Why, yes, I am riding a P-40 in a sandstorm, thanks for asking

Click bigger

Click bigger

Above we see a Kittyhawk fighter plane of the British RAF No. 112 “Sharknose” Squadron grounded during a Libyan Sandstorm – April 2, 1942, running with a mechanic on the wing directing the pilot. This was required because the view ahead is hindered by the aircraft’s nose when all three wheels are on the ground.

“During July 1941, the squadron was one of the first in the world to become operational with the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk (the lend-lease version of the equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C variants of the US Army Air Corps Warhawks) which it used in both the fighter and ground attack role. Inspired by the unusually large air inlet on the P-40, the squadron began to emulate the “shark mouth” logo used on some German Messerschmitt Bf 110s of Zerstörer Geschwader 76 earlier in the war. (This practice was later followed by P-40 units in other parts of the world, including the Flying Tigers, American volunteers serving with the Chinese Air Force.) In December, the Tomahawks were replaced by the updated P-40 Kittyhawk (P-40D equivalent), which the squadron used for the remainder of its time with the Desert Air Force, often as a fighter-bomber.

The P-40s were considered superior to the Hurricane (which it replaced) and Italian fighter types, such as the Fiat G.50 and the Macchi C.200 (which it flew against) while being equal to the German BF-109 and inferior to later tropicalized Spitfires.  A total of 46 British Commonwealth pilots became aces in P-40s, including seven double aces.

RAF P-40, Medenine, Tunisia, May 1943. Note the wing rider

The squadron during this time included a significant number of personnel from the air forces of Poland, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Another member was the English ace Neville Duke (later prominent as a test pilot). For most of 1942, it was commanded by the highest-scoring Australian ace of World War II, Clive Caldwell, the first Empire Air Training Scheme graduate to command a British unit. He was succeeded by Billy Drake, the highest-scoring RAF P-40 pilot and the second-highest-scoring British Commonwealth P-40 pilot, behind Caldwell. Later in the war, an increasing number of South African pilots joined the unit.

A Curtiss ad touting the P-40 over Tunisia, although they could have included one with RAF roundels…

After the invasion of Sicily on July 10, 1943, the squadron moved to bases there, in July 1943, and onto the Italian mainland in September. In June 1944 the Kittyhawks were replaced by the Mustang Mark III and, from February 1945, Mustang Mk IVs. The squadron remained in Italy at Lavariano as part of the occupying forces until disbanding on 30 December 1946 at Treviso.

By the end of the war, some 206 air victories had been claimed by the Squadron, and 62 destroyed on the ground”

Still, you have to enjoy photos of P-40s, nose up!

RAAF Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk at Milne Bay with men sitting on the wingtips across the narrow Marsden matting strip AWM 013329

Royal Australian Air Force P-40 Kittyhawk in North Africa, 1942.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.