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The British Curtiss Model 87A-2 Kitty hawk is similar to the U. S. Army P-40D. It has the standard coloring of the 1941-early 1942 period, with sand-and-spinach camouflage on the top and side surfaces, light-blue underneath, Type A roundels under the wing, Type B on top of the wing and Type A.1 on the side of the fuselage.
THE P-40 was already obsolete when it first appeared in 1939, because it was a variant of the Curtiss Model 75, which was a prototype of the radial-engined U.S. Army P-36A that flew early in 1935. Export sales of the 81 and 87 models with liquid-cooled Allison V-1710 engines were good because of the desperate need for fighters of any kind. The P-40 was kept in production long past its prime.
Curtiss Model 87, used by the Army as the P-40D, E and F (plus later P-40s not listed here), differed notably from the earlier P-40 through P-40C (Curtiss Model 81) because the 1,040hp planetary-geared Allison V-1710-33 engine was replaced with the 1,150hp -39 model that used spur gears, which raised the thrust line and notably changed the nose contours. In the 22 P-40Ds,the two .50-caliber machine guns were omitted from the nose, and two .50s were put in each wing panel to replace the two .30s there. Cockpit rear-view windows were also enlarged. Empty weight of the P-40D was 5,790 pounds; gross weight was 8,670 pounds; top speed was 354mph at 15,000 feet. Wing area was the same as earlier models—236 square feet.
P-40E—These models were improved P-40Ds, with -39 engines, six wing guns and a gross weight of 8,840 pounds. The Army bought 2,320. Early versions saw action in the Pacific and China, but most were used as fighter-trainers in the U.S.
P-40E-1—With passage of the famous Lend-Lease Act of March 1941, the U.S. provided the Allies with military aircraft.
Because these were procured and paid for through the appropriate military channels, they were required to have standard U.S. designations and serial numbers and to conform more closely to U.S. specifications. The Kittyhawk IA that was on order by Britain was almost a duplicate of the Army's P-40E, differing mainly in its use of British equipment and civil Allison V-1710-F3R engines. One year before adoption of the block number system, it was given the U.S. Army designation of P-40E-1 to accommodate its differences in the U.S. system. Some P-40E-1s were used by the U.S. Army and flew with U.S. markings over their British camouflage.
P-40f—A serious attempt was made to improve the performance of the obsolete P-40 when the Allison engine was replaced with the Ameri-
mmm v.sw canized 1,300hp British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (built by Packard as the V-1650-1). Unfortunately, the P-40 was too old, structurally and aero-dynamically, to benefit as much from this change as did the North American P-51. The only outward difference from the P-40E was the elimination of the carburetor air scoop on top of the nose. Its gross weight increased to 9,870 pounds, and the only improvement was the speed at altitude—364mph at 20,000 feet.
Despite this, the Army bought 1,311 P-40Fs (calling it Warhawk instead of Kittyhawk) as well as later models through P-40N. The first 699 P-40Fs were delivered before adoption of the block number system. The P-40F-5s and on had the rear fuselage lengthened 20 inches to improve directional stability. The Army took over 150 P-40Fs built for Britain as Kittyhawk II for use in North Africa in 1942 and '43.
British Designations—The Royal Air Force called its early Model 81 P-40s 'Tomahawk,"
but the improved Model 87 was called "Kittyhawk," and retained its identification with Curtiss's "Hawk" for its export fighters.
The export Model 87 was name of Warhawk when it acquired 330 P-40Fs and P-40Ls, but simply called them Kittyhawk II and Kittyhawk IIA. Eighty-one already delivered to the R.A.F.
P-40E-1 was the U.S. Army designation given to Kittyhawk I As that were delivered to Britain. This one has Army markings over British camouflage. Note the 52-gallon auxiliary fuel tank on the belly bomb rack.
originally ordered by France, but Britain took over the order. Major British use of Tomahawks and Kittyhawks was in North Africa starting in mid-1940.
Kittyhawk I— Britain bought 560 equivalents of the four-gun P-40D on cash contracts, with deliveries beginning in August 1941.
Kittyhawk IA—The 1,500 Kittyhawk lAs were equivalent to the P-40E and were delivered under Lend-Lease as P-40E-1 because of their differences in detail.
Kittyhawk //—The R.A.F. did not adopt the American were transferred to the U.S. Army for use in North Africa, and others, with U.S. insignia over British camouflage, were delivered to the Army straight from the Curtiss factory.
Several P-40Es and ex-R.C.A.F. Kittyhawks can be seen flying today in the Warbird movement.
This P-40F was repossessed from a British Kittyhawk II order and used by the U. S. Army in North Africa in 1943. Note the British-type unit markings, camouflage and fin flash.
Note: To match the Wylam drawings, this description will cover only the "Short Fuselage" Curtiss Model 87s; the U.S. Army P-40D through P-40F; and the British "Kittyhawk" series.
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