Airplanes of the Past Home Page

P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter planeCurtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter plane

History of the P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 was the United States' best fighter plane available in large numbers when World War II began. P-40s engaged Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines in December 1941. They also served with the famed Flying Tigers in China in 1942.

The aircraft was a descendent of the "Hawk" line produced by the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corporation in the 1930s and 1940s. It shared certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk.

Though often slower and less maneuverable than its adversaries, the P-40 earned a reputation in battle for extreme ruggedness. The airplane served throughout the war but was eclipsed by more capable aircraft.

Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps adopted for all models, making it the official name in the United States for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

The 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, famously nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, recruited under presidential authority and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The shark-faced P-40 was well known for its service to the Flying Tigers.

More than 13,738 P-40 planes were built during 1939-1944 at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, NY. The P-40 served in the air forces of 28 nations, and was the third-most numerous US fighter plane produced for World War II.

P-40 Warhawk Specifications

Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns, 700 lbs. of bombs externally
Engine: Allison V-1710 of 1,150 hp
Maximum speed: 362 mph
Cruising speed: 235 mph
Range: 850 miles
Ceiling: 30,000 ft.
Span: 37 ft. 4 in.
Length: 31 ft. 9 in.
Height: 12 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 9,100 lbs. loaded

P-40 Warhawk Photographs from the Airplanes of the Past Archives

P-40N Warhawk fighter plane, S/N 42-105927, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
P-40N Warhawk, S/N 42-105927
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 29629 of the Commemorative Air Force at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 29629
Curtiss P-40 29629 of the CAF at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 29629 of the CAF at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 29629 of the Commemorative Air Force
Curtiss P-40 29629
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk fighter plane "O'Riley's Daughter" in Seattle, Washington
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk "O'Riley's Daughter"

P-40 Warhawk Fighter Plane Photographs by Our Friends and Supporters

P-40E Warhawk "Lynn II" at the Peterson Air & Space Museum in Colorado Springs, CO
(photo by Michael Hoschouer)
P-40E Warhawk "Lynn II"