Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk


The RNZAF operated approximately 300 P-40's of various models (E, K, L, M, N) between 1942 and 1946. Of these 293 aircraft were assigned serials aircraft. The aircraft were assigned to No's 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 Fighter SQNs, and No's 2 and 4 (F) OTU. Only 14 thru 19 SQNs flew P40's in the Pacific, carrying out offensive and defensive fighter operations, bomber escort, and dive-bombing duties. A total of 99 Japanese aircraft were destroyed in the air, with 14 probables recorded. The P-40 began to be replaced in front line duties by F4U-1a's from 1944. 20 P-40's were lost in combat, and a further 152 in accidents in New Zealand and overseas. The remainder were sold for scrap in 1948.

Identifying the aircraft used by the RNZAF has created some problems for researchers. Many of the aircraft were assigned from US units operating in the Pacific and some aircraft were lost before officially being taken on charge. (For example, 23 aircraft were received by 15 Squadron from the 68th Pursuit Squadron at Fua'motu in Tonga in October 1942. After being moved to Santo in February 1943, only 10 aircraft were left to be returned to New Zealand). It is not clear how many such aircraft were involved but at least five such P-40Es and one P-40K have been identified The official serials range shows:

The changes in model within the serials shows the manner in which the aircraft were issued. The lone P-40L was delivered to New Zealand by mistake and sunsequently returned to the US. All the E models were from RAF contracts and as such have RAF serials in addition to their US serials.

Six ex-RNZAF P-40's survive:

A number of other P-40's have been imported into New Zealand for restoration. These include:

Two other P-40 aircraft have spent time in New Zealand in recent years. P-40N 42-105306 was formerly at Pioneer Aero Restorations Ltd, and is now in California with Chris Prevost. The other aircraft was P-40K-5 ZK-PXL (c/n 21117, ex 42-9733, N4363) which was operated by the Alpine Fighter Collection (illustrated below) More information about this aircraft can be found here. The aircraft suffered a major mishap on Sunday 26th October, 1997 when it was being flown on a practice flight by Phil Murray (one of the regular pilots). Engine problems occurred about a mile and a half from the airfield. Phil attempted to return to the airfield but didn't have enough height to clear trees (50ft plus) near the end of the runway on the run in, so he put the aircraft down in a lucerne field. The aircraft was substantially damaged (particularly the fuselage), but fortunately the pilot walked away. The NZ registration was cancelled on March 24, 1998. Put up for tender by the insurers, the aircraft was sold to Dick Thurman of Kentucky. The aircraft was restored in New Zealand by Pioneer AvSpecs (flying again on April 7, 2000), and subsequently displayed at Wanaka in 2000. The aircraft now registered as NX4436J was then shipped to the United States where it won the Reserve Grand Champion WWII Warbird award at Oshkosh.

Of interest is the number of aircraft listed as being with Pioneer Aero Restorations Ltd. This company had its origins in the early1990's when Jim Pavitt & Charles Darby set up a 'one stop' P-40 restoration facilty in East Tamaki as Pacific Aviation Ltd. When Pacific Aircraft stopped trading in June 1997, Garth Hogan picked up the premises, staff, and equipment to create Pioneer Aircraft Restorations Ltd. The company moved premises from Tamaki to Ardmore at the start of 2001. The company works in close association with Warren Denholm's AvSpecs Ltd. This formerly Rotorua based company has also recently relocated to Ardmore. The joint venture received a 'Golden Wrench' award from Oshkosh in 2001 for their work on restoring Dick Thurman's P-40K.

Note: I have used the term Kittyhawk in regard to P-40s in New Zealand as this is the name by which the aircraft was known in Commonwealth service. Hence it is the common name used for the type in this country.

Last Text Update:- 16 November, 2001
Last Picture Update:- 28 March, 2003

Technical Data

Data is for the long tail P40K


NZ3009 - MoTaT 1991 NZ3009 - MoTaT 1991 Nose on - NZ3009 at Ardmore NZ3009 at Ardmore taxying Ohakea NZ3009 - static Wanaka NZ3009 -takeoff Wanaka NZ3009 - landing Wanaka NZ3009 - startup Wanaka NZ3009 - taxying Wanaka hanger - Duxford hanger - Duxford hanger - Duxford nose on view - airshow 1992 side view  - airshow 1992 side view - airshow 1992 flyby  - airshow 1992 flyby  - airshow 1992 side view - airshow 1995 side view - airshow 1995 taxying - airshow 1995 touch down - airshow 1995 taxying - airshow 1995 NZ3028 - MoTaT 1996 NZ3028 - MoTaT 1996 NZ3119 - North Shore NZ3119 - North Shore fuselage - RNZAF museum wings - RNZAF museum

Close Up

Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft! Most of these pictures were taken at Ardmore on January 21st 1998 and feature airworthy P-40E NZ3009. The cockpit photos were obtained at the AFC hanger in April 1998. The remainder of the pictures are of P-40E NZ3039 which is on static display at MoTaT.

spinner and intakes tail section port main gear (front view ) port wheel well port main gear (rear view) underside - cooling flaps intakes - from front engine - starboard side underside - from starboard
starboard undercarriage starboard undercarriage fuselage interior cockpit
cockpit cockpit markings

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