Curtiss P-36 Hawk

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was an American designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s. A contemporary of the both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine. Obsolescent at the onset of World War II and best known as the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40, the P-36 saw only limited combat with the United States Army Air Forces, but it was used more extensively by the French Air Force, both during the Battle of France and by the Vichy France armed forces, and also by the British Commonwealth (where it was known as the Mohawk), and Chinese air units. Several dozen also fought in the Finnish Air Force against the Soviet Air Forces. With around 1,000 aircraft built, the P-36 was a major commercial success for Curtiss.

The Curtiss Model 75 was a private venture by the company, designed by former Northrop Aircraft Company engineer Donovan Berlin. The first prototype constructed in 1934 featured all-metal construction with fabric-covered control surfaces, a Wright XR-1670-5 radial engine developing 900 hp (671 kW), and typical U.S. Army Air Corps armament of one 0.3 in (7.62 mm) and one 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns firing through the propeller arc. Also typical of the time was the total absence of cockpit armor or self-sealing fuel tanks. The distinctive landing gear which rotated 90° to fold the main wheels flat into the thin trailing portion of the wing was actually a Boeing-patented design for which Curtiss had to pay royalties.

The prototype first flew on 6 May 1935, reaching 281 mph (452 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) during early test flights. On 27 May 1935, the prototype was flown to Wright Field, Ohio, to compete in the USAAC fly-off for a new single-seat fighter but the contest was delayed because the Seversky entry crashed on the way to the contest. Although its competitor, the Seversky P-35, also underperformed and was more expensive, it was still declared the winner and awarded a contract for 77 aircraft. However, on 16 June 1936, Curtiss received an order from USAAC for three prototypes designated Y1P-36. The USAAC was concerned about political turmoil in Europe and about Seversky's ability to deliver P-35s in a timely matter, and therefore wanted a backup fighter. The Y1P-36 (Model 75E) was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 Twin Wasp engine producing 900 hp (671 kW) and further enlarged scalloped rear canopy. The new aircraft performed so well that it won the 1937 USAAC competition with an order for 210 P-36A fighters.

Its extremely low wing loading of just 23.9 pounds per square foot gave it outstanding turning performance, and its high power-to-weight ratio of 0.186 hp/lb gave it superb climbing performance as well, especially for the time, although its lack of an engine supercharger handicapped it at high altitudes. Compared to the Allison-engined P-40, the P-36 shared the later P-40's traits of excellent high-speed handling, of roll rate that improved at high speed and of relatively light controls at high speed. However, it was underpowered affecting its acceleration and top speed and it did not accelerate in a dive as well as the P-40

General characteristics
  • Crew: One
  • Length: 28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 37 ft 4 in (11.4 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 5 in (2.6 m)
  • Wing area: 235.94 ft² (21.92 m²)
  • Empty weight: 4,567 lb[14] (2,076 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,650 lb (2,560 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,010 lb[14] (2,732 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney R-1830-17 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial piston engine, 1,050 hp (783 kW)

  • Maximum speed: 313 mph (272 knots, 500 km/h) at 8,500 ft, 2,960 m
  • Cruise speed: 270 mph (235 knots, 432 km/h)
  • Range: 625 mi (543 nmi, 1,006 km) at 270 mph (419 km/h), 860 mi (748 nmi, 1,385 km) at 200 mph
  • Service ceiling: 32,700 ft (9,967 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,400 ft/min (17 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 23.9 lb/ft² (116.8 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.186 hp/lb (306w/kg)

  • 1 × 0.30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine gun
  • 1 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun

** Curtiss P-36 Hawk - Warbird Fare

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