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Mon, Jul 31, 2006

OSH Warbird of the Day: P-40 Warhawk

by ANN Correspondent John Dorcey

One of the best things about AirVenture is all the new stuff. You can find new aircraft designs and new technologies. On the Warbird ramp this year is a new Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

Well, a new P-40 as far as you and I are concerned... but that's getting ahead of the story.

Curtiss manufactured this particular aircraft, SN 42-10256, in November 1942. Price FOB for the US government was just $44,359. Uncle Sam turned around and through the lend-lease program, sent it to Russia for operations there.

About eight months later the aircraft crashed while flown by Junior Lieutenant L.L. Mikhajlou. The aircraft was one of two lost on that mission during air-to-air combat with four BF109. The wreckage sat, literally rotting away, until it was recovered in July 1992.

The Curtiss P-40 is known by many names and was flown by many nations. The United States called it the Warhawk; the British termed it the Tomahawk and the Kitty Hawk. While most U.S. P-40s served in the Pacific beginning with the AVG Flying Tigers, the aircraft saw action in Russia, China, North Africa, Italy and England.

Curtiss powered early versions with the Allison V-1710. The P-40F, built under license by the Packard Motor Company, used the Rolls Royce Merlin. The P-40N, the most produced model with 5,219 copies built, continued with the Allison power plant. Just over 12,000 P-40s were built.

This particular airplane is owned by Ron Fagen of Granite Falls (MN). Fagen purchased the project, completing restoration just last month. The aircraft was test flown on June 5 of this year, almost exactly 63 years since its last flight.

The aircraft is immaculate and looks better than it did when it rolled off the Curtiss line 64 years ago. The display is enhanced by images depicting the wreckage, the recovery and the restoration. The airplane if parked on PSP, pierced steel planking, but that's another story.

FMI: www.warhawksinc.com, www.airventure.org

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