- part 3
by Dan Collier
Attached are some photos of
the P-40 bomb-control quadrant, Type L-21A. It was used on all
P-40s that had wing-mounted bombs, except the P-40N-5,
which had its own design.
Ive seen photos of this
in the P-40 armament manual and it appears that some quads were
cast from aluminum with raised molded part numbers and letters,
and others were stamped from steel with stamped numbers and
letters, such as this one pictured.
Mine is missing the white-on-black
lever selector indicator placard that mounted to the top of
this quad for easy reading by the pilot. Mine is shown mounted
on its pedestal, Curtiss part number 87-70 638 C.
This assembly mounts directly
onto the cockpit floor, which is the top of the wing surface,
and to the left side of the pilot seat. This pedestal does not
sit flat on a flat surface, but is contoured to fit the curvature
of the upper wing surface at the point it is mounted. I hope
that your readers will get some use from the photos.
Whenever I see
a wartime photo of a P-40, my eyes are always drawn to its gunsight.
Ive noticed that there are two gunsight configurations
that usually come up in these photos, and although the P-40s
on an international scale used a few different gunsight models,
this article refers to the two U.S. configurations that were
designed by Curtiss for their exclusive use on the P-40.
Photo #1 is a photo of Robert Lee Scott posing in the cockpit
of his P-40K. It also reveals a perfect profile view of his
gunsight: Curtiss official label for this is, Gunsight
Assembly 87-69-619. It places the N-3A or N-3B gunsight
body in the horizontal position and uses a 90-degree reflector
head. It was used from P-40-D to P-40L models, and in the beginning,
this design had no crash pad, and Ive seen wartime photos
where these gunsights had padding materials crudely wrapped
around them as a field modification.
This same model gunsight was
eventually equipped with the familiar U-shaped rubber crash
pad, as used on the other (later) Curtiss-designed gunsight.
This (Photo 1) is also the same gunsight that is installed in
the P-40E that was recently discovered in the Sahara Desert!
Photo #2 shows
a page from the P-40 armorers manual and this is a good view
of the second gunsight design that was designed for Curtiss
for exclusive use on the P-40s. This design places the
N-3A and N-3B gunsight bodies in a vertical position, and was
equipped with a sunscreen that was mounted on rails and a lever
on the left side of the gunsight mounting yoke would raise and
lower the green sunscreen over the clear reflector glass. This
entire sunscreen and rail assembly was made of plastic, and
sometimes discarded in the fields. This gunsight also had a
U-shaped crash pad. The early crash pads were upholstered, while
most were a form of molded rubberized material. This gunsight
was used from the E models and up to the N models and Curtiss
designated it, Gunsight Assembly 87-69-964. Both
gunsight designs were used by the same P-40 models up to the
L models, and I cannot tell you what would determine which individual
plane got which gunsight.
But sometimes youll see one gunsight model in a P-40E,
for example, and at other times youll see the other in
an E.. Or F, etc.
Photo #3 AND #4
show recent photos of both gunsights next to each other for
comparison..They also include their mounting yokes, attached
to the N-3 gunsight bodies.
Photos #5 and #6
show both gunsights installed in a P-40E panel. Both are very
rare today, and the horizontal one shown in Robert L Scotts
cockpit is by far the most rare. It took me 42 years to find
one! Modelers usually install the vertical design sight in their
models, but Ive only seen one scratch model using the
horizontal design with 90-degree reflector head. This is probably
because very little is known about the horizontal designed gunsight,
and because most wartime photos dont give much detail
on either model.
Photos #7 and #8
are nice photos as well. #8 makes the gunsight look oversize
because I was too close to it when I took this photo. Sorry
Because less is
known about the horizontal gunsight with 90-degree head, Im
attaching more random photos to show it from more angles. Photo
#9 shows a nice profile shot, and Photo #10 shows the N-3A placard
positioned at the top of the gunsight and this caused complaints
from the pilots about the reflective glare that this caused
to their front windscreen panel. This placard was then relocated
to the side of the gunsight body to eliminate the reflective
Photo #11 shows
the horizontal gunsight illuminated image as seen through the
90-degree reflector head.
Photos from #12
to #16 are more random photos.