Today in History – October 14, 1938 – XP-40 Prototype’s First Test Flight.

14 October 1938 – “Curtiss test pilot Edward Elliott takes a prototype XP-40 single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter, and ground-attack aircraft up over Buffalo for its first test flight. The plane would later enter production known as the P-40 Warhawk.”(1)

A former U.S. Army Air Forces Curtiss P-40B (s/n 41-13297, c/n 16073) in flight. This aircraft survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, as it was in a maintenance hangar undergoing repair. The plane was wrecked on Jan. 24, 1942, while on patrol over Koolau Range, Oahu, when it spun in. The pilot was killed. The wreck was recovered between 1985 and 1989 and restored by the Curtiss Wright Historical Association, using parts from aircraft 39-285 and 39-287. It was later sold to “The Fighter Collection” at Duxford in the U.K. Photo by Tony Hisgett

“The P-40 was the brainchild of Don Berlin, the brilliant but argumentative chief engineer who came to Curtiss-Wright in the 1930s after leaving another job because he clashed with another air pioneer, Jack Northrop. Berlin developed the series of radial-engined fighters known in U.S. service as P-36s (they, too, fought at Pearl Harbor) and in 1938 won a U.S. Army contract to adapt the design to use an Allison liquid-cooled in-line engine.

Berlin designed the P-40 around the Allison V-1710 12-cylinder liquid-cooled “monster-of-an-engine,” as one mechanic described it, with better streamlining, more power and better fuel consumption than most air-cooled radials. This was the “default” powerplant for about 90 percent of the 13,378 P-40s built, but it lacked a powerful supercharger for high-altitude fighting.

About a thousand P-40 models later used the Packard-built V-1650-1 license-built Rolls-Royce Merlin 12 cylinder V-type engines.” (2)

Sources: (1); (2) DefenseMediaNetwork

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