Curtiss Kittyhawk to Fire Main Armament at Warbirds Over Wanaka 2020

Frank Parker's combat-veteran Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.IV rattling off a brace of its six .50 cal machine guns at a previous event. The aircraft will be performing this routine at the next Warbirds Over Wanaka air show, scheduled for Easter Weekend 2020. (photo by Gavin Conroy via WOW)

Airworthy WWII aircraft fitted with their original, and functional, machine guns are indeed a rarity, with just a handful having this capability worldwide. While there are plenty of sensible reasons why it doesn’t happen too often, and even then, only at very select locations, once in a blue moon, the public has the opportunity to witness these aircraft flying, and operating their armament, at an air show. Such will be the case at Warbirds Over Wanaka in Wanaka, New Zealand next Easter, where Frank Parker will be flying his former Royal Australian Air Force Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.IV A29-448 (ex-P-40N 42-104730) and performing a live-fire demonstration, albeit with blank ammunition, as part of his air show act. The latest Warbirds Over Wanaka press release gives further details…

Visitors to the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow next Easter are being offered a unique close-up opportunity to see a P-40 Kittyhawk firing its six .50 calibre machine guns.

Auckland-based pilot Frank Parker is returning to Wanaka to fly the P-40. Frank will be firing the guns as part of an aerial display but there will also be a test firing of the guns on the ground on the Friday of the Airshow.

Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, says Wanaka is the only Airshow in the world where you can see a P-40 firing its guns. “We are working up a great scenario for the Saturday and Sunday which will involve the P-40 hunting and shooting down a couple of enemy aircraft. But before that on the Friday we will be having a special one-off ‘firing of the guns’ on the ground to allow fans to get up close and personal for the experience of a lifetime.”

“The P-40 guns are something of an only-at-Wanaka thing.  They were first used back in 2008 and then in 2012 and 2016. It’s great to have them back for 2020. We know they’re very popular especially with our international visitors who just can’t get enough of them,” says Ed.

Pilot Frank Parker says when the guns are fired it changes the P-40’s character from a quaint old aircraft to a ‘weapons system’. “The guns are a bit muted by the engine noise, however the whole airframe rattles – there is no doubt there is some serious action going on.  They add a further dimension to the aircraft and the display routine. I’m very privileged to be in the seat and it does give you a very real feeling for how it must have been when P-40s were flying in combat back in the 1940s,” says Frank.

The spent shells will be recovered and signed by Frank and will then be offered for sale to air show visitors raising funds for the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust Flying Scholarships.

Belts of blank .50 cal ammunition draped over the wing of Frank Parker’s Curtiss Kittyhawk. The aircraft will be demonstrating its armament during an aerial performance at the Warbirds Over Wanaka air show during Easter weekend of 2020. It will be a sight – and sound – not to be missed. (image by Gavin Conroy via WOW)

Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow is being held at Easter 2020 (April 10th, 11th, 12th with Rides Day on April 13th).  For more information and tickets go

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