The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was a U.S.-built fighter aircraft of the 1930s. A contemporary of the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first fighters of the new generation - sleek monoplanes with extensive use of metal in construction and powerful piston engines. Obsolete at the onset of World War II and best known as the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40, the P-36 saw only limited combat with the United States Army Air Forces but was extensively used by the French Air Force and also by British Commonwealth and Chinese air units. Several dozen also fought in the Finnish Air Force against the Soviet Red Air Force. With around 1,000 aircraft built, the P-36 was a major commercial success for Curtiss.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a P-36 Hawk was flown by Philip Rasmussen when he helped to defend Pearl Harbor from aerial attack on December 7th, 1941. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 9-1/4 inches
Length: 8 inches
Release Date: August 2008
Historical Account: "Defiance" - Philip M. Rasmussen was an Army Air Corps second lieutenant assigned to the 46th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Field on the island of Oahu during the Japanese attack on December 7th, 1941. He was one of the few American pilots to get into the air that day.
Rasmussen was awarded a Silver Star for his actions. He flew many later combat missions, including a bombing mission over Japan that earned him an oak leaf cluster.
On the morning of December 7th, Lt. Rasmussen had awakened in his barracks, when, looking out a window, he saw a group of Japanese airplanes dropping bombs on the field. He strapped his .45 caliber pistol to the outside of his pajamas and ran to get an airplane. (A reproduction of the scene is the opening exhibit of the World War II section of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.)
Most of the planes were destroyed, but Lt. Rasmussen found an unscathed P-36 Hawk and taxied it to a revetment where he had it loaded with ammunition. During a lull in the bombing, he took off with three other pilots. They received orders by radio to fly to Kaneohe Bay on the north-east side of the island.
The American pilots subsequently engaged 11 Japanese aircraft. Despite having a jammed .30 caliber gun and only limited capability with his .50 caliber gun, Lt. Rasmussen managed to shoot down a Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Several other Japanese pilots instantly attacked, including one who was having mechanical trouble and - thinking himself doomed - tried to ram him. (The Japanese pilot made it back to his aircraft carrier and survived the war.)
Rasmussen's plane was badly damaged, so he dove into a cloud to escape a dangerous maneuver considering the mountainous terrain. He returned to Wheeler Field, where he landed with no brakes, rudder, or tailwheel. Oral accounts of the number of bullet holes in the plane vary, but most give a figure of about 500.