Carousel 1 CAR6102 USAAC Curtiss P-40B Warhawk Fighter - 2nd LT. George Welch, DFC, 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7th, 1941 (1:48 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
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-40B Warhawk was flown by legendary ace 2nd LT. George Welch, DFC when he helped to defend Pearl Harbor from aerial attack on December 7th, 1941. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 9-1/4 inches
Length: 8 inches
Historical Account: "In Pursuit" - George Welch, Major (United States), USAF (May 10th, 1918 - October 12th, 1954) was a World War II flying ace, a Medal of Honor nominee, and an experimental aircraft pilot after the war. Welch is best known for allegedly being the first pilot to break the 'sound barrier' (two weeks before Chuck Yeager) in his prototype XP-86 Sabre. However, the flight is generally not recognized as an official record because of a lack of a verifiable speed measurement and the fact that it was done in a dive vs the X-1 doing it in level flight.
After receiving his wings and commission in January, 1941, Welch was posted to the 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, at Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii. At dawn on December 7th, 1941, 2nd Lt. Welch and another pilot, 2nd Lt. Ken Taylor, were coming back from a Christmas dinner and dance party (with big band orchestra) at a roof-top hotel in Waikiki, that ended in an all-night poker game. They were still wearing mess dress when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Welch telephoned an auxiliary strip at Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore to have two Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters prepared for takeoff. He and Taylor immediately drove his Buick at high speed to join the air battle. Taking off with only 30 cal ammo in the wing guns, Welch claimed two kills of Aichi D3A Val dive bombers over Ewa Mooring Mast Field. The first enemy aircraft was only damaged and it made it back to its carrier while the second was finished off by Ken Taylor, shortly before he landed at Wheeler Field to get 50 cal ammo for his two cowl guns. On his second sortie, Welch shot down a Val (which was behind Ken Taylor) and the Val crashed in the community of Wahiawa, then Welch got three Mitsubishi Zero fighters about five miles west of Barbers Point. Both Welch and Taylor were nominated for the Medal of Honor by Gen. Henry H. Arnold, but were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions. The Medal of Honor recommendation was turned down because he had taken off without orders.