"They flew the P-40s over Guadalcanal...learning how to fight the Zeros...using superior speed and taking advantage of the rugged construction of their obsolete ships."
The Curtiss-Hawk P-40, also known as the Kittyhawk, Tomahawk, or Warhawk, depending on where and when it was deployed and who was using it, was already considered obsolete when the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor...and the pilots who flew them knew it! But it was the only tool they had...and they did the best they could with them on that terrible December morning over Pearl Harbor when the Japanese horde swept in!
In the months leading up to Pearl Harbor a ragtag group of pilots called the American Volunteer Group, or the A.V.G., using P-40s, began forming up to do battle against the Japanese invading China. They immediately began making a name for themselves with a long string of successful strikes against the Japanese in air-to-air combat and high priority ground targets within days of the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The A.V.G. went down in history throughout the world as the Flying Tigers. Their successful use of the few P-40s they had against overwhelming odds thrown against them by the Japanese gave other P-40 pilots and groups the courage to do the same. The pilots may have complained initially, but the stalwart P-40 in capable hands held it's own throughout the whole war as the following will attest to:
In the illustrated main text above it states 62 Curtiss-Hawks were destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and not one survived --- maybe not one of the 62, but not quite accurate overall.
Kent Lentz, former cofounder, president, project manager, and chief builder for Project Tomahawk, which was responsible for the restoration to full flying status of a P-40B --- and of which co-authored the website P-40 WARHAWK: PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR --- as a person meticulous in his research and knowledge of P-40s generally and Pearl Harbor survivors specifically, offers the following in regards to an article published in the November 2000 issue of the Smithsonian Air & Space magazine which relates back to the above paragraph:
"The Smithsonian Air & Space article as saying that -297(P-40 serial number 41-13297) was the ONLY P-40B that survived the 7 Dec. attack. That quote SHOULD read 'The only P-40B that survived the attack that STILL exists in any way, shape, or form.' Although even that may not be accurate, since there may be some wreckage offshore or buried on the island somewhere. Seems as though I read somewhere that a bunch of the wreckage was dozed into a big hole at the end of the Wheeler Field main runway and then the runway was extended."
For your own edification, the photo of the P-40B at the top of the page with the number 284 painted on the fuselage is the same Pearl Harbor survivor that Kent Lentz helped guide through to restoration and full flight worthy status. See:
Although I liked P-40s personally and always held them in the highest regards, they forever seemed to get the short end of the stick when it came to how good they were as a World War II fighter. A perfect example is what I was told by a former WW II P-47 pilot one day when I was around ten years old as found in Riding the Cab Forwards:
He flew in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II and, even though he never claimed to be an Ace, he did say he had a number of kills under his belt, both German and Japanese. When I asked him about the Thunderbolt he had both praise and fault, but mainly lauded their armament and power. He told me P-47s had eight .50 caliber wing mounted machine guns and if all were fired at the same time they could even slow the planes forward momentum.(see) Some 47s he said, even though the Army Air Force never confirmed it, had even broken the sound barrier in steep dives. I told him my favorite fighter plane was the P-40 Warhawk and that I especially loved the Flying Tigers. His response about the P-40 devastated me for years. The pilot said, and this is a quote, "A crappy plane, son, but it had merit." Of course, at the time, as a ten year old, and only a few years after the war, I didn't know the evolution of the planes. I just sort of lumped them altogether as existing all at one time, not realizing that the P-40, as one of the best we had at the start of the war, was totally outdated by the end when P-38s and P-51s dominated the skies --- but that doesn't mean P-40s weren't still used and used effectively throughout the war --- as the above story Obsolete Heroes, above, clearly illustrates.
To see how that same "obsolete" theme continued to play out right up to modern days --- primarily because it was true --- the following quote comes from a Flying Tiger P-40 story by clicking through the Lone Tiger graphic-link below the quote:
"Weary pilots take to the air in their battered, obsolete P-40 fighters, to take on the Zeros at odds of ten to one..."
THE BLACK CONDOR: THE MAN WHO COULD FLY LIKE A BIRD
TOMMY TOMAHAWK P-40 TOMAHAWK SQUADRON
(please click image)
JAPANESE INVASION OF
INDIA DURING WORLD WAR II
THE LADY AND THE TIGERS
THE ORDEAL OF LIEUTENANT STONER
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
P-40 GOOSE SHOOT