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Easy Built Models Kit FF-56 Curtiss Tomahawk P-40
Wingspan: 50"
Class: Scale flyer
Building Skill / Flying Skill: Experienced / Experienced

[IMAGE Remembered as the "best second choice," the P-40 (Tomahawk) was a sturdy and durable monoplane fighter. It was the first American single-seat fighter to be mass produced. Known also as the Kitty Hawk, it was introduced in 1938 at a time when it was sorely needed. Those diverted to the Royal Air Force were known as Tomahawks. Used early in WWII by the British and US, the P-40 was inadequate against the German Bf 109 but it was all that was available at the time. They were also used widely against the Japanese starting in 1942. The most famous of these were a volunteer group known as the US Flying Tigers who flew on behalf of China against the Japanese.

Kit FF-56 Curtiss Tomahawk is a 1/9 scale, flying model that uses the Box and Former method of construction. Pre-1942 design, eligible for Society of Antique Modelers (SAM) contests. This jumbo rubber powered model is very popular for electric or gas conversion.

This free flight jumbo rubber powered kit contains a full-size rolled plan, building and flying instructions, printed balsa wood, hand-picked balsa stripwood, rubber motor, 11" Peck propeller, nose package, clear plastic for the windshield, wheels, landing gear, and Easy Built Lite colored tissue. You will need a building board, pins, hobby knife, fine sandpaper, and glue.

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.

[IMAGE 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.

According to some sources 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.

[IMAGE 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 varying opinions. Some observers consider the Macchi C.202 superior.[21] Clive Caldwell, who scored victories against them in his P-40, 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. Aviation historian Walter J. Boyne wrote that over Africa, the P-40 and the Folgore were "equivalent".

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 front line 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 theater, 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.[4] 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.

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

From 26 May 1942, all Kittyhawk units operated primarily as fighter-bomber units, 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.

Nevertheless, competent pilots who used the P-40's strengths were effective against the best of the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica.[8][33] 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 100 7.92 mm (0.312 in) 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 Experte, Erbo von Kageneck (69 kills) while flying a P-40. [N 4] Caldwell's victories in North Africa included 10 Bf 109s and two Macchi C.202s.[35] 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.

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