P40: The underated underdog, or just behind the times

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by MacArther, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    What do you think, could the P40 have been a good fighter in experienced hands, or would it be difficult to fight an enemy even then? Would it have been worth it to develope the supercharged engine for it? Was the airframe developed enough? Finally, why was Curtiss so money grubing as to ruin any chances for a late war (active service) P40?

    P.S. The link below my name aint for show folks, just ta let ya know
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The P-40 was a good fighter, not great, but a good fighter; the P-40N was the last "reasonable" development as the airframe was pushed to it's limits, and Curtiss Wright, while supporting the war effort seemed to be more aligned to the wishes of it's stockholders rather than the interests of the AAF - My opinions!
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Curtiss Wright.....

    "But even in times of war, Congress and the public were bothered by shoddy contract performance and possible profiteering. The Truman Committee was established in 1941 to investigate contractors and programs for graft and waste. One major investigation focused on Curtiss-Wright and its Wright engine plant in Lockland, Ohio. A 1943 report criticized the company for having poor management policies and inferior products. This set the stage for a lasting lack of confidence between the company and the government that may well have affected the company's decline in aircraft after the war."
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    That's really a shame too. Glenn Curtiss was one of the pioneers of early aviation. Of course, we all know about the Wrights.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think they were the first aircraft company to turn into what many American Aircraft Companies are today - Huge corporations being run by short-sighted "profiteers" with no passion for aircraft, their employees or their customer's needs.
     
  6. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Sadly that is true, I think. I guess it's really sad for folks like us that have a passion for airplanes and flying.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I once had a boss at Lockheed tell me "we're not here to build airplanes, we're here to make money." That's when I knew I knew I wouldn't spend my whole career there.....
     
  8. carpenoctem1689

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    Far as i know, the P-40 did serve well when "in experienced hands" in the hands of the AVG, the damn things didnt even have gunsights,m and spares were scarce. But the pilots had good tactics and a good leader, and knew what they were doing and notched up one hell of a record. The P-40 could have been developed into a better fighter, but in my mind would need a bubble canopy, and a very powerful, supercharged engine, better than the 1710, to keep up, requiring near complete redesign and most likely designation change. my opinions on that matter. As for everything being about money in the aviation buisness, its very true. When companies build new fighter and combat aircraft, the first thing they look for now is someone to split the cost with, a co-operator and designer, and someone to buy on the foreign market to boost sales even more, also the military finds it appropriate to aqquire new age tech-fighters beyond the capability of anything else, the F-22, JSF, B2. However we cant afford the ones we buy, and nothing like the numbers we need to equip all our fly boys, so we buy cheaper fighters and aircraftm bombers included to substitute the new stuff...shame
     
  9. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    The P-40 wouldn't have ever been a top-rate fighter, it didn't have the technology nor did it have the advantages of incredible armament or a bubble canopy. Curtiss didn't even put fuel/bomb racks or gunsights on some models. It was developed early on when two fuselage mounted .30 was sufficient armament for the AAF. Newer fighters were developed with much heavier-duty eqipment in mind- of course you don't need me to tell you that. The American Volunteer Group proved that it could be an incredibly worthy foe with skilled pilots and well-thought tactics. Ultimately I'd have to say it was a bit behind the times, and an underrated underdog when it held its own against newer far more able fighters.
     
  10. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    I think one needs to keep in mind that the P-40 started out as not much more than a re-engined P-36, a fighter that dated back to the 1936 USAAC Pursuit Competition (incidentally won by the Seversky P-35, though the P-36 performed well enough to further interest the USAAC in the Curtiss design). The early P-40 and P-40 B/C models clearly show it's P-36 heritage. The marriage of the P-36 airframe with the Allison V-1710 resulted in a decent fighter for the time, lacking in maneouverability compared to more modern designs but possessing a good rate of speed, tough construction, and great diving ability. The AVG capitalized on the P-40's strong points, and did very well with it. Later P-40 models D through N saw improvements in speed and firepower, and the P-40's transition to more of a ground attack fighter. You can't say it ever really outclassed it's opponents except for perhaps some of the early Italian designs, but it usually had enough advantages that a good pilot could do well with it, even late in the war (particularly C-B-I). I remember reading that Saburo Sakai said the he considered a well handled P-40 to be a very formidable adversary. One other point- as many use the P-51 example of how much better the Merlin was to the V-1710, I like to point out that the Merlin didn't improve the P-40 much!
     
  11. Smokey

    Smokey Member

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    The first prototype, the "Bf-109V1", where "V1" stood for "Versuchs / Prototype 1") was run through preliminary flight tests in September 1935, and then passed on to the Luftwaffe Test Center at Rechlin.

    http://www.vectorsite.net/avbf1091.html

    The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was even older but seems to have remained competitive until 1945. The Bf 109K4 could do 450 mph.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    By virture of their design, the -109 and Spit were able to "grow" where the P-40 was limited. Although the P-40Q was promising, it was too little too late abd should of been flying by at least early 1943.

    Evidence shows Curtiss-Wright wrestled with many loosers (P-60, etc.) and should of been focused on their customer's needs...
     
  13. carpenoctem1689

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    Sure the Bf-109K4 could do 450mph, but that those speeds handling the damn thing would be tiring to say the least. Im a cramped cockpit, you couldnt throw the stick around, the controls became very heavy at high speeds, and a pilot would be exhausted after a short time flying at high speeds such as that. Range wasnt very good, but at the time, it didnt have to be. The 109 was forced to grow really, the germans just needed them, so they made them work, where as the americans could see a design, and pass it up because something new would be coming soon, the germans needed aircraft right then and there.
     
  14. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    Good point flyboy.
     
  15. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    The 109 was certainly a fine aircraft, but I think it was safe to say it's day was over by 1945. As the best thing about the P-40 in the beginning of the war for the USAAC was it's availability, conversely the best thing about the 109 for the Luftwaffe at the end of the war was it's availability.
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  17. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Very true V-1710.
     
  18. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    the p 40 like the hurricane was a jack of all trades but master of none a tough dependable ac
     
  19. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Yes it was at its limit by 1945 but it did not matter when by then they had the Fw-190D, Ta-152H and soon C's, and by then the Ta-183's and P.1011s would be rolling out soon.

    The P-40 was a good design and a good all around "light fighter". It however was not a great design because as posted by others it had no wear to go. I sort of compare it to todays F-5.
     
  20. V-1710

    V-1710 Member

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    I think it did matter for the Luftwaffe. Although the Ta-152 might have been the ultimate piston engined fighter, it and the other promising German designs were a case of too little, too late. Remember that the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star would have probably have entered combat in late 1945 (the 31st. Squadron of the 412th. Fighter Group had been operating the P-80 in the U.S. since late 1944). Late in the war, it was all the German aircraft industry could do to produce existing designs, which they did in substantial numbers despite the difficulties they were facing.
     
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