Armour Collection B11B628 American Volunteer Group Curtiss P-40E Warhawk Fighter - David Lee "Tex" Hill, "Flying Tigers", China, 1942 (1:48 Scale)
"Flying is hours and hours of boredom sprinkled with a few seconds of sheer terror."
- Greg "Pappy" Boyington
The P-40 was the best known Curtiss-Wright designed airplane of the Second World War. It was also one of the most controversial fighters, vilified by many as being too slow, lacking in maneuverability, having too low a climbing rate, and being largely obsolescent by contemporary standards even before it went into production. The inadequacies of the P-40 were even the subject of a Congressional investigation after the War ended.
While these criticisms were certainly valid, it is also true that the P-40 served its country well, especially in China and Burma, during the opening phase of the War in the Pacific when little else was available to the US Army Air Corps. Along with the P-39 Airacobra, the P-40 was the only American fighter available in quantity to confront the Japanese advance until more modern aircraft could be delivered to frontline squadrons.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a P-40E Warhawk was flown by David Lee "Tex" Hill of the American Volunteer Group ("The Flying Tigers").
Wingspan: 9-1/4 inches
Length: 7-3/4 inches
Historical Account: "Tex" - Hill earned his wings as a U.S. Naval Aviator in 1939 and joined the fleet as a Devastator torpedo bomber pilot before joining a Dauntless dive bomber squadron aboard Ranger. In 1941, he was recruited with other Navy, Army and Marine Corps pilots to join the 1st American Volunteer Group (better known by its later nickname of the Flying Tigers). He learned to fly the P-40 in the AVG training program in Burma, and did well as a fighter pilot in the 2nd Pursuit Squadron (Panda Bear) as a flight leader and then squadron commander, becoming one of the top aces under the tutelage of Claire Chennault.
Hill landed his first kills on January 3, 1942 when he downed two Nates over the Japanese airfield at Tak, Thailand. He shot down two more on January 23rd, and became an ace on the 24th when he shot down a fighter and a bomber over Rangoon. In March, he succeeded Jack Newkirk as Squadron Leader of the Second Squadron. By the time the AVG was disbanded in the summer of 1942, Hill was a double ace, credited with 12 ¼ victories.
On May 7th, 1942, the Japanese Army began building a pontoon bridge across the Salween River, which would allow them to move troops and supplies into China. To stem this tide, 2nd Squadron Leader Hill led a flight of four new P-40Es bombing and strafing into the mile deep gorge. During the next four days, the AVG pilots flew continuous missions into the gorge, effectively neutralizing the Japanese forces. From that day on, the Japanese never advanced farther than the west bank of the Salween. Claire Chennault would later write of these critical missions, "The American Volunteer Group had staved off China's collapse on the Salween."
On Thanksgiving Day 1943, he led a force of 12 B-25s, 10 P-38s, and 8 new P-51s from Saichwan, China, on the first strike against Formosa. The Japanese had 100 bombers and 100 fighters located at Shimchiku Airfield, and the bombers were landing as Hill's force arrived. The enemy managed to get seven fighters airborne, but they were promptly shot down. Forty-two Japanese airplanes were destroyed, and 12 more were probably destroyed in the attack. The American force returned home with no casualties.