Curtis P-3 hawk - History

Curtis P-3 hawk - History

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P-3A Hawk

Manufacturer: Curtiss

Type: Fighter

First Flighter: 4/1928

Power Plant: Pratt & Whitney R-1340 410HP

Wingspan: 31ft 6inch

Range: 342mi

Ceiling: 23,800ft

Length: 23ft 3inch

Max Speed: 171MPH

Weight: 2,7881bs (gross)

Curtis P-3 hawk - History

    Although the wings were still made of wood, updated changes in traditional production methods introduced the wire braced welded steel tube airframe, a split undercarriage, and aluminum framed tail surfaces. Armament on the Hawk was the traditional US standard of either two .30 caliber machine guns or a combination of one .30 caliber machine gun with one .50 caliber machine gun synchronized to fire through the propeller.

    The production of the P-1 series differed from the original PW-8 with the introduction of a tapered wing. The first P-1 was fitted with an experimental inverted Allison air-cooled version of the Liberty engine. The P-1 later became the XP-17 with the installation of Wright V-1740 inverted V-12 air-cooled engine in June 1930. Provisions were also made on the P-1 series for an alternative installation of the larger 500 hp Curtiss V-1400 engine and these were designated as the P-2. The P-6 series (Model 34 & 35) were essentially P-1C airframes with the installation of the new Curtiss Conqueror 600 hp V-1570 engine. The V-1570 was a subsequent development of the Curtiss D-12 engine via the V-1400 engine. The most famous of the Hawk line was the 1931 P-6E which was delivered with an updated Curtiss Conqueror 700 hp V-1570 engine of which 46 were produced. P-6Es rapidly became obsolete and instead of being refurbished, they were allowed to wear out in service of which one remained in service up to 1942.

    Total production of the Hawk series was 717 aircraft. 278 were produced for the US Army, 132 for the US Navy and 307 as demonstrator and export models. Export of the Hawk began in 1926 and continued until 1938. An additional eight aircraft were built by Aviolanda in the Netherlands. Although it was never used in combat, the P-6E is recognized as one of the most aesthetically pleasing aircraft of the 1930s.

Curtiss P-6E Hawk
Wing span: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)
Length: 22 ft 7 in (6.88 m)
Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.71 m)
Empty: 2,715 lb (1,231 kg)
Gross Weight: 3,436 lb (1,558 kg)
Maximum Speed: 193 mph (310 km/h)
Cruise Speed: 165 mph (265 km/h)
Rate of Climb: 2,480 ft/min (755 m/min)
Service Ceiling: 23,900 ft (7,285 m)
Range: 244 miles (393 km)
One Curtiss V-1570C Conqueror liquid-cooled, 700 hp (522 kW), V12 engine.
Two Browning .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns.

1. Peter M. Bowers. Curtiss Aircraft, 1907 - 1947. Annapolis, Maryland Naval Institute Press, 1987. 245.
2. Murray Rubenstein & Richard M. Goldman. To Join with the Eagles. . Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1974. 39.

© Larry Dwyer The Aviation History On-Line Museum. All rights reserved.
Created November 15, 2009. Updated December 22, 2013.

Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75/Mohawk)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/27/2020 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk aircraft saw considerable operational service in the years leading up to, and during, World War 2. Its basic appearance was not unlike Curtiss' more famous product - the P-40 Warhawk - and sported a heavily framed canopy and raise fuselage spine. Though not an overly impressive aircraft by any stretch, the P-36 Hawk nonetheless was a serviceable mount that could - at the very least - help national air forces compete against the likes of the Axis powers. Donovan Berlin was attributed with the design of the aircraft and a first flight was achieved on May 6th, 1935. The aircraft was formally introduced into service in 1938 and it was not - amazingly - fully retired until 1954, this with Argentina. Despite the 215 or so P-36s produced for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), the Hawk made more of a splash in foreign hands (as the Hawk 75 and Mohawk) which accounted for 900 examples.

Design of the P-36 was conventional though it did promote several rather evolutionary features for its time including an enclosed cockpit and a powered, fully-retractable undercarriage. The engine was traditional mounted at the front of the fuselage and powered a three-blade propeller assembly. The fuselage was tubular and tapered at the rear. The wings were low-mounted and straight in their design with rounded wing tips. The cockpit was set above and behind the wing assemblies and offered up adequate views. The fuselage spine was raised, however, which made a clear view to the "six" nearly impossible. The canopy was also heavily framed in true 1930s fashion. The empennage consisted of a single, rounded vertical tail fin and applicable rounded horizontal planes. The undercarriage was conventional with two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a small tail wheel for ground maneuvering.

Basic armament was rather weak by comparison to other American warplanes of the war, consisting of a 1 x 0.50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine gun and 1 x 0.30 caliber M1919 Browning general purpose machine gun. Later production versions featured 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in the engine cowl synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. This was further supplemented by the addition of 2 or 4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in the wings. Still later production models were given provision for 2 x underwing drop bombs (100lbs each) or 3 x 50lb bombs or 5 x 30lb bombs allowing pilots to undertake strike missions with their fighter.

Power for the P-36A production model was provided for by a single Pratt & Whitney R-1830-17 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial piston engine of 1,050 horsepower. Radial piston engines in the war gave good performance while being able to withstand much more punishment than their sexier liquid-cooled brethren. Performance specifications included a top speed of 313 miles per hour with a range of 625 miles and a service ceiling of approximately 32,700 feet. Rate of climb was 3,400 feet per minute.

The P-36 was originally born as the Curtiss company Model 75A which was used to demonstrate the design's viability as well as evaluate various available powerplants. The Model 75B was similar in scope and mounted a Wright R-1820 radial piston engine. The Model 75D was completed with a Wright Whirlwind R-1670 series radial piston engine. The Model 75H designation was a Curtiss marker for export versions and these were heavily simplified in their construction, featuring a fixed undercarriage, and only two were produced. A supercharger was tested in the Model 75J while the Model 75R was evaluated with a turbo-supercharger but never furthered. The Model 75K was a proposed evaluation model intended to fit a Pratt & Whitney R-2180 Twin Hornet radial piston engine but was never constructed. The Model 75P was to be the official P-36 production model and finished with an Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engine but this went on to become the P-40 Warhawk.

The US Army Air Corps finally received their prototype as the Y1P-36 which was the Model 75E in Curtiss company nomenclature. This prototype was completed with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 series engine. The initial production version of the P-36 therefore became the P-36A (Model 75L) for the USAAC and delivered with 4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in the wing. A one-off model then followed as the P-36B which was essentially the P-36A fitted with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-25 radial engine of 1,100 horsepower. After testing, this model was reverted back to P-36A form. The P-36C saw an additional pair of 0.30 machine guns added one to a wing to help increase overall firepower as well as a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-17 series radial of 1,200 horsepower. However, since the original wing design lacked the internal spacing for additional ammunition, boxes were installed under the wings.

Several experimental mounts existed but never saw serial production. These included the XP-36D with its 2 x 0.50 caliber machine guns in the nose and 4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in the wings, the XP-36E and up to 8 x 0.30 caliber machine guns and the XP-36F which attempted to fit 2 x 23mm Madsen cannons under the wings. The latter version, while vastly improved in firepower, was dropped from contention for the weight gain of the cannon armament proved detrimental to the P-36 airframe. The XP-37 was given an Allison V-1710 inline piston engine and saw its cockpit moved further aft. The XP-37 was further developed into 13 examples of the YP-37 for testing. The XP-42 (Model 75S) was an experimental model with a specially devised aerodynamic engine cowling.

Export Hawks were known as the Hawk 75. The initial production order for France became Hawk 75A-1 models and were delivered with R-1830-SC-6 radials of 900 horsepower. Armament was 4 x 7.5mm machine guns and approximately 100 were produced. The Hawk 75A-2 were similar though mounting R-1830-SC-G/R-1830-SC3-G radials of 1,050 horsepower and 6 x 7.5mm machine guns. Again some 100 of the type were produced. The Hawk 75A-3 were built in 135 examples and were generally similar to the preceding A-2 models. The Hawk 75A-4 were similar to the A-2 models but delivered with the Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone radial engine instead. These outputted at 1,200 horsepower and a total of 285 were contracts. Only 81 of these eventually made it to French forces. The Hawk 75 saw combat actions against the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of France and were the first to claim a German air victory. After the Fall of France, surviving French Hawks were flown to Britain to continue the fight.

China produced the Hawk under license and these were noted as the Hawk 75A-5. There were generally similar to the preceding French A-4 models. When production facilities were in danger, manufacture of the aircraft moved to India where they promptly reemerged as the Mohawk IV mark under British control. The Hawk 75A-6 was originally a Norwegian mark but, after the German conquest, these were captured and delivered (sold, not handed over) to allied Finland. Some Luftwaffe pilots were also trained on the type. A tropicalized Hawk version was born in the Hawk 75A-7 mark and destined for the Netherlands East Indies. These fitted 1 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun and a 0.30 caliber machine gun in the cowl with up to 4 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in the wings. They were also given provision for the carrying of up to 6 x 50lb bombs and delivered with Wright Cyclone engines of 1,200 horsepower.

Norway was also the recipient of the Hawk 75A-8 and these eventually came to be known under the P-36G designation. They served in the training of Norwegian pilots sent to Canada and completed with R-1820-G205A radials of 1,200 horsepower. G-models eventually found their way to Peru. The Hawk 75A-9 saw combat action with the British in India as were also known as Mohawk IVs. These were originally 10 examples intended for Iran.

A few more "simplified" variants existed for export as the Hawk 75M, Hawk 75N,Hawk 75O and Hawk 75Q. The 75M were produced for and by China with fixed undercarriage systems and Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines. The 75N was delivered to Siam again with a fixed undercarriage. Argentina received the 75O in about 20 examples. The 75Q consisted of two evaluation models for Chinese consideration.

Portugal was another Hawk operator and purchased several despite their neutral position. In March of 1942, the United States delivered 10 P-36A model Hawks to Brazil.

Curtiss P-6 Hawk: The Deadly Fighter That Never Fired a Shot

Introduced in 1927 it was a cutting-edge aircraft that remained in operation until the late 1930s, yet never saw service in any armed conflict.

Had the Great Depression not put a strain on the U.S. Army Air Corps' budget, it is likely that greater numbers of the Curtiss P-6 would have been produced as it proved to be an agile aircraft, but cost-cutting was its greatest foe.

Introduced in 1927 it was a cutting-edge aircraft that remained in operation until the late 1930s, yet never saw service in any armed conflict.

With its clean, almost art deco-inspired lines, the Curtiss aircraft has been described as one of the "most beautiful biplanes ever built," but it was also a fast and highly maneuverable fighter for its time that led to future aviation innovation, which led to such aircraft as the P-40 Warhawk.

It was also among the most notable of aircraft in the series of Curtiss-produced fighters carrying the name "Hawk," which began with the P-1 in 1925. The P-6 proved to be the pinnacle of the series. The XP-6A prototype, which Curtiss developed in the mid-1920s, went on to take first place at the 1927 U.S National Air Races while the XP-6 model took second place. The winning aircraft, which had surface radiators reached an impressive speed of 201 mph.

More Than One P-6

Several models of the P-6 were produced – and a total of seventy of the aircraft in various configurations were built at a reported cost of $13,000, which was a considerable amount of money at the time. In fact, the high cost was what contributed to the limited production.

Of the various models, the P-6E remains the most well-known of the eight variants produced. It was originally designated the Y1P-22, but the Army Air Corps redesigned the P-6E because of its similarity to the other models. A total of forty-six were produced and it became the last biplane fighter built for the Army Air Corps.

A heavily modified P-6E, which featured a supercharged Conqueror engine and was flown by U.S. Army Air Corps Capt. Ruben C. Moffat in his 1932 record-breaking flight from Dayton, Ohio to Washington, D.C. at a speed of 266 mph and an altitude of 25,000 feet.

Despite never firing its guns in anger, the P-6E was well armed for the time with two .30 caliber machine guns. The aircraft was powered by a Curtiss V-1570 engine, which provided 600 hp. It had a maximum speed (unaltered) of 204 mph and a cruising speed of 167 mph with a range of 480 miles. The open cockpit aircraft had a ceiling of 24,400 feet.

Today, of the forty-six produced, only a single original P-6E remains in existence. It appears in the colors and markings of the airplane that was assigned to Capt. Ross G. Hoyt, commanding officer of the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group, which was based at Selfridge Field, Michigan in 1933.

The aircraft had been sold as surplus by the military and was donated to the museum. It was painstakingly restored to its current condition by the Department of Aviation Technology at Purdue in 1963.

The Sinking of the Carrier Langley with a Load of P-40s Onboard, as well as other Heavy Casualties in Java, Reduced the Far East Air Forces to Less than 100 Fighters

Most of the AVG pilots had other plans, however, and only a handful agreed to remain in China with the U.S. Army. Some preferred to retain their civilian status as pilots for China National Airways, a civilian airline connected to Pan American. Many of the AVG pilots had come from the Navy or Marine Corps, and they wanted to return to their former services, while some of the former Army pilots were just plain mad at the new Tenth Air Force apparatus in India and wanted no part of it. The AVG contracts were due to expire on July 4, 1942, and in the interim the pilots continued to fly and fight as civilian contractors.

War Department plans called for the creation of a full pursuit group in China. The new group was the 23rd Fighter Group (the pursuit designation was changed to fighter in mid-1942), with Colonel Robert L. Scott as the commander. A few former AVG pilots and more mechanics and other support personnel elected to accept induction into the 23rd, and they and their P-40s would serve the main Allied air effort in China. The P-40 would be the principal fighter in the CBI until 1944.

After the defeat in Java, the Far East Air Forces in Australia began building up a force to oppose the Japanese. Although more than 300 P-40s had arrived in Australia by the end of March, heavy losses, particularly when the carrier Langley was sunk with a load of P-40s being ferried to Java aboard, followed by the subsequent abandonment of a shipment carried aboard the freighter Sea Witch, had reduced their numbers to less than 100. The 49th Fighter Group arrived in early February, but its pilots were not considered ready for combat.

With the defeat of the Allies in Java, Japanese air forces in the Netherlands East Indies were within range of Australia’s northern coastal cities. Darwin fell under frequent air attack, and the P-40-equipped 49th Fighter Group was sent there to defend the city while the 8th and 35th Groups, both of which were equipped with Bell P-39s and P-400s, were charged with defending Papua, New Guinea. The P-400 was an export version of the P-39 that had been originally built for the British.

The young fighter pilots in Australia learned the P-40’s limitations and advantages, and like the AVG in China, used the knowledge successfully against the Japanese. Just how effective the P-40s could be was demonstrated on August 23, 1942, when 49th Group pilots shot down 15 Japanese bombers and fighters. Between April and August, the 49th Group shot down more than 60 Japanese planes and gained air superiority in the skies over Darwin. Captain Andrew Reynolds of the 9th Fighter Squadron was the top-scoring Far East Air Forces ace at the time, with 10 enemy airplanes to his credit. With Darwin out of danger, the 49th Fighter Group moved north to New Guinea. By the end of the year the group had begun replacing its P-40s with twin-engine Lockheed P-38s.

Due in part to a shortage of American pilots, several Royal Australian Air Force fighter squadrons were given P-40s, which they dubbed Kittyhawks. The Aussie fighter pilots were courageous and inspired by their role of defending their homeland from Japanese aggression. The P-40 was vastly superior to their locally produced Commonwealth Wirraway.

Although British Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires would eventually be sent to Australia, the P-40 would become the primary RAAF fighter. Australian P-40s played a significant role in the Battle of Milne Bay, a decisive battle that forced the Japanese to abandon plans to capture Port Moreseby. A squadron of RAAF P-40s operated out of the airfield at Milne Bay, attacking the Japanese landing party with bombs and machine-gun fire. Australian squadrons continued flying P-40s until late in the war.

The lead plane in this formation of P-40 Tomahawks wings over to attack a formation of enemy planes. The Flying Tigers scored an impressive kill ratio against veteran Japanese pilots.

Like other prewar designs, the Warhawk was produced for export. The British designated theirs as Tomahawks or Kittyhawks, depending on which version they were. RAF Kittyhawks and Tomahawks served primarily with the Desert Air Force in North Africa. Since the RAF’s Hurricanes and Spitfires were better suited for interceptor duty, their P-40s were used primarily in support of ground forces. During the late summer of 1942, U.S. Army Air Forces P-40s arrived in the Mediterranean with the 57th Fighter Group, which began training with the RAF in Palestine. The group entered combat in North Africa with the Ninth Air Force and fought in the battle of El Alamein. The 79th and 324th Fighter Groups also flew P-40s with the Ninth Air Force.

The 33rd Fighter Group was selected for duty in North Africa with Twelfth Air Force in September 1942, less than 60 days before the planned date for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. To expedite their arrival, the group’s P-40s were loaded aboard the escort carrier USS Chenango. As Lt. Col. William W. Momyer led his group off the carrier on November 10, word reached the vessel that the airfield at Port Lyautey was secure.

Although the launchings themselves went off with few problems, the deliveries were a disaster. One P-40 crashed into the sea, another flew off into a fog bank and disappeared, and 17 were damaged in landing accidents. Even though nearly a year had passed since the disaster in the Philippines, inexperienced American fighter pilots still found the P-40 difficult to land. None of the 33rd Group’s P-40s got into action during the invasion. The landing problems put a halt to the launchings, and the remainder of the 77 Warhawks did not leave the carrier until two days later.


The Curtiss Model 75 was a private venture by the company, designed by former Northrop Aircraft Company engineer Don R. Berlin. The first prototype constructed in 1934, featured all-metal construction with fabric-covered control surfaces, a Wright XR-1670-5 radial engine developing 900 hp (670 kW), and typical United States Army Air Corps armament of one .30 in (7.62 mm) and one .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns firing through the propeller arc. Also typical of the time was the total absence of cockpit armor or self-sealing fuel tanks. The distinctive landing gear which rotated 90° to fold the main wheels flat into the thin trailing portion of the wing, resting atop the lower ends of the maingear struts when retracted, was actually a Boeing-patented design for which Curtiss had to pay royalties.

The prototype first flew on 6 May 1935, reaching 281 mph (452 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) during early test flights. On 27 May 1935, the prototype was flown to Wright Field, Ohio, to compete in the USAAC fly-off for a new single-seat fighter but the contest was delayed because the Seversky entry crashed on the way to the contest. Curtiss took advantage of the delay to replace the unreliable engine with a Wright XR-1820-39 Cyclone producing 950 hp (710 kW) and to rework the fuselage, adding the distinctive scalloped rear windows to improve rear visibility. The new prototype was designated Model 75B with the R-1670 version retroactively designated Model 75D. The fly-off finally took place in April 1936. Unfortunately, the new engine failed to deliver its rated power and the aircraft attained only 285 mph (459 km/h).

Although its competitor, the Seversky P-35, also underperformed and was more expensive, it was still declared the winner and awarded a contract for 77 aircraft. However, on June 16, 1936, Curtiss received an order from USAAC for three prototypes designated Y1P-36. The USAAC was concerned about political turmoil in Europe and about Seversky's ability to deliver P-35s in a timely matter, and therefore wanted a backup fighter. The Y1P-36 (Model 75E) was powered by a 900 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 Twin Wasp engine and further enlarged scalloped rear canopy. The new aircraft performed so well that it won the 1937 USAAC competition with an order for 210 P-36A fighters.

Its extremely low wing loading of just 23.9 lb/ft² gave it outstanding turning performance, [N 1] and its high power-to-weight ratio of 0.186 hp/lb gave it superb climbing performance as well, especially for the time, although its lack of an engine supercharger handicapped it at high altitudes. Compared to the Allison-engined P-40, the P-36 shared the later P-40's traits of excellent high-speed handling, of roll rate that improved at high speed and of relatively light controls at high speed. However, it was underpowered affecting its acceleration and top speed and it did not accelerate in a dive as well as the P-40. [ citation needed ]

Curtiss YP-37 [ edit | edit source ]

In early 1937, the USAAC ordered Curtiss to adapt one P-36 to the new liquid-cooled turbo-supercharged Allison V-1710 engine with 1,150 hp (860 kW). Designated XP-37, the aircraft used the original Model 75 airframe with radiators mounted on the sides of the fuselage around the engine. The cockpit was moved far to the rear to make room for the radiators and the bulky turbocharger system, and to balance the aircraft. The aircraft flew in April 1937, reaching 340 mph (550 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6,100 m). Although the turbo-supercharger was extremely unreliable and visibility from the cockpit on takeoff and landing was virtually nonexistent, the USAAC was sufficiently intrigued by the promised performance to order 13 service test YP-37s. Featuring improved aerodynamics and a more reliable turbo-supercharger, the aircraft first flew in June 1939. However, the powerplant remained unreliable and the project was cancelled in favor of another Curtiss design, the P-40.

Curtiss XP-42 [ edit | edit source ]

In an attempt to improve the aerodynamics of the air-cooled piston engines, the fourth production P-36A (serial 38-004), designated the XP-42, was equipped with a long streamlined cowling resembling that of a liquid-cooled engine. Twelve different designs were tried with little success although the aircraft was faster than a standard P-36A, engine cooling problems were never resolved. Since the new P-40 was faster, the project was canceled. Late in its service life, the sole XP-42 was fitted with a stabilator and used to study that control configuration.

One of Britain’s most impressive test pilots, Neville Duke achieved many of his successes while flying P-40s. In the skies above Africa, he destroyed 5 Axis planes while flying Tomahawks and another 12 while piloting Kittyhawks.

The P-40 was not designed for service on aircraft carriers. Planes built for the US Army were made as light as possible, to make them maneuverable in a dogfight. Those designed for the Navy had to be rugged so they could withstand being launched by catapults and brought to an abrupt stop by hooks and wires on a carrier.

In the build up to the American invasion of North Africa in 1942, tests found that P-40s could be safely launched from carriers, provided a few modifications were made. Adjustments and training were hastily done so they could provide air cover during Operation Torch.

When the US Army Air Force’s 33 rd Fighter Group arrived in Africa aboard the USS Chenango, they did so with 76 Warhawks.

Francis Crosby (2010), The Complete Guide to Fighters & Bombers of the World
Orr Kelly (2002), Meeting the Fox: The Allied Invasion of Africa, from Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia

*Curtiss Design 75 Hawk

Book Details

Dan Hagedorn and Amaru Tincopa

368 pages, A4, hardback, 433 photographs, 34 color profiles, few maps.

European Airlines Rob Mulder

NOK. 375 + pp, (not including local VAT and taxes)

About The Author

Amaru Tincopa

Born in Lima, Peru, in 1977, Amaru Tincopa is a graduate in law. He began researching and publishing on the Peruvian and Latin American military aviation history quite early. His first book, covering the deployment history of the Aeroplani Caproni and that Italian company’s endeavour in Peru, was released in 2003. He has since published a dozen additional titles in Argentina, France, and the United Kingdom, and is working on others.
Amaru Tincopa is currently cooperating with numerous renowned military aviation history magazines around the world.

Dan Hagedorn

Dan Hagedorn was appointed Senior Curator and Director of Collections for The Museum of Flight at historic Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, effective February 7, 2008. He retired from that position May 13, 2016, and by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees at their annual 2016 Board Meeting, was appointed Curator Emeritus from that date.
Prior to coming to The Museum of Flight, Hagedorn served as both Research Team Leader and Adjunct Curator for Latin American Aviation at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, during the preceding 19 years. He came to that position following a 26-year career in the United States Armed Forces. During his military career, he served several tours in Latin America and elsewhere and, at one time or another, has visited all but one of the traditional Latin American nations.

He is the author of 27 books dealing with various aspects of aviation history, with an emphasis on the aviation history of Latin America. He has also authored more than 150 journal articles for such widely read periodicals. He was honored with The Willis Nye Award by the American Aviation Historical Society for his history of U.S. Army Air Corps and USAAF aviation in defense of the Panama Canal Zone. In October 2010, he was awarded the “AAHS Trophy” by Air-Britain, The International Society of Aviation Historians, for his career contributions to that organization, and is thus the only historian to ever receive both of these U.S. and international awards. In March 1996, Hagedorn was named an Unsung Hero of the Smithsonian Institution
In October 2006, in conjunction with his services dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the first flight of aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont – the second person to achieve sustained, heavier-than-air, powered flight - he was decorated with the Orden Merito Santos-Dumont by the Ambassador to the United States of Brazil for “…services to aviation history.”

In July 2012, he was nominated to a panel of seven scholars and historians to serve as a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame Nominations Screening Committee, chaired by COL Walt Boyne, former Director of the National Air and Space Museum. He has served on that body annually ever since.

Since being appointed Curator and Director of Collections at The Museum of Flight, the largest independent air and space museum in the world, Hagedorn has appeared in five segments of the nationally televised Travel Channel feature, Mysteries at the Museum and has thus been so featured more often than any other narrator in the history of the series.

In 2014, Hagedorn represented The Museum of Flight at the first Annual International Aircraft Restoration Symposium held at The Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany. He was one of only four speakers to present at the Symposium, the others representing The RAF Museum/Imperial War Museum of Great Britain, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The Publishing house ‘European Airlines Rob Mulder’ is proud to be able to publish the work of this American aviation historian.

Dan Hagedorn, former curator of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, and Amaru Tincopa, both specialists in world and Latin American military aviation, have teamed up to compile this definitive monograph describing the Curtiss Design 75 and one of its major production variants, the USAAC’s P-36, and its many international derivatives. The Design 75 of 1935, as it was initially described by Curtiss, was without doubt a turning point in U.S. fighter design. It incorporated all of the technical advances being favored worldwide and was for Curtiss a huge engineering step forward.

The Design 75 saw operational service with many air forces around the world and could lay claim to many aerial victories in intense dog fights during World War Two. It flew sorties in both Europe, North Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, India and Asia. Unbelievably, the Curtiss Hawk 75 saw service with both Allied and Axis air forces.

Many books have been published, especially those describing Hawk 75s in service with France and Finland, but after the opening of the Curtiss-Wright Corporate Archive at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, the authors have managed to correct many misunderstandings and outright myths surrounding the history of the type.

The volume gives a detailed description of all of the derivatives of the Hawk 75, everything well-illustrated with hundreds of unique and high-quality photographs, of which many are in colour. In addition, renowned illustrator Juanita Franzi, has made a considerable number of colour profiles, which beautifully help interpret the text.

NZ Civil Aircraft

I posted about Curtis P 40E Kittyhawk ZK-RMH/NZ 3009 at Masterton in a previous post, and Grant Newman has come back with some old photos of it, which set me off on researching the story of this historical aircraft.

In fact it is one of only two surviving wartime RNZAF aircraft that exist as flying aircraft today. (The other is Corsair ZK-COR which is also based at Masterton). It was originally manufactured as USAAF serial no 41-25158 for the RAF where its serial number was to have been ET 482. However following Pearl Harbour it was diverted to New Zealand as one of the first batch of Kittyhawks to be delivered in April 1942. It was bought on charge on 2 April 1942 and allocated to Unit 36 at Hobsonville. It then was allocated to 14 Squadron, then to 17 Squadron then to No 2 OTU at Ohakea.

Amazingly, it was based at Masterton with 14 Squadron around for about a year in 1942, so 60 years later it is still there!

After the war it was flown to the Rukuhia storage facility along with more than 100 other Kittyhawks, to be scrapped (out of the more than 300 Kittyhawks operated by the RNZAF). It was rescued in 1959 by a group of schoolboys led by Charles Darby, who scraped together 25 pounds to buy it. NZ 3009 was chosen partly because it was nearest to the gate!

It eventually found its way to MOTAT on loan, and it was displayed there for some time as a "composite"aircraft with the wings of NZ 3201. It is photo'd here at MOTAT by Grant Newman in 1993. It was taken back by its owner and restoration to flying condition was commenced by Pacific Aviation Ltd which had been formed to rebuild P 40's at East Tamaki. This firm folded, and the assets were taken over by Pioneer Aircraft Restorations (Garth Hogan).

Pioneer Aircraft Restorations completed ZK-RMH, and the tail is photo'd here by Philip Treweek at Ardmore in January 1998. By this time it was owned by The Old Flying Machine Company (Ray and Mark Hanna, hence the registration ZK-RMH I assume). Does anyone have a photo of it in silver with RMH, before it was painted? It was painted in Tauranga in February 1998 in an RNZAF colour scheme and appeared at Wings Over Wanaka in 1998.

It was the exported to England for The Old Flying Machine Company and was based at Duxford. It also flew as part of the Breitling Fighter Group (as was Corsair ZK-COR). It is photo'd above in its RNZAF colour scheme by Grant Newman at an airshow at the former RAF station at North Weald in 1999. It has the Breitling logo in front of the cockpit.

Sometime after 2002 the aircraft was re-painted in this interesting colour scheme. I always thought is was the colours of The Flying Tigers (Claire Chennault's 1st American Volunteer Group of fighter pilots who flew Kittyhawks out of Kunming in South Western China in the early days of WW 2), but that is not the case. Some research by a Chinese friend found that ZK-RMH is painted in the colours of Chinese fighter ace Xu Hua Jiang, who was one of the 2 most famous aces in the Nationalist Chinese Air Force in WW 2. This aircraft 88/663/P-11151 was one of 27 P 40E's delivered to China in early 1943. It has an inscription in Chinese characters on the nose which is "Tai Gong Lin" which translates as ""By order of a respected senior person". This phrase goes back in Chinese history to a famous Prime Minister in the Zhou Dynasty (1050 to 256 BC), and illustrates a difference in Chinese verse American thinking. When American pilots told Xu Hua Jiang that they painted the names of their wives or mothers or girlfriends on their aeroplanes, he thought it better to acknowledge Chinese history on his plane. Of course the NZ 3009 on ZK-RMH is out of place in this colour scheme.

ZK-RMH/NZ 3009 returned to New Zealand in 1997 and was registered to Pacific Aircraft Ltd of Auckland on 4/12/97. Ownership transferred to The Old Flying Machine Company (NZ) Ltd of Auckland on 5/5/98, and then to Airtight Trust of Masterton on 31/8/05. Finally it was sold to The Old Stick and Rudder Company of Auckland on 29/5/12, although it is still based at Masterton.

Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

Argentina [ edit | edit source ]

Argentina bought a number of the simplified, fixed landing gear Hawk 75Os, (intended for rough-field operations and ease of maintenance) and purchased a manufacturing license for the type 30 were built and delivered by Curtiss, and 20 produced locally. These aircraft used the same engine, Wright Cyclone R-1820-G5 as the Martin 139WAA's and Northrop 8A-2s used by the Argentine Army Aviation at the time. Usually armed with one 11.35 mm (0.45 in) Madsen machine gun and three 7.65 mm (0.30 in) Madsen light machine guns, there was provision for up to 10 30 lb (14 kg) bombs on underwing pylons. The last Argentinian Hawks remained in service until November 1954.

Brazil [ edit | edit source ]

In March 1942, 10 USAAC P-36As were transferred to Brazil.

British Commonwealth [ edit | edit source ]

The Royal Air Force (RAF) also displayed interest in the aircraft. Comparison of a borrowed French Hawk 75A-2 with a Supermarine Spitfire Mk I revealed that the Hawk had several advantages over the early variant of the iconic British fighter. The Hawk was found to have lighter controls than the Spitfire at speeds over 300 mph (480 km/h), especially in diving attacks, and was easier to maneuver in a dogfight (thanks to the less sensitive elevator). The Hawk also had better all-around visibility and was easier to control on takeoff and landing. Not surprisingly, the Spitfire's superior acceleration and top speed ultimately gave it the advantage of being able to engage and leave combat at will.

Although the British decided not to purchase the aircraft, they soon came into possession of 229 Hawks by way of shipments diverted from occupied France and aircraft flown by escaping French pilots. The aircraft received the designations Mohawk I through IV, mirroring French Hawk 75A-1 through A-4, and were fitted with 0.303-cal. Vickers K machine guns and conventional throttles (forward to increase power).[5]

Although the Hawk was considered obsolete, a number saw service with the RAF and Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) in India and Burma. In April 1941, the British government of India ordered 48 Cyclone-powered Mohawk IVz (Hawk 75A) for the RIAF, to be built by Hindustan Aircraft. The first such aircraft completed was test flown on 31 July 1942. However, only four additional aircraft were completed before the project was abandoned. The Indian-built series were used by RAF/RIAF units. Similarly, Chinese license production of the Hawk 75A-5 was moved to India, and these aircraft were also absorbed into RAF as Mohawk IVs. These aircraft were supplemented by 10 Hawk 75A-9s captured during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in August 1941,[6] while 74 ex-French Mohawk IVs were shipped to India from the United Kingdom.[5] The only RAF units to see combat in Mohawks were No. 5 Squadron RAF and No. 155 Squadron RAF, using the type mainly for Bomber escort and ground attack. The type was retired by the RAF/RIAF in 1944.[7]

The South African Air Force received 72 Mohawks. Its first Mohawks were delivered to East Africa in mid-1941, where they were used by 3 Squadron SAAF to support operations in the East African Campaign, taking part in the Battle of Gondar which ended the campaign, and helping to patrol the border with Vichy French held Djibouti.[8] These Mohawks were then sent to South Africa, where, supplemented by fresh deliveries, they were used for training and for home defence.

China [ edit | edit source ]

The prototype of the Hawk 75H—a simplified version with fixed landing gear, like the 75O—was eventually sold to the Chinese Nationalist government who presented it to Claire L. Chennault for personal use. China also received two similar demonstrators, the Hawk 75Q. They also used a number of simplified Hawk 75Ms against the Japanese. The Hawk 75A-5 was built under license in China, but production was later moved to India, and these aircraft were absorbed into the RAF as the Mohawk IV.

Finland [ edit | edit source ]

After the fall of France, Germany agreed to sell captured Curtiss Hawk fighters to Finland in October 1940. In total, 44 captured aircraft of five subtypes were sold to Finland with three deliveries from 23 June 1941 – 5 January 1944.[10] Not all were from the French stocks, 13 were initially sold to Norway and captured when the Germans conquered that country.[11] The aircraft were given serial codes CU-501 to CU-507 (A-4 submodel with Cyclone) and CU-551 to CU-587 (all other submodels with Twin Wasp).

In Finnish service, the Hawk was well liked, affectionately called Sussu ("Sweetheart").[12] The Finnish Air Force enjoyed success with the type, credited with 190⅓ kills by 58 pilots, between 16 July 1941 and 27 July 1944, for the loss of 15 of their own.[10] Finnish Hawk pilots included the type's highest-scoring ace, Altto Kalevi "Kale" Tervo, with between 14¼ and 15¾ victories in the type another ace, Kyösti "Kössi" Karhila, scored 12¼ or 13¼ of his 32¼ victories in the Hawk.[13][14]

The Finnish Hawks were initially armed with either four or six 7.5mm machine guns. While sufficient during the early phase of the Continuation War, the increasing speeds and armor of Soviet aircraft soon showed this armament was not powerful enough. From 1942, the State Aircraft Factory replaced the fuselage machine guns with either one or two .50 in (12.7 mm) Colt or Browning FN machine guns and installed two or four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns in each wing. The 12.7mm Berezin UB or LKk/42 heavy machine guns were also used.[10] The installation of heavier armament did not change the very good flying characteristics of the fighter, but the armament was much more effective against Soviet aircraft. The Finnish Hawks were also equipped with Revi 3D or C/12D gunsight.

Surviving Finnish aircraft remained in service with the FAF aviation units HLeLv 13, HLeLv 11 and LeSK until 30 August 1948, when the last operational Finnish Hawks were put into storage. In 1953, the stored aircraft were scrapped.

France [ edit | edit source ]

Even before the P-36A entered production, the French Air Force entered negotiations with Curtiss for delivery of 300 aircraft. The negotiating process ended up being very drawn-out because the cost of the Curtiss fighters was double that of the French Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 and Bloch MB.150, and the delivery schedule was deemed too slow. Since the USAAC was unhappy with the rate of domestic deliveries and believed that export aircraft would slow things down even more, it actively opposed the sale. Eventually, it took direct intervention from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to give the French test pilot Michel Detroyat a chance to fly the Y1P-36.

Detroyat's enthusiasm, problems with the MB.150, and the pressure of continuing German rearmament finally forced France to purchase 100 aircraft and 173 engines. The first Hawk 75A-1 (or H75A-1 n°1) arrived in France in December 1938 and began entering service in March 1939. A few months later, this aircraft was part of "Groupe de Chasse II/5 La Fayette" (heir of the Escadrille Lafayette that fought in France during World War I), wearing the famous Sioux Head on its fuselage side. After the first few examples, aircraft were delivered in pieces and assembled in France by the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du Centre. Officially designated as the Curtiss H75-C1 (the "Hawk" name was not used in France), the aircraft were powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC-G engines of 900 hp and had instruments calibrated for the metric system, a seat for French dorsal parachutes, a French-style throttle which operated in reverse from U.S. and British aircraft (full throttle was to the rear rather than to the front) and armament of four (later models had six with two firing through the prop and four in the wings) 7.5 mm FN-Browning machine guns, aimed with a French-supplied Baille-Lemaire gun sight. The aircraft evolved through several modifications, the most significant being the installation of the Wright R-1820 Cyclone engine. The H75-C1 variant saw little operational use due to its late delivery and reliability problems with the Wright radial engine. A total of 316 H75s were delivered to France before the German occupation.

On September 20, Sergeant André-Armand Legrand, pilot of the H75A-1 n°1 in the Groupe de Chasse II/5 La Fayette was credited of the first Allied air victory of World War II on the Western front with shooting down a Messerschmitt Bf 109E of the Luftwaffe 3/JG 53, over Überherrn. During 1939–1940, French H75 pilots claimed 230 air-to-air kills (of a total of 1,009 air-to-air kills by the French Air Force during 1939–1940) and 81 probable victories in H75s against only 29 aircraft lost in aerial combat.[17] While making up only 12.6 per cent of the French Air Force single-seater fighter force, the H75 accounted for almost a third of the air-to-air kills during the 1940 Battle of France.[16] Of the 11 French aces of the early part of the war, seven flew H75s. The leading ace of the time was Lieutenant Edmond Marin la Meslée with 15 confirmed and five probable victories in the type. H75-equipped squadrons were evacuated to French North Africa before the Armistice to avoid capture by the Germans. While under the Vichy government, these units clashed with British aircraft during the Battle of Mers El-Kebir and the Battle of Dakar. During Operation Torch in North Africa, French H75s fought against U.S. Navy F4F Wildcats, losing 15 aircraft while shooting down seven American aircraft. From late 1942 on, the Allies started re-equipping the formerly Vichy-controlled French H75 units with P-40s and P-39s.

Iran [ edit | edit source ]

A total of 10 Hawk 75A-9s were delivered to Persia, but were captured by the British during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran while still in crates. These were then used by the RAF in India as Mohawk IVs.

Dutch East Indies [ edit | edit source ]

In October 1939, The Netherlands ordered 24 Hawk 75A-7s for their colonies of the Dutch East Indies (Oost Indië). These planes were powered by 1,200 hp Cyclones. Factory armament was one .50 inch and one .303 inch machine gun in the cowl with two .303 machine guns in the wings. After delivery, the .50 weapons were replaced to standardize parts and ammo. The plane could carry six 23 kg bombs. The fighters were shipped in 1940 and almost rerouted to the Netherlands when Germany invaded. But as the mainland surrendered, the aircraft came to the colonies where they were used extensively against the Japanese attack on the Far Eastern part of the kingdom. By that time, the aircraft had flown so many hours that the engines were showing serious wear and tear.

Most Dutch Hawks were assigned to the 1ste JachtVliegAfdeling - VliegtuigGroep IV (1ste JaVA - 1-VlG IV "1st Fighter Squadron - Flying Group IV") of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force (ML-KNIL), although some flew with 1-VlG V. These aircraft saw action over Malacca, Sumatra and Java, successfully bombing the railroad and intercepting bombers and participated in the extensive dogfights over Soerabaja, where USAAF, RAF and ML aircraft fought Japanese bombers and fighters together.

Norway [ edit | edit source ]

Norway ordered 24 Twin Wasp-powered Hawk 75A-6s, of which 19 were delivered and seven assembled at the time of the German invasion. None of the aircraft were combat-ready. The disassembled aircraft were disabled by a single customs employee who smashed the instruments and cut all the wires he could reach.[citation needed] Thirteen Norwegian Hawks captured by the Germans were part of the first batch of 29 P-36s sent to Finland.[11] Norway also ordered 36 Cyclone-powered Hawk 75A-8s. Most of this batch (a total of 30) were delivered as advanced trainers to "Little Norway" near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a Norwegian training base established by the London-based government-in-exile.[18] Still later, they were resold to the U.S. and redesignated the P-36G model.

Peru [ edit | edit source ]

In 1943, the U.S. sent 28 Hawks to Peru under the Lend-Lease agreement. These were ex-Norwegian P-36Gs that had served in Canada.

Portugal [ edit | edit source ]

Portugal was officially neutral during World War II, although the Allies were allowed to use or establish ports and airfields on various Portuguese territories. One result of these friendly relations was the transfer by the British government of 12 Hawk 75A variants to the Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP), which assigned them to air defense duties in the Azores.

Thailand [ edit | edit source ]

A few Hawk 75Ns were used by Thailand during the French-Thai War. They also fought at the Battle of Prachuab Khirikhan against Japanese forces during the Japanese Invasion of Thailand. On 28 January 1941, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) dispatched nine Ki-30 Nagoyas, escorted by three Hawk 75s, to bomb Pailin and Sisophon in French Indochina. Thailand was perhaps the only country operating both Japanese and American aircraft just before World War II.

United States [ edit | edit source ]

The first production P-36As were delivered to the 20th Pursuit Group at Barksdale Field in Louisiana in April 1938. The aircraft's service history was marred by numerous teething problems with the engine exhaust, skin buckling over landing gear, and weak points in the airframe, severely restricting the performance envelope. By the time these issues were resolved, the P-36 was considered obsolete and was relegated to training units and overseas detachments at Albrook Field in the Panama Canal Zone, Elmendorf Field in Alaska, and Wheeler Field in Hawaii.


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