After seeing the Flitetest Swappable Spitfire, and the Swappable Bf 109E and P-51D by Ultramicrobe, I wondered whether you could make a Swappable P-40. Having some foam board on hand, I thought I would give it a try.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk (Tomahawk and Kittyhawk in RAF nomenclature) was the front line fighter for the US Army Air Force at the beginning of WWII. Although some considered the P-40 obsolete at the beginning of the war, in the right hands she proved to a formidable fighter and served in most theaters of combat with most Allied air forces throughout the war. The Warhawk / Tomahawk / Kittyhawk gained fame with the RAF Desert Air Force in North Africa (No. 112 Squadron being the first to put the shark mouth on the P-40.) and the American Volunteer Group “Flying Tigers” in the China-Burma-India Theater (Who made the shark mouth famous.). By war’s end, she would be the third most-produced American fighter.
During the filming of the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, the P-40 used in the film would bank over my house, her Allison engine roaring, as she headed back to Pearl Harbor – an absolutely beautiful sight.
Following Ultramicrobe’s lead and suggestions, I downloaded the FT Swappable Spitfire plans, planning to use as much of the plans as possible, especially where two parts meet. I then downloaded off the internet diagrams of the P-40E Warhawk and scaled them up to the Spitfire plans for the necessary alterations.
The fuselage stayed almost unchanged. However, the one distinctive profile feature of the Warhawk is the large coolant radiator under her chin. This was traced onto the Flitetest fuselage plans. Other changes included changing the profiles of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, straightening out the Spitfire’s elliptical wings to match those of the Warhawk and adding in P-40 wingtips, all of which were drawn onto the Spitfire plans.
The build was otherwise straightforward following the Flitetest plans and video. Parts joined just like the Spitfire. The only changes to the build were adding signature P-40 details: A bottom piece under the chin to emphasize the chin radiator (secured by hot glue at the rear and with magnets in the front to open to allow battery access); adding the Allison engine carburetor air scoop on the nose; adding the spine down the center of the fuselage belly; and adding the two landing gear door bulges under the wings. The electronics are the Flitetest recommended “The Beef” set up from Hobbyking.
After applying Minwax, I painted her rattle can olive on the top and neutral gray on the underside to match the USAAF color scheme for late 1941 through 1942. The P-40E was the version used in this timeframe to replace the P-40B’s and P-40C’s lost in the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. Decals were made using PowerPoint and OfficeMax adhesive 8 ½ X 11 label paper, protected with an overspray of rattle can clear matte finish, and finished off with a light buffing with superfine steel wool.
As with the FT Spitfire, the CG is over the wing spar. Unlike the FT Spitfire, mine turned out to be tail heavy with a Hobbyking 1300 mAh 3S battery up front, probably because I had to use the heavier Office Depot foam board since Dollar Tree foam board is not available in Hawaii. Rather than add dead weight, I have opted to go with the larger 2200 mAh 3S, which is on order, so I cannot give you a flight report at this time.
If anyone else builds a Swappable Warhawk, I would love to see your work. Big thanks are owed to David Windestål for the original design and Ultramicrobe for the Bf 109E and P-51D alteration suggestions, tips and inspiration.