Curtiss Kittyhawk

Curtiss Kittyhawk











Developed from the radial-engine P-36A Curtiss Mohawk, the XP-40 of 1938 was fitted with an Allison liquid-cooled in-line engine. The first production P-40 B and C's, were supplied to the RAF as Tomahawks and were used by No 3 Squadron, RAAF, in the Middle East. The next version of this Curtiss fighter, the P-40D, became known as the Kittyhawk Mk I, and was followed by the P-40E (Mk IA), P-40F (Mk II), P-40K, M (Mk III) and the P-40N (Mk IV). In the US Army Air Force, the latter P-40 series were known as Warhawks.

Early in 1942, the Japanese were threatening New Guinea, and great expectations centred on the operational debut of the RAAF's new and only fighter which hard-pressed troops were calling the "Never-hawk". Then in March 1942, when No 75 Squadron flew its Kittyhawks into operations over Port Moresby, the tide of battle began to turn. For most of the war years, the Kittyhawks of Nos 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86 Squadrons bore the brunt of air warfare in the counter-air and fighter-bomber roles. Many famous RAAF fighter pilots were associated with Kittyhawks, including Squadron Leader "Bluey" Truscott who was killed in A29-150 on 28 March 1943. The 841 RAAF Kittyhawks included 163 P-40E, 42 P-40K, 90 P-40 M and 553 P-40N models. The Kittyhawk was retired from RAAF service in 1947.

General characteristics

Crew:                                                      1
Length:                                                   31 ft 9 in(9.68 m)
Wingspan:                                              37 ft 4 in (11.38 m)
Height:                                                   12 ft 4 in (3.76 m)
Wing area:                                             235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
Empty weight:                                       6,300 lb (2,858 kg)
Loaded weight:                                      9,100 lb (4128 kg)
Powerplant:                                           1× 1,600 hp Allison V-1710-73 or 81 liquid-cooled V12 engine


Maximum speed:                                  361 mph (314 knots, 582 km/h)
Cruise speed:                                        270 mph (235 knots, 435 km/h)
Range:                                                  650 mi (560 nm, 1,100 km)
Service ceiling:                                     29,000 ft (8,800 m)
Rate of climb:                                      2,100 ft/min (11 m/s)
Wing loading:                                      35.1 lb/ft² (171.5 kg/m²)
Power/mass:                                        0.14 hp/lb (230 W/kg)


Guns:                                                    6× .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns - 281 rounds/gun
Bombs:                                                 1,000 lb (454 kg) on three hardpoints

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