May 21 2012

Pilot of lost Second World War plane to be buried

Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, then 24, survived the accident in June 1942 and is believed to have walked away from his wrecked P40 Kittyhawk fighter plane to find help.

But his parents received a telegram informing them their son was missing in action, and he was never seen again.

The almost perfectly preserved plane has now been found in the Western Desert by an oil worker, and has been described as a time capsule akin to Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Following the remarkable discovery, his nephew William Pryor-Bennett, 62, has spoken of his family’s hopes they may find the body and lay Fl Sgt Copping to rest with a proper funeral.

The defense attaché at the British embassy in Cairo is due to visit the RAF Kittyhawk in the next few weeks and has already confirmed a search of a 20 mile radius of the plane will be conducted.


Mr Pryor-Bennett said his family had until now believed the young pilot had died in crash. Instead, the wreckage of the P-40 plane suggests he made a make-shift shelter using his parachute outside before walking away to find help.

Mr Pryor-Bennett said: “My poor old mum didn’t live to find out what happened to her brother or see him come back home.

“But if there is any chance of finding him now and bringing him home so we can give him a funeral and pay our respects then I would fully support any search and say good luck to then.

“My own son, John, is willing to go over to Egypt and help with the search.

“I just hope they find him and bring him home.”

Flt Sgt Copping’s great-nephew, John Pryor-Bennett, 35, added: “He must have had such a horrible and lonely death so it would be wonderful if we could give him a funeral with his family around him.”

Flt Sgt Copping was based with the RAF’s 260 squadron during the North Africa campaign in World War Two in 1942.

On June 28, 1942 he was on a routine flight to take his damaged Kittyhawk plane from one airbase to another for repair when he lost his bearings and came down in the middle of the Western desert.

His devastated parents, Sydney and Adelaide Copping, received a telegram at their home in Southend, Essex, informing them their son was missing in action.

The family held out hope that he would one day return after the war before they accepted he had been killed in a P-40 plane crash.

Mr Pryor-Bennett, of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland, said: “My nan, Dennis’ mother, lived with my parents for the last 11 years of her life.

“She had pictures of Dennis up in her room and there was one of him on our mantlepiece.

“My mother, Edna, used to refer to him as ‘my dear little brother’. My mother thought the world of him. We used to get flowers to mark his birthday.

“The family received a telegram that he was missing in action and they though Dennis had died in place crash in the desert, but it is now clear that he survived for some time.

“It had a devastating effect on my nan. I remember on one occasion she and my mum were doing the washing in a wringer and a number of planes went overhead. My nan looked up almost in hope and caught her hand in the wringer.

“When I was aged about nine, my brother and I would ask each other whether we thought uncle Dennis was still alive in the desert somewhere.”

F/Sgt Copping was the youngest of five brothers and sisters: Lillian, Lionel, Gordon and Edna.

Plans are also underway to try and recover the Kittyhawk, which was found by a Polish oil company worker by chance.

The RAF Museum at Hendon, north London, is working with the defense attache to secure the aircraft and return it to the UK.

The name Kittyhawk was given to the models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants. Gift aviation enthusiasts or pilots with quality P-40 aircraft models only from Showcase Models!


Jun 14 2011

Crowd gather for New Garden Festival of Flight 2011

Once again, the New Garden Festival of Flight was a big success with big crowds and two thrill-packed days of exhibits and exhibitions. This P-40 was just one of many vintage war aircraft on display.

The two-day air show offered many aerial displays such as aerobatics from wing-walker Jane Wicker, stunt-flying by Matt Chapman in a CAP 580, the flight of the C-54 Spirit of Freedom, and demonstrations from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) including those of the P-40 Warhawk and the P-51D Mustang.

“The CAF was originally formed in 1957 by two WWII bomber pilots who purchased some old planes from the war,” said Stan Musick, CAF pilot of the P-51. Dedicated to the preservation of WWII-era aircraft, the CAF endeavours to acquire and maintain their aircraft in an operational state in order to provide the public with firsthand knowledge of the capabilities and the history of these vintage war planes. The largely volunteer-staffed organization has roughly 130-functional WWII aircraft from both the Allied and Axis sides.

Vintage aircraft were not the only ones to be present at the festival, however: an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber made a flyby during the festival on Saturday, providing the crowd with a look at the current generation of military airpower.

This year’s festival also drew a wide variety of patrons, including some veterans. “I used to be a B-25 pilot in the South Pacific during World War II,” Joseph Miller said, dressed in his original Army Air Corps uniform. The York, PA native is the owner of an L-3B Grasshopper housed at New Garden and travels “all over the country” to air shows. “I think these events are important for the general public, and especially the younger generations, to learn about the Second World War,” he said.

Source: The Unionville Times

Jun 2 2011

Flickr Find: Curtiss P-40N

The P-40 fighter/bomber was the last of the famous “Hawk” line produced by Curtiss Aircraft in the 1930s and 1940s, and it shared certain design elements with its predecessors, the Hawk and Sparrowhawk. It was the third-most numerous US fighter of World War II.

The P-40N, of which 5200 were built (more than any other version.) While it was put to good use and was certainly numerous in most theaters of action in WWII, the P-40′s performance was quickly eclipsed by the newer aircraft of the time, and it was not considered one of the “great fighters” of the war.


Source: Warbird Alley, Flickr

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 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.”


click image for a larger resolution


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

Jan 11 2011

WWII Curtiss P-40E

The Curtiss P-40 is one of the best-known American fighters of World War II. Despite it’s fame, it was not one of the period’s best performers, outclassed in virtually every way by other fighters of its time.

The Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk (Model H87-B2) was based on the existing Curtis P-40 design as famously used by Major General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers but with improved offensive armament and the unsatisfactory Allison engine replaced by a Rolls Royce Merlin V-1650-39 licence built Packard, the engine used by the British Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and later by the Mustang.

The Curtis P40E Kittyhawk was ordered by the French Government at the outbreak of WW2, but after their surrender to German forces the fighters were diverted into RAF service as the Curtis P40E Tomahawk, other air-forces who also flew the Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk include the RAAF, Russian air-force, RNZAF and the South African air-force.

Here’s how it looks like:

What follows are pictures of a surviving P-40E by Carey Dorset:

Dec 21 2010

The P-40 Bike

This P-40 inspired bike is owned by Bill Armstrong.

Ever since he was a kid, Bill has been fascinated by airplanes and was in fact an aircraft enthusiast. He thinks he might have taken it from his grandfather who flew with the Navy in WWII. Aside form airplanes, Bill’s other passion is racing motorcycles.

He then decided to merge these two hobbies when he wanted to race America’s sportbike, the Buell XB9R for 2005 with a P-40 Warhawk paint scheme.

“Since the performance of the XB9R can be compared to the Curtiss P-40 I decided to use the same scheme.”

Bill is one lucky guy. He not only owns a P-40 Bike, he also lives 10 minutes away from an airworthy P-40 that makes a number of flights in the spring and summer right over his house!

A racing shot by John Owens

Dec 17 2010

WWII Vet shares personal experience during Pearl Harbor attack

Edmond Barrett, the son of a World War I veteran, “loved the military, had great respect for it,” and had volunteered for the Army in 1940.

The “choice duty” he’d enjoyed as a peacetime soldier on the idyllic island of Oahu suddenly came to an end, and the Saltillo native found himself embroiled, along with the entire nation, in what would become the world’s bloodiest conflict.

Edmond Barrett

“I was on my way to church that morning,” said the retired 91-year-old farmer, who now lives at the State Veterans Home in Oxford. “I didn’t see the first bomb; I heard it, but I didn’t know what it was.”

That first bomb he heard fell on Wheeler Field, next to Scofield Barracks, the Army post where he was stationed. A fleet of P-40 fighter planes parked at Wheeler was destroyed in an instant.

“I looked down that way and saw another (P-40) plane come down,” Barrett said. “I saw him turn his bomb loose. I watched it hit the ground, and I knew right then we were at war.”

A few miles away at Pearl Harbor itself, Japanese planes were killing thousands of Americans and destroying much of the nation’s Pacific fleet.

Barrett hurried back to report for duty. His unit was sent to the northeast coast of Oahu to defend an assigned stretch of beach. While they had their artillery, an incomplete transition from pistols to carbines left them ill-prepared in case enemy troops had landed.

“We had four Browning Automatic Rifles, 12 Colts for 67 men,” he said. Some soldiers were sent to a nearby arsenal, where World War I-era rifles were stored with a protective coating that had to be stripped before they could be put back into service.

The only enemies Barrett’s unit ever saw on that Oahu beach were fatigue and mosquitoes, both of which he helped defeat. Those first tense days had the soldiers working in shifts of two hours on duty, two hours off.

“You can’t get hardly get to sleep in two hours,” he said. At his suggestion, his superiors adopted a four-hours-on, four-hours-off rotation that allowed for more substantial rest.

Barrett said he was the first person he knew to convert a bed net, designed for keeping mosquitoes off one’s cot, to a head net.

“The mosquitoes were so bad on that side of the island that my eyes swelled shut,” he recalled. “When we got to go back to the barracks to get clothes, I got my bed net. I put it over my head and tucked it in my bosom to keep the mosquitoes off my face. I’m the cause of the mosquito head net. I recommended it, and they built it.”

Barrett’s unit spent the next several months on beach security before practicing for amphibious landings.

“The boat was adapted from one that the Louisiana cane farmers used,” he said. “We used the LCVP – Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel – and it was 13 feet wide and 39 feet long. It had a ramp that would let down on the beach. It would carry four vehicles or 200 men, and it just about won the war in the Pacific.”

Barrett’s first taste of battle was on the Solomon Islands, and that would be followed by battles in New Georgia and the Philippines, but it was two truck wrecks that nearly killed him.

The second left him with a nearly useless left arm and a mangled right leg – both of which recovered with do-it-yourself physical therapy after being released back to his unit.

“One hour every day I’d hold that arm to strengthen it until I could move it,” he said. “It was a lot of pain – I nearly cried – but I didn’t want no useless stick of wood hanging on my shoulder. I’d pull on it every day, an hour at a time, and eventually I could move that shoulder.

“I learned the sensitive points from the physical therapist, and I’d work with that leg an hour a day,” he said. “I can walk a mile on that leg today without a stick.” Ten days before World War II ended, he won his discharge and was sent home to Saltillo.

Nearly 70 years after that momentous Sunday morning in 1941, Barrett thinks about the history that he encountered.

“We’re lucky,” he said, noting how much worse the devastating losses could have been. “Our carriers were all at sea that day.”

He also took comfort in the Japanese leadership’s trepidation about the consequences of that surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

“Admiral Yamamoto said after Pearl Harbor, ‘I think we’ve awakened a sleeping giant,’ Barrett said. “And that’s what it was.”

Dec 1 2010

P40 Technical Details

All major variants of the P-40 series were single-seat fighter or fighter-bomber aircraft. They came in a confusing series of engine modifications, and gun arrangements with even minor variations given a letter designation where it likely wasn’t warranted.

The P-40C was a major variant called the Tomahawk II by the RAF. It mounted a 1,040 hp Allison V1710-3 v 12 liquid cooled engine. This engine generated a maximum speed of 345 mph (555 km/h), although under desert conditions with a sand filter over the air inlet it was considerably less. It was not usually equipped with oxygen so it’s maximum altitude of 30,000 ft could not be reached by most pilots and it was typically flown at under 15,000 ft. It’s range with internal fuel was 730 miles (1175 km).

The Tomahawk II had two 0.303 machine guns on the cowl and four in the wings. It did not have the ability to carry bombs.

The P-40F, called the Kittyhawk II (also the Goshawk) was a major improvement in handling, although more power was not available. The ones shipped to Russia were equipped with the Packard built 1,300 hp V-1615-1 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. All others used an Allison engine. This boosted the maximum airspeed to 364 mph (582 km/h). Range was 610 miles (976 km).

The Kittyhawks had a major modification in their armaments, with the cowl-mounted machine guns removed and all guns upgraded to six 50 caliber machine guns in the wings. It could also carry a 500 lb bomb or a long-range fuel tank on the center-line, and 250 lbs of bombs under each wing (6 lb and 40 lb anti-personnel bomb clusters were also carried in North Africa).


Nov 23 2010

Kittyhawk P40N-5 Restoration Project

A WW II P-40 Kittyhawk was successfully brought to life by the Warbirds Adventures at Mareeba Airport in Tropical North Qld. The aircraft was retrieved from its wartime resting place on 10 December 2004 and it now resides on display at Warbird Adventures.

This aircraft (S/N 42-104977) from the USAAF 49th Fighter Group was piloted by Lt Joel Thorvaldson and was shot down by a Japanese Zero on 13 September 1943 in the Lae area of Papua New Guinea.

Click on the image for larger view:

The restoration was a 4 year project and first flew in Dec 2008. The aircraft was restored with a passenger seat to enable visitors to enjoy the thrill of an adventure flight.

About the Kittyhawk:

The P-40D, named the Kittyhawk I by the English and the Warhawk by the Americans, had an improved Allison engine that allowed for a shorter nose and had the fuselage mounted 0.50 caliber machine guns moved to the wings to allow for a hefty six 50 caliber machine guns that would become the standard suite of armament for all American fighters.

A Packard Merlin-engined version was produced for export to Russia, but no models were received by the English, Australian or South African squadrons flying the Kittyhawk. Many versions of the aircraft were developed all in an attempt to improve the performance of the inadequate Allison engines.

Overall, the various models of the P-40 made it the second most numerous fighter aircraft produced by the Allies during WWII. They had a production run of some 13,738.

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