Curtiss P-40 Book Review
|Date of Review||June 2013||Title||Curtiss P-40|
|Author||Carl Molesworth||Publisher||Osprey Publishing|
|Format||64 pages, softbound||MSRP (USD)||$18.95|
Looking for a handy introduction to early P-40s? Try Curtiss P-40 – Long-nosed Tomahawks, latest in Osprey's new Air Vanguard series – and first of two installments.
Author Carl Molesworth begins his succinct study with an overview of Curtiss fighter designs – from biplanes through immediate P-40 antecedents, the classic P-36/Hawk 75 (H-75) series.
Text next turns to development of the Allison-powered P-40 itself – the Hawk 81 (H-81). That's where Molesworth reveals, for instance, the reason for the aircraft's distinctive chin radiator and oil cooler cluster. "Grouping all the vulnerable parts in the nose," he notes, "made the plane a smaller target" for enemy fire.
It worked. And despite overall performance inferiority to enemy interceptors, the tough Tomahawk reaped a reputation for reliability and ruggedness. They brought pilots home.
Over 17 pages of Curtiss Hawk family technical tables follow. And Molesworth includes specs for every H-75 and H-81 variant. That "Fighters of 1941" chart proved especially illuminating.
Contents then continue with a brief operational history of Tomahawks over the Middle East, Maghreb and Soviet Union. And core coverage concludes with early Pacific and CBI operations – including legendary AVG "Flying Tiger" actions.
B&W photos, color drawings, action paintings and a fold-out cut-away illustrate text. A compact "conclusion" recaps Curtiss' "collection of compromises". And a selected bibliography and index tidily terminate things. Molesworth's little book even adds occasional attributions and annotations!
Tomahawks earned a place in history as the US Army's main frontline fighter when America entered World War II. And their combat career ended in Sept 1942 – less than a year later. Make this tidy tome your preface to the early P-40 saga.
My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!