P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 designed in 1938, actually went into production in 1940. It wasn’t the fastest nor could it fly the highest. However Curtiss was able to produce some large numbers and make it available quickly. In the United States Army Air Corps, we needed an airplane now. Curtiss was able to deliver that. This aircraft would actually serve with all of the allies in all theaters of combat of the Second World War. It was powered by an Allison engine, which is a single-stage supercharger. So one of its disadvantages was that it couldn’t fly very well above 15,000 feet because the air got too thin. But at 15,000 feet below, this aircraft was a handful for enemy aircraft and that’s what made it really successful. So it went into mass production right around the spring of 1940 and Curtiss was able to make it in very large numbers which became hugely important because at Pearl Harbor and the invasion into South Pacific, this was the aircraft that was used to defend our country. And it was effective, if you kept it just below the 15,000 feet level, it served with the first volunteer air group over in China. And that’s where it had its distinctive, shark mouth opening. So underneath that and inside there, you have two radiators for the engine coolant. And you also have a radiator for the engine oil, which is very important. Again, it would fly for all of the allies in the country. And especially in North Africa, where high altitude was not really all that big a necessity. And that’s how this aircraft is painted. Most of us are familiar with the star we’ve seen on Army Air Corps in the past. And this one has a golden ring around it. And that is symbolic of the battles that were going on in North Africa. They had 6 50 caliber machine guns which made it very deadly. It could also carry 1500 pounds of ordinance. In combat in the air, the aircraft could be very effective especially with working in pairs which became one of the ways it was able to tackle the zero. The zero could outturn this aircraft, but this aircraft here could actually outturn some of the Allied fighters. A little bit different than the Merlin, because their displacement is slightly different, and obviously the turbocharging is also slightly different in them, but it is very distinctive. Now the same engine was also in the P38. But in that format, it actually had turbocharging. So Allison got a bad rap about not being good about 15,000 feet. But it was just a choice that the United States Army Air Corps made to not turbocharge this engine. Because in the P38, it was very effective. Up to 30,000 feet and beyond. This machine is also a veteran having shutdown a Fugu Balloon after the war.

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