn't the prettiest fighter around, but it did the job.