The P-40 Warhawk fighter aircraft was used by the United States and a number of other countries during World War II. The initial flight of the P40 took place in October of 1938. On a subsequent prototype flight lasting just under an hour, the aircraft flew about 300 miles, averaging 315 mph. But by December of 1939, improvements made by the Curtiss engineers (Curtiss-Wright was the manufacturers), allowed this WW II P-40 Warhawk aircraft to reach speeds up to 366 mph.
Since the P-40 Warhawk was a mock- up of the previous P-36 Hawk, development and production time were minimized. Thus, the aircraft was quickly made available for military use and service on the front lines continued throughout World War II and spanned across the military forces of over 25 nations.
The engine used on the P-40 made it a mediocre match against the German Messerschmitt in high altitude combat. However, in WWII theaters such as the Southwest where combat at higher elevations was not as significant, the Warhawk played a more vital role. The overall high loss rate for this aircraft was offset by the high number of enemy aircraft it took down during its service. The expense of the aircraft was low enough that once it became outdated for air service, production continued and the WW II P-40 Warhawk continued in service as a ground-attack fighter.
Several variants of this aircraft would emerge over the course of its production. All models used by the United States Army Air Corps were dubbed Warhawk and those used by the British Commonwealth were designated the Tomahawk and Kittyhawk depending on the model of the aircraft.
Over 13,700 P-40 Warhawks were produced during the World War II era. As of 2008, only 19 of these aircrafts are known to be airworthy.