IntroductionClassic Warships Publishing
has been releasing detailed examinations of an interesting selection of aircraft. P-40 Warhawk
is the 5th book in the series. Authored by aviation guru Dana Bell, P-40 Warhawk
is written for those with technical interest instead of as an operational history. This softcover book is 72 pages long and cataloged with ISBN 13-978-0-9857149-4-9
. It is full of photos - even vintage color photos - and technical publication images.
"Damned by words but flown into glory" was how Col. Robert Scott described the P-40; another famous fighter pilot assessed it as, "The best second-best fighter in the world." While the P-40 was a good design competitive with the early Spitfire and Messerschmidt Bf 109, it was hobbled by Army Air Corps doctrine that focused on low altitude operations, plus lack of a suitable two-speed two-stage supercharger. Also, of all frontline fighters with the same class of engine output in 1941, P-40 was the heaviest.
When U.S. Army Air Corps took their first P-40s the type was not a viable combat aircraft. Improvements of armor and more firepower created a warplane and Britain and France ordered hundreds. France fell before their P-40s were delivered (although not before a handful of French H-75 Hawks - the P-36 - accounted for approximately 25% of all French air-to-air kills) and England took possession of France's P-40s. Tomahawk
, as the RAF christened the long-nosed P-40, was not able to fight in the high sky over Europe yet proved its mettle over North Africa and the Middle East. Many Commonwealth pilots judged it superior to RAF's Hawker Hurricane and down low it could hold its own against the Bf 109E. When Stalin and Hitler ceased their collaboration, Tomahawks fought over the frozen steppes. American long-nosed P-40s shot down Japanese at Pearl Harbor and over the Philippines. And over China and Southeast Asia the early P-40 won everlasting fame with the Flying Tigers.
Author Dana Bell has an esteemed reputation from his work at the Smithsonian. He brings an exceptional knowledge base and resources to this book. He reveals modifications to the airframe never before mentioned in 70 years of P-40 publications. This series is not written for those who seek a combat history of the P-40. It is written for those who want to know why the long-nosed P-40 was officially known as the P-40-CU, where and when the monikers Tomahawk or Warhawk came to usage, differences in fuselage oil reservoirs, differences in gun sights, wing fillets, and tail wheel struts, to name a few things. He even discusses whether the term "long-nose" is historically accurate and authentic. This book does discuss some operational trivia, such as the high mishap rate of the P-40-CU due to groundlooping.
This book is written mainly for modelers and technical historians as only four pages recount the P-40 history. The text is a treasure trove of technical and operational information for modelers, historians, and early P-40 enthusiasts. It is obvious that an aircraft historian with years of experience at one of the world's premier aviation museums was involved in creating this book. Mr. Bell knows how to impart that knowledge in an interesting and easy-to-read style. Sections of specific information are
Experiments - the XP-40
Production - the P-40-CU
Production - Early Problems
Modifications - the P-40A
Production - The P-40B and P-40C
Repair - The P-40G
Production - Armament
Camouflage and Markings
Otherwise there are no chapters or sections, rather a progression of photos and illustrations and captions documenting long-nose P-40 development, from prototype to a 1942 operational mishap. The first four pages take the reader through development of the XP-40. Next through seven pages the P-40-CU is presented from natural metal pre-war finishes to the application of pending-war camouflage, plus production modifications. Forty-four pages showcases the P-40B and C, as well as detailed photos of the
Allison V-1710-33 engine
Gun blast tubes
Cockpit and canopy details
Comparisons between the fuselage of P-40-CU/P-40G and the P-40B and C
Fuselage interior views
Tail wheel and gear door modifications
Mainplane underside detail
Flap and aileron details
Main landing gear
Experimental landing gear
Wing gun bays and ammo cans
Eight remaining pages are photos of long-nosed P-40s in use around the world in operational and training roles.
The captions are frequently more of a narrative or expansion of previous topics, such as attempts to correct deficiencies, and the use of the word "PRESTONE". Standard or experimental components and configurations are identified and described. Colors and finishing specs are identified.
The last page includes ADDITIONAL READING, RESOURCES, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, AIRCRAFT PICTORIAL SERIES, and credits for photos on the cover, back cover, and title page.
Photographs and Graphics
Many high-quality technical photographs of the P-40 fill this book, many in vivid original color. Many of the technical images of the cockpit, rear cockpit, airframe structural components, landing gear and tail wheel, and engine are from manuals and are not high quality, yet useful. Mr. Bell acknowledges a dearth of technical drawings and photographs of early P-40s.
For those who seek examples of "the true olive drab" the photos in this book are extraordinary. They also demonstrate some variations which drive many modelers/historians/artists to distraction.
Even without the captions, the photographic content of this book would lead me to buy it.
Classic Warships Publishing has created yet another extraordinary book that should be essential for those seeking the technical characteristics of the long-nose P-40. The book is full of a wealth of technical detail, both graphic and textual. The color photos are amazing. Unfortunately, the quality of some technical images are not are sharp, but that is understandable considering the originals have yet to be discovered.
Technical and developmental information about the long-nosed P-40 contained in this book is great for those who aspire to a fuller knowledge of the aircraft. What little text there is imparts this to good effect. Even without the captions, the photographic content of this book would lead me to buy it. It may be essential for enthusiasts of the long-nosed P-40 family. Highly recommended.
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