Precision Aerospace Productions'
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
by Brett Green
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
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My wife Debbie and myself drove out of Sydney last Thursday afternoon on the
way to the Melbourne Model Expo 2004. Melbourne is a 900km drive from our place,
so we decided to break the journey after 6 hours at Albury.
Earlier the same week, Rodger Kelly had mentioned to me that a company in
Wangaratta was restoring a P-40 Warhawk and a P-39 Airacobra. Wangaratta is just
off the Freeway 40 minutes south of Albury, so I decided to drop in and see if I
might get a few photos of the P-40.
On Friday morning we arrived at Wangaratta Airport's large hangar, which is
now the home to Precision Aerospace Productions. This facility is not normally
open to the public but the owner kindly ushered us in.
I was expecting to see Kittyhawk parts strewn on the floor being prepared for
assembly. Instead, we were treated to the sight of a beautifully restored P-40N
Warhawk in the familiar colours of the US 49th Fighter Group.
After an hour of photographing airframe details, the owner of the facility,
Murray, invited me to step into the cockpit. How could I refuse? While I was
seated in the cockpit, Murray hooked the Warhawk up to the back of his ute and
towed the aircraft out of the hangar into the bright sunshine of the airfield.
What a thrill!
This short, slow ride helped me appreciate how difficult it must be for the
pilot to handle the Warhawk on the ground. With its nose-high attitude, forward
visibility through the windscreen is effectively zero. The pilot needs to spend
a lot of time with his head stuck out the side of the open cockpit in order to
successfully negotiate the tarmac.
Murray ambled over to the side of the aircraft. "You look like you want to
take her for a test flight", he said.
"I have a couple of hours on a Link Trainer", I replied hopefully.
"That should do it".
I reluctantly climbed out of the cockpit and jumped to the ground. Murray
asked if we wanted to hang around for a little while, as he was going to take
the P-40 for a test flight. After a nanosecond of deliberation we decided to
Murray installed himself in the cockpit and conducted his pre-flight check.
The electric starter whined and the engine coughed into life. A wisp of white
smoke was ejected from the exhausts and within seconds the big Allison
powerplant was thrumming loudly and smoothly.
Murray navigated the veteran fighter aircraft around the tarmac taxiways of
Wangaratta Airport, then turned onto the grass verge to make way for an incoming
Yak-50 aerobatic plane. With the Yak out of the way, the big Allison engine
roared in response to the throttle and the Warhawk quickly built up momentum
along the runway.
The sight and sound of this fighter taking to the perfect azure sky was truly
unforgettable. This was a display of grace and grunt; of fine form and
technology; of history and hard work; all rolled into the unmistakable profile
of the P-40.
Even my long-suffering wife, who resists interest in any aspect of
aviation, was suitably impressed.
Photos were taken with my Nikon Coolpix 5700 digital camera.
Click here to
see a 4:28 minute video of this P-40 taxiing, taking off and in flight (file
size approx. 5 Mb)
Debbie and I are very grateful to
Murray, Anna and the staff at
Precision Aerospace Productions for their hospitality and assistance.
|P-40 Warhawk Aces of the
Aircraft of the Aces 55
Author: Carl Molesworth
Illustrator: Jim Laurier
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
June 20, 2003
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841765368
Text & Images Copyright ©
2004 by Brett Green
Page Created 09 March, 2004
19 April, 2004
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