CAF P-40N Warhawk Restoration Update

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

The Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is currently going through refurbishment following a landing mishap earlier this year, but progress in the restoration is gathering pace and should see the aircraft flying again before too long. This fighter is tough. She is also one of the longest-serving aircraft in the CAF’s fleet of vintage military aircraft, having joined the organization back in 1965. The fighter is also a genuine WWII veteran, having served in coastal defense in far northern reaches of North America with the Royal Canadian Air Force at a time when there was still a perceived threat to the homeland from Imperial Japanese forces.

Canadian Kittyhawks in operations over Alaska during WWII. The Commemorative Air Force’s P-40 performed similar duties while in the RCAF. (image via wikipedia)

The CAF’s Warhawk started rolled off the production line in September, 1943 as P-40N-5-CU 42-105867, with construction number 29629. The U.S. Government soon transferred the fighter, under Lend-Lease, to the Royal Canadian Air Force as Kittyhawk Mk.IV serial 867. Her first active squadron was No.111(F) Squadron, flying patrols against the Japanese threat in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain. Following her sojourn in the Alaskan wilds, she joined No. 135(F) Squadron at RCAF Patricia Bay in British Columbia. The RCAF struck her off charge in August, 1946, and the Kittyhawk passed through a number of civilian owners in the United States before ending up with the organization now known as the Commemorative Air Force in 1965.

The CAF’s P-40N in happier times, pictured here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 as she performs in the CAF’s famous Tora! Tora! Tora! routine. That being said, the aircraft is painted to represent a P-40B flown by the legendary Flying Tigers fighter pilot, ‘Tex’ Hill. As the P-40 Sponsorship Groups states, “The CAF’s P-40 pays tribute to American Volunteer Group fighter ace, Brig. Gen. David Lee “Tex” Hill, as well as the other members of the famed Flying Tigers. The P-40 Sponsor Group’s primary goal is to remember and continue the legacy of the amazing individuals who flew the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk from the early hours of December 7th, 1941 through the end of WWII and beyond.” (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

As many readers will be aware, on March 16th this year, the Commemorative Air Force’s Curtiss P-40N Warhawk suffered a mechanical failure which resulted in the left main landing gear collapsing during a landing at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport near Houston, Texas. As a consequence, the left wing struck the ground, causing extensive damage to the wingtip, flap, and aileron. There was also a prop strike, although thankfully while the engine was at idle. Obviously, a fair amount of remedial work was in need to get the aircraft back in the air again, but the CAF’s P-40 Sponsor Group is taking this opportunity to address other issues too. The organization recently updated us on progress with the Warhawk’s restoration; read below to see how you can help get this venerable fighter back in the air…

“Currently, the entire exterior of the P-40 has been stripped and primed in anticipation of a complete repaint of the aircraft. Many cockpit components, including the instrument panel, have been removed and will be overhauled. The cockpit itself is stripped and will receive a cosmetic restoration. The Sponsor Group is eager to use this time as an opportunity to make the CAF’s P-40 the best it’s ever been. Warhawk fans can follow the restoration progress on the Group’s Facebook page. To support the restoration efforts, click HERE.

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