Perhaps the most publicized use of the P-40B was by the Flying Tigers. Officially known as the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers were a unit of the Republic of China Air Force composed of U.S. volunteer aviators. The Flying Tigers developed the 'boom and zoom' tactics to minimize the weaknesses of the P-40 (inability to out turn a Zero at slow speeds), and maximize its strength (higher dive speed).
The P-40 was a very sturdy, well armed plane with a good roll rate.
Compared to later piston engine fighters, the P-40's maximum speed was pretty slow (360mph for the P-40E). It was heavily armed though, carrying six 0.50 cal machine guns.
Seen mostly on P-40s, the 'sharkmouth' paintscheme has come to symbolize the Warhawk.
Surprisingly, the P-40 could outturn a Zero given sufficient altitude and speed. If the airspeed was above 275mph, the P-40 could out roll a Zero; but below that, the Zero's big ailerons allowed it better manuverability.
Click play below to hear a pair of P40s flying by
Before going on to lead the Black Sheep Squadron, Gregory Boyington flew the P-40 with the Flying Tigers.
Early experiences fighting the Japanese with the P-40 in China gave the Americans insight as how best to fight them when war broke out. The resultant tactics allowed the Allies to first gain parity, then complete air superiority with the introduction of more advanced fighters. Here's another shot showing the agressive sharkmouth of the P-40.
After America entered the war, the Flying Tigers were integrated into the USAAF as the 23rd Fighter group, where they continued to fly P-40s till the end of the war. The P-40s were able to establish air superiority over Burma and China, and never gave it up.
P-40s took part in an engagement in the Mediterranean Theater known as 'Palm Sunday Massacre'. Acting on the tip from an intercepted decoded Ultra signal, 4 Squadrons of P-40 plus a small number of Spitfires (totally 80 fighters) intercepted 65 Ju 52s, and their 8 BF-109 escorts. 52 of the Junker transports and all the Me 109 fighters were shot down, with the loss of 6 Allied aircraft.
In addition to the U.S., P-40s were used by Australians, Canadians, and the Soviets.
A parting shot of the P-40 landing with a Wilcat in the background.