Before the P-40 was a thing, there was the rare and beautiful Hawk
Most are familiar with the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk, the classic shark-mouthed single-seat fighter of early WWII that flew to eternal fame with the Flying Tigers in China. However, more than 1,100 Mohawk/Hawk 75/P-36 aircraft, which look very similar but aren’t, were made in the late 1930s.
They saw lots of service in the war from India to Finland (Finnish ace Kyösti Karhila scored 12¼ of his 32¼ victories in the Hawk) and Sumatra to Northern France. Postwar, they flew in Latin America through the 1950s.
One of the very last airworthy H-75s is owned by the Fighter Collection in Duxford. One of some 300 airframes ordered by France before the war, arriving in Europe in 1940. The plane’s squadron later tangled with RAF and USN aircraft over Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in 1942 and survived to tell the tale, later being recovered in storage in 1995.
It flies today with Armée de l’Air standard three-tone scheme, with her Groupe de Combat 11/5 markings on her port, and the Lafayette Escadrille Sioux Indian head motif.