P-40 B Warhawk Fighter
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter was the last of the famous Hawk line produced by Curtiss Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s and it shared certain design elements with its predecessor, the Hawk 75 / P-36. Design work on the aircraft began in 1937 and the Warhawk first flew in 1938. An early prototype version of the P-40 was the first American fighter capable of speeds greater than 300 mph. While the P-40 was a rugged plane with good maneuverability at low and medium altitudes, it’s engine prevented it from doing well at higher altitudes. Because of this, the Warhawk did not see mush use in the Western European front. However, it played a critical role in North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy. In these areas the P-40 was used as a fighter, bomber escort and fighter bomber. Continuously improved throughout its production run, the P-40 went through 10 major variations and a host of minor ones over it’s production run of 13,738 making it the third most numerous US fighter of World War II. Besides the USAAF, the P-40 flew with Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Soviet Union, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The Curtiss P-40 B Warhawk was armed with two .50 cal. machineguns in the nose and 4 .30 machineguns in the wings and could carry 2,000 lbs of bombs on 3 hard points. The Flying Tigers, known officially as the 1st American Volunteer Group, were a unit of the Republic of China Air Force recruited from U.S. aviators. The P-40 B was used by the AVG starting in late 1941. AVG leader Claire Chennault trained his pilots to use the P-40's particular performance advantages. The AVG was highly successful and its feats were widely published. According to their own count, in just nine months, the Flying Tigers shot down 286 aircraft for the loss of just four of their own. They originated the famous shark mouth emblem painted on the nose of their aircraft. The model shows a P-40 B flying with the famous Flying Tigers American Volunteer Group in China. Also see the XP-37 and the P-36 A and the Hawk 75 and P-40 E Warhawk and the Hawks group.