Mar 29 2011

P-40 Warhawk flies again at “War Birds Over Addison” Air Show


The Cavanaugh Flight Museum (CFM) will fly many of its treasured WWII, Korean and Vietnam-era airplanes, including: the P-51 Mustang,FM2 Wildcat, T-28B Trojan, OV1D Mohawk and “FiFi” the world’s only flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

Along with these great warbirds is the P-40 Warhawk. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s P-40N (serial number 44-7369) was constructed at the Curtiss-Wright plant in Buffalo, New York and was delivered to the Army Air Force (AAF.) On May 26,1944. The plane was sent in June 1944 to Peterson Army Air Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado and served with the 268th AAF Base Unit (Combat Crew Training Station-Fighter, Second Air Force).

In March 1945, the P40 aircraft was transferred to the 232nd AAF Base Unit (2nd A.F.), stationed at the Dalhart Army Air Field (Texas). In June 1945, the plane was disposed as surplus.

The P-40N was purchased by the museum in 1995 from Joseph Mabee, who had owned the aircraft since 1978. Today, the aircraft is painted in the scheme of Major General Charles R. Bond, Jr.’s No. 5 and is representative of P-40Bs and P-40Es flown by the Flying Tigers in the early days of World War II. The aircraft often appears at air shows across the country.


Mar 25 2011

P-40 inspired custom bike

As a youngster growing up in Taiwan, Nick Gargano was a natural fan of the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in the early 1940s, more popularly known as the Flying Tigers. The pilots wore jackets with the Nationalist Chinese flag-now flown by Taiwan-giving them special meaning to the Taipei-born Gargano.

Eventually motorcycles became a focus of Gargano’s life, and two-strokes the object of his devotion. An ingenious amalgamation of parts, his P40 Flying Tiger is powered by a Yamaha RZR350R two-stroke motor rebuilt by Jay Mendoza, featuring a Pro Design Cool Head and custom stainless steel Jim Lomas expansion chambers with one-off titanium mufflers. was the source of many custom parts, including an aluminum radiator, billet clutch housing and aluminum boost bottle, while RGV Steve’s Motorcycles supplied custom rear sets, headlight and aluminum kickstand.

To modernize the chassis, a late-model Yamaha YZF-R6 front end was grafted to the bike and a Honda NSR250 single-sided swingarm with a Penske shock was installed. Kunihide Okamoto sourced exotic Japanese parts, including the gauges and solo seat cowl.

But, the centerpiece of the bike is its graphic treatment. “The flashing shark’s teeth of the Curtis-Wright P-40s and trademark as Flying Tigers are world famous. I have seen many different versions of the Flying Tiger paint theme on cars and motorcycles,” Gargano explains, “so to honor the AVG, I decided to build my version of the famous paint theme featuring the shark mouth. I used Illustrator to design the over-theme of the bike and decal placement, and had the bike painted to my design.” Having accomplished his goal, Gargano is selling the motorcycle and moving on to a Suzuki RG500-based project.

The result is a stunning tribute to the brave men who rallied to protect an American ally from aggression in the days preceding our country’s official involvement in World War II.

Mar 22 2011

Capt. Robert W. Fairbairn’s account on the P-40

Robert Fairbairn graduated in the class of 43F (June, 1943) from Craig Field Alabama and with 7 ½ hours P-40 time, was the sent to the 30th Fighter Squadron, 57th Fighter Group, 6th Air Force, Panama where he flew P-40s, P-40Bs and C’s. Upon completion of 35 flying hours he was then assigned to the 43rd tactical fighter squadron, 16th Fighter Group, 26th Fighter Command, 6th Air Force until May, 1945.

After graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant from flying school in June of 1943, he arrived in Panama and realized the Panama Canal was a prime target for the enemy, it was protected by a four fighter squadron flying P-39‘s , barrage balloons, and elements of the U.S. Navy. Everything entering the canal zone was intercepted, identified, and reported to central command.

In November, Robert’s squadron was assigned P-40N-5s. As time passed, the threat to the canal lessened and squadrons were reassigned out of the area leaving the 24th and 43rd and continue the mission. At the same time they were relocated to La Cherrera, a dirt fighter strip just west of the city.


“The P-40N’s were a stable, effective fighter below 15,000ft.. I believe they were the last model mass produced and engineer’s did all they could to reduce weight and wing loading including removing starters so that the airplane had to be hand cranked by the ground crew.”

“In a contest with a fellow pilot, the highest I could coach the plane to was 27,500ft.. and so much as the P-39‘s and P-40‘s were all we had operational at the beginning of the war, they did a magnificent job, only with the introduction of the supercharger and the ability to fly much higher were they superseded. The Merlin engine in the P-51, the placement of the supercharger in the rear of the P-47 and the P-38′s twin engines allowed the supercharged planes to fly higher and faster, yet below 15,000ft. The P-40 Warhawk could hold its own with any of them.”


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Read Complete Article and View Photos: Memories Of A P-40 Pilot

Mar 18 2011

Minot pilot and 4 other pilots to fly WWII aircraft

Minot pilot Warren Pietsch, three other pilots from North Dakota and one from Iowa will make a trip next week in World War II aircraft which hasn’t been attempted in these planes for 70 years.

The planes and pilots with the Texas Flying Legends Museum are going to St. Maarten, an island in the northeast Caribbean about 186 miles east of Puerto Rico, where they’ll take part in the 25th anniversary of the St. Barths Bucket Regatta.

Pilots and the planes making the trip are:

- Warren Pietsch, of Minot, flying the “Aleutian Tiger,” a P-40K Warhawk.

- Bob Odegaard, of Kindred, flying “Whistling Death,” a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair.

- Casey Odegaard, of Kindred, flying “Dakota Kid II,” a P-51D Mustang.

- Dr. Henry Reichert, of Bismarck, and Doug Rozendaal, of Clear Lake, Iowa, flying “Betty’s Dream,” a B-25J.

“When the opportunity was presented to perform at the Bucket Regatta in 2011, we were very excited to make this mission a reality,” said Chris Griffith, of Scarborough, Maine, president of the flying museum. The museum is based out of Ellington Field in Houston.

“However, to accomplish the trip to St. Barths and back, we would have to cross more water than had ever been attempted since World War II in these planes. Combined with the necessary licenses required to make such a trip even possible, we had to pull all our resources together to make this happen,” Griffith said.

He said the 70-year-old aircraft will fly 1,100 nautical miles from Houston to St. Maarten for the three-day race, and then back to Houston.

Pietsch said this is a very significant trip and that he has never done something like this before.

“All four airplanes will travel together as a formation,” he said.

He said the P-40, which he will be flying, has the shortest range at about 400 miles.

“We will be making two stops between Houston and Fort Lauderdale (1,100 miles) and three stops between Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten (1,200 miles). We will be stopping in Great Exuma, Bahamas-Providenciales, Turks and Caicos-Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and then St. Maarten,” he said.

He said the trip will take about 14 hours of flying each way.

During the regatta, the planes will take off from Arrindell Aviation Services, their base of operations in St. Maarten, to perform a formation fly-by every morning over St. Barths. Every afternoon they will also perform a 20-minute air show over Shell Beach, St. Barths, after each day’s race.

The pilots, along with their planes, also will be at Arrindell Aviation each afternoon to meet the public.

Planes with the Texas Flying Legends Museum are flown from Texas to North Dakota each spring, to Maine each summer and back to Texas in the fall.

The museum also has one of only two flying Japanese Zeros left in the world and “Little Horse,” a P-51D stable-mate of Dakota Kid II.

The four planes in the St. Maarten trip and possibly two other planes will be on display at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot when it opens May 14. The planes will remain there for about two months.

Mar 11 2011

Waterloo Air Show to feature Canadian Armed Forces’ Warbirds

BRESLAU — Snowbirds, Skyhawks, hornets and other flying things will be buzzing the sky above the Region of Waterloo international airport this August, showing off their skill to an expected 40,000 people planted on the ground.

For the first time in its three-year history, the Waterloo Air Show will feature the big three airborne spectacles of Canada’s armed forces.

Organizers have added the military’s professional parachute team, the Skyhawks, and an F-18 Hornet demo team, to the top-drawing Snowbirds, the iconic acrobatic squadron that has been thrilling crowds for decades.

“The fact we have all three . . . is fantastic news. It goes to show the Waterloo Air Show is being recognized by the Canadian military as a great venue to show off their assets,” said Diana Spremo, director of marketing for the air show, which runs Aug. 20–21.

Organizers also hope to add several American acts to the show, including fighter jets and big air tankers, although they’re still waiting on confirmation.

The air show will also feature historical Second World War planes like the F-86 Sabre, the P-40 Kittyhawk and four yellow Harvard trainers. American stunt pilot Mike Wiskus will also perform.

There will plenty of on-the-ground exhibits, plus food, a kids’ zone, beer tent and more. Organizers are also hoping to set up a special venue that honors local veterans. Check out the air show’s official website for more details as they’re released.




Feb 25 2011

Franklin County renames airport to honor WWII Aviator

On Feb. 16, Franklin County re-named its airport in honor of a dedicated aviator that helped to bridge the two eras.

The airport is now known as the Franklin County Apalachicola Regional Airport – Cleve Randolph Field in recognition of the significant role Randolph played in founding and developing the airport ever since the Army constructed the airfield as a training facility on the eve of World War II.

At the ceremony attended by about 200 people, inside the hangar of Garlick Environmental on the airport grounds, dignitaries paid tribute to Randolph’s work, outlined in the resolution passed unanimously by the county commission on Jan. 4.

“This is a great day, and one we have been waiting for for far too long,” said Ken Tucker, a World War II tail gunner who was a contemporary of Randolph’s. “He dedicated his life to the airport. You did a great deed when you dedicated this airport to him. It has great potential; keep in mind what you have here.”

Former Clerk of Courts Pal Rivers, a retired Navy aviator who earned his pilot’s wings together with Randolph when the two trained during the war at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, was given the honor of reading the resolution to the gathering.

The resolution summed up the life of a man dedicated from his youth, when he worked summers at the airport as it was being constructed, to the expanding field of aviation.

In an interview after the ceremony, Rivers told of how the young Randolph, while away at school in Cullman, Ala., had secretly used the money his parents sent him to take flying lessons, and then flew home one day to the astonishment of his parents.

Because he had prior military service as a cadet commander in a civilian role, Randolph entered the service as an aviation cadet, and after the war, returned to the county and later opened a flying school at the airport, where he lived with his wife Smiles, and their four children, in the abandoned Army barracks there.

Another of Randolph’s contemporaries, Bubba Gander, who also earned his naval aviator wings after the outbreak of the war in Corpus Christi, Texas, sat in the audience’s front row, and clapped appreciatively at the recounting of his friend’s exploits. Another military contemporary, retired Army Col. Harry Buzzett, who served as best man at the Randolphs’ wedding, was absent due to medical treatments he is receiving in Tampa.

The resolution went on to mention that Randolph taught more than 100 local people to fly at the airport. Among them, said Rivers afterwards, was Rivers’ wife of 61 years, the former Anna Laurie McLeod, who learned to fly from Randolph while her husband was at sea on duty assignments during his Navy career as an operations officer.

Randolph opened a seaplane landing base west of Apalachicola, which became a favorite of the late Homer Marks, a prominent businessman who loved to fly to Lake Wimico to hunt geese, Rivers said.

Randolph, who operated the flying school for almost three decades and was the first to open a round-the-clock fuel station and office, regularly flew patients to larger hospitals for medical services, reads the resolution.

Rivers, a native of Green Cove Springs, began his friendship with Randolph after the war, when he would visit his wife’s hometown. Among these trips were the times Rivers flew a Douglas DC-3, like the one on display at the airport Saturday, on cross-country trips out of his duty station overseeing a reserve squadron in Akron, Ohio. “We’d come down here and pick up a load of shrimp,” he said.

Apalachicola resident Bill Spohrer, a member of the International Air Cargo Association’s Hall of Fame, gazed lovingly after the ceremony at the cargo plane, similar to the three such aircraft his company, TAN Airlines, owned in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

That airplane, as well as the Curtiss P-40E Warhawk next to it, were flown down by the Liberty Foundation in honor of the occasion. Pilot Dan Brooks spoke at the ceremony, outlining the historic significance of the aircraft.

“The (P-40) was the most advanced fighter the Army Air Corps had,” he said, comparing it to the equivalent of today’s F-16 or F-22 jets.

With a 1,200-horsepower Allison V-12 engine, the P-40 flew combat missions out of Cole Bay in the Netherlands Antilles, before it was outclassed by the P-51 Mustang. “The military built over 12,000 of them and very few survive today,” he said. “Some guys dug it out of a dump in the ‘80s” and it was later restored by a Kissimmee businessman and is now on display by the Liberty Foundation.

The Douglas DC-3 on display was in the Normandy invasion, Brooks said, and was flown back to France for the 50th anniversary of that historic beach assault, the largest in human history. Later it would be used as part of the Greenland Expedition Society’s rescue of lost aircraft from nearly 270’ below the surface of the ice cap off Greenland.


Feb 18 2011

Flights in Old Warbirds to be Offered in New Venture

The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum in Wanaka is about to offer a new tourist attraction, the ultimate aviation gift or day out – a ride in a world War I Kittyhawk fighter and other warbirds.

The said museum in Wanaka is about to close and hand its assets over to the Air Force Museum in Wigram in Christchurch and the Warbirds over Wanaka Community Trust.

In its place will be another venture, which organizers say will be world class, offering hands-on attractions expected to attract tourists.

Details have yet to be revealed but they could include fights in World War I or World War II aircraft, one of them possibly being the Curtis P-40 Kittyhawk.

The Kittyhawk, which flew at up to 500kmh, was one of the most successful American fighter aircraft of the war and more than 13,000 were built.

Some came to New Zealand after pleas to the British and American governments for aircraft to defend New Zealand.

Trust board chairman Murray Cleverley said the Wanaka museum would sell one of its hangars and keep one which it would develop for the new attraction at a cost of about $2 million.

He would not reveal all the details but said there would be a “whole lot of attractions” appealing to men, women, and children.

He said they were talking to several operators of a range of aircraft to offer people a hands-on experience and rides, including Kittyhawk flights. “They are quite excited about the opportunity.”

He said details had yet to be finalized on aircraft and the cost of a flight but a short joyride in a Kittyhawk could cost up to $2000. “I was in one last year and it was absolutely mind blowing.” He said he was still smiling a week after he did barrel rolls over Lake Wanaka in the Kittyhawk. “The perfect turning-50 gift from a family is to throw him in one of those babies.”

Mr Cleverley said the trust had also asked the Government for one of the air force’s 17 decommissioned Skyhawk fighter bombers which are to be scrapped, sold for spare parts or given to museums.

The New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum Trust was established in 1993 to hold a collection of artifacts, archives and other articles of historic interest and tell the story of men who served as fighter pilots.

However, Mr Cleverley said, like many museums, it was struggling and no longer viable and the decision was made to close it, hand over artifacts to the Air Force Museum and start the new venture in the hangar.


Feb 9 2011

P-40 Warhawk (Tiger Shark) Model

The P-40 Warhawk was a remarkable fighter bomber and the last of the famous “Hawk” line produced by Curtiss Aircraft during the 1930s-1940s. The Warhawk also features certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk. It was the third-most numerous US fighter of World War II. An early prototype version of the P-40 was the first American fighter capable of speeds greater than 300 mph.

Design work on the aircraft began in 1937, but numerous experimental versions were tested and refined before the first production version of the P40, the Model 81, appeared in May 1940. By September of that year, over 200 had been delivered to the Army Air Corps. 185 more were delivered to the United Kingdom in the fall of 1940, where they were designated the Tomahawk Mk I.

- airforcemodelworks

Feb 4 2011

P-40 Fighter Ace: James B. Morehead

Known as “Colonel” to his many friends and business associates in Petaluma, where he’s lived for the past 35 years, Morehead earned the moniker, “Wildman of Hamilton” for flying upside down from Hamilton Field to Sacramento in 1941. At 94, he still possesses the steely nerved self-confidence of the airborne warrior that earned a chest-full of medals, including two Distinguished Service Crosses (our country’s second-ranking decoration for extraordinary heroism), the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star and membership in the Legion of Valor.

His tales of flying the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk in air battles over the Pacific are mesmerizing, and well-documented in his book, “In My Sights: The Memoir of a P-40 Ace,” but even if you don’t read his book, you can listen to him speak of being among the highly selected pilots who were destined for aerial combat and how he “really laid into those enemy bombers,” and “just riddled that plane right up to the cockpit” with his six 50-caliber machine guns as he fought not only for his own survival but to protect our country’s freedom in the early stages of World War II.

Of his first taste of aerial combat as a P-40 pilot, Morehead said, “I was just hoping to get through it — to get experience for the next encounter.”

After the war, he became a squadron commander in Italy and base commander of Chico Air Force Base before going to Formosa (Taiwan), where he trained Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese Air Force pilots to fly jet fighters. He then served at the Pentagon until retiring as a “full bird” colonel in 1967.

But there’s much more to Morehead’s story than being an ace fighter pilot and decorated war hero. In 1967, while living in San Rafael, he and his wife, Betty, purchased the F Street Apartments in Petaluma and operated them until 1975, the year they, along with son Jimmy and daughters Melanie and Myrna, moved to a ranch on Sonoma Mountain. Their company, Morehead Enterprises, then purchased a 38-acre parcel on Dynamic Way, which they developed into Petaluma’s first industrial park. Another of their projects included developing 22 acres near Industrial Drive and Petaluma Boulevard North.

As a kid growing up hunting in rural Oklahoma, Morehead became a marksman with a hunting rifle, a talent he says enabled him to survive in air combat. Those childhood hunting experiences and other opportunities enabled him to become a renowned big game hunter whose mounted trophies from around the world impressively fill his home. Included in Morehead’s collection is a cape buffalo from Botswana, an African lion, a baboon from Ethiopia, a dik dik and a grizzly bear. Among the various species of antelope on display in his museum-like living room is a record book verifying the 12th largest antelope ever taken in Africa. A hyena pelt covers the door to his “bird room,” where his talent for taxidermy is displayed on the walls. He’s one of just 27 people in the world to have taken the “grand slam” of all six subspecies of wild turkey in North America, which he has mounted on the walls of his den.


Feb 1 2011

Capt. James Reed on Flying the P-40 against German Fighters

On November 11th, 1942, Lt. (later Capt.) James E. Reed of the 33rd Fighter Group was piloting one of the 77 P-40Fs that was catapulted off the carrier ‘Chenango,’ a converted Great Lakes oil tanker, for a landing at an airport at Port Lyautey, 90 miles north of Casablanca, as part of Operation Torch–the invasion of North Africa.


Not long after the landing, Lt. Reed had to turn over his P-40F, named ‘Irene’ in honor of his then-girlfriend and later wife, to the French Lafayette Escardrill Squadron, much to his chagrin (along with that of the other pilots who had to give up their planes as well).

Lt. Reed ultimately completed 83 missions flying P-40s. Many of these missions were against German fighters, especially the Me-109.

When Capt. Reed was asked about how the P-40F and L (which he also flew) compared to both the Me-109 and Fw-190, which also flew in North Africa but to a lesser degree (more often as a fighter-bomber). Here is Capt. Reed’s emailed reply:

“Regarding performance against the Me-109 and FW-190. The 190 was tough to out-turn. I could out-turn the 109, but it was hard to do. I, at times, had to drop a few degrees of flaps and slow down to out-turn it. On one mission dropping the flaps was not enough so I had to drop my landing gear to slow down enough to out-turn the Me-109 and get away from his fire. I think dropping the flaps and landing gear probably saved my life. I never had a one-on-one with the FW-190 so am not sure what I could do with it. I understand that it was harder to get away from than the Me-109.”

The Americans and allies that flew the P-40/Tomahawk/Kittyhawk had a tough time against the Axis fighters in North Africa, especially the Me-109 and Italian Macchi 202, but the old Curtiss fighter was a tough, well-armed aircraft that, when flown to its potential by experienced pilots, could dish it out as well as take it.