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Guillows Series 400 - CURTISS P-40 WARHAWK Blown to 84"
Item: 405
Wing Span: 28"
Scale: 1/16

[IMAGE 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. It was never an outstanding aircraft, mostly because of its engine. 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. Though its performance was never outstanding, the P-40 was nevertheless the most important American fighter during the first two years of the war. 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. 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, copying similar markings on some Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighters. Inspired by 112 Squadron's usage of them in North Africa, and by the Luftwaffe's even earlier use of it, both via Allied wartime newspaper and magazine article images, the "shark mouth" logo's usage on the sides of the P-40's nose was most famously used by the Flying Tigers in China.

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 heavy toll on enemy aircraft. The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack fighter long after it had been surpassed in air superiority.

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. Dive acceleration was good and dive speed was excellent. The highest-scoring P-40 ace, Clive Caldwell (RAAF), who scored 22 of his 28 1/2 kills in the P-40, said the type had "almost no vices", although "it was a little difficult to control in terminal velocity". 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. Caldwell said P-40s "would take a tremendous amount of punishment, violent aerobatics as well as enemy action."

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. The British pilots found that when landing the P-40, it was advisable to perform a "wheels" landing (i.e. touching down on the mains first) rather than a "three-point" landing used with their British aircraft. This was due to the P-40's rear-folding mainwheels, which were more prone to collapse when heavily loaded.

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 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. Most 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.

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 elicited different opinions. Caldwell, who had combat experience against the Italian fighters, felt 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. Other observers considered the two equally matched, or favored the Folgore in aerobatic performance, such as turning radius. Glancey wrote that the Folgore was superior to the P-40, noting the difference in turning radius. Boyne wrote that over Africa, the P-40 and the Folgore were "equivalent."

[IMAGE 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. Werner Schroer, 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. The leading German expert in North Africa, Hans-Joachim Marseille, claimed as many as 101 P-40s during his career.

Nevertheless, competent pilots who used the P-40's strengths were effective against the best of the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica. 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 Schroer. Although Caldwell was wounded three times, and his Tomahawk was hit by more than one hundred 7.92 mm (0.312 in) bullets and five 20 mm cannon shells, during this combat Caldwell shot down Schroer'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. Caldwell's victories in North Africa included 10 Bf 109s and two Macchi C.202s. Billy Drake of 112 Sqn was the leading British P-40 ace with 13 victories. 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. Caldwell, Drake, Edwards and Nicky Barr were among at least a dozen pilots who achieved ace status twice over while flying the P-40. A total of 46 British Commonwealth pilots became aces in P-40s, including seven double aces.

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 sturdy, well armed, generally faster in a dive and possessed a good rate of roll. 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. The lowest count of AVG victories from other sources is 115 kills. [edit] United States Army Air Forces

The American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) was integrated into the USAAF as the 23rd Fighter Group in June 1942. The unit continued to fly newer model P-40s until the end of the war, racking up a high kill-to-loss ratio.

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."

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). 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. At least 40 U.S. pilots reached ace status while flying the P-40 in the CBI.

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Guillow's 400 series FW-190 Blown to 80"

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