Aleutian Tiger | P-40K Warhawk
The P-40 was a fighter and ground attack aircraft that was first produced in 1938 at the Curtiss Wright Corporation facility in Buffalo, New York. The P-40 design was an outgrowth of the pre-war Curtiss P-36. The Warhawk eventually saw service with 28 nations and was used by most of the Allied powers in WWII. The Warhawk was sold to Britain, Russia and other Commonwealth nations. Its primary users were the U.S. Army Air Forces, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. The USAAF adopted the name Warhawk while the British named it the Tomahawk (P-40 models B & C) and then changed the name to Kittyhawk for the model P-40D and later variants.
During the war, the allocation of limited raw materials, such as tungsten, prevented the P-40 from receiving the two-stage supercharger which the P-51 Mustang received. This limited its capabilities at high altitudes against the superior Luftwaffe fighters – which restricted it to rare use by the British in Northwest European operations. The P-40 played a significant role with the United States Army Air Forces in North Africa, Italy, the Southwest Pacific and the China-Burma-India theater.
Max Speed (MPH)
Service Ceiling (ft)
The P-40 became famous for its role with the American Volunteer Group in China – also known as the Flying Tigers – later absorbed by the 14th Air Force. The Flying Tigers made the “shark mouth” famous, however, the Royal Air Force’s Number 112 Squadron was the first to feature this paint scheme.
The P-40 was equipped with the same engine used in the P-38, the P-39 and the early versions of the P-51 (the Allison 12 cylinder V-1710). Designed by Donovan Berlin, it first flew on October 14th, 1938. There were 13,738 produced from 1938 until 1944; produced at a unit cost of $44,892 in 1944. The P-40 tolerated harsh extremes in many climates and offered the advantage of a low cost aircraft which kept it in production long after it ordinarily would have been considered obsolete. The P-40 played a significant role in winning the war.
The P-40 that you see here is painted in honor of the 11th Fighter Squadron known as the “Aleutian Tigers.” The 11th FS was one of four squadrons that made up the 343rd Fighter Group which was activated on September 11, 1942 at Elmendorf Field, Anchorage, AK and fought in defense of the Aleutian Islands until the last combat mission in October 1943. The Fighter Squadrons of the 343rd stayed in Alaska as a defensive measure until the end of the war, while the 343rd itself was disbanded in March 1944. The “Aleutian Tigers” have some similarities to the “Flying Tigers” that flew in China: both groups flew the P-40; the “Aleutian Tigers” were commanded by Lt. Col. John “Jack” Chennault, the son of General Claire Chennault who commanded the “Flying Tigers” in China; finally the distinctive tiger face on the P-40, painted by 11th FS Staff Sergeant Edward Lange, was a take off from the original “Flying Tigers” that operated in China.
The museum’s P-40K, 42-10256, was delivered to the USAAF November 1st 1942. On November 3rd it left Brooklyn, NY as part of arctic convoy HX.214. It arrived in Liverpool, England on November 18th 1942. It is unknown what ship it was on when it left Brooklyn, what ship it was on when it left Liverpool or the exact date it arrived at Kola Inlet and unloaded at Murmansk. In November 1942 it was delivered to the Russians under the Lend-Lease act of WWII. Over 2,000 P-40’s would be supplied to Russia during the lend least act before the war ended. 42-10256 made a gear up forced landing near Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula, Russia on September 29th 1943 after tangling with four German Bf-109s from JG-5 based out of Norway. JLt II. Mikhajlov, her pilot, became disoriented during the battle which led to his crash. Salvagers discovered two P-40K wrecks in 1991 in a marsh outside of Murmansk. In 1993 the wrecks were recovered and underwent restoration until 2004. In 2004 they were bought by Warhawks Inc. who finished the restorations to airworthy in 2006. TFLM’s sister ship, 42-10083, is currently owned and flying with Fagen Fighters. 42-10256 was purchased by the Texas Flying Legends Museum in 2011 and has been flying all over the country ever since to honor all those that flew this wonderful piece of aviation history.