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Rabu, 16 September 2009

A-20 Havoc / P-70 DB-7 Boston

A-20G of the USAAF
Role Light bomber
Night fighter
Manufacturer Douglas
Designed by Ed Heinemann
First flight 23 January 1939
Introduced 10 January 1941
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Soviet Air Force
Royal Air Force
French Air Force
Produced 1939-1944
Number built 7,478

The Douglas A-20/DB-7 Havoc was a family of American attack, light bomber and night fighter aircraft of World War II, serving with several Allied air forces, principally those of the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States. The DB-7 was also used by the air forces of Australia, South Africa, France, and The Netherlands during the war, and Brazil afterwards. The bomber aircraft was known as Boston among British and Commonwealth air forces, while the RAF night fighter variants were given the service name Havoc. The USAAF assigned the DB-7 the designation "A-20" and gave it the popular name "Havoc".



[edit] Design and development

In March 1937, a design team headed by Donald Douglas, Jack Northrop and Ed Heinemann produced a proposal for a light bomber powered by a pair of 450 hp (336 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engines mounted on a high-mounted wing. It was estimated it could have carried a 1,000 lb (454 kg) bomb load at 250 mph (400 km/h). Reports of aircraft performance from the Spanish Civil War indicated that this design would be seriously underpowered and, subsequently, it was cancelled.

In the autumn of the same year, the United States Army Air Corps issued its own specification for an attack aircraft. The Douglas team, now headed by Heinemann, took the Model 7A design, upgraded to 1,100 hp (820 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 S3C3-G Twin Wasp engines, and submitted the design as the Model 7B. It faced competition from the North American NA-40, the Stearman X-100 and the Martin 167F. The Model 7B was maneuverable and fast, but did not attract any US orders.

The model did, however, attract the attention of a French Purchasing Commission visiting the USA. The French discreetly participated in the flight trials, so as not to attract criticism from U.S. isolationists, but the secret was blown when the 7B crashed on 23 January 1939, while demonstrating single-engine performance. The French were still impressed enough to order 100 production aircraft, with the order increased to 270 when the war began. Sixteen of those had been ordered by Belgium for its Aviation Militaire.

Although not the fastest or longest-legged in its class, the Douglas DB-7 series distinguished itself as a tough, dependable combat aircraft with an excellent reputation due to its speed and manoeuvrability. In a report to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (AAEE) at RAF Boscombe Down, test pilots summed it up as "has no vices and is very easy to takeoff and land... The aeroplane represents a definite advantage in the design of flying controls... extremely pleasant to fly and manoeuvre."[1] Ex-pilots often consider it their favorite aircraft of the war due to the ability to toss it around like a fighter.[2] Its true impact was that the Douglas bomber/night fighter was extremely adaptable and found a role in every combat theater of the war and excelled as a true "pilot's aeroplane."[3]

When DB-7 series production finally ended on 20 September 1944, a total of 7,098 had been built by Douglas and a further 380 by Boeing.

[edit] Operational history

Douglas A-20J-10-DO (S/N 43-10129) of the 409th or 416th Bomb Group mortally wounded by flak over Germany

The French order called for substantial modifications, and the new designation DB-7 (for Douglas Bomber 7) was introduced. It had a narrower, deeper fuselage, 1,000 hp (746 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC3-G radials, French-built guns, and metric instruments. Midway through the delivery phase, engines were switched to 1,100 hp (820 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4-G. The French designation was DB-7 B-3 (the B-3 signifying "three-seat bomber").

The DB-7s were shipped in sections to Casablanca for assembly and service in France and French North Africa. When the Germans attacked France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940, the 64 available DB-7s were deployed against the advancing Panzers. Before the armistice they were evacuated to North Africa to avoid capture by German forces. Here, they fell under control of the Vichy government, but saw practically no action against the Allies except briefly during Operation Torch. After French forces in North Africa had sided with the Allies, DB-7 were used as trainers and were replaced in frontline units by B-26 Marauders. In early 1945, a few DB-7s were sent back to France where they saw action against the remaining isolated German pockets on the Western coast.

[edit] Variants

Boston I & II
The Royal Air Force agreed to take up the balance of the now-frustrated French order which was diverted to Britain, and the aircraft were given the service name Boston with the further designation of "Mark I" or "Mark II" according to the earlier or later engine type.
Havoc I
The aircraft was generally unsuited for RAF use as its range was too limited for daylight raids on Germany. Many of the Boston Mk II, plus some re-engined Mk Is, were converted for night time duties - either as intruders with 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) bombs, or as night-fighters with AI Mk IV radar. These were known collectively as Havoc Mk I. A total of 181 Bostons were converted to Havocs. In interdiction raids, Havoc intruders caused considerable damage to German targets.
Twenty Havocs were converted into intruder aircraft, utilizing the Long Aerial Mine (LAM), an explosive charge trailed on a long cable in the path of enemy aircraft in the hope of scoring a hit. Trials conducted with lone Handley Page Harrows dropping LAMs into the stream of German bombers were not successful, consequently, the Havocs were converted back to Mk I intruders.
Havoc I Turbinlite
A further 31 Havocs were fitted with a 2,700 million candela (2.7 Gcd) searchlight in the nose. They were unarmed and were supposed to illuminate targets for accompanying Hurricane fighters, but in practice the conspicuous light made them ready targets for German gunners.
DB-7A / Havoc II
The French Purchasing Commission ordered a further 200 bombers, to be fitted with 1,600 hp (1,195 kW) Wright R-2600-A5B Double Cyclone engines. This variant was designated DB-7A by Douglas. None had been delivered before the fall of France, and they served instead as night-fighters with the RAF under the name of Havoc Mk II. They had an impressive top speed of 344 mph (550 km/h) at altitude. A total of 39 were used briefly in Turbinlite roles.
DB-7B / Boston III
The DB-7B was the first batch of the series to actually be ordered by Britain, in February 1940. Powered by the same engines as the DB-7A, with better armor and, crucially, larger fuel tanks, these were at last suitable for British use in the light bomber role. This was the batch for which the name "Boston" was first reserved, but since the commandeered DB-7s entered service first, this batch became known as the Boston Mk III. Amongst other operations, they took part in the attacks on the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen during their dash through the English Channel (Operation Cerberus) and the infamous raid on Dieppe (Operation Jubilee). Three hundred were delivered and some were converted for use in intruder and night fighter roles.
A French variant very similar to BD-7B, which again were diverted to England as Boston Mk IIIs. Many of these were built under licence by Boeing. Events further overtook this shipment after the German attack on the Soviet Union and the Attack on Pearl Harbor, when many Bostons were sent to the USSR and many more retained by the USAAF for its own use. Twenty-two were also sent to the RAAF by the British.
A Netherlands variant intended for service in the Netherlands East Indies, but the Japanese invasion was complete before they were delivered. The order was sent instead to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease which would receive 3,125 examples of different variants of the Douglas DB-7 series.[2]
T30 triple launcher for 4.5 in (114 mm) rockets.
When shipments to the UK finally resumed, they were delivered under the terms of Lend-Lease. These aircraft were actually refitted A-20Cs known as the Boston IIIA.
The original American indifference to the Model 7B was overcome by the improvements made for the French and British, and the Army Air Corps ordered two models, the A-20 for high-altitude bombing and the A-20A for lower-altitude work. Both were similar to the DB-7B, the A-20 was to be fitted with turbosupercharged Wright R-2600-7 engines, but these were bulky and the prototype suffered cooling problems, so the remainder were completed with the un-supercharged R-2600-11, 59 as P-70 fighters and 3 as F-3 reconnaissance planes (described below).

One A-20 was evaluated by the US Navy as the BD-1, while the US Marine Corps operated eight examples as the BD-2.

The U.S. Army ordered 123 A-20As with R-2600-3 engines, and a further 20 with more powerful R-2600-11. They entered service in spring 1941. The Army liked the A-20A because of its excellent performance and because it had no adverse handling characteristics. Nine of them were transferred to Australia in 1943. The British name "Havoc" was adopted for the A-20A.
The A-20B received the first really large order from the US Army Air Corps: 999 aircraft. They resembled the DB-7A rather than the DB-7B, with light armor and stepped rather than slanted glazing in the nose. In fact, 665 were exported to the Soviets, so relatively few actually served with the USAAC.
A-20C being serviced at Langley Field, Virginia, 1942.
The A-20C was an attempt to standardize a common British and American version, produced from 1941. It reverted to the slanting nose-glass and had RF-2600-23 engines, self-sealing fuel tanks and additional armor. They were equipped to carry an external 2,000 lb (907 kg) naval torpedo. A total of 948 were built for Britain and the Soviet Union, but many were retained by the USAAF after Pearl Harbor. The Soviet A-20s were often fitted out with turrets of indigenous design.[4]
A-20G Havoc USAAC.
The A-20G, delivered from February 1943, would be the most produced of all the series - 2850 were built. The glazed nose was replaced by a solid nose containing four 20 mm (.79 in) Hispano cannons and two .50 in M2 Browning machine guns, making the aircraft slightly longer than previous versions. After the first batch of 250, the unreliable cannon were replaced by more machine guns. Some had a wider fuselage to accommodate a power driven gun turret. Many A-20Gs were delivered to the Soviet Union. The powerplant was the 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) R-2600-23. US A-20Gs were used on low-level sorties in the New Guinea theatre.
The A-20H was the same as A-20G, continued with the 1,700 hp (1,270 kW) R-2600-29. 412 of these were built. The takeoff weight was raised to 24,170 lb (10,960 kg).
A-20J / Boston IV
The A-20J carried an additional bombardier in an extended acrylic glass nose section. These were intended to lead bombing formations, with the following standard A-20s dropping their bombs when signaled by the leader. A total of 450 were built, 169 for the RAF which designated them Boston Mk IV from summer 1944.
A-20K / Boston V
The A-20K (Boston Mk V in RAF parlance) was the final production version of the A-20 series, the same as the A-20J except for R-2600-29s instead of -23s.
In October 1940, the USAAC felt a need for long-range fighters more than attack bombers, so some of the production run of A-20s were converted to P-70 and P-70A night-fighters. They were equipped with SCR-540 radar (a copy of British AI Mk IV), the glazed nose often painted black to reduce glare and hide the details of the radar set, and had four 20 mm (.79 in) forward-firing cannon in a ventral bomb bay tray. Further P-70 variants were produced from A-20C, G and J variants. The singular airframe P-70B-1 (converted from an A-20G) and subsequent P-70B-2s (converted from A-20Gs and Js) had American centimetric radar (SCR-720 or SCR-729) fitted. The P-70s and P-70As saw combat ONLY in the Pacific during World War II and only with the USAAF. The P-70B-1 and P-70B-2 aircraft never saw combat but served as night fighter aircrew trainers in the US in Florida and later in California. All P-70s were retired from service by 1945.
The F-3A was a conversion of 46 A-20J and K models for night-time photographic reconnaissance (F-3 were a few conversions of the original A-20). This variant was employed in the European Theatre by the 155th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron which began its deployment as the 423rd Night Fighter Squadron. The 423rd was converted to its photo mission as the 155th Night Reconnaissance Squadron in part because of knowledge of night fighter tactics which could be used to defend against German aircraft. Although armament was removed, the crew of three was retained consisting of, pilot, observer, and navigator. The first Allied aircraft to land at Itazuke, Japan after the August 1945 surrender was an F-3A.
One A-20A was bought in 1940 by the United States Navy for evaluation for use by the United States Marine Corps. The Navy/Marine Corps did not have any priority on the production lines, so the DB was not put into service.
In 1942, eight former Army A-20Bs were diverted to the United States Navy for use as high-speed target tugs. Despite the addition of the target-towing equipment and the removal of all armament and the provision to carry bombs the aircraft were still designated DB in the Bomber sequence. They were withdrawn from service in 1946.
An observation/reconnaissance version of the A-20B powered by two 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) R-2600-7 engines, order for 1,489 aircraft was cancelled and none were built.

[edit] Operators

RAF Boston III from No. 88 Squadron RAF over Dieppe, 1942

[edit] Survivors

A small number of surviving airframes exist both in flyable staus as well as static display condition in museum collections worldwide.

[edit] Specifications (DB-7B, Boston Mk III)

A-20s in bombing formation during World War II.
A flight of A-20G or H bombers over France, 1944.

Data from A-20 Havoc in action

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2-3
  • Length: 47 ft 11 in (14.63 m)
  • Wingspan: 61 ft 4 in (18.69 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 7 in (5.36 m)
  • Wing area: 465 ft² (43.2 m²)
  • Empty weight: 15,051 lb (6,827 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 27,200 lb (12,338 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 20,320 lb (9,215 kg)
  • Powerplant:Wright R-2600-A5B "Double Cyclone" radial engines, 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) each




The M1918A2 BAR

Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918

The M1918A2 BAR
Type Automatic rifle
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1917–1960s (U.S.)
Used by See Users
Wars World War I, World War II, Chinese Civil War, Korean War, Bay of Pigs Invasion, Vietnam War (limited), Palestinian Civil War
Production history
Designer John Browning
Designed 1917
Manufacturer Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Marlin-Rockwell Corporation, Royal McBee Typewriter Company, Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori, FN Herstal, Państwowa Fabryka Karabinów
Produced 1917–1950s
Number built 100,000+ (M1918)
Variants See Variants
Weight 7.25 kg (15.98 lb) (M1918)
Approx. 11 kg (24 lb) (M1922)
8.4 kg (19 lb) (M1918A1)
8.8 kg (19 lb) (M1918A2)
9.0 kg (20 lb) (wz. 1928)
Length 1,194 mm (47 in) (M1918, M1922, M1918A1)
1,215 mm (47.8 in) (M1918A2)
1,110 mm (43.7 in) (wz. 1928)
Barrel length 610 mm (24.0 in) (M1918, M1922, M1918A1, M1918A2)
611 mm (24.1 in) (wz. 1928)

Cartridge .30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm) (M1918, M1922, M1918A1, M1918A2)
7.92x57mm Mauser (wz. 1928)
7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser (FN Mle 1930, FN Mle D)
7x57mm Mauser
6.5x55mm (Kg m/21, m/37)
.303 British (7.7x56mmR)
7.62x51mm NATO
Action Gas-operated, tilting breech block
Rate of fire 500–650 rounds/min (M1918, M1922, M1918A1)
300-450 or 500-650 rounds/min (M1918A2)
600 rounds/min (wz. 1928)
Muzzle velocity 860 m/s (2,822 ft/s) (M1918, M1922, M1918A1, M1918A2)
853 m/s (2,798.6 ft/s) (wz. 1928)
Effective range 100–1,500 yd sight adjustments
Maximum range Approx. 4,500-5,000 yd
Feed system 20-round detachable box magazine
Sights Rear leaf, front post
784 mm (30.9 in) sight radius (M1918, M1922, M1918A1)
782 mm (30.8 in) (M1918A2)
742 mm (29.2 in) (wz. 1928)

The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a family of American automatic rifles (or machine rifles) and light machine guns used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. The primary variant of the BAR series was the M1918, chambered for the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge and designed by John Browning in 1917 for the U.S. Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat and M1909 Benet-Mercie machine guns.

The BAR was designed to be carried by advancing infantrymen, slung over the shoulder and fired from the hip, a concept called "walking fire"—thought to be necessary for the individual soldier during trench warfare.[1] However in practice, it was most often used as a light machine gun and fired from a bipod (introduced in later models).[2] The original M1918 version was and remains the lightest machine gun to fire the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, though the limited capacity of its standard 20-round magazine tended to hamper its utility in that role.[2]



[edit] History

John M. Browning, the inventor of the rifle, and Mr. Burton, the Winchester expert on rifles, discussing the finer points of the BAR at the Winchester plant.

The U.S. entered World War I with an inadequately small and obsolete assortment of various domestic and foreign machine gun designs, due primarily to bureaucratic indecision and the lack of an established military doctrine for their employment. When the declaration of war on Imperial Germany was announced on 6 April 1917, the military high command was made aware that to fight this machine gun-dominated trench war, they had on hand only 670 M1909 Benet-Mercies, 282 M1904 Maxims and 158 Colts, M1895.[3] After much debate, it was finally agreed that a rapid rearmament with domestic weapons would be required, but until that time, U.S. troops would be issued whatever the French and British had to offer. The arms donated by the French were often second-rate or surplus and chambered in 8mm Lebel, further complicating logistics as machine gunners and infantrymen were issued different types of ammunition.[1]

[edit] Development

Infantrymen demonstrate the BAR in front of military and government officials.

In 1917, prior to America's entry to the war, John Browning had personally brought to Washington, D.C. two types of automatic weapons for the purposes of demonstration: a water-cooled machine gun (later adopted as the M1917 Browning machine gun) and a shoulder-fired automatic rifle known then as the Browning Machine Rifle or BMR, both chambered for the standard U.S. .30-06 Springfield cartridge.[1] Browning had arranged for a public demonstration of both weapons at a location outside of Washington, D.C. known as Congress Heights.[4] There, on 27 February 1917, in front of a crowd of 300 people (including high-ranking military officials, Congressmen, Senators, foreign dignitaries and the press), Browning staged a live fire demonstration which so impressed the gathered crowd, that he was immediately awarded a contract for the weapon and it was hastily adopted into service (the water-cooled machine gun underwent further testing).[4]

Additional tests were conducted for U.S. Army Ordnance officials at Springfield Armory in May 1917 and both weapons were unanimously recommended for immediate adoption. In order to avoid confusion with the belt-fed M1917 machine gun, the BAR came to be known as the M1918 or Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918 according to official nomenclature. On 16 July 1917, 12,000 BARs were duly ordered from Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company who had secured an exclusive concession to manufacture the BAR under Browning's patents (Browning's U.S. Patent 1,293,022 was owned by Colt).[5] However Colt was already producing at peak capacity (contracted to manufacture the Vickers machine gun for the British Army) and requested for a delay in production while they expanded their manufacturing output with a new facility in Meriden, Connecticut. Due to the urgent need for the weapon, the request was denied and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (WRAC) was designated as the prime contractor. Winchester gave valuable assistance in refining the BAR's final design, correcting the drawings in preparation for mass production.[6] Among the changes made, the ejection pattern was modified (spent casings were directed to the right side of the weapon—instead of straight up).

[edit] Production

2nd Lt. Val Browning with the Browning Automatic Rifle in France.

Since work on the gun did not begin until February 1918, so hurried was the schedule at Winchester to bring the BAR into full production, that the first production batch of 1,800 guns was delivered out of spec;[6] it was discovered that many components did not interchange between rifles and production was temporarily halted until manufacturing procedures were upgraded to bring the weapon up to specifications.[7] The initial contract with Winchester called for 25,000 BARs. They were in full production by June 1918, delivering 4,000 guns and in July were turning out 9,000 units.

Colt and Marlin-Rockwell Corp. also began production shortly after Winchester got into full production. Marlin-Rockwell, burdened by a contract to make rifles for the Belgian government, acquired the Mayo Radiator Co.'s factory and used it exclusively to carry out production of the BAR. The first unit from this source was delivered on 11 June 1918 and the company's peak output reached 200 automatic rifles per day.[7] Colt only produced 9,000 BARs at the time of the armistice due to the heavy demands of previous orders.[7] These three companies produced a combined daily output of 706 rifles and a total of approximately 52,000 BARs were delivered by all sources by the end of the war.[7] Between 1918–1919, 102,125 BARs had been manufactured jointly by Colt (16,000 weapons), Winchester (47,123) and Marlin-Rockwell (39,002 units).

By July 1918, the BAR began to arrive in France and the first unit to receive them was the U.S. Army’s 79th Infantry Division, which took them into combat for the first time on 13 September 1918.[7] The weapon was personally demonstrated against the enemy by 2nd Lieutenant Val Allen Browning, the inventor's son.[7] Despite being introduced very late in the war, the BAR had made an impact disproportionate to its numbers; it was used extensively during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and made a significant impression on the Allies (France alone requested 15,000 automatic rifles to replace their notoriously unreliable Chauchat machine rifle).[7]

[edit] Design details

An early commercial Browning Machine Rifle (BMR)

The M1918 is a selective fire, air-cooled automatic rifle using a gas-operated long-stroke piston rod actuated by propellant gases bled through a vent in the barrel. The bolt is locked by a rising bolt lock. The gun fires from an open bolt. The spring-powered cartridge casing extractor is contained in the bolt and a fixed ejector is installed in the trigger group. The BAR is striker fired (the bolt carrier serves as the striker) and uses a trigger mechanism with a fire selector lever that enables operating in either semi-automatic or fully automatic firing modes. The selector lever is located on the left side of the receiver and is simultaneously the manual safety (selector lever in the "S" position – weapon is "safe", "F" – single "fire", "A" – "automatic" fire). The "safe" setting blocks the trigger.

The weapon’s barrel is screwed into the receiver and is not quickly detachable. The M1918 feeds using double-column 20-round box magazines, although 40-round magazines were also used in an anti-aircraft role; these were withdrawn from use in 1927. The M1918 has a cylindrical flash suppressor fitted to the muzzle end. The weapon was equipped with a fixed wooden buttstock and closed-type adjustable iron sights, consisting of a forward post and a rear leaf sight with 100 to 1,500 yard range graduations. Bayonets for the BAR were not manufactured in great quantity and are thus extremely rare. They consisted of a spike form with a slat on the top side, attaching to the bottom of the barrel in the conventional fashion.

[edit] Variants

The primary U.S. M1918 variants
The early M1918 BAR

During its lengthy service life, the BAR underwent continuous development, receiving many improvements and modifications. The first major attempt at improving the M1918 resulted in the M1922 light machine gun, adopted by the United States Cavalry in 1922. The weapon used a new heavy profile ribbed barrel, an adjustable spiked bipod (mounted to a swiveling collar on the barrel) with a rear, stock-mounted monopod, a side-mounted sling swivel and a new rear endplate, fixed to the stock retaining sleeve. The handguard was changed, and in 1926, the BAR's sights were redesigned to accommodate the heavy-bullet 172-grain M1 .30-06 ball ammunition then coming into service for machine gun use.

The second significant modification of the M1918 was intended to increase the weapon's effectiveness and controllability firing in bursts and took place in 1937, which saw the introduction of the M1918A1 into U.S. Army inventories. Compared to the original M1918, the newer model includes a lightweight spiked bipod attached to the gas cylinder with a leg height adjustment feature and a new hinged steel butt plate. Relatively few M1918s were rebuilt to the new M1918A1 standard.

In 1938–1939, work was begun on what would become the new M1918A2, accepted into service in 1940. One of the most important aspects of this modification involved removal of the semi-automatic firing capabilities of the weapon and using a rate-reducing buffer mechanism, activated by engaging the "F" position on the selector toggle. Furthermore, a new skid-footed bipod was fitted to the muzzle end of the barrel, magazine guides were added to the front of the trigger guard, the handguard was shortened, a heat shield was added to help the cooling process, a small monopod was hinged from and folded into the butt, and the weapon's role was changed to that of a squad light machine gun. The BAR's rear sight scales were also modified to accommodate the newly-standardized M2 Ball ammunition with its lighter flat-base bullet. In 1942, a fiberglass buttstock replaced the wood version, and late in the war, a barrel-mounted carrying handle was added. Initially, M1918A2s were obtained by converting older M1918 rifles (remaining in surplus) and a limited number of M1922s and M1918A1s; later, their production was undertaken at the New England Small Arms Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. (a total of 168,000 new weapons were manufactured). During the Korean War, production was again launched, this time contracted to the Royal McBee Typewriter Co. responsible for a further 61,000 M1918A2 light machine guns.

The M1918A2 is an automatic weapon which uses a trigger and fire control mechanism that permits fully automatic fire only but with two variable rates of fire: a normal rate (500–650 rounds/min) and a reduced rate (300–450 rounds/min), achieved by engaging a device which reduces the weapon's cyclic rate of fire, installed inside the buttstock (together with the buffer). The safety and fire selector lever is placed on the left side of the trigger group and has three positions: "S" – weapon safe, "F" – automatic fire with a mechanically reduced rate and "A" – continuous fire at the normal cyclic rate. The weapon's barrel has a new slotted flash suppressor (introduced during the Korean War), an adjustable bipod, a fixed stock with a folding shoulder rest, carry handle and fully adjustable iron sights, with a post foresight and a leaf rear sight (can be adjusted with windage and elevation corrections) with an elevation ladder graduated from 100 to 1,600 yd and a notch for immediate firing up to 300 yd.

[edit] International models

[edit] Export models

The BAR family of light machine guns also found a ready market overseas and were widely exported. In 1919, the Colt’s company developed and produced a commercial variant called the Automatic Machine Rifle Model 1919 (company designation: Model U), which has a different return mechanism compared to the M1918 (it is installed in the stock rather than the gas tube) and lacks a flash hider. Later the Model 1924 rifle was offered for a short period of time, featuring a pistol grip and a redesigned handguard. However, the following Model 1925 (R75) would achieve the highest popularity in export sales. It is based on the Model 1924 but uses a heavy, finned barrel, a lightweight bipod and is equipped with dust covers in the magazine well and ejection port (some of these features were patented: refer to US patents 1548709 and 1533968). The Model 1925 was produced in various calibers, including .30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm), 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser, 7x57mm Mauser, 6.5x55mm, 7.92x57mm Mauser and .303 British (7.7x56mmR). A minor variant of the Model 1925 (R75) was the R75A light machine gun with a quick-change barrel (produced in 1924 in small quantities for the Dutch Army) and the Monitor (R80) automatic rifle, which was adopted by various US security services (including the FBI) in 1931. The R80 lacks a bipod and uses a lightweight receiver and a lightweight short 458 mm (18.0 in) barrel fitted with a Cutts compensator.

[edit] Sweden

In 1920, the Belgian arms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN) acquired sales and production rights to the BAR series of firearms in Europe from Colt’s. The first BAR model sold by FN was the Kg m/21 (Kg – Kulsprutegevär – "machine rifle") chambered for the 6.5x55mm m/94 cartridge. The m/21 is a variant of the Model 1919 designed to Swedish specifications and manufactured initially by Colt’s and later under license at the Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori in Eskilstuna. Compared to the Model 1919, the Swedish weapon has – apart from the different caliber – a spiked bipod and pistol grip. The m/21 would become one of Sweden's main support weapons in the interwar years together with the water-cooled belt-fed Ksp m/1914 medium machine gun (Swedish adaptation of the Austrian M07/12). Dissatisfied with the rapidly overheating fixed barrel of the m/21, Carl Gustaf began to design a new quick-detach mechanism for the barrel which mates the externally grooved chamber to a series of rotating flanges in the receiver operated by a locking lever. The barrel also received cooling fins throughout its entire length. These enhancements were incorporated into the fm/1935 prototype trialed successfully in 1935, which in turn led to the m/37 variant that lacks the finned barrel, selected into service in 1937 and remaining in first-line use until 1980. Carl Gustaf also developed a belt-fed version of the weapon; however it was never adopted.

[edit] Poland

The Polish wz. 1928 variant.

Production of the BAR in Belgium began only after signing an agreement with Poland (on 10 December 1927) involving the procurement of 10,000 wz. 1928 light machine guns chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser, which are similar to the R75 variant but designed specifically to meet the requirements of the Polish Army. Changes to the base design include a pistol grip, different type of bipod, open-type V-notch rear sight and a slightly longer barrel. Subsequent rifles were assembled locally in Poland under license by the State Rifle Factory (Państwowa Fabryka Karabinów) in Warsaw. The wz. 1928 was accepted into service with the Polish Army in 1927 under the formal name 7,92 mm rkm Browning wz. 1928 ("7.92 mm Browning hand-held machine gun model 1928") and – until the outbreak of World War II – was the primary light support weapon of Polish infantry and cavalry formations (in 1939 Poland had a total of approx. 20,000 wz. 1928 rifles in service). Additional detail modifications were introduced on the production line. Among them was the replacement of the iron sights with a smaller version and reshaping the butt to a fish tail.

In the mid-1930s, Polish small arms designer Wawrzyniec Lewandowski was tasked with developing a flexible aircraft-mounted machine gun based on the Browning wz.1928. This resulted in the wz. 1937. Changes included increasing the weapon's rate of fire to 1,100 rounds/min, eliminating the buttstock, adding a spade-type grip to the rear of receiver, moving the main drive spring under the barrel and most importantly – changing the feed system. Sustained fire was practically impossible with the standard 20-round box magazine thus a new feed mechanism was developed, which was added to the receiver as a module. It contains a spring-loaded bolt-actuated lever, which would feed a round from a 91-round pan magazine located above the receiver and force the round into the feed path during unlocking. The machine gun was accepted in 1937 and ordered by the Polish Air Force as the karabin maszynowy obserwatora wz. 1937 ("observers machine gun model 1937"). 339 machine guns were eventuality acquired and used as armament in the PZL.37 Łoś medium bomber and the LWS-3 Mewa reconnaissance aircraft.

[edit] Belgium

Based on the wz. 1928 a variant known as the FN Mle 1930 was developed in 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser and adopted by the Belgian Army. This model has a different gas valve; it too uses a rate-reducing fire control mechanism. The weapon also has a hinged shoulder plate and is adapted for use on a tripod mount. In 1932, Belgium adopted a new version of the FN Mle 1930 allocated the service designation FN Mle D (D – Demontable or "removable") which has a quick-change barrel, shoulder rest and a simplified take-down method for eased cleaning and maintenance. The Mle D was produced even after World War II in versions adapted for .30-06 Springfield and NATO-standard 7.62x51mm ammunition.

[edit] Deployment

The BAR remained in limited use during the early stages of the Vietnam War.

From its inception, the M1918 was an automatic rifle. First issued in September 1918 to the AEF, it was based on the concept of "walking fire", a French practice in use since 1916 for which the CSRG 1915 (Chauchat) had been used accompanying advancing squads of riflemen toward the enemy trenches, since the machine guns were too heavy to follow the troops during an assault. In addition to shoulder-fired operation, BAR gunners were issued a belt with magazine pouches for the BAR and sidearm along with a "cup" to support the stock of the rifle when held at the hip. In theory, this allowed the soldier to lay suppressive fire while walking forward, keeping the enemy's head down, a practice known as "marching fire". The idea would resurface in the submachine gun and ultimately the assault rifle. It is not known if any of the belt-cup devices actually saw combat use. The BAR saw little action in World War I, in part due to the Armistice, and also because the U.S. Army was reluctant to have the BAR fall into enemy hands, its first action being in September of 1918. 85,000 BARs were built by the war's end.

[edit] World War II

After the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Army had belatedly realized it had no portable squad light machine gun, and attempted to convert the BAR to that role with the M1918A2. Its success in this role was mixed at best, since the BAR's fixed non-replaceable barrel and small magazine capacity greatly limited its utility in comparison to genuine light machine guns such as the Bren or the Japanese Type 96. The weapon's rate-reducer mechanism proved difficult to clean and was susceptible to damage from moisture and corrosion.[8] This in turn either rendered the weapon inoperable, or prevented it from firing in the automatic mode.[8] The bipod and flash hider, being easily removable, were often discarded by troops to save weight and improve portability.[8]

In combat, particularly in the Pacific Theatre of war, the BAR effectively reverted to its original role as a portable, shoulder-fired automatic rifle. The BAR was often employed at the point or tail of a patrol or infantry column, where its firepower could help break contact on a jungle trail in the event of ambush.[9] After a period of service, ordnance personnel began to receive BARs with inoperable or malfunctioning recoil buffer mechanisms. This was eventually traced to the soldier's common practice of cleaning the BAR in a vertical position with the butt of the weapon on the ground, allowing cleaning fluid and burned powder to collect in the recoil buffer mechanism.[8] Additionally, unlike the M1 Garand, the BAR's gas cylinder was never changed to stainless steel. Consequently, the gas cylinder frequently rusted solid from the use of corrosive-primered M2 service ammunition in a humid environment when not stripped and cleaned on a daily basis.[8]

The BAR was issued as automatic fire support for a squad, and all men were trained at the basic level how to operate and fire the weapon in case the designated operator(s) were killed or wounded. In an attempt to overcome the BAR's limited continuous-fire capability, U.S. Marine and some army units used two BAR fire teams per squad. One team would typically provide covering fire until a magazine was empty, whereupon the second team would open fire, thus allowing the first team to reload. While not without design flaws (a thin-diameter, fixed barrel that quickly overheated, limited magazine capacity, complex field-strip/cleaning procedure, unreliable recoil buffer mechanism, a gas cylinder assembly made of corrosion-prone metals, and many small internal parts), the BAR proved rugged and reliable enough when regularly field-stripped and cleaned.

During World War II, the BAR saw extensive service, both official and unofficial, with many branches of service. One of the BAR's most unusual uses was as a defensive aircraft weapon. In 1944, USAAF Air Transport Command Captain Wally A. Gayda reportedly used a BAR to return fire against a Japanese Army Nakajima fighter that had attacked his C-46 cargo plane over the Hump in Burma. Gayda shoved the rifle out his forward cabin window, emptying the magazine and apparently killing the Japanese pilot.[10][11]

[edit] After World War II

Korean War, 1951: Taking cover behind their escort tank, a U.S. soldier returns fire on Communist Chinese positions with an M1918A2.

After World War II, the BAR continued in service in the Korean War, and the early stages of the Vietnam War, when the U.S. delivered a quantity of weapons to the South Vietnamese. Quantities of the BAR remained in use by the Army National Guard up until the mid-1970s. Many nations in NATO and recipients of U.S. foreign aid adopted the BAR and used it into the 1990s.

The BAR proved a popular civilian weapon in the U.S., although fully automatic models were greatly restricted in the 1930s, which made them much harder to own and transfer. Importation of machine guns for U.S. civilian transfer was banned in 1968, and U.S. production of machine guns for civilian transfer was banned in 1986. Transferable civilian-owned BAR models remain, however.

Clyde Barrow, of the infamous Barrow Gang, used a shortened BAR (stolen from National Guard armories) during his spree in the 1930s. The six lawmen who killed Bonnie and Clyde used a variant of the BAR called the Colt Monitor in their ambush.

A modern manufacturer of firearms has produced a semi-automatic version of the Browning Automatic Rifle known as the 1918A3 SLR ("self-loading rifle").[12]

The BAR hunting rifle currently offered by Browning is a completely different firearm, unrelated in design to the Browning military weapons.


Minggu, 13 September 2009

Curtiss P-40

Hawk 87A-3/Kittyhawk IA, s/n AK987, in American Volunteer Group ("Flying Tigers") paint scheme, National Museum of the USAF.
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Designed by Donovan Berlin
First flight 1938
Retired 1958: FAB (Brazil)
Primary users U.S. Army Air Force
Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Many others
Produced 1939–1944
Number built 13,738
Unit cost US$44,892 in 1944[1]
Developed from Curtiss P-36
Variants Curtiss XP-46

The Curtiss P-40 was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. It was used by the air forces of 28 nations, including those of most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in front line service until the end of the war. By November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facility at Buffalo, New York.

The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36; 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.

The P-40's lack of a two-stage supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. Between 1941 and 1944, however, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific and China. It also had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska and Italy. The P-40's high-altitude performance was not as critical in those theaters, where it served as an air supremacy fighter, bomber escort and fighter bomber.

P-40s first saw combat with the British Commonwealth squadrons of the Desert Air Force (DAF) in the Middle East and North African campaigns, during June 1941.[2] [3] The Royal Air Force's No. 112 Squadron was among the first to operate Tomahawks, in North Africa, and the unit was the first to feature the "shark mouth" logo,[4] copying similar markings on some Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighters.[4] The logo was most famously used on P-40s by the Flying Tigers in China.[5]

In theatres where high-altitude performance was less important, the P-40 proved an effective fighter. Although it gained a post-war reputation as a mediocre design, suitable only for close air support, more recent research including scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons indicates that the P-40 performed surprisingly well as an air superiority fighter, at times suffering severe losses, but also taking a very heavy toll on enemy aircraft.[6] The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground attack fighter long after it was obsolete in air superiority.

As of 2008, 19 P-40s remain airworthy.[7]

[edit] Design and development

An XP-40, 11 MD, which was used for test purposes by the Materiel Division of the U.S. Army Air Corps.

The prototype XP-40 was the tenth production Curtiss P-36 Hawk,[8] with its Pratt & Whitney R-1830 (Twin Wasp) 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine replaced by a liquid-cooled, supercharged Allison V-1710 V-12 engine. The V-12 engine offered no more power than the radial engine but had smaller frontal area and therefore reduced drag.

[edit] Performance characteristics

A three-quarter view of a P-40B, X-804 (39-184) in flight. This aircraft served with an advanced training unit at Luke Field, Arizona.

The P-40 had good agility, especially at high speed and medium to low altitude. It was one of the tightest-turning monoplane fighters of the war,[9] although at lower speeds it could not out-turn the extremely manoeuvrable Japanese fighters such as the A6M Zero and Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar".[6]

Allison V-1710 engines produced about 1,040 hp (780 kW) at sea level and at 14,000 ft (4,300 m): not powerful by the standards of the time, and the early P-40's speed was average. (The later versions with 1,200 hp (890 kW) Allisons were more capable, as were the Packard Merlin-engined P-40F/L series.) Its climb performance was fair to poor, depending on the subtype.[6] Dive acceleration was good and dive speed was excellent.[6] The highest-scoring P-40 ace, Clive Caldwell (RAAF), who scored 22 of his 28½ kills in the P-40, said the type had "almost no vices", although "it was a little difficult to control in terminal velocity".[10] Caldwell said that the P-40 was "faster downhill than almost any other aeroplane with a propeller." However, the single-stage, single-speed supercharger meant that it could not compete with contemporary aircraft as a high-altitude fighter.

The P-40 tolerated harsh conditions in the widest possible variety of climates. It was a semi-modular design and thus easy to maintain in the field. It lacked innovations of the time, such as boosted ailerons or automatic leading edge slats, but it had a strong structure including a five-spar wing, which enabled P-40s to survive some mid-air collisions: both accidental impacts and intentional ramming attacks against enemy aircraft were occasionally recorded as victories by the Desert Air Force and Soviet Air Forces.[11] Caldwell said P-40s "would take a tremendous amount of punishment -violent aerobatics as well as enemy action."[12]

Evidence of the P-40's durability: in 1944 F/O T. R. Jacklin (pictured) flew this No. 75 Squadron RAAF P-40N-5 more than 200 mi (320 km) after the loss of the port aileron and 25% of its wing area. The fighter was repaired and served out the war.

It had armour around the engine and the cockpit, which enabled it to withstand considerable damage. This was one of the characteristics that allowed Allied pilots in Asia and the Pacific to attack Japanese fighters head on, rather than try to out-turn and out-climb their opponents. Late-model P-40s were regarded as well armored.

Caldwell said that he found the P-40C Tomahawk's armament of two .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns firing through the prop and two .303 Browning machine guns in each wing to be inadequate.[12] This was rectified with the P-40E Kittyhawk, which had three .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each wing, although Caldwell preferred the Tomahawk in other respects.

Operational range was good by early war standards, and was almost double that of the Supermarine Spitfire or Messerschmitt Bf 109, although it was inferior to the A6M Zero, Ki-43, P-38 and P-51.

Visibility was adequate, although hampered by an overly complex frame and completely blocked to the rear in early models due to the raised turtledeck. Poor ground visibility and the relatively narrow landing gear track led to many losses due to accidents on the ground.[6]

[edit] Operational history

In April 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corps, witnessing the new sleek, high-speed, in-line-engined fighters of the European air forces, placed the largest single fighter order it had ever made for fighters: 524 P-40s.

[edit] French Air Force

An early order came from the French Armée de l'Air, which was already operating P-36s. The Armée de l'Air ordered 140 as the Hawk 81A-1 but the French military had been defeated before the aircraft had left the factory, consequently, the aircraft were diverted to British and Commonwealth service (as the Tomahawk I), in some cases complete with metric flight instruments.

In late 1942, as French forces in North Africa split from the Vichy government to side with the Allies, U.S. forces transferred P-40Fs to the GC II/5, a squadron that was historically associated with the Lafayette Escadrille. GC II/5 used its P-40Fs and Ls in combat in Tunisia and, later, for patrol duty off the Mediterranean coast until mid-1944 when they were replaced by P-47Ds.

[edit] British Commonwealth units in Mediterranean & European theatres

Armourers working on a Tomahawk from No. 3 Squadron RAAF in North Africa, 23 December 1941.

[edit] Deployment

In all, 18 British Royal Air Force (RAF) squadrons, as well as four Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), three South African Air Force (SAAF), and two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons serving with RAF formations, used P-40s.[13][14]

The first units to convert were Hawker Hurricane squadrons of the Desert Air Force (DAF), in early 1941. The first Tomahawks delivered came without armor, bulletproof windscreens or self-sealing fuel tanks. These were installed in subsequent shipments. When they converted to the P-40 in early 1941, due to a rear-folding landing gear that was more prone to collapse, DAF pilots found that landing required a flatter, two-point landing, contrasted to the three-point landings used with Supermarine Spitfires and Hurricanes.

Testing showed the aircraft did not have adequate performance for use in Northwest Europe in combat operations against Messerschmitt Bf 109s. RAF Spitfires used in the theatre operated at heights around 30,000 ft (9,100 m), while the Allison engine, with its single-stage, low altitude rated supercharger, worked best at 15,000 ft (4,600 m) or lower. When the Tomahawk was used by Allied units based in the UK from August 1941, this limitation relegated the Tomahawk to low-level reconnaissance and only one squadron, No. 414 Squadron RCAF was used in the fighter role. Subsequently, the British Air Ministry deemed the P-40 completely unsuitable for the theatre. P-40 squadrons from mid-1942 re-equipped with aircraft such as Mustangs.

A Kittyhawk Mk III of No. 112 Squadron RAF, taxiing at Medenine, Tunisia, in 1943. A ground crewman on the wing is directing the pilot, whose view ahead is hindered by the aircraft's nose.

The Tomahawk was superseded in North Africa by the more powerful Kittyhawk ("D"-mark onwards) types from early 1942, though some Tomahawks remained in service until 1943. Kittyhawks included many major improvements, and were the DAF's air superiority fighter for the critical first few months of 1942, until "tropicalised" Spitfires were available.

DAF units received nearly 330 Packard V-1650 Merlin powered P-40Fs, called Kittyhawk IIs, most of which went to the USAAF, and the majority of the 700 "lightweight" L models, also powered by the Packard Merlin, in which the armament was reduced to four .50 in (12.7 mm) Brownings (Kittyhawk IIA). The DAF also received some 21 of the later P-40K and the majority of the 600 P-40Ms built; these were known as Kittyhawk IIIs. The "lightweight" P-40Ns (Kittyhawk IV) arrived from early 1943 and were used mostly in the fighter-bomber role.[15]

From July 1942 until mid-1943, elements of the US 57th Fighter Group (57th FG) were attached to DAF P-40 units.

The British government also donated 23 P-40s to the Soviet Union.

[edit] Combat performance

Tomahawks and Kittyhawks would bear the brunt of Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica fighter attacks during the North African campaign. The P-40s were considered superior to the Hurricane, which they replaced as the primary fighter of the Desert Air Force.[6]

I would evade being shot at accurately by pulling so much g-force ... that you could feel the blood leaving the head and coming down over your eyes... And you would fly like that for as long as you could, knowing that if anyone was trying to get on your tail they were going through the same bleary vision that you had and you might get away. I had deliberately decided that any deficiency the Kittyhawk had was offset by aggression. And I'd done a little bit of boxing — I beat much better opponents simply by going for [them]. And I decided to use that in the air. And it paid off.

The P-40 initially proved quite effective against Axis aircraft and contributed to a slight shift of momentum in the Allied favor. The gradual replacement of Hurricanes by the Tomahawks and Kittyhawks led to the Luftwaffe accelerating retirement of the Bf 109E and introducing the newer Bf 109F; these were to be flown by the veteran pilots of elite Luftwaffe units, such as Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG27), in North Africa.

The P-40 was generally considered roughly equal or slightly superior to the Bf 109 at low altitude, but inferior at high altitude, particularly against the Bf 109F[17]. Most of the air combat in North Africa took place well below 16,000 ft (4,900 m), thus negating much of the Bf 109's superiority. The P-40 usually had an edge over Bf 109 in horizontal maneuverability, dive speed and structural strength, was roughly equal in firepower, but was slightly inferior in speed and outclassed in rate of climb and operational ceiling.[6][18]

The P-40 was generally superior to early Italian fighter types, such as the Fiat G.50 and the Macchi C.200. Its performance against the Macchi C.202 Folgore elicted different opinions. Caldwell, who had combat experience against the Italian fighters, considered that the Folgore would have been superior to both the P-40 and the Bf 109, except that its armament of only two or four machine guns was inadequate.[19] Other observers considered the two equally matched, or favored the Folgore in aerobatic performance, such as turning radius. Jonathan Glancey wrote that the Folgore was superior to the P-40, noting the difference in turning radius. [20] Walter J. Boyne wrote that over Africa, the P-40 and the Folgore were "equivalent." [21]

Against its lack of high altitude performance the P-40 was considered to be a stable gun platform, and its rugged construction meant that it was able to operate from rough frontline airstrips with a good rate of serviceability.[22]

The earliest victory claims by P-40 pilots include Vichy French aircraft, during the 1941 Syria-Lebanon campaign, against Dewoitine D.520s, a type often considered to be the best French fighter used during World War II.[2] The P-40 was deadly against Axis bombers in the theatre, as well as against the Bf 110 twin-engine fighter.

In June 1941, Caldwell, who was serving at the time with No. 250 Squadron RAF in Egypt, and flying as F/O Jack Hamlyn's wingman, recorded in his log book that he was involved in the first air combat victory for the P-40. This was a CANT Z.1007 bomber on 6 June.[2] The claim was not officially recognized, as the crash of the CANT was not witnessed. The first official victory occurred on 8 June, when Hamlyn and Flt Sgt Tom Paxton destroyed a CANT Z.1007 from 211a Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica, over Alexandria.[3]

Several days later, the Tomahawk was in action over Syria with No. 3 Squadron RAAF, which claimed 19 aerial victories over Vichy French aircraft during June and July 1941, for the loss of one P-40 (as well as one lost to ground fire).[23]

North Africa, c. 1943. A P-40 "Kittybomber" of No. 450 Squadron RAAF, loaded with six 250 lb (110 kg) bombs (Photographer: William Hadfield)

Some DAF units initially failed to use P-40s according to its strengths and/or utilised outdated defensive tactics, such as the Lufbery circle. However, the superior climb rate of the Bf 109 enabled fast, swooping attacks, neutralizing the advantages offered by conventional defensive tactics. Various new formations were tried by Tomahawk units in 1941-42, including: "fluid pairs" (similar to the German rotte); one or two "weavers" at the back of a squadron in formation, and whole squadrons bobbing and weaving in loose formations.[24] Werner Schröer, who would be credited with destroying 114 Allied aircraft in only 197 combat missions, referred to the latter formation as "bunches of grapes", because he found them so easy to pick off.[24]The leading German expert in North Africa, Hans-Joachim Marseille, claimed as many as 101 P-40s during his career.[25]

From 26 May 1942, all Kittyhawk units operated primarily as fighter-bomber units,[26] giving rise to the nickname "Kittybomber". As a result of this change in role, and because DAF P-40 squadrons were frequently used in bomber escort and close air support missions, they suffered relatively high attrition rates; many Desert Air Force P-40 pilots were caught flying low and slow by marauding Bf 109s.

Victory claims & losses, No. 239 Wing, Desert Air Force (June 1941–May 1943)
Squadron 3 Sqn RAAF 112 Sqn RAF 450 Sqn RAAF*
Claims with Tomahawks 41 36
Claims with Kittyhawks 74.5 82.5 49
Total P-40 claims 115.5 118.5 49
P-40 losses (total) 34 38 28
* Commenced training on P-40s in December 1941 and became operational in February 1942.[27]

Clive Caldwell believed that Operational Training Units did not properly prepare pilots for air combat in the P-40, and as a commander, stressed the importance of training novice pilots properly.[28]

Nevertheless, competent pilots who used the P-40's strengths were effective against the best of the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica.[6][29] At least 46 British Commonwealth pilots achieved ace status flying the P-40. For example, on one occasion in August 1941, Caldwell was attacked by two Bf 109s, one of them piloted by German Ace Werner Schröer. Although Caldwell was wounded three times, and his Tomahawk was hit by more than 100 7.92 mm bullets and five 20 mm cannon shells, during this combat Caldwell shot down Schröer's wingman and returned to base. Some sources also claim that in December 1941, Caldwell killed a prominent German Expert, Erbo von Kageneck (69 kills) while flying a P-40.[30] Caldwell's victories in North Africa included 10 Bf 109s and two Macchi C.202s.[31] Billy Drake of 112 Sqn was the leading British P-40 ace with 13 victories.[29] James "Stocky" Edwards (RCAF), who achieved 12 kills in the P-40 in North Africa, shot down German ace Otto Schulz (51 kills) while flying a Kittyhawk with No. 260 Squadron RAF.[29] Caldwell, Drake, Edwards and Nicky Barr were among at least a dozen pilots who achieved ace status twice over while flying the P-40.[29] [32] A total of 46 British Commonwealth pilots became aces in P-40s, including seven double aces.[29]

[edit] Chinese Air Force — Flying Tigers (American Volunteer Group)

AVG P-40, painted with the shark-face emblem of the Flying Tigers and the 12-point sun roundel of the Chinese Air Force.

The Flying Tigers, known officially as the American Volunteer Group, were a unit of the Republic of China Air Force, recruited from U.S. aviators. From late 1941, the P-40B was used by the Flying Tigers.

Compared to opposing Japanese fighters, the P-40B's strengths were that it was very sturdy, well armed, generally faster in a dive and possessed a good rate of roll.[33] While the P-40s could not match the maneuverability of Japanese Nakajima Ki-27s and Ki-43s they were facing, AVG leader Claire Chennault trained his pilots to use the P-40's particular performance advantages. The P-40 had a higher dive speed than the Japanese fighters, for example, and could be used to exploit so-called "boom-and-zoom" tactics. The AVG was highly successful, and its feats were widely-published, for propaganda purposes. According to their own count, the Flying Tigers shot down 286 aircraft for the loss of up to 19 pilots.[34][35][36] The lowest count of AVG victories from other sources is 115 kills.[37]

[edit] United States Army Air Forces

A total of 15 entire USAAF pursuit/fighter groups (FG), along with other pursuit/fighter squadrons and few tactical reconnaissance (TR) units, operated the P-40 during 1941–45.[32][38][39]

As was also the case with the P-39, many USAAF officers considered the P-40 inadequate, and it was gradually replaced by the turbo-supercharged P-38, P-51 and P-47. However, the bulk of the fighter operations by the USAAF in 1942–43 were borne by the P-40 and the P-39. In the Pacific, these two fighters, along with the U.S. Navy's F4F Wildcat, contributed more than any other U.S. types to breaking Japanese air power during this critical period.

[edit] Pacific theaters

By mid-1943, the USAAF was phasing out the P-40F (pictured); the two nearest aircraft, "White 116" and "White 111" were flown by the aces 1Lt Henry E. Matson and 1Lt Jack Bade, 44th FS, at the time part of AirSols, on Guadalcanal.

The P-40 was the main USAAF fighter aircraft in the South West Pacific and Pacific Ocean theaters during 1941–42.

In the first major battles, at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines, USAAF P-40 squadrons suffered crippling losses on the ground and air to Japanese fighters like the "Oscar" and Zero.

However, in the Dutch East Indies campaign, the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional), formed from USAAF pilots evacuated from the Philippines, claimed 49 Japanese aircraft destroyed, for the loss of 17 P-40s.[39] And in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea Campaigns, as well as the air defense of Australia, improved tactics and training allowed the USAAF to more effectively utilize the strengths of the P-40.

Due to aircraft fatigue, spare parts and replacement problems, the US Fifth Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force created a joint P-40 management and replacement pool on 30 July 1942 and many P-40s went back and forth between both air forces.[40]

The 49th Fighter Group was in action in the Pacific from the beginning of the war. Robert DeHaven scored 10 kills (from 14 kills overall) in the P-40 with the 49th FG. He compared the P-40 favorably with the P-38:

If you flew wisely, the P-40 was a very capable aircraft. [It] could outturn a P-38, a fact that some pilots didn't realise when they made the transition between the two aircraft. [...] The real problem with it was lack of range. As we pushed the Japanese back, P-40 pilots were slowly left out of the war. So when I moved to P-38s, an excellent aircraft, I did not [believe] that the P-40 was an inferior fighter, but because I knew the P-38 would allow us to reach the enemy. I was a fighter pilot and that was what I was supposed to do."[41]

The 8th, 15th, 18th, 24th, 49th, 343rd and 347th PGs/FGs, along with the 71st TRG, flew P-40s in the Pacific theaters, between 1941 and 1945, with most units converting to P-38s during 1943-44.[39] They claimed 655 aerial victories.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, with sufficient altitude the P-40 could actually turn with the A6M and other Japanese fighters, using a combination of nose-down vertical turn with a bank turn, a technique known as a low yo-yo. Robert DeHaven describes how this tactic was used in the 49th Fighter group:

[Y]ou 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 ... on the Zero. If your speed was up over 275, you could outroll [a Zero]. His big ailerons didn't have the strength to make high speed rolls... You could push things, too. Because ... [i]f you decided to go home, you could go home. He couldn't because you could outrun him. [...] That left you in control of the fight.

[edit] China-Burma-India theater

USAAF and Chinese P-40 pilots performed extremely well in this theater, scoring high kill ratios against Japanese types such as the Ki-43, Nakajima Ki-44 "Tojo" and the Zero. The P-40 remained in use in the CBI until 1944, and was reportedly preferred over the P-51 Mustang by some US pilots flying in China.[citation needed]

The American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) was integrated into the USAAF as the 23rd Fighter Group. The unit continued to fly newer model P-40s until the end of the war, racking up a high kill-to-loss ratio.[32][42]

Units arriving in the China-Burma-India theater after the AVG in the 10th and 14th air forces continued to perform well with the P-40, claiming 973 kills in the theater, or 64.8 percent of all enemy aircraft shot down. Aviation historian Carl Molesworth stated that "...the P-40 simply dominated the skies over Burma and China. They were able to establish air superiority over free China, northern Burma and the Assam valley of India in 1942, and they never relinquished it."[32]

In addition to the 23rd FG, the 3rd, 5th, 51st and 80th FGs, along with the 10th TRS, operated the P-40 in the CBI (note, although part of the US 14th AF, the P-40s of 3rd and 5th FGs of the Chinese American Composite Wing were flown by both American and Chinese pilots).[32] In addition to its role as a fighter aircraft, CBI P-40 pilots used the aircraft very effectively as a fighter-bomber. The 80th Fighter Group in particular used its so-called B-40 (P-40s carrying 1,000-pound high explosive bombs) to destroy Japanese-held bridges and kill bridge repair crews, sometimes demolishing their target with a single bomb.[43] At least 40 U.S. pilots reached ace status while flying the P-40 in the CBI.

[edit] Europe and Mediterranean theaters

Top to Bottom: P-40 F/L, P-40K Warhawk

The first confirmed victory by a USAAF unit over a German aircraft in World War II was achieved by a P-40C pilot on 14 August 1942. 2nd Lt Joseph D. Shaffer, of the 33rd Fighter Squadron, intercepted a Focke-Wulf Fw 200C-3 that overflew his base at Reykjavík, Iceland. Shaffer damaged the Fw 200, which was finished off by a P-38F.

Warhawks were used extensively in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) by USAAF units, including the 33rd, 57th, 58th, 79th, 324th and 324th Fighter Groups [38]

While the P-40 suffered heavy loses in the MTO, many USAAF P-40 units achieved high kill-to-loss ratios against Axis aircraft. For example the 324th FG scored better than a 2:1 ratio in the MTO.[9] In all, 23 U.S. pilots became aces in the MTO while flying the P-40, most of them during the first half of 1943.[38] As in the Pacific, success in combat depended in part on experience and effective tactics.

Individual pilots from the 57th FG were the first USAAF P-40 pilots to see action in the MTO, while attached to Desert Air Force Kittyhawk squadrons, from July 1942. The 57th was also the main unit involved in the "Palm Sunday Massacre", of 18 April 1943. De-coded Ultra signals had given away a plan for a large formation of German Junkers Ju 52 transports to cross the Mediterranean, escorted by Bf 109s. An ambush was planned, using three squadrons of the 57th, a P-40 squadron from the 324th FG and a small group of Desert Air Force Spitfires. In total the Allied force numbered some 80 fighters. They intercepted 65 Ju 52/3ms, covered by eight Bf 109s. Fifty one of the Junkers transports and all eight of the Bf 109s were shot down in what became known as the "Palm Sunday Massacre".[44] Only six Allied fighters were lost, five of them P-40s. On 22 April a similar force of P-40s attacked a formation of 14 Messerschmitt Me 321s covered by seven Bf 109s from II./JG 27. All of the transports were shot down, for a loss of three P-40s destroyed.[44] The 57th FG was equipped with the Curtiss fighter until early 1944, during which time they were credited with at least 140 air-to-air kills.[citation needed]

In early 1943, 75 P-40Ls were transported on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. On 23 February, during Operation Torch, the pilots of the 58th FG few these P-40s off Ranger to land on at newly-captured Vichy French airfield, Cazas, near Casablanca, in French Morocco. The aircraft resupplied the 33rd FG and the pilots were reassigned. [45]

The 325th FG (also known as the "Checkertail Clan"), also flew P-40s in the MTO. The 325th was credited with at least 133 air-to-air kills in April-October 1943, of which 95 were Bf 109s and 26 were Macchi C.202s, for the loss of only 17 P-40s in combat.[38][46] An anecdote concerning the 325th FG, indicates what could happen if Bf 109 pilots made the mistake of trying to out-turn the P-40. According to 325th FG historian Carol Cathcart: "on 30 July, 20 P-40s of the 317th [Fighter Squadron] ... took off on a fighter sweep ... over Sardinia. As they turned to fly south over the west part of the island, they were attacked near Sassari... The attacking force consisted of 25 to 30 Bf 109s and Macchi C.202s... In the brief, intense battle that occurred ... [the 317th claimed] 21 enemy aircraft."[47] Cathcart states that Lt. Robert Sederberg who assisted a comrade being attacked by five Bf 109s, destroyed at least one German aircraft, and may have shot down as many as five. Sederberg was shot down in the dogfight and became a prisoner of war.[47]

A famous African American unit, the 99th FS, better known as the "Tuskegee Airmen" or "Redtails", flew P-40s in stateside training and for their initial eight months in the MTO. On 9 June 1943, they became the first African American fighter pilots to engage enemy aircraft, over Pantelleria, Italy. A single Focke Wulf Fw 190 was reported damaged by Lieutenant Willie Ashley Jr. On 2 July the squadron claimed its first verified kill; a Fw 190 destroyed by Captain Charles Hall. The 99th would continue to score with P-40s until February 1944, when they were assigned P-39s.[48][49]

The much-lightened P-40L was most heavily used in the MTO, primarily by U.S. pilots. Many US pilots stripped down their P-40s even further to improve performance, often removing two or more of the wing guns from the P-40F/L.

[edit] Royal Australian Air Force

A P-40E-1 piloted by the ace Keith "Bluey" Truscott, commander of No. 76 Squadron RAAF, taxis along Marsden Matting at Milne Bay, New Guinea in September 1942.

The Kittyhawk was the main fighter used by the RAAF in World War II, in greater numbers than the Spitfire. Two RAAF squadrons serving with the Desert Air Force, No. 3 and No. 450 Squadrons, were the first Australian units to be assigned P-40s. Other RAAF pilots served with RAF or SAAF P-40 squadrons in the theater.

Many RAAF pilots achieved high scores in the P-40. At least five reached "double ace" status: Clive Caldwell, Nicky Barr, John Waddy, Bob Whittle (11 kills each) and Bobby Gibbes (10 kills) in the Middle East, North African and/or New Guinea campaigns. In all, 18 RAAF pilots became aces while flying P-40s.[29]

Nicky Barr, like many Australian pilots, considered the P-40 a reliable mount: "The Kittyhawk became, to me, a friend. It was quite capable of getting you out of trouble more often than not. It was a real warhorse."[50]

At the same time as the heaviest fighting in North Africa, the Pacific War was also in its early stages, and RAAF units in Australia were completely lacking in suitable fighter aircraft. Spitfire production was being absorbed by the war in Europe; P-38s and P-39s were trialled, but were regarded as unsuitable and were also difficult to obtain; Mustangs had not yet reached squadrons anywhere, and Australia's tiny and inexperienced aircraft industry was geared towards larger aircraft. USAAF P-40s and their pilots originally intended for the U.S. Far East Air Force in the Philippines, but diverted to Australia as a result of Japanese naval activity were the first suitable fighter aircraft to arrive in substantial numbers. By mid-1942, the RAAF was able to obtain some USAAF replacement shipments; the P-40 was given the RAAF designation A-29.

P-40N-15 "Black Magic",
No. 78 Squadron RAAF.
F/L Denis Baker scored the RAAF's last aerial victory over New Guinea in this fighter on 10 June 1944. It was later flown by W/O Len Waters. Note the dark blue tip on the tailfin used to identify 78 Squadron.

RAAF Kittyhawks played a crucial role in the South West Pacific theater. They fought on the front line as fighters during the critical early years of the Pacific War, and the durability and bomb-carrying abilities (1,000 lb/454 kg) of the P-40 also made it ideal for the ground attack role. For example, 75, and 76 Squadrons played a critical role during the Battle of Milne Bay,[51][52] fending off Japanese aircraft and providing highly effective close air support for the Australian infantry, negating the initial Japanese advantage in light tanks and sea power.

The RAAF units which made the most use of Kittyhawks in the South West Pacific were: 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86 Squadrons. These squadrons saw action mostly in the New Guinea and Borneo campaigns.

Late in 1945, RAAF fighter squadrons in the South West Pacific began converting to P-51Ds. However, Kittyhawks were in use with the RAAF until the very last day of the war, in Borneo. In all, the RAAF acquired 841 Kittyhawks (not counting the British-ordered examples used in North Africa), including 163 P-40E, 42 P-40K, 90 P-40 M and 553 P-40N models.[53] In addition, the RAAF ordered 67 Kittyhawks for use by No. 120 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron (a joint Australian-Dutch unit in the South West Pacific). The P-40 was retired by the RAAF in 1947.

[edit] Royal Canadian Air Force

P-40K 42-10256 in Aleutian "Tiger" markings.

In mid-May 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force had its first look at the P-40. At that time a party of American officers flew to Uplands Airport near Ottawa where they saw the XP-40 and a Spitfire flown in comparative tests. When Canadian Army requirements for France were drawn up, one of the units was to have been an Army Co-operation Wing (No. 101) consisting of three squadrons: No. 400 (previously No. 110) Squadron and No. 414, equipped with P-40 Tomahawk aircraft, formed No. 39 (Army Co-operation) Wing (RCAF). By January 1943, all three squadrons had converted to the Mustang Mk I. In all, the RCAF received 72 Kittyhawk I, 12 Kittyhawk Ia, 15 Kittyhawk III and 35 Kittyhawk IV aircraft, for a total of 134 aircraft, plus the loan of nine P-40Ks in the Aleutians, all in lieu of the 144 P-39 Airacobras originally allotted to Canada and rejected.

One of the most significant uses of the RCAF P-40s occurred in the 1942 Aleutians campaign. When the Imperial Japanese Navy moved to attack Midway, it sent a diversionary battle group to attack the Aleutian Islands. The RCAF sent No. 111 Squadron RCAF, flying the Kittyhawk I, to a forward base on Adak Island, Alaska. During the drawn-out campaign, 12 Canadian Kittyhawks operated on a rotational basis from a new, more advanced base on Amchitka, 75 mi (121 km) southeast of Kiska. Two RCAF fighter squadrons, No. 111 and No. 14, took "turn-about" at the base. During the deployment, one Nakajima A6M2-N seaplane was shot down by Squadron Leader Ken Boomer. After the Japanese threat diminished, the RCAF units returned to Canada and eventually transferred to England without their Kittyhawks.

[edit] Royal New Zealand Air Force

F/O Geoff Fisken RNZAF. The 11 Japanese flags represent six aircraft he claimed while flying Buffalos, two shot down in Wairarapa Wildcat (NZ3072/19) on 12 June 1943 and three claimed on 4 July 1943, when Fisken was flying P-40 NZ3060/9. The "Wildcat" emblem was applied by a US unit which previously used the aircraft. Fisken kept it, while adding "Wairarapa", after his home region.

Some Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) pilots and New Zealanders in other air forces flew British P-40s while serving with DAF squadrons in North Africa and Italy, including the ace Jerry Westenra.

A total of 301 P-40s were allocated to the RNZAF under lend lease, for use in the Pacific Theatre, although four of these were lost in transit. The aircraft equipped 14 Squadron, 15 Squadron, 16 Squadron, 17 Squadron, 18 Squadron, 19 Squadron and 20 Squadron.

RNZAF P-40 squadrons were successful in air combat against the Japanese between 1942 and 1944. Their pilots claimed 100 aerial victories in P-40s, whilst losing 20 aircraft in combat.[54][55] Geoff Fisken, the highest scoring British Commonwealth ace in the Pacific, flew P-40s with 15 Squadron, although half of his victories were claimed with the Brewster Buffalo.

The overwhelming majority of RNZAF P-40 victories were scored against Japanese fighters, mostly Zeroes. Other victories included Aichi D3A "Val" dive bombers. The only confirmed twin engine claim, a Ki-21 "Sally" (misidentified as a G4M "Betty") fell to Fisken in July 1943.[55]

From late 1943 and 1944, RNZAF P-40s were increasingly used against ground targets, including the innovative use of naval depth charges as improvised high-capacity bombs. The last front line RNZAF P-40s were replaced by F4U Corsairs in 1944. The P-40s were relegated to use as advanced pilot trainers.[56][57][58]

The remaining RNZAF P-40s, excluding the 20 shot down and 154 written off, were mostly scrapped at Rukuhia in 1948.

[edit] Soviet Union

The Soviet Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily (VVS; "Military Air Forces") and Morskaya Aviatsiya (MA; "Naval Air Service") also referred to P-40s as Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. Their units used 2,097 [59] Tomahawks and Kittyhawks against the Germans; most Soviet P-40 squadrons had good combat records. They provided close air support as well as air-to-air capability, with many Soviet pilots becoming aces on the P-40, although not as many as on the P-39 Airacobra, which was the most numerous Lend Lease fighter used by the Soviet Union.[11]

Hawk 81A-3/Tomahawk IIb AK255, at the US National Museum of Naval Aviation, is shown in the colors of the Flying Tigers, but never actually served with them; it began life with the RAF and was later transferred to the Soviet Union.

The Soviets found that the P-40 was a match for the BF 109.

In January some 198 aircraft sorties were flown (334 flying hours) and 11 aerial engagements were conducted, in which 5 Bf-109s, 1 Ju-88, and 1 He-111 were shot down [6]. These statistics reveal a surprising fact - it turns out that the Tomahawk was fully capable of successful air combat with a Bf-109. The reports of pilots about the circumstances of the engagements confirm this fact. On 18 January 1942, Lieutenants S. V. Levin and I. P. Levsha (in pair) fought an engagement with 7 Bf-109s and shot down two of them without loss. On 22 January a flight of three aircraft led by Lieutenant E. E. Lozov engaged 13 enemy aircraft and shot down two Bf-109Es, again without loss. Altogether in January two Tomahawks were lost-one shot down by German antiaircraft artillery and only one by Messerschmitts.[11]

The Soviets stripped down their P-40s significantly for combat, in many cases removing the wing guns altogether in P-40B/C types, for example. Soviet Air Force reports state that they liked the range and fuel capacity of the P-40 which were superior to most of the Soviet fighters, though they still preferred the P-39. Their biggest complaint was its poor climb rate and problems with maintenance, especially with burning out the engines. VVS pilots usually flew the P-40 at War Emergency Power settings while in combat, this would bring the acceleration and speed performance closer to that of their German rivals, but could burn out engines in a matter of weeks.[11] They also had difficulty with the more demanding requirements for fuel quality and oil purity of the Allison engines. A fair number of burnt out P-40s were re-engined with Soviet Klimov engines but these performed relatively poorly and were relegated to rear area use.[11]

Personally speaking, the P-40 could contend on an equal footing with all the types of Messerschmitts, almost to the end of 1943. If you take into consideration all the tactical and technical characteristics of the P-40, then the Tomahawk was equal to the Bf-109F and the Kittyhawk was slightly better.
—N. G. Golodnikov,
2nd Guards Fighter Regiment (GIAP),
Northern Aviation Fleet (VVS SF).[60]

The P-40 saw the most front-line use in Soviet hands in 1942 and early 1943. It was used in the northern sectors and played a significant role in the defense of Leningrad. The most numerically important types were P-40B/C, P-40E and P-40K/M. By the time the better P-40F and N types became available, production of superior Soviet fighters had increased sufficiently so that the P-40 was replaced in most Soviet Air Force units by the Lavochkin La-5 and various later Yakovlev types.

[edit] Japan

The Japanese Army captured some P-40s and later operated a number in Burma. The Japanese appear to have had as many as ten flyable P-40Es.[61] For a brief period, during 1943, a few of them were actually used operationally by 2 Hiko Chutai, 50 Hiko Sentai (2nd Air Squadron, 50th Air Regiment) in the defense of Rangoon. Testimony to this fact is given by Yasuhiko Kuroe, a member of the 64 Hiko Sentai. In his memoirs, he says one Japanese-operated P-40 was shot down in error by a friendly Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" over Rangoon.

[edit] Other nations

The P-40 was used by over two dozen countries during and after the war. The P-40 was also used by Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Finland and Turkey. The last P-40s in military service were those used by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), which were finally retired in 1958.

In the air war over Finland, several Soviet P-40s were shot down or had to crash land due to other reasons. The Finns, short of good aircraft, collected these and managed to repair one P-40M, P-40M-10-CU 43-5925, "white 23", which received Finnish Air Force serial number KH-51 (KH denoting "Kittyhawk", as the British designation of this type was Kittyhawk III). This aircraft was attached to an operational squadron HLeLv 32 of the Finnish Air Force, but lack of spares kept it on the ground, with the exception of a few evaluation flights.

[edit] Variants and development stages

A USAAF Curtiss P-40K-10-CU, serial number 42-9985, c.1943.
  • Departing from normal USAAC convention, there was no P-40A. Some records indicate this might have been reserved for a reconnaissance variant that was briefly in development by Curtiss, but quickly discarded.
  • Revised versions of the P-40 soon followed: the P-40B or Tomahawk IIA had extra .30in in (7.62 mm) U.S., or .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns in the wings and a partially protected fuel system; the P-40C or Tomahawk IIB added underbelly drop tank and bomb shackles, as well as actual self-sealing fuel tanks and other minor revisions, but the extra weight did have a negative impact on aircraft performance. (All versions of the P-40 had a relatively low power-to-weight ratio compared to contemporary fighters.)
  • Only a small number of P-40D or Kittyhawk Mk Is were made - less than 50. With a new, larger Allison engine, slightly narrower fuselage, redesigned canopy, and improved cockpit, the P-40D eliminated the nose-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) guns and instead had a pair of .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each wing. The distinctive chin airscoop grew larger in order to adequately cool the large Allison engine.
  • Retrospective designation for a single prototype. The P-40A was a single camera-carrying aircraft.
  • The P-40E or P-40E-1 was very similar in most respects to the P-40D, except for a slightly more powerful engine and an extra .50 in (12.7 mm) gun in each wing, bringing the total to six. Some aircraft also had small underwing bomb shackles. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IA. The P-40E was the variant that bore the brunt of air to air combat by the type in the key period of early to mid 1942, for example with the first US squadrons to replace the AVG in China (the AVG was already transitioning to this type from the P-40B/C), the type used by the Australians at Milne Bay, by the New Zealand squadrons during most of their air to air combat, and by the RAF/Commonwealth in North Africa as the Kittyhawk IA.
In the vicinity of Moore Field, Texas. The lead ship in a formation of P-40s is peeling off for the "attack" in a practice flight at the Army Air Forces advanced flying school. Selected aviation cadets were given transition training in these fighters before receiving their pilot's wings, 1943.
  • P-40F and P-40L, which both featured Packard V-1650 Merlin engine in place of the normal Allison, and thus did not have the carburetor scoop on top of the nose. Performance for these models at higher altitudes was better than their Allison-engined cousins. The L in some cases also featured a fillet in front of the vertical stabilizer, or a stretched fuselage to compensate for the higher torque. The P-40L was sometimes nicknamed "Gypsy Rose Lee," after a famous stripper of the era, due to its stripped-down condition. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces under the designation Kittyhawk Mk II, a total of 330 Mk IIs were supplied to the RAF under Lend-Lease. The first 230 aircraft are sometimes known as the Kittyhawk Mk IIA. The P-40F/L was extensively used by U.S. fighter groups operating in the Mediterranian Theater.
  • P-40G : 43 P-40 aircraft fitted with the wings of the Tomahawk Mk IIA. A total of 16 aircraft were supplied to the Soviet Union, and the rest to the US Army Air Force. It was later redesignated RP-40G.
  • P-40K, an Allison-engined P-40L, with the nosetop scoop retained and the Allison configured scoop and cowl flaps. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk III, it was widely used by US units in the CBI.
  • P-40M, version generally similar to the P-40K, with a stretched fuselage like the P-40L and powered by an Allison V-1710-81 engine giving better performance at altitude (compared to previous Allison versions). It had some detail improvements and it was characterized by two small air scoops just before the exhaust pipes. Most of them were supplied to Allied countries (mainly UK and USSR), while some others remained in the USA for advanced training. It was also supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk. III.
  • P-40N (manufactured 1943-44), the final production model. The P-40N featured a stretched rear fuselage to counter the torque of the larger, late-war Allison engine, and the rear deck of the cockpit behind the pilot was cut down at a moderate slant to improve rearward visibility. A great deal of work was also done to try and eliminate excess weight to improve the Warhawk's climb rate. Early N production blocks dropped a .50 in (12.7 mm) gun from each wing, bringing the total back to four; later production blocks reintroduced it after complaints from units in the field. Supplied to Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IV. A total of 553 P-40Ns were acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force, making it the variant most commonly used by the RAAF. Subvariants of the P-40N ranged widely in specialization from stripped down four-gun "hot rods" which could reach the highest top speeds of any production variant of the P-40 (up to 380 mph), to overweight types with all the extras intended for fighter-bombing or even training missions.
Curtiss P-40N-5-CU "Little Jeanne"
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk "Little Jeanne" in flight
  • P-40P : The designation of 1,500 aircraft ordered with V-1650-1 engines, but actually built as the P-40N with V-1710-81 engines.
  • XP-40Q with a 4-bladed prop, cut-down rear fuselage and bubble canopy, supercharger, squared-off wingtips and tail surfaces, and improved engine with two-speed supercharger was tested, but its performance was not enough of an improvement to merit production when compared to the contemporary late model P-47Ds and P-51Ds pouring off production lines. The XP-40Q was, however, the fastest of the P-40 series with a top speed of 422 mph (679 km/h) as a result of the introduction of a high-altitude supercharger gear. (No P-40 model with a single-speed supercharger could even approach 400 mph (640 km/h)) With the end of hostilities in Europe, the P-40 came to the end of its front line service.
  • P-40R : The designation of P-40F and P-40L aircraft, converted into training aircraft in 1944.
  • RP-40 : Some American P-40s were converted into reconnaissance aircraft.
  • TP-40 : Some P-40s were converted into two-seat trainers.
  • Twin P-40 : Probably the most unusual variant, it was a P-40C outfitted in 1942 with a pair of 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard V-1650-1 Merlin engines mounted atop the wings, over the main landing gear.[62]

[edit] Survivors

Of the 13,738 P-40s built, only 19 P-40s remain airworthy with only three having dual controls. Approximately 80 aircraft are on static display or under restoration. [63]

[edit] Famous P-40 pilots

  • Claire Chennault: 1st American Volunteer Group (better known as the "Flying Tigers") leader and national war hero in China.
  • Nicky Barr: RAAF ace (11 kills) and member of the Australian national rugby team
  • Gregory Boyington: American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers), Chinese Air Force. (Boyington was later leader of the US Marine Corps' VMF-214 "Black Sheep Squadron".)
  • Clive Caldwell: RAAF, the highest-scoring P-40 pilot from any air force (22 kills) and the highest-scoring Allied pilot in North Africa.[64] Australia's highest-scoring ace in World War II (28.5 kills).
  • Dan Rowan (as Daniel H. David): USAAF, Southwest Pacific theater. Comedian/actor. Scored two kills against Japanese aircraft before being shot down and seriously wounded.
  • Billy Drake: RAF, the leading British P-40 ace, with 13 kills.
  • James Francis Edwards: RCAF, 15¾ kills (12 on the P-40). (He wrote two books about Commonwealth Kittyhawk pilots in World War II.).[65]
  • Geoff Fisken: RNZAF, the highest scoring British Commonwealth ace in the Pacific theater. Five of his 11 victories were claimed in Kittyhawks.
  • John Everitt "Jack" Frost, SAAF, the highest scoring air ace in a South African unit, with 15 kills (seven on the P-40). Missing in action, 16 June 1942 after combat with JG 27 Bf 109s; his body was never found.[65]
  • John Gorton: RAAF, later Prime Minister of Australia, 1968–71. His war service included combat missions in Kittyhawks with No. 77 Squadron over New Guinea and a period as an instructor on the type with 2 OTU.
  • John F. Hampshire, Jr.: USAAF. Tied for top-scoring USAAF ace on the type with 13 victories.
  • David Lee "Tex" Hill: 2nd Squadron AVG, 23rd FG USAAF. 12.25 P-40 victories (18.25 total).
  • Bruce K. Holloway: USAAF. Tied for top-scoring USAAF ace on the type with 13 victories. Retired USAF four-star general in command of SAC in 1972.[66]
  • James H. Howard: AVG (6 victories), USAAF (P-51 at least 5 additional victories) awarded the Medal of Honor for a single engagement in the skies over Europe.
  • Nikolai Fyodorovich Kuznetsov: VVS, ace, twice Hero of the Soviet Union. Most of his 22 kills were scored in the P-40.
  • Stepan Novichkov: VVS, top scoring Soviet ace on the P-40, with 19 of his 29 total personal victories being scored while flying the type.
  • Petr Pokryshev: VVS, ace, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, scored 22 personal victories, including 14 in P-40s.
  • Lt. Colonel William (Bill) Reed, Commander, 3rd Fighter Group, Chinese American Composite Wing (provisional), 14th Army Air Force. He scored nine aerial victories including three with the AVG, all in P-40s.
  • Robert Lee Scott, Jr.: Flying Tigers/USAAF, later commander of the US 23rd Fighter Group, in the Fourteenth Air Force. (Scored 10+ kills in the P-40.)
  • Kenneth M. Taylor: USAAF, one of two US pilots to get airborne in a P-40 during the Pearl Harbor raid, Taylor shot down two Japanese aircraft on 7 December 1941, and was wounded in the arm.
  • Keith Truscott: RAAF, pre-war star of Australian football; became an ace on Spitfires in the UK, commanded a Kittyhawk squadron at the Battle of Milne Bay (1942), in New Guinea; killed in an accident in 1943, while flying a P-40
  • Boyd Wagner: USAAF, the first USAAF fighter ace of World War II who achieved ace status by shooting down his fifth Japanese aircraft in a P-40 on 17 December 1941 in the Philippines.
  • Len Waters: RAAF, the only Australian Aboriginal fighter pilot of World War II.
  • George Welch: USAAF, one of two U.S. pilots to get airborne in a P-40 during the attack on Pearl Harbor of 7 December 1941. Welch shot down three Japanese aircraft that day.

[edit] Operators

[edit] Specifications (P-40E)

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 31.67 ft (9.66 m)
  • Wingspan: 37.33 ft (11.38 m)
  • Height: 12.33 ft (3.76 m)
  • Wing area: 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
  • Empty weight: 6,350 lb (2,880 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 8,280 lb (3,760 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 8,810 lb (4,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,150 hp (858 kW)



  • Guns: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, 150~200 rpg
  • Bombs: 250 lb (113 kg) to 1,000 Ib (453 kg), a total of 2,000 lb (907 kg) on three hardpoints (one under the fuselage and two underwing)