Tag Archives: P-40

Flying Tigers Remembered in Taipei

The Republic of China Air Force, popularly known outside of Taiwan as the Taiwan Air Force, this month is celebrating two events, the Air Battle Over Hangchow, now commemorated as “Republic of China Air Force Day” and the 80th Anniversary of the First American Volunteer Group, popularly just remembered as Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, taking to the air.

The 14 August 1937 air battle over Hangchow, in which the first Chinese Air Force (of the Nationalist Kuomintang’s) fighter squadrons, the which Chennault had just been hired to advise, took to the air over Shanghai and Nanjing to provide the incoming Japanese bombers the first air-to-air threat they had ever experienced. The American-made Curtiss Hawk IIIs of the Chinese 21st, 22nd, and 23rd Pursuit Squadrons (borrowing the term used at the time for fighter squadrons in the U.S. Army) destroyed four Japanese Mitsubishi G3M Type 96 (Nell) long-range bombers without losing a single plane in return. The event is referred to these days by the Taiwan Air Force as “814” after its date.

Box art for the 1:48 Hawk III kit sold by Special Hobby (SH72223), depicting the events of 814 against IJN G3M2 “Nells”. The 30 or so Hawk IIIs used by the pre-war ROCAF were gradually replaced by Soviet fighter types they were destroyed, and Russian-built I-15 and I-16 types were imported to rebuild it.

Likewise, the Flying Tigers were formed in April 1941 with 100 former and on-leave American military aviators employed by the shell “Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company,” and were later married up with an equal number of crated Curtis P-40B Warhawks shipped via slow boat to Rangoon. By August 1941, 99 Warhawks were more or less assembled and on their way to the AVG training unit at Toungoo where they would be fitted with gunsights, radios, and wing guns which Curtiss was not allowed to supply. They would enter combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor. 

1941 AVG Flying Tigers 3rd Pursuit Squadron in front of a P-40 Tomahawk fighter.

A “blood chit” issued to the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers. The Chinese characters read, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him.” The same flag as flown by the old Republic is Taiwan’s current flag. (R. E. Baldwin Collection)

Hell’s Angels, the 3rd Squadron of the 1st American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers”, photo by RT Smith.

To celebrate the two events, the ROCAF has specially designed a commemorative emblem incorporating both, showing “the spirit of victory, inheritance, and loyalty and unremitting struggle.”

It should also be noted that the service has an affinity for the Tigers’ characteristic “sharks mouth” nose paint. Here, seen on a ROCAF F-16 and F-CK-1

P-40 Throwback…Hyundai?

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 angle when all three wheels are on the ground.

During July 1941, the British 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 was 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 Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) earlier in the war, which they had seen in various magazines.

Thus:

Flugzeug Messerschmitt Me 110

Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) Messerschmitt Bf 110C with shark mouth, May 1940, Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-382-0211-011

This toothy practice was later followed by P-40 units in other parts of the world, including the famous Flying Tigers, American volunteers serving with the Chinese Air Force in late 1941 and early 1942.

Capt. Forrest F “Pappy” Parham in front of the shark teeth of Little Jeep, a P-40 Warhawk, when a member of “Chennault’s Sharks” the 23rd Fighter Group in the China-Burma-India theater of WWII in late 1942. He went on to make ace with the 75th Fighter Squadron flying P-51s.

Which brings me to this USAF Recruiting Service Hyundai I came across this week:

Just wondering if RAF and Luftwaffe recruiters are also rocking sharks on their own rides.

Dutch Harbor (Battle of Midway era) Tiger on tap for Atlanta

One of the Texas Flying Legend Museum’s enduring fleet of P-40s.

p-40e-texas-warhawk-from-the-texas-flying-legend-museum

Texas Warhawk

And she has a great history. From the Commemorative Air Force’s Website:

This P-40E is a cold weather survivor coming out of Elmendorf Field in Anchorage, Alaska. The plane rolled off of the assembly line on January 13th, 1942 as a Curtiss Model H87-A3. The military accepted her as P-40E s/n 41-5709. America was still recovering from the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese were marauding up and down the Aleutian Island Chain. On June 3rd, 1942 the Japanese attacked Fort Mears and Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians. P-40s scrambled from Fort Randall but were too late to turn the Japanese back. The Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor again the next day, but this time American P-40s disrupted the force, shooting down one bomber. On June 5th, 1942 daily P-40 patrols started up in an effort to prevent surprise attacks.On September 26th, 1942, P-40E 41-5709 departed Fort Randall with 1st Lt. Dennis Crisp at the controls as part of the two-ship, daily patrol. Upon landing in the formation, his wingman landed long and ran into 5709′s tail.

Both planes were write-offs that day and ended up on the scrap heap in Cold Bay after the salvage of all usable parts.

The late Dick Odgers and a team of enthusiasts started excavating the dump at Cold Bay in 1987 and recovered significant chunks of 41-5709 among other wrecks. Odgers sold on his projects over the years, and by 1990 ’5709 was with Don Brooks in Douglas, Georgia. She was ready to fly again by August 25th, 2009, when Eliot Cross, a proven test pilot and air show performer, took 41-5709 to the skies again for the first time in 67 years. After the test flights were done, Ray Fowler, Chief Pilot and Executive Producer of the Liberty Foundation, got a turn at the stick and after several hours of flying the P-40E he convinced the board to purchase the fighter to go on tour with their B-17. They removed the rear fuel tank and installed a seat for passenger rides. Walter Bowe purchased the P-40E in 2013, who in turn sold the fighter to the Texas Flying Legends Museum in 2014, although Bowe remains a regular pilot. The P-40E wears the colors of Colonel Robert L. Scott Jr’s aircraft while he commanded the 23rd Fighter Group in the China-Burma-India Theatre during WWII.

She will be one of 7 P-40s at the upcoming 2016 Atlanta Warbird Weekend Sept 24-25, celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) so if you are in Georgia or can get there, it will be worth it.

How low can you go?

Taking a look at some extreme-low level passes throughout the past century or so. The tactic has been used throughout modern military aviation. While it is extremely dangerous, it can minimize the time a plane is over hostile enemy troops while terrain masks its approach from both surface-based radar and lookouts. The Argentine pilots who attacked the British Task Force in the Falklands in 1982 often flew incoming missions with their A-4’s and Mirages as low as 4-feet off the deck.

Douglas A-20 Havocs making a low flyby for the cameras, 1939

Douglas A-20 Havocs in a super-tight formation making a low flyby for the cameras, 1939

A WWII era P-40 Warhawk with blades 4 feet off ground

A WWII era P-40 Warhawk with blades 4 feet off ground

USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt at extreme low level

USAAF P-47 Thunderbolt at extreme low level

Low pass by P-47s. Click to big up

Low pass by P-47s. Click to big up

A-4 Skyhawk of unknown origin.

A-4 Skyhawk of unknown origin coming in just a tad hot.

Russian pilot Valentin Privalov flying under the central span the bridge over river Ob. June 14, 1965 in his shiny new MIG-19

Russian pilot Valentin Privalov flying under the central span the bridge over river Ob. June 14, 1965 in his shiny new MIG-19

1964 South Africa - S.A. Army Pilots (marching) claimed the Airforce pilots (flying) could never make them hit the deck

1964 South Africa – S.A. Army Pilots (marching) claimed the Airforce pilots (flying) could never make them hit the deck

Argentine IA58 Pucara coming in close enough to part hair

Argentine IA58 Pucara coming in close enough to part hair

Low flying Turkish Army AH-1 Cobra coming in a little low, 2014

Low flying Turkish Army AH-1 Cobra coming in a little low, 2014

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.

70 years after it crashed, a P40E Kittyhawk has been found in the Egyptian Desert.

No major news outlet has picked up on this yet. But at the end of March a Polish team out in the Western Desert came across a P40 aircraft which had apparently made a forced landing, in which the undercarriage collapsed. The aircraft identity has yet to be confirmed but is believed to be from 260 Squadron RAF and it’s location suggests was lost around the time of the battle of El Alamein. Until the planes identity is confirmed, the pilot’s fate remains unknown, although an unused parachute pack was found alongside the wreck, very strongly suggesting he at least walked away from the crash.

Not bad for 70 years in the sand

The Egyptian authorities have been informed and the Egyptian Army visited the site and removed the ammunition from the guns. It’s hoped the aircraft will be preserved and recovered but nothing concrete has yet been made public.

The P-40E or P-40E-1 was similar in most respects to the P-40D, except for a slightly more powerful engine and an extra .50 in (12.7 mm) gun in each wing, bringing the total to six. Some aircraft also had small underwing bomb shackles. Supplied to the Commonwealth air forces as the Kittyhawk Mk IA. The P-40E was the variant that bore the brunt of air-to-air combat by the type in the key period of early to mid 1942, for example with the first US squadrons to replace the AVG in China (the AVG was already transitioning to this type from the P-40B/C), the type used by the Australians at Milne Bay, by the New Zealand squadrons during most of their air to air combat, and by the RAF/Commonwealth in North Africa as the Kittyhawk IA.

Specifications (P-40E)

Data from[citation needed]

General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 31.67 ft (9.66 m)
Wingspan: 37.33 ft (11.38 m)
Height: 12.33 ft (3.76 m)
Wing area: 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
Empty weight: 6,350 lb (2,880 kg)
Loaded weight: 8,280 lb (3,760 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 8,810 lb (4,000 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,150 hp (858 kW)

Performance

Maximum speed: 360 mph (310 kn, 580 km/h)
Cruise speed: 270 mph (235 kn, 435 km/h)
Range: 650 mi (560 nmi, 1,100 km)
Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,800 m)
Rate of climb: 2,100 ft/min (11 m/s)
Wing loading: 35.1 lb/ft² (171.5 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.14 hp/lb (230 W/kg)

Armament

Guns: 6 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns with 150-200 rounds per gun
Bombs: 250 to 1,000 lb (110 to 450 kg) bombs to a total of 2,000 lb (907 kg) on three hardpoints (one under the fuselage and two underwing)

Fingers crossed it finds its way in one piece to the El Alamein museum, near Alexandria!

Video of the plane here, http://www.dumpert.nl/mediabase/2109521/99668a7b/gevonden_in_de_egyptische_woestijn.html