Military Review

P-40 "Kittyhawk". Evolutionary Path from Curtiss

P-40 "Kittyhawk". Evolutionary Path from Curtiss

The order for serial production of Р-40D from the US Army was delayed until September 1940 of the year, that is, it arrived five months after receiving the order from the British on Kittyhock-I. This modification received a new and shorter nose, which became standard for all subsequent P-40 series, with a V-1710-39 hp 1150 engine, the gearbox of which was raised to 15 cm, which gave the new nose lines. The total length of the fuselage was reduced by 15 cm, the midsection decreased, the landing gear became shorter than the steel. The radiator became a larger section and was moved forward. Armor weight has been increased by 80 kg. Fuselage machine guns were removed - a pair of 12,7-mm machine guns with a hydraulic recharge system was added instead. It also provided for the installation of a pair of 20-mm wing cannons in reloading, but they were never installed. Under the fuselage, there were holders for an 195-liter tank or 220-kg bombs. Under the wing was possible suspension of six 9-kg bombs. The take-off weight of the model D reached 3945 kg, the speed and rate of climb of the aircraft were still lower than those required by the fighter.

With only four wing machine guns, only 22 P-40D were released. 18 February 1941, the requirement was received to increase the armament to six machine guns. Modification with such weapons received the designation P-40. The possibility of installing guns was excluded. The maximum speed of the new modification was 536 km / h at an altitude of 1525 m, 552 km / h at an altitude of 3050 m, 579 km / h at an altitude of 4575 m. The climb rate decreased 10,8m / s.

The British equivalent of the P-40 was wearing the designation "Kittihok-I" A. The designation P-40-1 was worn 1500 "Kittihokov", set by the British in the framework of the lend-lease program. This name was used even before the introduction of the lettered-digital system of designation of aircraft series and was intended to indicate also features of this party, such as installation of British radio stations. It is worth noting that many of them remained in the United States, but retained the British camouflage. Six hit Brazil, 12 in the spring of 1942, were sent to Canada. Many, bypassing England, went straight to Australia.

January 1 The 1942 Kittyhokes I and IA were used for the first time in the battle by the Royal Air Force in North Africa. The low altitude characteristics of the Allison engine led to the fact that the Kittihok was inferior to the German Bf-109F in almost all characteristics, however, compared to the previous modifications, the Kittihoki carried more powerful weapons and had a better rate of climb, this allowed a slight reduction in the backlog of Messerschmitt ". The fighters were delivered by sea to the port of Takaradi, where they were assembled and then distilled by air to Egypt. Among the first aviation units that received the Kittihok was the 3 Squadron of SAAF, headed by Chapman. It was this squadron that conducted the first air battle on Kittyhok and won the first victories. January 1 south of Aguedabia, nine British fighters intercepted 16 Ju-87 bombers, which were accompanied by six Bf-109. In this battle, flight officers Spence, Barr and Fischer destroyed one German dive bombard. But greater success was achieved by Sergeant A.K. Cameron, who at the beginning of the battle shot down one Ju-87, and then entered into battle with three "Messers" who were landing at his field airfield near Agedabia. In a daring attack, he knocked out one Bf-109, and the other two damaged. However, the squadron commander Chapman did not return from this battle. It is believed that he was hit by a gunner-radio operator of one of the Ju-87.

However, as already mentioned, Kittyhoka could not lead an open battle on an equal footing with Bf-109F. Seven days later, the German pilots shot down seven British cars. Colonel Marais, commander of the 258 wing, was among those shot down. He managed to make a successful forced landing and eventually get to his. 8 January 1942, the 3 Squadron of the RAAF took revenge, intercepting Italian strike machines south of Aguedabia 35. In this case, the pilots of the Royal Air Force seven C-200, G-50 bis and CR-42. The most productive was Sergeant R.Kh. Sime, who announced a pair of downed "Saetta" and one "Falco".

The next contact with Bf-109F was again painful. On January 9, during a joint combat departure of the 112 and 3 of the Australian squadron, a group of 19 "Kittihocks" attacked a single Bf-109F. A fascist fighter came in from the side of the sun and suddenly attacked, knocking down two Australian airplanes at once. One of the dead pilots, Sime, at this point had already six victories in his combat score. And on January 11, the Australians lost another ace, Sergeant A. Cameron, the holder of seven victories. On this day, six Australian fighters attacked three Bf 109F. Two "Kittyhok" was shot down. In this battle, the flight officer A. Barr managed to knock out one Bf-109F, then hurried to the rescue of Cameroon, who landed on the “belly”. Barr had already released half of the chassis when he discovered another pair of Bf-109F. An Australian fighter with a half-hanging chassis went into a frontal attack. Barr managed to "fill up" another "Messerschmitt." However, the second "Messer" managed to knock out an Australian, and he had to make an emergency landing. That was the beginning of Kittyhok’s combat career.

It is worth noting that at this time the British pilots flew in threes. All the shortcomings of this outdated tactics became clear during the Battle for England. Not really helped, and the attempt to allocate two or three fighters to cover the main system from behind. As a rule, unexperienced pilots fell under the attacks of the German aces without any special chances of surviving. The British changed their pre-war tactics only in the summer of the 1942 of the year, almost simultaneously with the receipt of new Spitfires.

According to German data, from November 18, 1941 to January 20, 1942, 232 aircraft were lost by the Nazis in North Africa. The Italians during the same time lost at least a hundred cars. The Allies, over this period, announced three hundred air victories, with their main share belonging to units flying on the P-40. Despite some successes, it was clear that fighting with the Messerschmitts on the P-40 was possible only with a successful combination of circumstances and the presence of experienced pilots. Therefore, mainly Curtiss fighters were used for the most part as attack aircraft. The speed and climb rate of the Kittyhawk as a fighter was small, but equipped with bombs, they were able to inflict losses tank parts of the Wehrmacht.

The situation in the Pacific theater was not very good. A group of American volunteers lost almost all of their P-40C in battles with the Japanese during January-February of the 1942 year. Most of the losses were on airfields and in accidents, many aircraft were dismantled for parts. At best, the flying was no more than a 55 Tomahok. Under the conditions of heavy losses and lack of replenishment, a group of volunteers, by the spring of 1942, had only 20 Р-40С. By that time, a replenishment was transferred from Africa - 30 P-40. Higher characteristics of the latter, allowed the Americans to feel better in the air battles with the Japanese "Zero", increasingly appearing in the skies of China. 4 July 1942, a group of American volunteers joined the 23 fighter group. The best ace among American volunteers by this time was Robert Neil with 16 victories. Eight more pilots had 10 and more wins. "Flying Tigers" were the most productive part flying to the Curtiss P-40.

In the 1941, one P-40D fighter was equipped with a British Rolls-Royce "Merlin-28" engine with a single-stage, two-speed supercharger. The first flight with the new engine took place 30 June. From the standard P-40, this experimental fighter was notable for the lack of an air intake tunnel on the engine hood. The Rolls-Royce engine was in many ways better than the Allison engine. The maximum speed of the new version was: 512 km / h at the height of 1525 m, 544 km / h at the height of 3050 m, 563 km / h at the height of 4575 m, 582 km / h at the height of 6100 m. As a result, for the next modification of the fighter, received the designation P-40F, it was decided to order the engines "Merlin".

In the United States, the P-40F version was called Warhog, and in the UK and allies, it was called Kittyhok. The first 699 aircraft P-40F have not yet had a lettered-digital numbering of the series. The next series of models received the designation P-40F-5-С11 and differed with the fuselage length increased from 9,5 m to 10,15 m, which improved the directional stability. On the P-40F-10-С11 series, manual control was established for the exhaust flaps instead of the electric ones. P-40F-15-С11 were adapted for use in low temperatures. P-40F-20-SU received a new oxygen equipment pilot.

X-NUMX fighters P-140F were delivered to the UK under the Lend-Lease program, and 40 machines were also sent to the Soviet Union. In the Royal Air Force, they received the designation "Kittyhok II."

The designation P-40J was given to the design of the fighter based on the P-40Е with a turbocharger. However, work on this project was stopped in May 1942 year, before the construction of the prototype. Despite the successful installation of the engine "Merlin" on the "Vorhok", work continued in parallel on the version of the fighter under the engine Allison - production of a British engine under license was at first rather limited. The P-40K modification was distinguished by the installation of the Allison V-1710-73 (Р4К) engine with the take-off power of the 1325 hp. On the eve of 1941, an order was issued for 600 P-40K, for delivery to China.

It was planned that the P-40K will become the latest production version of the aircraft - production of the new P-60 fighter was already being prepared, but the delay in working on the latter led to the fact that in the middle of July 1942, the order for the P-40K was expanded to 1300 machines.

P-40K-1-СU and Р-40K-5-СU were almost identical to the latest serial P-40Е, except for the installation of a more powerful engine with automatic boost control. K-5 received additional radiator. The K-1 and K-5 series retained the short fuselage of the P-40E, but the installation of a more powerful engine led to the aircraft’s tendency to turn around on take-off. To solve this problem, you need to install the ventral crest. Fighters P-40K-10 and the following series, received an elongated fuselage modeled on the P-40Р-5-CU. And the P-40K-15-СU was an arctic version of the fighter.

The P-40K had a maximum speed of 4575 m - 580 km / h. Flight range with 220-kg bomb reached 560 km. Most of the P-40K were used by the US Air Force in Asia and the Pacific, and were also supplied under lend-lease by the Chinese Air Force. The 192 of the P-40K-1-СU fighter was supplied under a lend-lease by the British Royal Air Force, where they wore the designation Kittyhock III.

One P-40-10-CU was equipped with an Allison V-1710-43 engine and was used for various research works on the P-40 development, under the designation XP-40K. Experimented mainly with the cooling system and engine hood. So, one of the improvements led to the installation of cooling system radiators in a thickened center wing section.

In order to improve the flight data of the Vorhok, at least by shortening the range, the P-40L model was created. It was a lightweight version of the P-40P-5-CU with the Merlin engine. Having removed part of the fuel equipment, armament and equipment, it was possible to reduce the weight of an empty aircraft by 120 kg. In all other respects, the P-40L practically did not differ from its prototype - the P-40Р-5-СU. Sometimes the "stripped" P-40L was unofficially called the "Gypsy Rose Lee," in honor of the stripper at that time famous.

Despite the struggle for weight loss, the maximum speed of the P-40L was only 6,5 km / h higher than that of the P-40F. One hundred P-40L was sent to Britain, where it received the designation "Kittihok-II" - that is, the same as P-40F.

In 1943, the insufficient supply of Merlin engines forced us to return to the Allison engine again. As a result, a modification of the P-40M appeared - generally similar to the P-40K-20-СU, with the exception of the Allison V-1710-18 engine with power on take-off mode in the 1200 hp. This machine was produced specifically for deliveries under the program Lend-Lease. The production order was received by 24 August 1942 g, and the first Р-40М left the factory gate in November 1942. Most of them went into service with the British Royal Air Forces, the Royal Australian Air Forces and the designation Kittyhock III. . They mainly served in parts of the British Commonwealth in the Far East. Several vehicles were in service with the 5 Squadron of the South African Air Force in Italy. In addition to supplying the P-40M to the 5 Squadron of the South African Air Force, X-NUMX P-19M were also delivered to Brazil.

By the summer of the 1943, the flight characteristics of the Vorkhok were already below any requirements, especially compared to the already commercially available P-38, P-47 and P-51. The P-40N modification was designed to enhance the characteristics of the base model and thus avoid stopping the Curtiss assembly lines, in case of mastering the production of a new fighter. The design of the aircraft was facilitated, the size and weight of the chassis were reduced, and aluminum radiators for the engine cooling system and oil were also installed.

The first 1500 fighters from the Vorhok were released with Merlin engines in the same way as the P-40F, but insufficient supplies of these engines from the Packard factories led to the decision to install the Allison V-40-1710 X-NUMX X engine on the P-81N. with. With take-off weight up to 1200 kg, the speed at the height of 3790 m decreased to 5000 km / h, and the ceiling - to 560 m.

Although the Vorhok was rapidly getting older, the Р-40N was destined to become its most massive version - 5220 machines were built. And even in the middle of the 1944 of the year, when the level of equipment of almost all major combat formations of the Air Force, exceeded the potential capabilities of the P-40, another thousand Vorkhoks were ordered. Later, however, the order was reduced to 220 aircraft. In Britain, this modification received the name "Kittyhock-I" V.

Modification of the P-40N-40 was obtained by the V-1710-115 hp 1360 engine, soft tested fuel tanks, a new radio station, new oxygen equipment and flame arresters, and aileron metal trim. As an experiment, one P-40N was equipped with a drop-shaped lantern and received the unofficial designation XP-40N. The latest serial "Warhok" came off the 30 assembly line in November 1944 g, becoming the 13738-m P-40.

Most of the P-40N were supplied to the allies under a lend-lease, including around 1000 machines - to the Soviet Union. The Allies used them mostly in the Pacific theater as part of the British, Australian and New Zealand Air Forces. As part of the US Army Air Force, as the Mustang P-51 and Thunderbolt P-47 entered service, the aging P-40N were increasingly used only as training machines. Most of the British Kittyhawk-IV was decommissioned at the start of 1945, and no Royal Air Force squadron was already flying Kittyhock IV by the end of the war.

35 P-40N were shipped to Canada. 41 P-40N was supplied to Brazil, where they were used until the 1958 year. One of them is still preserved as a monument. Several vehicles were delivered to the Royal Dutch Air Corps in the East Indies. There they were used against the Japanese until the end of the war, and then against the Indonesian rebels until February 1949 of the year. Most of the X-NUMXs supplied to the Soviet Union P-2097 were modifications to the P-40N, but with us they were not popular among pilots.

The P-40Q was an experimental fighter - an attempt to create a modern combat aircraft on the basis of an aging P-40. The modifications were so serious that practically nothing remained of the basic design. For the works, two P-40K and one P-40N (No. 43-24571) were used. They received a new cooling system, a two-stage supercharger, and their appearance has changed markedly. The project received the designation XP-40Q.

The first XP-40Q received a new cooling system, an elongated nose and a four-lobe screw. The radiators were moved under the central part of the fuselage, between the landing gear. Most of these improvements were later used on the next pair of experimental machines. They also cut a gargrotte behind the cabin and installed a drop-shaped cabin lantern. Later trimmed and wingtips. As a result, aircraft appeared that had little in common with the other machines of the P-40 series.

The serial version of the aircraft was supposed to receive weapons from six 12,7-mm wing machine guns or four 20-mm guns. But the XP-40Q was still inferior to the serial "Mustang" and "Thunderbolt". As a result, further work was discontinued, and production of the P-40 ended with the release of the last P-40N.

The second XP-40Q after the war was used in aerial racing. With civil registration NX300В he, in 1947, was launched in the unofficial competition for the Thompson prize. XP-40Q was in fourth place, when due to a fire was forced to go the distance.

P-40 is widely used by the Soviet Air Force during the Great Patriotic War. However, he didn’t deserve such great popularity in our country as, for example, the P-39 Aero Cobra, for which Pokryshkin’s fighters and his brother-soldiers had become beautiful advertisements. P-40 remained in the shadow of its more successful counterparts. Our pilots evaluated the Curtiss aircraft as a whole higher than the British Hurricane, which was inferior to the American fighters in all the main characteristics, except perhaps the take-off and landing ones. However, all agreed that the P-40 is significantly worse than modern Soviet and German fighters. Details on its use on the Eastern Front - in the next article.

The ending should ...

Kotelnikov V. Leiko O. Fighter Р-40 // Digest "Wings". No.2. C. 14-31.
Kotlobovsky A. "Hawks" of Donovan Berlin // Aviation and time. 2000. No3. S. 35-39.
Firsov A. US Fighters // Aviation Collection. No.14. C. 5-9.
Ivanov S. Curtiss P-40 // War in the air. No.53. C.1-4, 9-15.
Ivanov S. Curtiss P-40 // War in the air. No.54. C.37-51.
Donald D. US military aircraft of World War II. M: AST, Astrel, 2002. C. 67-71.
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  1. cth; fyn
    cth; fyn 8 October 2015 07: 27 New
    A very strange plane for a fighter, very. Although they themselves TTZ on such a machine were and got what they wanted.
    1. yehat
      yehat 9 October 2015 00: 14 New
      Italians had a similar mediocre aircraft - it seems the G50
      when they got the engine from the messer, they took the Macci IIVC based on the G50 and it became a very good fighter that could fight the American mustangs.

      The P40 and Macci have one thing in common - a very high dive speed, which was some advantage.
  2. lilian
    lilian 8 October 2015 08: 15 New
    It will be more interesting to read about the application in the USSR.
    1. V.ic
      V.ic 8 October 2015 09: 45 New
      Quote: lilian
      It will be more interesting to read about the application in the USSR

      In A.I. Pokryshkin, in the book "Sky of War" R-40s are mentioned in the chapter, which describes air battles in the Kuban. In my opinion, he did not express optimism in their description.
  3. Mera joota
    Mera joota 8 October 2015 08: 36 New
    destitute prostitute

    Why was the pilot so punished? (4 photos) It seems that three victories were noted ... Or did he take such a vow?
    1. Free wind
      Free wind 8 October 2015 14: 15 New
      Yes, offended. Translation of "Poor Prost. ........". really for what? American victories were usually marked by applying the sign of the country of the defeated plane. We have only stars, they have crosses for sleeping fascists, circles for the Japanese. well, or the flags are permissible for Italians. but not on the engine hood. Somewhere information came across that sticks on the hood indicated incidents with this plane. In short, this plane was hit 3 times. I can’t confirm this, but when I read it.
    2. Free wind
      Free wind 8 October 2015 16: 17 New
      And why was my comment deleted? Okay again. The translation of this phrase is "unfortunate ... sti ... t ... a" when I read that the failure of the aircraft was noted, but with sticks on the hood, a hit or a failure. Confirmations I can not find. Victories were celebrated by almost everyone, but the failure of the car ... a rarity.
  4. Miner
    Miner 8 October 2015 09: 51 New
    Details of its application on the Eastern Front are in the next article.

    Thank you, we are waiting!
  5. tomket
    tomket 8 October 2015 14: 42 New
    The author did not mention the results of Killer Caldwen. Quite decent performance, even at the level of “Mustangs” and “Spits”. In general, the same Golodnikov quite positively evaluates the P-40. Slightly worse than the “Aero Cobra”. By the way, the obvious advantages include a large range, strength and bomb load.
  6. SokolfromRussia
    SokolfromRussia 8 October 2015 17: 19 New
    Great text, thanks! It would also be interesting to know about the use on the Eastern Front.
  7. Alf
    Alf 8 October 2015 21: 37 New
    My P-40N is from the Academy.