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World War Two: Curtiss P-40N-1 Kittyhawk

With over 14,000 examples of the Curtiss P40 built, it was one of the most important US-built fighters of the first half of World War Two.   Serving in almost every theatre of the war, from the Pacific, Asia, North Africa and Europe, the P40 was variously known as the Tomahawk, Warhawk or Kittyhawk.


The P40N-1 to be displayed at the airshow is A29-448 ('Currawong'), and is painted in an authentic RAAF colour scheme. This aircraft is one of 848 examples operated by the Royal Australian Air Force, in this case, in Papua New Guinea.

UndersideThe aircraft was delivered to No 75 Squadron, RAAF in September 1943 and had already been painted with the regulation white, South West Pacific tail identity markings. The white tail markings were required to be carried by all front line fighters in that theatre to aid recognition.

Part of the regulations also noted that the leading edges of the wings should be painted white, but A29-448 was one of a number of aircraft that did not carry these markings.

GACThe aircraft was flown by a number of pilots in combat operations in the Milne Bay and Goodenough Island areas up until March 1944. On the 13 March that year the aircraft hit a drainage ditch while taxiing and the port oleo leg collapsed, causing some damage to the airframe, wing and engine.

The aircraft was repaired relatively quickly, and in May 1944 it was transferred to No 78 Squradon RAAF based at Tadji in Papua New Guinea. A complete failure of the electrical system on its first operational sortie with 78 Squadron lead to a crash landing with substantial damage. This time the aircraft was deemed to be beyond repair, and approval was given to reduce the aircraft to spares.

The aircraft was recovered as a bare fuselage from Tadji in 1974, along with a number of other aircraft, by New Zealander Charles Darby. It was finally returned to air worthiness in 2000.


Two Kittyhawks, including the P-40-N flying at full noise and low level.


A view from the pilots perspective....


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