Warhawk, Kittyhawk II
In order to improve the Merlin-powered
Warhawk's performance in short-range combat, the P-40L version
The P-40L (Model 87-B3) was
basically a "stripped" version of the Merlin-powered
P-40F-5-CU, in which 250 pounds of weight was saved by the partial
removal of fuel, armament, and other equipment. The P-40L was
otherwise virtually identical to the Merlin-powered P-40F-5-CU.
Some of the P-40L production blocks featured planes with reduced
armament and smaller capacity fuel tanks in order to obtain
even more reduced weight and even better performance. The L-model
was sometimes known as the "Gipsy Rose Lee", after
the famous strip-tease dancer of the time.
The P-40L-1-CU had the same
fuel and armament as the P-40F.
The P-40L-5-CU and subsequent
P-40Ls had two of their wing guns removed to reduce the total
armament to four 0.50-inch machine guns with 201 rounds per
gun. Internal fuel was reduced by 31 Imp gal by the removal
of front wing tanks.
The P-40L-10-CU had electrical
aileron trim tabs and engine control changes.
The P-40L-15-CU had revised
carburetor air filters and inter-aircraft signal lights.
The P-40L-20-CU had radio and
electrical changes and provisions for an incendiary (destruct)
Despite the weight savings,
the maximum speed of the P-40L was a mere 4 mph greater than
that of the P-40F at rated altitude.
One hundred P-40Ls were sent
to Britain as Kittyhawk IIs with no mark distinctions from the
P-40Fs. The RAF serials for the P-40Ls were FS400/FS499. 160
other P-40Ls reached the RAF as Kittyhawk IIIs. Their serials
were FL714/FL730, FR116/FR140, FR385/FR392, and FR413/FR521.
A certain number of P-40Ls were
selected at random and were withdrawn from operational service
and modified with the adoption of the 1360 hp Allison V-1710-81
engine in place of the original Merlin. These were used as advanced
trainers. They were redesignated P-40R-2. At least 53 P-40L-->P-40R
conversions took place which can be identified by serial number,
but there were probably many more.
The P-40Ls were originally assigned
the serial numbers 42-65202/65901. These numbers were cancelled
and were replaced as follows:
42-10430/10479 Curtiss P-40L-1-CU
42-10480/10699 Curtiss P-40L-5-CU Warhawk
42-10700/10847 Curtiss P-40L-10-CU Warhawk
42-10848/10959 Curtiss P-40L-15-CU Warhawk
42-10960/11129 Curtiss P-40L-20-CU Warhawk
42-11130/11676 Curtiss P-40L-25-CU Warhawk - contract cancelled
42-14237/14296 Curtiss P-40L-30-CU Warhawk -- contract cancelled.
War Planes of the Second World
War, Fighters, Volume Four, William Green, Doubleday, 1964.
The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci
and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.
United States Military Aircraft
since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian
Institution Press, 1989.
Curtiss Aircraft, 1907-1947,
Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1979.
The Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk, Ray
Wagner, Aircraft in Profile, Volume 2, Doubleday, 1965.