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Curtiss P-40

Curtiss P-40 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2013 Title Curtiss P-40
Author Carl Molesworth Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2013 ISBN 9781780969091
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!