Oct 7 2010

The P-40 Tomahawk: One Of The Deadliest Aviation Legends

Along with the P-40 Warhawk and  Kittyhawk, the Tomahawk series of aircraft was the further development of the P-36 Hawk platform. The Warhawk would become synonymous with the American Volunteer Group fighting in China against the Japanese under the identifiable nickname of the “Flying Tigers”. Generally forgotten amongst the cast of American ace-makers in the war, the P-40 series was a capable and proven fighter aircraft in its own right and produced a bevy of famous pilots attached to her name – most notably were American airmen George Welch and Ken Taylor who were able to get their mounts airborne during the Japanese attack on Peral Harbor. Soviet pilots Nikolai Fyodorovich Kuznetsov, Petr Pokryshev and Stephan Novichkov all became aces flying thier Lend-Lease P-40s. The P-40 was a good fighter for its time, however production numbers never seemed to keep pace with the war, allowing technological developments and airborne tactics to evolve past the aircraft’s usefulness and strengths.

Not an overly exceptional aircraft in any one category, the P-40 Warhawk was a deadly fighting machine in trained hands. The formidable armament of 6 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine guns (up to 200 rounds per gun) was complimented by the ability of the aircraft to carry a bombload for an increasingly expanding workload. Warhawks were fitted with a liquid-cooled in-line piston engine as opposed to the air-cooled variety commonly found in the P-36 Hawk.

Though the French placed orders for the P-40 at the outset of the war, the eventual Fall of France forced the order to be diverted to Britain where it was promptly renamed the “Tomahawk”. Some Tomahawk models would eventually end up in the hands of the American Volunteer Group in China which, in turn, offered up an increasing amount of aerial victories against intruding Japanese fighters and bombers.

Further improvements to the P-40 line produced the “D” model which raised performance specifications of the Allison piston engine. By this time, the dual nose-mounted 12.7mm machine guns were dropped from the design, leaving only the four wing-mounted machine guns. The deletion of the machine guns was offset to an extent by the addition of an optional undercarriage bomb rack that allowed for the provision of a single 500lb bomb adding to the versatility of the aircraft. On top of the diverted French Warhawks or Tomahawks, the British also ordered their own P-40D models and assigned the name of “Kittyhawk” to these.

By this time, the entire Warhawk series was becoming out-classed by the up-and-coming next generation piston flyers. Despite this fact, the Warhawk – in every form – continued to find success where ever it was fielded. So much was the impression of the Warhawk that the final “E” model was introduced and used to good effect throughout the North African campaign (as the Kittyhawk under British use) and again in China with the American Volunteer Group. Total production at war’s end would amount to an astounding 16,800 P-40s.

Also, here’s a video of an actual P-40 in flight courtesy of youtube.



Sep 24 2010

Sierra Star Columnist Shares P-40 Hunt Adventure

Columnist Tony Krizan of the Sierra Star, a local paper in Oakhurst, California, recently wrote about his adventure in trying to find the remains of the last P-40 aircraft piloted by Lt. Lenard Lyden.

Final missing airplane remains a mystery

The highest point of our adventure is Cinder Col Pass at 12,170 feet. No trails to follow, just pick a line and maneuver over the bare rock surfaces leading to South Guard Lake at 11,760 feet — the origin of Cunningham Creek.

While climbing around the east side of this huge lake we discovered our next obstacles — patches of snow within the canyons leading to Cinder Col Pass. Once reaching the pass more than five feet of snow still remained and the angle of descent was much too dangerous to proceed. Our only alternative was to climb to a higher elevation to bypass this obstacle.

This maneuver was successful and we descend into the canyon that will lead us to our next camp site at Big Brewer Lake.

This is another large mountain lake with steep sloping sides and the remains of an aircraft could be hidden within those natural canyons.

Throughout the day’s trek and with the help of my field glasses, I searched the mountains for any sign of the last missing aircraft.

I was hoping for a reflection from the aged aluminum skin or a silhouette on the mountain. After 69 years, many searchers attempted to locate Lt. Lenard Lyden’s P-40 aircraft and failed. Again, no sign of his fallen bird.

By morning we descend to Little Brewer Lake at 9,735 feet to our originally planned base camp. We even took a few side hikes searching along the canyon walls again hoping to locate that missing aircraft hidden somewhere within these rugged rocks.

After setting up camp at Little Brewer Lake, we split up and climbed the surrounding mountains searching a few more hidden canyons for any trace of the P-40 aircraft. After a full day of climbing, boulder hopping and ridge running, we struck out again.

I felt sad that evening relaxing around the campfire, knowing in the morning we’d start our departure. Even though the last P-40 still remains a mystery, we were successful in relocating and identifying the exact quadrants of Lt. West and Lt. Longs P-40‘s.

During breakfast the following morning, we decided to change our plans and continue through another unknown area. If we hiked directly west, eventually we’d cross the Avalanche Trail, which will lead toward the Roaring River Ranger Station.

According to the map we hike toward a log cabin built by Shorty Loveless, a colorful trapper who made his living during the early twentieth century trapping for pelts.

We could not find his cabin or the remaining aircraft. The foliage during this three-mile cross country adventure was very dense with many downed trees, which made for slow trekking. Once we located the Avalanche Trail, we followed the trail south just below the Moraine Ridge until the trail rose over the saddle dropping to the Roaring River Ranger Station. We did manage to spend a few minutes with park ranger, Cindy Wood.

Now for the six-mile climb to Sugarloaf Meadow Campground before dark.

Our next destination is Rowell Meadow — our final camp site. With 1,800 feet of elevation gain, we follow part of the same trail we hiked 12 days earlier. This alternate trail to Rowell Meadow was lightly used compared to the main trail.

After 12 days without rain, the skies waited until the final evening and for more than two hours we had thunder, lightning and hail as large as dimes that covered the ground like a snow storm.

All was bright and clear the following morning to start our final push from 8,855 feet to 9,100 feet then back to 8,380 feet at the trailhead.

We hiked more than 54 miles in 13 days, found two of the three missing aircraft, which crashed 69 years ago. Maybe next year we’ll take a second visit back into this area and if we have any luck — we’ll find and solve the mystery of the P-40 that vanished.


Sep 14 2010

The P-40: One of the World’s Deadliest Aircraft

Deemed as one of the most deadliest aircraft during World War II, the P-40 Warhawk was used by air forces of 28 nations, mostly by the Allies, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. The single-engine, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft was a modification of the P-36 and this reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service.

“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.

Here’s a link courtesy of youtube detailing about this historical warplane.

Here’s the link to the second half of the video.

Sep 2 2010

Remembering WWII: The Fourteenth Air Force DVD

Victory films have released a DVD called The Fourteenth Air Force which chronicles the Flying Tigers in China and its progress until the end of World War II.

The film starts with the inception until the disbandment of the Flying Tigers. It is a compilation of videos from the personal footage of Pappy Paxton, a member of the Flying Tigers, to some sections of United Newsreels, an American government agency created during WWII.

P-40s are seen throughout the film. From P-40B to E. Chinese P-43 Lancers and some Oscars can be seen, too. P-40 lovers will surely want to check this film out.


Aug 23 2010

P-40 Aircraft Inspires Carmakers

For three months, professionals at Galpin Auto Sports and Airmen from several different technical career fields built a sports car with Air Force technology.

The Air Force’s two “supercars” are a Dodge Challenger and a Ford Mustang that are outfitted with cutting-edge technology. Dubbed “Vapor” and “X-1,” respectively, they serve as recruiting tools that travel the country, appearing at high schools and numerous public events. The Vapor appeared at the last Maxwell Air Show. It is equipped with a computer system, allowing for unmanned remote access. A custom, “stealth” exhaust mode renders the powerful engine nearly silent.

The car also boasts night and thermal vision, projected on a heads-up windshield display via a 360-degree surveillance camera. Other features include 20-inch, carbon fiber rims, a GPS transponder for tracking, dual steering and biometric access to vertical doors.

The P-40, developed from the P-36, was America’s foremost fighter in service when World War II began.

P-40s engaged Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the invasion of the Philippines in December 1941. They also were flown in China early in 1942 by the famed Flying Tigers and in North Africa in 1943 by the first Army Air Forces all African-American unit, the 99th Fighter Squadron.

The P-40 served in numerous combat areas – the Aleutian Islands, Italy, the Middle East, the Far East, the Southwest Pacific and Russia.

Though often outclassed by its adversaries in speed, maneuverability and rate of climb, the P-40 earned a reputation in battle for extreme ruggedness. At the end of the P-40′s brilliant career, more than 14,000 had been produced for service in the air forces of 28 nations, of which 2,320 were of the “E” series. The aircraft was also called the “Kittyhawk” and “Tomahawk” in England and Canada.


Jul 27 2010

P-40 on Facebook

The popularity of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk aircraft still lives on as aviation enthusiasts set up a Facebook fan page for the said airplane.

Currently, only a number of people are fans or “like” the page on Facebook, a popular social networking site. The fan page updates news and stories about the legendary fighter plane. So P-40 fans might want to log-in or sign up on Facebook and be updated. Fans may post any related material or information, too.

Let the P-40 Warkhawk’s legend live, too,even in social networking websites!

Jul 7 2010

AVG and the P40s they flew; Greatest Legends of the WWII

P-40 Warhawk

During the dark days of 1940 and 1941, the P-40 fighter plane was among the world’s deadliest war plane. It fought battles over Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Russia and the Pacific. The plane’s performance was often no match for its adversaries. With its trademark shark-tooth snarl, the P-40 prowled the skies over Europe, China, North Africa, and the South Pacific.

Several variations of the P-40 warplane such as the Warhawk, the Tomahawk, and the Kittyhawk were present on numerous battle fronts.

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

The aircraft’s superior durability, diving ability and fire power give its pilots advantage over their enemy. It was dubbed as a “dive and zoom” airplane. Over 13,000 P-40 planes flew in action and proved no matched for the adversaries.

German and Japanese enemies quickly learned to respect the planes abilities and fear its guns. It delivered devastating and punishing blows to its enemies in Japan, Russia, Europe, Middle East and the battles over China.

The P-40 will always be best remembered as the warplane flown by Claire Lee Chennault’s American Volunteer Group, also known as “The Flying Tigers.” Men who flew them were trained to use the warplane’s strength and exploit the enemies’ weakness.

Watch the video here:

World’s Deadliest Aircraft Part I

World’s Deadliest Aircraft Part II

- youtube
- Wikipedia

Jul 5 2010

Historical Airshow flies Curtiss P-40s

A spectacular sight across the clear blue skies

Last May 15 and 16, the Chino Airshow was successfully held at Chino Airport by the Planes of Fame organization with P-51 Mustangs, Curtiss P-40s, and other aircraft gracefully flying into the clear blue sky. 40,000 aviation enthusiasts attended the event. Veterans generously shared some of their experiences and war stories.

Honorary veterans

Airboyd.tv (courtesy of youtube) has video clips of the event while a recap of the event can also be found at the Planes of Fame website. Here’s a video clip of Curtiss P-40s performing in the air show.

The said event will happen again next year dated May 14 and 15, 2011.

Spectators and aircraft flock the Chino Airport



Jun 17 2010

“The P-40 is an unforgiving airplane” – Lt. Joel B. Paris

The P-40 was the workhorse of the Allied aerial arsenal right through 1944. It may not have been as “hot” as later designs, but it was a sound design, based on the earlier P-36, mated to the Allison V-1710 engine, that Curtis was able to produce in large numbers. As Clair Chennault found out in China, the P-40 was heavier, faster, and sturdier than Japanese fighters, and it out-gunned them as well. Properly handled and below 15,000 feet, it was a lethal.

Joel Paris was a P-40 ace with the 49th Fighter Group in the Southwest Pacific. In Fire in the Sky: The Air War in the South Pacific, he relates his opinion of the P-40:

I never felt that I was a second-class citizen in a P-40. In many ways I thought the P-40 was better than the more modern fighters. I had a hell of a lot of time in a P-40, probably close to a thousand hours. I could make it sit up and talk. It was an unforgiving airplane. It had vicious stall characteristics. … If you knew what you were doing, you could fight a Jap on even terms, but you had to make him fight your way. He could outturn you at slow speed. You could outturn him at high speed.

When you got into a turning fight with him, you dropped your nose down so you kept your airspeed up, you could outturn him. At low speed he could outroll you because of those big ailerons. They looked like barn doors on the Zero. If your speed was up over 275, you could outroll it. His big ailerons didn’t have the strength to make high speed rolls …

You could push things, too. Because you knew one thing: If you decided to go home, you could go home. He couldn’t because you could outrun him. He couldn’t leave the fight because you were faster. That left you in control of the fight. Mind you: The P-40 was a fine combat airplane.

Jun 4 2010

The Curtis P-40

The P-40, with the distinctive shark’s mouth painted on its nose, has always been one of the most recognizable fighters of World War II. Yet few realize that it is also one of the most controversial. The Curtis P-40 is thought by many to have been slow and obsolete from its inception.

There are three main reasons for this misconception.

For one, the P-40 was based on an older aircraft, the P-36. The forward section and the liquid cooled Allison V-12 engine (V-1710) were new, but from the firewall to tail it was exactly the same as the P-36. Because of this, the P-40 is thought to have been obsolescent from its inception.

Secondly, newer fighters, including the P-38, P-47, and P-51 overshadowed it.

Finally, its faults (all aircraft do) were exaggerated to the point that it seemed impossible for the P-40 to succeed against any enemy aircraft.

Amidst all of these, The Warhawk proved to be a better fighter than most observers believe.

- chuckhawks.com