The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk flew for the first time 76 years ago today. Developed from the P-36, the P-40 was America’s most numerous fighter aircraft in service when World War II started. The P-40 bred a generation of fighter pilots with Boyd “Buzz” Wagner becoming the first United States Army Air Forces ace of World War II. The P-40 was immortalized by Claire Chennault and the “Flying Tigers” of the American Volunteer Group who used the aircraft with great success in China. Production of all P-40s totaled more than 13,000 and the aircraft served with over a dozen nations. Depending on which country operated which variant, early P-40s were known as the Tomahawk and the Kittyhawk name was used for later models (all P-40s in American service were termed Warhawks).
Here is a photo of a P-40E from the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia taking-off during the 2013 Flying PROMS airshow.
This P-40E was built in 1941 and was used by the Royal Air Force under the Lend-Lease program before being transferred to the Soviet Union. It is painted to replicate the P-40 of David Lee “Tex” Hill who led the famous mission over the Salween River and had 12.25 victories as part of the “Flying Tigers.”
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