Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk
United States < Back to Collection

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The P-40 was the U.S. Army’s most capable fighter at the dawn of World War II.  The P-40 Tomahawk, a modified version of the older P-36 Hawk, flew for the first time in 1938. Because of this heritage, the plane was relatively easy to produce and could be hurried into service. This fighter type is particularly notable for being the shark-mouthed choice of the famed American Volunteer Group, known as the “Flying Tigers.”

After Pearl Harbor, the P-40 was often outmatched by more advanced or capable enemy fighters but its low cost kept the plane in production long after other fighters had technologically surpassed it. More effective at low altitudes, many P-40s were sent to Russia as part of Lend-Lease programs. 13,738 P-40 type fighters were produced by the end of 1944.

History of the Artifact
This airplane was manufactured in the U.S., was then purchased by the British, and nearly immediately given to the Soviet Union in 1941. For almost a year, this airplane flew in combat in the skies over the Karelian Front in Russia, defending Murmansk against invading German forces.

Major Ermakov was flying the aircraft on September 27, 1942 when the oil tank was punctured by enemy fire. Ermakov managed to glide the aircraft to a safe belly-landing on a patch of snowy ground near Murmansk. It was abandoned there. The plane was discovered in the early 1990s and recovered. The plane was ultimately rebuilt in Chino, California, and became part of the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum in 1999.

Did you know?
P-40 fighters flew in nearly every theater during World War II, including Alaska, China, North Africa, the Pacific, and Southern Europe.
General Statistics
Crew: 1
Length: 31 ft 8¾ in
Span: 37 ft 4 in
Height: 10 ft 7 in
Empty weight: 5,812 lbs
Loaded weight: 7,459 lbs
Engine: 1 x Allison V-1710-33 V-12 engine
Engine power: 1,040 hp (776 kW)
Maximum speed: 345 mph at 15,000 ft
Range: 730 miles
Ceiling: 29,500 ft
Rate of climb: 2,650 ft/min
2 x .50-caliber machine guns (in nose)
 4 x .30-caliber machine guns (in wings)
700 lbs of bombs