View Full Version : P-40: An underdog that bites!

05-21-2009, 07:55 PM
I always regarded this plane as cannon fodder, but it is anything but.

Today in qmb I took 8 P-40Ms against 8 Bf-109Fs escorting 8 Ju-52s. I'm using the ai mod that makes the enemy fighters rather more cunning.Yet by the end of the mission 3 P-40s were lost, but the German ai formations were completely decimated, only two Ju-52s being left.

Much to my surprise I managed to bag 4 Bf-109Fs, that strictly speaking are superior fighters to the P-40. Better speed and climb.
I have played the game for some years so I do have some experience, but I still would have struggled to get 4 kills in a slower aircraft, under normal circumstances.

However the P-40 apparently has a few cards up its sleeves:

1)Firstly it has lovely handling, very crisp and precise, and no nasty surprises.

2)Good view to the front, very large windscreen allowing for accurate deflection shooting and general situational awareness.

3)Armament that is perfect for the mentioned deflection shooting opportunities. The spread of fire offered by the six gun arrangement means that though you don't have the knockout blow offered by cannons, you do have a forgiving weapon system that will allow a mediocre pilot with sloppy aiming to hit something. I suspect for example that in a head-on pass with two average pilots, one in a Bf-109F and one in a P-40M, the P-40 pilot has the edge. Somehow I seem to have better results with the six 50s of the p-40 than those of the P-51, perhaps due to the gentler handling characteristics.

4) Turns tightly and smoothly. If the 109 turns at medium to high speeds with a P-40 in pursuit it has basically sealed its fate.

5)Dives well. You can easily make up for your lack of speed by yo-yoing, again complemented by the superior handling properties. Naturally it helps if you set yourself up to have an altitude advantage.

So to summarize, it's always nice to discover new things in this great sim, and rediscovering the P-40 was a pleasant surprise. It's obvious that though straight-line speed is the most important characteristic in combat, it clearly isn't everything. Finally I was given an insight into how P-40 pilots could be successful against seemingly superior aircraft. My little adventure wasn't too different from actual P-40 operations against transports and fighters over the mediterranean. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif


05-21-2009, 08:03 PM
The P40 is a blast to fly http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

05-21-2009, 08:30 PM
Erik Schilling of the AVG is a big P-40 fan. (http://yarchive.net/mil/p40.html)

This page includes a link to write to Erik. (http://home.att.net/%7EC.C.Jordan/Shilling.html)

Not all of these quotes are from Erik, some are from another former AVG member.

The P-40B was. . .
40 mph faster than the AM6-2 (21) Zero.
50 mph faster than the Hyabusa, or Ki-43.
70 mph faster than the fixed gear I-96.
195 mph faster than the cruise speed of the Ki-21 Sally.
130 mph faster in a dive than any Japanese fighter.
3 times the roll rate of the Zero.
P-40 was 5 mph faster than the Me 109 E-3 at 15,000 feet
P-40 was 9 mph faster than the Spitefire Mk.IA at 15,000 feet
The P-40 could out turn the Me. 109 E-3, and could out dive it.
The P-40 was not the dog that everyone seem to think it was.

>The P-40 was considered outclassed by the Bf109

By whom?
Granted, the 109 had superior high altitude performance, but that wouldn't have
been a concern on the eastern front. The P-40 could outroll the Me, outdive it
(although the Me had an initial advantage), outturn it, had comparable speed, a
more rugged airframe, more survivable plumbing arrangement, and superior
firepower. The one major advantage (aside from high altitude performance) the
Me had over the P-40 was a superior rate of climb. But the P-40 had a slightly
superior zoom climb. Of course, the P-40 had greater lift capacity and range.

The 325FG flew 128 combat missions with the P-40 in the MTO.
Shot down in air-to-air combat:
96 Me 109
26 MC 202
7 Me 323
3 Ju 52
3 Fi 156

In addition, the 325's P-40s dropped 329,000 lbs. of bombs.

17 to enemy fighters
6 to flak
5 to unknown causes (probably weather, fuel or mechanical)
3 to engine failure
2 to mid-air collision
1 to small-arms fire
1 to hitting high tension wires.

The 325FG had two brilliant victories over the Me 109 while equipped with the
P-40. On July 1, 1943, while on a fighter sweep over southern Italy, 22 P-40s
were bounced by 40 Me 109s. Results: one P-40 shot down, 20 Me 109s shot down.
On July 30, 1943, similar situation: 20 P-40s on a fighter sweep over Italy
bounced by 35 Me 109s. One P-40 shot down, 21 Me 109s shot down.
In these two battles, the 109s engaged the P-40s in classic, turning
dogfights--and lost big time. The Curtiss fighter could outmaneuver the German
fighter, take hits that would wreck the Me, and dish out much greater firepower
than the 109. The Me's only clear superiority was in the climb, which was not
helpful. It could not out-turn the P-40s, dive away from them or outrun them.
Nor could it outshoot them or take as much punishment as they could.
Add in the fact that the Mess. drivers faced a very aggressive bunch of pilots
(the motto of the 325 was "Shoot the Bastards"), and it's no wonder they found
themselves "screwed, blued and tattooed."
Never sell the P-40 short.

>>>The P-40 was considered outclassed by the Bf109
>>By whom?

Certainly the SAAF suffered grievous losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe in
North Africa, and the RAF had some rough times, too. But an examination of
what happened will reveal the British and Commonwealth forces using poor
tactics. It has been commented on more than once that while RAF units in
Britain were flying finger-four formations after the Battle of Britain, RAF and
Commonwealth forces in the Med were still routinely flying Vics and line-astern
formations long afterward. They were also using the completely useless
Lufberry Circle.

>What time period?

Arrived in North Africa in Jan., 1943. Equipped with P-40Fs and P-40Ls.
Replaced with P-47s in Sept. 1943.

The 325's CO, Col. Robert Baseler, maintained as his personal aircraft during
this period an Me 109G-6 nicknamed "Herman the German." All the 325 pilots
flew it and became quite familiar with the many failings of the Mess. (It was
this aircraft that was involved in the notorious mock straffing of the lFG 94FS
chow line.) The 109 definitely could not outdive the P-40; however, its
initial acceleration in the dive was very good, but a P-40 would fall on it
like a cast-iron stove in very short order. One problem the 109 had in a dive
was that its controls would freeze up very quickly. It would take a foolhardy
pilot to push it much beyond 400 mph in a dive below 20,000 ft. or so. The
P-40, on the other hand, was placarded at 485 mph. The problem with the P-40
in the dive was not so much the controls stiffening into mobility so much as
that you had to keep feeding in rudder until at some point your leg lost the
battle. But that would happen long after any diving 109 was overhauled and
The 109 was definitely a high altitude bird, and was in its element above
25,000 ft., where the P-40 was very definitely out of its element. But the
P-40 was a very capable airplane below 18,000 ft. where most air fighting in
the MTO and the Eastern Front took place.

> [Me 109] G-2/6 had considerable speed advantage [over the P-40].

This is certainly true at altitude--especially above 25,000 ft. or so. But on
the deck not a lot of difference. The Me 109 came into its own at altitude,
and that is why it was able to perform effectively as an interceptor of 8AF
heavies, a role that the P-40 would have been very poor at. But a 109 forced
to fight on the P-40's terms basically had no advantages. The 109 vs. P-40
battles in the MTO illustrate how important tactics and pilot skill are--even
more important than the airplane (as long as comparative performance is more or
less in the ball park). Skilled German 109 pilots using generally good
air-to-air tactics were able to trash a significant portion of the Curtiss P-40
production run when they faced ill-trained British colonial pilots using poor
When skilled American P-40 pilots using generally good tactics encountered
poorly trained German and Italian 109 pilots, they were able to knock them out
of the air fairly easily.

05-21-2009, 08:38 PM
what about the 109's climb rate compared to a p-40? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

05-21-2009, 08:48 PM
At what speed and alt? Mostly it's better. In a small, slim margin it's not.

That's what tactics is about though, fighting where the enemy is not so good.
That's why poor or wrong tactics makes any plane look like crud.

Don't take the P-40's up real high, the 109's will probably win.

05-21-2009, 08:54 PM

And it comes in Mahogany now too!

05-21-2009, 08:57 PM
Yeah I have been flying the P-40 for the first time recently and enjoying it a lot! It's quite responsive and has a good speed edge over contemporaries like Zeros and Ki-43's. I always thought it was tough to fly because it's a bit wobbly, but I got a proper flightstick that corrects that.

One thing I like is that its AI seems modeled well compared to other American planes--i.e. my AI wingmen fly competently and get kills regularly. When I try Hellcats or P-38's, I spend most of a mission cursing at my idiot AI wingmen for not doing anything but getting shot down and letting me get shot up. P-40's don't seem to have that issue.

05-21-2009, 09:00 PM
I LOVE the P-40 in game, great fighter

05-21-2009, 10:32 PM
Yeah, the P-40 was always reported as the sort of plane that you would love to fly--fast enough, good maneuverability (Jeff Ethell reported that it had an awesome roll), rugged, and a good dive (Claire Chennault was quoted in 1941 as saying that nothing could dive with a P-40--obviously, that was before the P-47). A good pilot could make it absolutely sing, and the boys who arrived in North Africa in 1942 and '43 were much better than the Commonwealth pilots in the Desert Air Force expected.

But it couldn't climb for s**t, and it needed constant trim; some pilots reported that you had to adjust trim for every variation of 10mph of airspeed, and not keeping up with your trim adjustments in combat could eventually be fatal. Gabreski flew them and P-36s in Hawaii just before the war, and he reported that the '36 was very refined and responsive, while the Tomahawk was more about raw power and torque.

It was nearly the equal of the 109 for its reputation for groundlooping, and takeoffs and landings could be more stressfull than combat for some pilots.

The in game P-40 is a hoot, especially after 25-30 missions dodging 109s and Brewsters in an I-16. I found the section on it in America's Hundred Thousand to be very useful (best climbing speed is between 150 and 160 mph, for instance), although I really expected it to be more work to fly than the Mustang.



05-21-2009, 11:56 PM
If you want a P-40 campaign, I just started up this Flying Tigers one, pretty fun.

http://mission4today.com/index...file=details&id=2166 (http://mission4today.com/index.php?name=Downloads&file=details&id=2166)

05-22-2009, 02:35 AM
P-40E and M are more maneouverable in dogfight and can outturn and outscissor any 109, including famous G2 (but you have to keep the ball centered, it's cruical in this plane - similar as in a Yak).

Many overconfident 109 pilots cockily engage a P-40E/M in slow, turning dogfight instead of using their high speed and better climb. And loose.

05-22-2009, 02:51 AM
Originally posted by Metatron_123:
.... and no nasty surprises.

http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif.. you were not pushing it enough.

A nice plane... On one online session I took on 3 ME109s, didn't shoot any down (that I know of), one lost his way and exited the squabble, but the other 2 and I were very busy for a few minutes and damaged them somewhat. They never managed to get one shell on me.. eventually some help arrived.

But hells that P40 was twitchy, but managed to keep it under control. I usually fly FW190 and can throw that plane around, but could not do the same with the P40. A P40 vs Zeros online map is a good one.

05-22-2009, 04:47 AM
I'm a big fan too. Like the looks and as one of the comments above said, "it's fast enough".
That 'enough' part is the key for me. It may not be the best at anything but it's pretty good at everything, and that gives you a fighting chance, which is all you can ask for in life.

05-22-2009, 05:45 AM
What's really fun is to take out Ki-84's with the P-40. Usually the 84 driver is so used to enjoying superiority in all aspects of flight performance they get a bit sloppy with their energy and you can sucker them in to a scissors, which never ends well for the Ki. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

05-22-2009, 06:05 AM
Wow man, this threads pretty cool because I am suprized and it seems like a coincidence because I recently started messing with the P-40 also and I found that I like it.
I posted a little video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...feature=channel_page (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh07lrpcM-c&feature=channel_page)

05-22-2009, 11:43 AM
My favorite fighter at the moment. The campaign linked above (White Sun Blue Sky) is very well done and quite immersive (and long). I'm currently in the middle of it and there's a good chance I'll fly it again right after.

05-22-2009, 12:46 PM
I like the P 40 but haven't flown it in a while.

One of my favs is taking on a 109 or two on the Net Summer Mountains map. Once in a while I will catch one of those 109 jockeys watching me more than where he is going, and he saves me the trouble of shooting him down by conveniently flying into a mountain http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

I am surprised at the parity of the P 40 and 109, but hey when they try to take the fight vertical, I just sit patiently and wait for them to come back down, then get my nose on them for a snapshot http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/crackwhip.gif

That usually works too http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-tongue.gif

05-22-2009, 03:56 PM
The P-40 was a good airplane in real life.. and is in this sim as well.
One of the things about te p-40 that makes it such a good gun platform is it's stability. You can do things in a P-40 that would have you stalling into the ground in a Mustang... any Mustang. That is why the 50 cals on a P-40 seem to do more damage... because the platform is more stable... you have better control.

I think the P-40 is one of the best U.S. fighters in the sim.

05-22-2009, 04:47 PM

05-22-2009, 05:25 PM
Its a good one...I've always been a fan of the "old bird".

05-22-2009, 05:49 PM
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the P-40, my grandfather worked at Curtiss Wright in Buffalo at plants 1&2 during the war.

Some assembly line pics.

05-22-2009, 07:21 PM
Just another P-40 lover checking in. It's one of my favourite rides.

05-22-2009, 07:25 PM
MY FAVORITE plane in the game. if i have a choice on the map i choose that plane. it is one of the easiest and most fun planes to fly. my favorite plane of all time. i just wish the game had more variants. they produced that plane till the end of the war, that just shows how well made and well liked it really was.

05-22-2009, 08:10 PM
1st time I tried the P40 in FB, it suddenly exploded when I went into a dive. Has that been fixed??

05-22-2009, 08:56 PM
That was because you were over-revving the engine, you need to turn the prop-pitch down so it doesn't spool up as fast and go past redline, also this will make your plane dive better as well, at optimal settings. But for a more direct answer.. I am not sure if it explodes anymore.. I don't think as easily, but just adjust your prop pitch in a realistic manor and you will be fine.. and be doing yourself a favor performance wise.

05-22-2009, 10:21 PM
Actually that was because the P40 was porked when initially released. Vne was set waaaay too low, and then instead of loosing a wing, it simply exploded.

It actually works very well now, and has for some time.

We desperately need the P40N for the CBI, with all the proper load outs for it. A bomb under each wing, or rocket tubes on each wing, and they also used parafrags...

05-22-2009, 10:26 PM
The last production version was assembled in November of 1944.

05-23-2009, 03:49 PM
It's a good fighter... I prefer it to early Yaks because of some features such is nice guns.
Although outclassed by Bf-109F/G it is still a worthy opponent.

05-23-2009, 04:28 PM
The P-40 was the first fighter that I associated with WWII, so I naturally have fond memories. One of my first model kits was a snap-tite P-40 with the old USAAC roundels.

One of my favorite IL-2 campaigns is the Battle of Milne Bay campaign by Dflion.

05-23-2009, 05:02 PM
Originally posted by grndragon57:
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the P-40, my grandfather worked at Curtiss Wright in Buffalo at plants 1&2 during the war.

Some assembly line pics.

Thanks for that, as a mechanic i'm veru interested in anything like that!!!

Do you mind if i ask is your grandfather still alive and has he told you any storys about his time at the plants?

05-23-2009, 05:39 PM
Thanks for all the responses! Obviously there is no lack of love for the Toma/Kitty/WarHawk!

05-23-2009, 06:35 PM
I don't remember my grandfather saying alot about working there during the war, other than it was hard work and long hours. My father said that one of his best memories of those years was going to the test field with his father to watch the planes.

05-23-2009, 07:29 PM
Originally posted by grndragon57:
I don't remember my grandfather saying alot about working there during the war, other than it was hard work and long hours. My father said that one of his best memories of those years was going to the test field with his father to watch the planes.


05-23-2009, 07:55 PM
Originally posted by DKoor:
It's a good fighter... I prefer it to early Yaks because of some features such is nice guns.
Although outclassed by Bf-109F/G it is still a worthy opponent.

I look at LaGG's as much like contemporary P-40s.

05-25-2009, 03:40 PM
Put me on the list too! Besides the very enjoyable precision against stoft ground targets the P40 shines in that it does not lock you into a limited set of tactics, like most other planes.

How many rules of thumb beginning with "never" and ending with a plane type do you know? The P40 has none of those (well, "never try to outclimb a 109 in a P40" might be true but it is way too obvious to be stated a lot). It's one of the rare planes where _you_ decide how to fight, not your choice of ride.

Oh, and if you lose you can always try to use the bad reputation of the P40 to belittle the winner, try to do that from the remainings of a 190 http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

05-25-2009, 05:38 PM
i always die in a p-40, not to say it doesnt handle well or capable of some great maneuvers.

It just seems like it doesn't hold up to the same amount of gunfire that a spitfire might.

05-25-2009, 06:08 PM
Yeah its engine dies or sets on fire easily when hit from the front...so I try to avoid that.

05-26-2009, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by Bearcat99:
The P-40 was a good airplane in real life.. and is in this sim as well.
One of the things about te p-40 that makes it such a good gun platform is it's stability. You can do things in a P-40 that would have you stalling into the ground in a Mustang... any Mustang. That is why the 50 cals on a P-40 seem to do more damage... because the platform is more stable... you have better control.

I think the P-40 is one of the best U.S. fighters in the sim.
+1 and I'll give you proof. I'm no dogfighter, I'm a ground and pound man. Last night in a 99th coop I found myself doing carrier defense with a P-40 vs. a ton of A6M's. I'm no "dead eye ****" but I got three in one engagement and that's with one machine gun shot out. I'll take a P-40 any time.

Da Worfster

05-27-2009, 08:51 AM
hi all - Im not really new here-its just that I lost my old ID

sweet to hear you all complimenting the old P40.
My dearly departed old man would have loved you for that. He flew them in the Med theatre, and said they were the greatest fun to fly. From what I heard him tell - you guys are right on! A P40 pilot didnt fear the Hun, so long as you fought him at low altitude!
But where do you get this stuff about the Commonwealth pilots not knowing how to fly them??? Nicky Barr would not agree - nor would Clive Caldwell !

05-27-2009, 04:06 PM
I was in a coop once flying P-40Es against 109G2s and we mopped up the G2s. But I think if the G2s would have been flown correctly they would have mopped us up. Those people flying the G2s were turn fighting us and should have been energy fighting us and more in the vertical than horizontal. They didn't use the G2s more dynamic energy defying characteristics. Plus by turn fighting they negated their speed advantage. The G2 is much faster.

05-27-2009, 04:21 PM
I've bagged K4s with the P40 on several occasions.

I love it when they drop flaps and hit the magic 109 air brake and try to scissor with me when I'm in a P40.


I love it I tell you.

05-27-2009, 04:27 PM
I've bagged a few 190's online with the P-40. You just have to sucker them into a turn fight.

05-27-2009, 05:39 PM
This is Aussie ace Clive Caldwell's kill tally with the P40, note that a number of the kills are 109F's, two of these 109F's were flown by Knights Cross holders, the "non kill" between 18 and 19 is listed because the pilot (who later died of the wounds) was an experten with 69 kills ....

1 26/6/41 Bf 109 destroyed Capuzzo (a)

2 30/6/41 Bf 110 Destroyed (shared) off Tobruk (b)

3 30/6/41 Ju 87 Destroyed off Tobruk (c)

4 30/6/41 Ju 87 Destroyed off Tobruk

5 7/7/41 G.50 Destroyed Gazala

6 16/8/41 G.50 Destroyed (shared) Convoy patrol

7 29/8/41 Bf 109F Destroyed Sidi Barrani

8 27/9/41 Bf 109 Destroyed BuqBuq

9 28/9/41 Bf 109 Destroyed Bardia

10 23/11/41 Bf 109 Destroyed Tobruk

11 23/11/41 Bf 109 Destroyed Baheira (d)

12 5/12/41 Ju 87 Destroyed S El Adem

13 5/12/41 Ju 87 Destroyed S El Adem

14 5/12/41 Ju 87 Destroyed S El Adem

15 5/12/41 Ju 87 Destroyed S El Adem

16 5/12/41 Ju 87 Destroyed S El Adem

17 12/12/41 Bf 109 Destroyed Derna-Tmimi

18 20/12/41 Bf 109 Destroyed S Barce

... 24/12/41 Bf 109 Damaged (e)

19 21/2/42 Bf 109 Destroyed Derna-Gazala (f)

20 14/3/42 C.202 Destroyed NW Tobruk

21 14/3/42 C.202 Destroyed (shared) NW Tobruk

22 23/4/42 Bf 109 Destroyed Bir Hacheim

(a) Bf 109E of I/JG27, flown by Lt. Heinz Scmidt;

(b) Aircraft of III/ZG26;

(c) Ju87s of II/StG2, flown by Lt. Wagner and Uffz Walz;

(d) Leading Bf 109F of four; Hpt Wolfgang Lippert, Kommandeur of II/JG27 and Knight's Cross holder, bailed out;

(e) Bf 109F of III/JG27 damaged. Bullet hit Oblt Erbo Graf von Kageneck, 69 victory 'Experte' and Knight's Cross holder, who died of wounds in hospital on 12 Jan, 1942;

(f) Bf 109F of II/JG27; Lt Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt crash landed;