Curtiss P-40F

The prototype P-40F, formerly P-40D 40-360...

Project 914 Archives (S. Donacik collection) - Larger Image

In 1940 or 1941 someone somewhere got the bright idea of sticking a Rolls Royce Merlin engine onto a P-40D
and the world was introduced to a fairly ugly version of a really slick-lookin' airplane...

The Allison engine was removed from P-40D 40-360 and replaced with a Rolls Royce Merlin, with the first
flight of this new beast taking place on June 30th, 1941. Apparently someone liked what they saw (maybe
the same guy who got the bright idea in the first place) because next thing the world knew, a new variant
of the P-40 was ordered into production... the P-40F. It was obviously given the 'F' suffix because that
was what came after 'E'... but I like to think they picked 'F' for 'Frakkin' Ugly'. Maybe not... but you
never know. Anyhoo, yeah, the Merlin-powered Hawks may have been somewhat less aesthetically pleasing than
their predecessors, but performance was improved a bit and that is what truly mattered.

The initial production P-40Fs were essentially P-40Es powered by US-built Packard Merlin engines and,
superficially, everything behind the firewall was pretty much the same as the Allison-powered ships. However,
another change in the P-40's appearance was not long in coming. Efforts were being made to improve directional
stability, which had been a constant problem with the type, and, starting with the P-40F-5-CU, the fuselage
was extended by about two feet. Despite vehement opposition from the P-40's designer, Donovan Berlin, the
longer fuselage became standard for all subsequent variants of the type, beginning with later production P-40Ks.

An interesting and perhaps obscure bit of trivia about the P-40F... it was the first P-40 variant to be
officially bestowed with a name in the United States. The previous names of 'Tomahawk' and 'Kittyhawk' had
been applied by the British to the P-40/B/C and P-40D/E, respectively. (with the latter also being applied
to all subsequent variants by the Brits) Although those names were often used in the USA, it was with the
P-40F that the truly iconic moniker of 'Warhawk' was ushered in.

The most comprehensive online written text concerning the P-40 is a series of articles by Joe Baugher.
You can see his 'P-40F' page HERE...

Another view of the prototype P-40F; this photo was hastily retouched to hide the four-gun wing of the P-40D.
Also note the early chin intake configuration with a simple splitter installed.

Project 914 Archives (S. Donacik collection) - Larger Image

One of 699 early-production short-tailed P-40Fs.

Project 914 Archives (S. Donacik collection) - Larger Image

P-40F 41-13997 on a test flight with Curtiss pilot Herb Fisher behind the stick.

Project 914 Archives (S. Donacik collection) - Larger Image

I believe that this is the first production P-40F (41-13600) during tests by the NACA at Langley Field to
address the problem of directional stability. This ship displays the longer fuselage that would soon become
standard for the P-40F and for all subsequent variants of the P-40, beginning with later production P-40Ks.

NASA, Langley Research Center - Larger Image

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