Tomahawk / Kittyhawk
Hawk 87A-3/Kittyhawk IA, s/n AK987, in
American Volunteer Group ("Flying Tigers")
paint scheme, National Museum of the USAF.
1958: FAB (Brazil)
U.S. Army Air Force
Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
US$44,892 in 1944
Developed from Curtiss P-36
The Curtiss P-40 was an American single-
engine, single-seat, all-metal
ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938.
It was used by the air forces of 28 nations, in-
cluding those of most Allied powers during
World War II, and remained in front line ser-
vice until the end of the war. By November
1944, when production of the P-40 ceased,
13,738 had been built.
The P-40 design was a modification of the
previous Curtiss P-36; this reduced develop-
ment time and enabled a rapid entry into pro-
duction and operational service.
Warhawk was the name the United States
Army Air Corps adopted for all models, mak-
ing it the official name in the United States
for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and
Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk
for models equivalent to the P-40B and
P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models
equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.
The P-40’s lack of a two-stage superchar-
ger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters in
high-altitude combat and it was rarely used
in operations in Northwest Europe. Between
1941 and 1944, however, the P-40 played a
critical role with Allied air forces in three ma-
jor theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pa-
cific and China. It also had a significant role
in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern
Europe, Alaska and Italy. The P-40’s high-alti-
tude performance was not as critical in those
theaters, where it served as an air supremacy
fighter, bomber escort and fighter bomber.
P-40s first saw combat with the British