P-40 Warhawk Case Study

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A Hawk 87A-3 (Kittyhawk Mk IA) serial number AK987, in a USAAF 23d Fighter Group (the former "Flying Tigers") paint scheme, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The P-40 Warhawk was not the best American fighter when the United States entered the World War II, but if it was the most numerous type available in large-scale production. The P-40 was among the most ubiquitous fighter plane. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47. The P-40 was easy to build and maintain and it offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter. The P-40 saw combat in many war theaters, in wide variety of climatic conditions
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The P-40M was basically similar to the P‑40K series, with the primary visual difference being a cooling inlet on each side of the nose ahead of the exhaust stacks, and a radio antenna mast. It used the Allison V-1710-18 engine, rated at 1200 HP for takeoff and 1125 HP at 17,300 feet. The 600 P‑40Ms produced were almost all destined for Lend‑Lease, and the airplane was known in the RAF and the Commonwealth Air Forces with whom it served as the Kittyhawk III., the contract being approved on August 24, 1942. The first P-40M appeared in November,…show more content…
Army Air Force fighter stationed in Hawaii was the Curtiss P-40, an all-metal, 300-mph (if the pilot was lucky) 1934 design, updated by an inline Allison engine jammed in its snout. The P-40 was rapidly overtaken by far more capable fighters, but on December 7, 1941, the warplane boasted two winning features: In a dive, it was the fastest airplane in the world, and it was available.
By 9 a.m. that day, more than 2,400 Americans had been killed, the Navy fleet ruined, and more than half of the 200 Army aircraft on Oahu damaged beyond use. The lone aerial opposition came not from an organized action of the air wings stationed in Hawaii but from individual pilots, like George Welch, who raced for any airplane they could find. Welch’s exploits in the P-40 that day—he downed four Japanese aircraft—were dramatized in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Two weeks later, 100 recruits, led by one of the most gifted and controversial commanders of the war, began flying P-40s to protect China from Japan. In seven months, the Flying Tigers of Claire Chennault’s American Volunteer Group, their big-jawed fighters flashing shark’s teeth, savaged Japanese bombers and made P-40s

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