**Photo contributed by Tally One user Tick**
The beautiful plane pictured in our Photo of the Week is the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. This lovely old Warbird has a special place in my heart for two reasons: first, it was the second airframe to be employed by my current fighter squadron. Second, it seems to have experienced some of the social mud slinging my current airframe, the F-22, has faced.
The 7th and 8th Fighter Squadrons (whose patches I have both worn) flew the Warhawk over the South Pacific from 1942 to 1944. Together with their sister squadron, the 9th Fighter Squadron, these amazing pilots racked up 668 air-to-air kills over the Pacific – most of which were brought down by the mighty Warhawk. The P-40 was also flown by such legends as the Flying Tigers and the Hell’s Angels playing a crucial role in defending China and wresting air superiority from the Japanese after the crippling attack at Pearl Harbor.
The P-40 has received some bad press over the years. In spite of its great success against the Japanese Zero (widely acknowledged as the most maneuverable fighter at the time) it was thought to not be able to “out turn a hot air balloon.” (reference http://www.chuckhawks.com/p40.htm) Also, the Warhawk’s design was based on the design of the P-36 and was thought to be obsolete as soon as it rolled off the production line. Well, the naysayers didn’t know what was under the cowling: a liquid cooled Allison V-12 engine! The Warhawk could match or outrace many other fighters at the time – to include the Zero!
A little bit of bad press can go a long way. Everyone remembers the Raptor OBOGS issues and the grounding. During that time I heard a lot of comments about the F-22 being an “expensive, corroding hangar queen”. (This lovely quote was made by Sen John McCain…thanks bro.) What the media and many of the legislators couldn’t see was that much like Curtiss’ competitors back in the day, critics of the F-22 were mounting an unfounded war of words on a very capable aircraft.
So here’s to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk! Thank you for your service and defense of American Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors in the South Pacific and across Europe. Your record will ever be exemplary!