Curtiss Tomahawk Mk.IIB: Perfecting the Imperfect

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Curtiss H-81A-3 Tomahawk Mk.IIB

Hello and welcome to my suggestion for the next and Iteration of the Curtiss H-81 (aka P-40) in British service, this version being equivalent to the H-81A-3 variant. I feel this could come to game to provide an interesting multirole fighter to diversify the rather lackluster Rank 1 and 2 of the British tree.

History

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The P-40 line of aircraft is an often forgotten about part of the RAFs history, often overshadowed by the more famous domestic designs like the Spitfire or the Hurricane, but the Tomahawk played just as important a role in the war as its more famous counterparts. The first Tomahawks (see my Mk.I and Mk.IIA suggestions) had suffered from some serious drawbacks, and whilst the Mk.IIA had marginally fixed these issues, there were still creases that needed to be ironed out, that’s where the improved H-81A-3 design came in.

As the War in the desert began to heat up, the RAF was impressed with the performance of the Tomahawks in the desert, they were massive steps up in performance from the Gloster Gladiators that had been used before and proved effective in both air combat against everything bar the new German Bf 109F series fighters and in ground combat strafing Axis fuel convoys essential to their offensives across North Africa. Because of this a new order was placed for an even further improved version of the Tomahawk to finally fix the issues that plagued the previous variants.

This lead to the Creation of the Tomahawk Mk.IIB variant, based on the H-81A-3 model it was roughly equivalent to the US P-40C in performance however featured several upgrades and design differences from its predecessors. Whilst the previous Mk.IIA variant had added the much needed Self sealing fuel tanks, it was extremely temperamental, leading to the RAF changing the externally sealing system of the Mk.IIA to a more reliable internally sealing system for this new variant, this new variant also allowed for the use of a 52 gal. drop tank which significantly improved the tomahawks combat range. The subsequent order placed was the largest of its type for the RAF with 930 aircraft being ordered in four lots, being issued the serials AH991 - AH999, AK100 - AK570, AM370 - AM519 and AN218 - AN517 although several units never made it to the UK due to German U-boat efforts in the Atlantic.

The Tomahawks that did make it to the UK however were sent directly to North Africa to bolster the Squadrons based there, where they became almost legendary due to the sheer amount of punishment the airframe could take, making it ideal for the harsh conditions of North Africa where spare parts were not always readily available.

The Mk.IIB didn’t only gain fame in British service though, after the German invasion of the USSR in 1941, 195 units were shipped off to the USSR where they served on both the Moscow and Leningrad fronts to varying degrees of success due to the greater prevalence of More powerful Axis fighter designs. Turkey was also a recipient of the Mk.IIBs with an unspecified number of them being sent to bolster their neutrality in November 1941. Finally the Mk.IIB serial number AN400 was captured by Italy in early 1942 and repaired to working condition (see Il_Signor_Regios Italian Mk.IIB post here ) by the Italians however its fate is unknown.

Images

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Ace Sgt Rex Wilson poses with his ground crew for a photo next to his aircraft

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Tomahawk Mk.IIB with its front fuselage removed to access the engine

A disassembled Tomahawk Mk.IIB shortly after delivery to North Africa

A Mk.IIB flying over the english countryside in 1942

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Tomahawk Mk.IIBs of 112 sqn preparing to take off

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Rare colourised photos of 112 sqns Tomahawk Mk.IIBs

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A Mk.IIB on stilts for repairs after a rough belly landing

Specs/Armament

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Crew: 1
Length: 31 ft 8.5 in (9.665 m)
Wingspan: 37 ft 3.5 in (11.367 m)
Height: 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Wing area: 236 sq ft (21.9 sq m)
Airfoil: root: NACA2215; tip :NACA2209
Empty Weight: 2,439 kg (5,376 lbs)
Gross Weight: 3,061 kg (6,748 lbs)
Max Weight: 3207 kg (7070 lbs)
Powerplant: Allison V-1710-33, 12-cylinder V, liquid-cooled, 1,040 hp
Max Speed: 352 mph (566 km/h) at 15,000ft (4,572m)

Armament

Guns:

  • 2 x 12.7mm (.50 cal) Browning Machine guns above the engine
  • 4 x 7.7mm (.303 cal) Browning Machine guns in the wings (2 per wing)

Fuel tanks

  • 1 x 52 gal. drop tank mounted Centreline

Bombs

  • 1 x 250/500 lbs bomb mounted centreline

any other info regarding potential armament would be greatly appreciated!

Place in game

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Personally I feel this would be a strong contender for a 2.3 Fighter for the lower ranks of the British tree, it would provide a unique and different playstyle to the Spitfires and Hurricanes turnfighting gameplay, and would be a testament to the importance this type of aircraft played in the RAFs history.

Gameplay wise it would be a useful aircraft in Ground battles as well as its 12.7mm armament could be a potent weapon against lighter vehicles at that BR range and would also have access to at least 1 500 lbs bomb for heavier targets.

Sources

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Curtiss P-40 Warhawk - Wikipedia
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk variants - Wikipedia
Curtiss Tomahawk
Curtiss Tomahawk
RAF 112 Squadron Photos 1941

+1 (the shark mouth should come standard with the aircraft :D )

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+1

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