Curtiss P-40 was originally designed and built in 1938.
It was made famous by the American Volunteer Group (AVG)
who became famous as the “Flying Tigers”.
Painting shark teeth on their P-40’s large lower
chin cowl, leader Claire Chennault and his AVG pilots
flew in China against the Japanese prior to the United
States entering World War II. The P-40 was the main fighter
for the Army Air Corps at the beginning of the war and
was flown by all the Allied countries. Its performance
improved over time as its engine was developed to produce
more power. Having been developed from earlier technology,
it was ultimately replaced by later designs such as the
P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-38 Lightning. P-40’s
were withdrawn from combat operations late in the war
and delegated for training. Early versions were known
as Tomahawks while later versions were known as Kittyhawks
The Allison engine
used in the P-40 was reliable and dependable. Unfortunately,
it did not have the high altitude performance of the Rolls
Royce Merlin that powered the Spitfire and later P-51
Mustangs. Most P-40’s used the America-built Allison
engine and the Curtiss Electric Propeller. Instead of
using engine oil pressure to operate the angle of the
propeller blades, the Curtiss Electric Propeller has an
electric motor in the propeller hub to move the blades.
The angle of the blades can be operated on the ground
by just turning on the battery and adjusting them with
an electrical switch.
This TP-40N is one
of about 40 factory-built dual-control P-40’s that
were made by Curtiss during the war and was built with
a full cockpit in the rear for the instructor. Although
there are several P-40’s flying today that have
been modified by their owners to hold two people and one
or two of these aircraft have basic controls to fly from
the rear seat, there is very little in the way of instrumentation
or controls for gear and flaps. The “T” in
TP-40 stands for training. It was mostly used for training
although some were used in combat areas as squadron aircraft
for flying dignitaries and Generals around.
learn about the personal history of our very own Curtiss
TP-40N as well as comments from Kermit Weeks, please visit
our beautiful art deco facility and old-fashioned hangars.