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A29 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk

Developed from the radial-engined P-36A Curtiss Mohawk, the XP-40 of 1938 was a similar fighter fitted with an Allison liquid-cooled in-line engine. The first production P-40s (P-40A, B and C) were supplied to the RAF as Tomahawks and were used by No 3 Squadron, RAAF, in the Middle East, where Wing Commander "Killer" Caldwell scored over 20 victories. The next version of this Curtiss fighter, the P-40D, became known as the Kittyhawk Mk I, and was followed by the P-40E (Mk IA), P-40F (Mk II), P-40K, M (Mk III) and the P-40N (Mk IV). In the US Army Air Force, the latter P-40 series were known as Warhawks.

Early in 1942, the Japanese were threatening New Guinea, and great expectations centred around the operational debut of the RAAF's new, and only, fighter which hard-pressed troops were calling the "Never-hawk".

Then in March 1942, when No 75 Squadron flew its Kittyhawks into operations over Port Moresby, the tide of battle began to turn. For most of the war years, the Kittyhawks of Nos 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86 Squadrons bore the brunt of air warfare in the counter-air and fighter-bomber roles. Many famous RAAF fighter pilots were associated with Kittyhawks, including Squadron Leader "Bluey" Truscott who was killed in A29-150 on 28 March 1943.

The 841 RAAF Kittyhawks included 163 P-40E, 42 P-40K, 90 P-40 M and 553 P-40N models. In addition, the RAAF ordered 67 Kittyhawks (C3-500/566) for No 120 (Dutch East Indies) Squadron. The Kittyhawk was retired from RAAF service in 1947.

TECHNICAL DATA: Kittyhawk Mk IA (P-40E)


Single-seat fighter-bomber. All metal stressed-skin construction.


One 1,600 hp Allison V-1710-73 or 81.


Span 11.37 m (37 ft 3.5 in); length 9.68 m (31 ft 9 in); height 3.76 m (12 ft 4 in).


Empty 2858 kg (6300 lb); loaded 4128 kg (9100 lb).


Max speed 582 km/h (314 kt); Max cruise speed 502 km/h (271 kt); Initial Climb 625 m (2050 ft)/min; Normal range 1078 km (582 nm); Service ceiling 29,000 ft (8839 m).


Six 0.50 calibre guns in wings, and provision for 454 kg (1,000 lb) of bombs Back to top

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