The Curtiss P-40 "Warhawks" played an important role prior to and during World War II. The P-40 had its origins in the radial-engined Curtiss Model 75 and P-36 fighters of the 1930's; the decision of the U.S. Army to standardize on inline aircraft engines led to the different Model H81 variants which we now generally refer to as "P-40 Warhawks." From the first production H81 (P-40-CU) of early 1940 to the last H-81-A3 delivered in August 1941, just over 1,600 of these early Warhawks were built. The H-81 had a wingspan of 37' 4 ", a length of 31' 9" and stood 10' 7" high. The final variants weighed 5,812 pounds empty, with a maximum take-off weight of 8,058 ponds.
Beginning its USAAC service in 1940, the Warhawk equipped many of America's front-line fighter squadron when the U.S. entered WWII. Variants of the P-40 were widely used by the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Units during the war, where they were known as "Tomahawks." Although outclassed as high-altitude fighter early in its career, the Warhawk could give a good account of itself at low altitude, and did excellent work as a ground attack aircraft. The early P-40 Curtiss earned its fame primarily because of the design, the AVG "Flying Tigers" adapted their tactics to utilize the strong points of their aircraft: ruggedness and good diving speed.