P-40's tarnished Reputation

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P-40's tarnished Reputation

Joined: April 4th, 2006, 7:26 pm

July 24th, 2012, 6:36 pm #1

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



Last edited by Nathan123 on July 24th, 2012, 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Owner: U.S. Aircraft Aviation Museum
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Joined: June 19th, 2010, 3:26 am

July 24th, 2012, 6:51 pm #2

That was Chris Shores' comparison while discussing the Brewster Buffalo and its service in the Pacific vs its service in Finland.
The P-40 was almost always flown in the early years of the war by inexperienced combat pilots against aggressive, experienced enemies, in North Africa and the East. When it was flown by experienced pilots who used "power" tactics, it did well.
But at the start, it was always easier to blame the plane than the buddy who died in it.
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Joined: February 27th, 2005, 1:47 pm

July 24th, 2012, 6:55 pm #3

-once suitable tactics were employed, it's loss rate fell from the highest to the lowest.

Without a doubt, the P-40 was the USAAF's most important fighter aircraft for the first third of WW2. I think there is little that can be said against that.
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Joined: October 28th, 2010, 10:46 pm

July 24th, 2012, 7:01 pm #4

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



Flying Tigers, Chennault's Aleutian paint scheme, lend lease to England, Russia, and others seems to put this aircraft into a category of early workhorse with worldwide exposure early on. I don't know the numbers but I do respect the plane's historic position and don't consider it "tarnished" in any way. Again, I am just going off my perspective which is purely use of the P-40 and not necessarily the numbers lost etc.

I also like the P-40 because John Belushi flew one!
Last edited by RedSteveSDMB on July 24th, 2012, 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: November 4th, 2005, 4:54 am

July 24th, 2012, 7:05 pm #5

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



The less someone knows about the subject the better they are at making up a reputation.

Greg in OK
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Joined: April 4th, 2006, 7:00 pm

July 24th, 2012, 7:07 pm #6

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



It probably stayed in production longer than it should have, but at the heart of that issue is the trouble with Curtiss Aviation and its undue influence as a powerful contractor. Curtiss squandered lots of resources on questionable projects. Some aviation historians (e.g., Warren Bodie) hold Curtiss in contempt for its business practices and incompetence. Curtiss-built P-47Gs, for example, were of such poor quality that the Air Corps rejected them for front-line service and kept them stateside for training. (Not that incompetence was limited to Curtiss: The Air Corps itself had plenty of 'splaining to do about some questionable decisions and policies.)

The P-40 was what it was: It had its good points and bad, but on balance, it was more than adequate for most of the jobs it was asked to do, and excelled at some. It was available in quantity when needed. It soldiered on longer than it should have.

Cheers,

Lee G.
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Joined: May 18th, 2007, 1:28 am

July 24th, 2012, 7:08 pm #7

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



The "entire" USAAF was not destroyed on the ground in the first days of the war, but the USAAF units in Hawaii and the Phillipines were devastated.

The P-40 did well in China because their pilots, under Chennault's tutelage, used the aicraft's best performance attributes to their advantage (diving attacks and zoom climb), while doing their best to not engage in the performance envelope that favored their Japanese foes (aerobatic maneuvering, i.e., dogfighting).

Every AVG pilot and member of the 75th Fighter Squadron, including Tex Hill, I ever spoke with at length, made a point of mentioning Chennault's superior approach to tactics and training.

Chennault provided a lot of intel to the USAAF regarding the performance of Japanese aicraft, especially their fighters. The hide-bound and ground-based Army Brass ignored it.

The 23rd Fighter Group in China, as a whole, soldiered on with the P-40 in its various marks right through to the end of the war, despite having P-51 Mustangs at the late stages.
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Joined: May 15th, 2006, 6:17 pm

July 24th, 2012, 7:17 pm #8

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



The knocks on the P-40 came, for the most part, from its performance in the pacific. In low level combat with the freakishly nimble Zero, it was destined to get chewed up. Ultimately, it represented the direction that the following generations of US WWII fighters would take. It was heavy yet it had decent speed and maneuverability. Its greatest attributes were its toughness, firepower and its ability to out-dive its peers. Unfortunately, it took the USAAF well into late 1942 before they began to develop tactics that emphasized those attributes. I would argue that even using the next GEN of U.S. fighters (p-38, p-47) American pilots would have fared little better in the lower altitudes where the Zero was king. Once the US changed its tactics to those emphasizing altitude and speed to make slashing, diving attacks, things turned. Had the P-40 been used under those tactics, I feel history would be forgiving.

Perhaps the best that can be said of the P-40's history is that it was there when it was needed, and it held the line.

If you haven't had the pleasure, I would recommend the book Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific by Eric M Bergerud. I have already worn out 1 copy and my current one is starting to fall apart as well. I have found no better resource for examining the people, places, equipment and tactics used by both sides in the South Pacific.
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Joined: August 6th, 2004, 10:28 pm

July 24th, 2012, 7:31 pm #9

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



The P-40 was designed to be a low altitude performer, with lack of a two-stage supercharger. The theory of aerial warfare as the U.S. Army applied it prior to WWII, was that intercepting low flying attack aircraft was the most likely role of a "pursuit" plane. It seems pretty clear that had the Army had advanced warning of the Pearl Harbor attack, enough time to have all available P-40s (and P-36s) fueled armed, and in the air, the attacking Japanese forces would have been decimated, regardless of the superiority of the A6M (which, by the way, could not out turn a P-40 at high speed. Slow speed turns are another matter) The P-40 did more than just hold the line while waiting for superior P-51s and P-47s. In all theaters, with the exception of European Western Front (Which was the focus of most media coverage because, lets face it, it was easiest front to cover) the P-40 was used quite effectively, and for the length of the war, not just the first third.
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Joined: February 27th, 2005, 1:34 pm

July 24th, 2012, 7:33 pm #10

Years ago(wow do I have to say that now?) I did quite a bit of reading and research on the P-40. I am by no means an expert. The P-40 has always had a tarnished reputation. I always wondered why. I've gathered that the U.S. was unprepared for a war in the Pacific. It was a desperate time and lots of mistakes were made. The P-40 was thrown into the fight with a unplanned, unprepared scenario. All eyes were on what success we could achieve with the P-40 in the Pacific since in every newspaper read of Japanese success. Where would the people find fault for such success? Well since the P-40 was there, there really wasn't much one could really blame. So thus I believe the reputation of the P-40 was born. The P-40 did have quite a few performance flaws. But in the end I strongly think that had there been any other type of aircraft in place at the time the P-40 was fighting, there really wouldn't have been any difference. One cannot effectively fight a war without a sound plan and tools for the job. Just my $.02 anyway.

Some notes:

1. The first days of war for the U.S. saw the majority of the U.S air force aircraft destroyed on the ground. One cannot effectively fight without fighting equipment!

2. With such a haste to send aircraft to the Pacific during early 1942 the P-40's were without some essential hardware. Hundreds of crated P-40's arrived to Australia but no coolant, ammo, or other essential equipment were available to operate them.

3. Many U.S. combat pilots were green, fresh from flight school! Some had little to no time in the P-40.

4. Very little was known about the Japanese aircraft or how to effectively combat them.

5. The harsh conditions of the Pacific took it's toll on man and machine. The vast Geography of the Pacific.

Just food for thought.

Cheers,
Nate



But they did get the job done until more 'modern" and powerful stablemates came online...

I believe I read the P-40 with all real or imaginary faults was actually in production up until 6 months before the war concluded.



Cheers,

Max Bryant

"You'll Love My Wingnuts!"
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