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P-40 Warhawk Wing Star - pre-1941 Hawaii

Started by Quest Master , Apr 17 2011 03:53 PM

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#1 Quest Master

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 03:53 PM

I've posted this on another forum, but I wanted to post it here too to try to get some additional information. I recently obtained this P-40 wing star that was said to have come from Hawaii. The star is from the underside of the right wing and has had the "meatball" red center painted out:
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The star was carefully removed with every rivet being drilled out. The aluminum bars shown on the rear of the star were added by me just to hold it together.

So, my question here is: What block of production was the red center deleted on the P-40? I am trying to calculate IF this could be from a December 7th 1941 Hawaii P-40.....and then, possibly...what aircraft it came from. The red center was obviously painted out AFTER December 7th 1941....but was this aircraft there on the day of the attack. It was obviously removed with great care for some reason! Fire away!!!

#2 craig johnson

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 05:24 PM

Im doing A&P work right now but I did work in the sheet metal shop for around ten years. I would say the reason it might have been removed with great care was to replace the skin and not damage the structure below so the skin could be replaced.

#3 Cobrahistorian

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:10 PM

I've posted this on another forum, but I wanted to post it here too to try to get some additional information. I recently obtained this P-40 wing star that was said to have come from Hawaii. The star is from the underside of the right wing and has had the "meatball" red center painted out:
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The star was carefully removed with every rivet being drilled out. The aluminum bars shown on the rear of the star were added by me just to hold it together.

So, my question here is: What block of production was the red center deleted on the P-40? I am trying to calculate IF this could be from a December 7th 1941 Hawaii P-40.....and then, possibly...what aircraft it came from. The red center was obviously painted out AFTER December 7th 1941....but was this aircraft there on the day of the attack. It was obviously removed with great care for some reason! Fire away!!!


Van,

That's a great piece of history there!

More than likely you're looking at the wing panels of a P-40B/C, but it could be from a D or E. I haven't seen any later than an E model with the "meatball". Since it is painted out, it is safe to assume that it was on an airframe later than 7 December 1941. The Army Air Force issued a directive on 12 May 1942, eliminating the red center of the national insignia. By June 1943, the bars were added to the star in circle, so you're looking at roughly a three year period that this was on an operational aircraft (1940-43).

Next step would be to see which P-40 units were stationed on Hawaii during that window. These are the units that were on Hawaii on 7 December.

15th Pursuit Group, Wheeler

45th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
15 Curtiss P-36A Hawks

46th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
21 Curtiss P-36A Hawks
5 Curtiss P-40Bs

47th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), Wheeler Field
11 Curtiss P-40Bs
2 Curtiss P-36A Hawks
2 Curtiss P-40Cs

18th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), Wheeler Field


6th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
16 Curtiss P-40Bs

19th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
15 Curtiss P-40Bs
3 Curtiss P-40Cs

44th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field

9 Curtiss P-40Bs
7 Curtiss P-40Cs

73d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
13 Curtiss P-40Bs

78th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), Wheeler Field
16 Curtiss P-40Bs

I'll see if I can find more information as to units that came to Hawaii after 7 December. Also, remember, the P-36 and P-40 shared a common wing, so it could easily have come off of a P-36 too.

Just awesome stuff!

Jon

#4 Quest Master

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 06:56 PM

Craig,
Interesting! I hadn't thought of that. The oxidation to the aluminum is minimal, which doesn't indicate that it was from a recent crash site....it does have fading and age, but I hadn't considered that it was removed for repair. Interesting. I'll chew on that one.

Cobrahistorian,
Before we get into squadrons, I'd like to first bracket this individual aircraft history. As for the P-36/P-40 aspect, on the other thread that this is on, it was shown that the P-36 did not have the same access hole in the top corner of my section on the wing of the P-36. It did have the hole on the left side, but not on the right. Again, I don't have an early P-36 or P-40 sitting outside to compare it to, but let's assume at this point that this wing star is from a P-40. Maybe we can prove or disprove it on this thread. You know what they say about assumptions....makes an rump out of you and sumption. :rolleyes:

Now, looking at what we have here to bracket the time frame....this star came from a P-40 that was painted with the "meatball" in the center of the star. From this we can determine the original production date of the aircraft. The red center was deleted at some exact point (May of 1942?). What contract number or group of aircraft was this done on? Could this aircraft has been present during the attack on December 7th 1941 on Hawaii, and then served afterward? Step two, the star was painted out, which indicates that this aircraft survived December 7th 1941 and saw further service after production when official guideline said to remove the "meatball", and it was painted over. Lastly, it was removed for some reason....why? Was it because this was a historic aircraft.....the person that removed it had some tie to the aircraft....or just because it was "cool". There is obvious damage in the center of the star....from scrapping....from salvage....or repair.

How many P-40s were produced with the meatball prior to the elimination of this marking and on what date? From this, we can work linearly backward and forward to figure out where this aircraft fits.

Thanks for the help fellas!!!!

#5 Cobrahistorian

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:20 PM

Ah, ok, see now I've learned something about the P-36!

My hunch is it is from a P-40, so we're talking a lot of airfames that it could be from. Serial number blocks for P-40s up to May 1942 are as follows:

39-156 to 39-289 - P-40, 133 airframes
40-292 to 40-357 - P-40, 65 airframes
40-359 to 40-381 - P-40D, 22 airframes
40-382 to 40-681 - P-40E, 299 airframes
41-4205 to 41-5304 - P-40B, 99 airframes
41-5305 to 41-5744 - P-40E, 439 airframes
41-13297 to 41-16103 - P-40B 2806 airframes
41-13328 to 13520 were originally contracted as B models but were built as P-40Cs. (I've got the data plate from 41-13333)
41-13521 to 41-13599 - P-40E 78 airframes

The next production block starts with 41-13600, the first P-40F. I haven't seen any evidence of any Merlin-engined P-40s serving in the Pacific. Plus, those airframes contracted for in 1941 more than likely would not have been built until 1942 and more than likely would not have served with the "meatball" national insignia on the airframe.

So, we're looking at one of nearly four thousand airplanes it could be from. Now, we can narrow that down considerably by looking at those airframes that actually served on Hawaii from 1939 through 1942, more than likely fewer than 300 airframes. Narrowing it down from there will take some figuring where exactly it was obtained from, the circumstances of its crash (damage to the skin is indicative thereof) and whether or not the airframe became a CL-26 maintenance trainer or was left as a derelict.

Lots of variables, but there's a lot of potential to figure out more!

Jon

Edited by Cobrahistorian, 17 April 2011 - 07:21 PM.


#6 Cobrahistorian

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 07:30 PM

The crash damage looks like the pilot ground looped and dragged a wingtip. It definitely looks like the skin was removed and replaced. Perhaps someone decided to keep it as a memento. It may or may not be one of these, but here are the P-40s that had ground loop accidents in the Territory of Hawaii in the time period discussed:

410415 P-40B 41-5256 78PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Mace, Wallace P. HI Mooring Mast Field, Cahu, THI

410421 P-40B 41-5214 6PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 4 Connor, Ingram C. HI Wheeler Field, THI

410512 P-40C 41-13330 44PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Greco, J A L HI Wheeler Field, THI

410602 P-40B 41-5253 78PS Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Thomas, Julian E HI Old Wheeler Field, THI

410609 P-40B 41-5228 19PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Potts, Francis M HI Bellows Field, THI

Edited by Cobrahistorian, 18 April 2011 - 04:55 AM.


#7 Quest Master

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:44 AM

410415 P-40B 41-5256 78PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Mace, Wallace P. HI Mooring Mast Field, Cahu, THI
410421 P-40B 41-5214 6PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 4 Connor, Ingram C. HI Wheeler Field, THI
410512 P-40C 41-13330 44PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Greco, J A L HI Wheeler Field, THI
410602 P-40B 41-5253 78PS Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Thomas, Julian E HI Old Wheeler Field, THI
410609 P-40B 41-5228 19PI 18PI Wheeler Field, THI GL 3 Potts, Francis M HI Bellows Field, THI

Is the first block of data "410415" the date? If so.....this star couldn't be from any of these aircraft, as the star "meatball" was painted out presumably after 1941.....most likely the early part of 1942. But these are the details that will prove/disprove and "bracket" the time frame for this wing star. Awesome work Cobrahistorian!

#8 Cobrahistorian

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 07:02 AM

Is the first block of data "410415" the date? If so.....this star couldn't be from any of these aircraft, as the star "meatball" was painted out presumably after 1941.....most likely the early part of 1942. But these are the details that will prove/disprove and "bracket" the time frame for this wing star. Awesome work Cobrahistorian!


Hmmm... are you sure it was painted out and hasn't just been worn away/faded? Looking at the scouring pattern on the underside, it seems to indicate a ground loop too.

#9 Quest Master

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 07:55 AM

If you look at pictures 4,5 and 6 you can see the variation in white paint (it is much clearer in real life) and the horizontal brush strokes of the applied white over paint.

I had some question if this was a crash recovered star (meaning recent) or a wartime removed star based on the collected oil/dirt stain on the one corner of the reverse of the wing section. That stain would indicate recent removal if the skin was still attached to a full wing. On other parts that I have personally recovered in Hawaii (not this wing star) there was much more oxidation after 60 years of exposure then on this skin section. The holes where the rivets were removed show patina, which does indicate earlier removal vice recent.

All interesting angles!!!

Edited by Quest Master, 18 April 2011 - 07:57 AM.


#10 Quest Master

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:53 PM

So, I looked up the serials in my big book of wartime AAF aircraft contract costs based on what you specified and was hoping to see something significant that stood out:
RP-40 39-156 to 39-289 (133 airframes) and RP-40 40-292 to 40-357 (65 airframes) were built under contract AC-12414 @ $51,538 per aircraft.
P-40B 41-5205 to 41-5304 (99 airframes), 41-13297 to 41-13327 and P-40C 41-13328 to 41-13520 were built under contract AC-15802 @ $55,365, $57,692 and $57,817 respectively.
PR-40D 40-359, P-40D 40-361 to 40-381 (22 airframes), P-40E 40-352 and P-40E 40-382 to 40-681 (299 airframes) were built under contract AC-12414 @ $53,054 per aircraft.
P-40E 41-5305 to 41-5744 (439 airframes) were built under contract AC-15802 @ $57,817 per aircraft
P-40E 41-13521 to 41-13599 (78 airframes) were built under contract AC-15802-1 @ $57,818 ($1 more!) per aircraft

Note * you list: P-40B 41-13297 to 41-16103 (2806 airframes). This book does not show a contract for the P-40B past 41-13520. So I have no data for these until the PR-40D 40-359 listed above.

You state "The next production block starts with 41-13600, the first P-40F." My book shows production after P-40E 41-13599:
P-40E 41-24776 to 41-25195 and 41-35874 to 41-36953 under contract DA-AC-3 @ $77,340 per aircraft. "DA" I presume stands for Defense Aid, which is what we know as "Lend Lease". I think it is interesting that the cost skyrocketed! Can we say "mark up price"!!!!
Then:
P-40F 41-13600 to 41-13695 under contract AC-15802 @ $65,907 per aircraft.

So, just adding a few more details.....not that it will helps right now. Thanks for the great work! We'll see if we can narrow this down.

#11 buz

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 04:55 PM

QuestMaster

Could I ask where you got your Prices for the P-40's contracts please. The Prices quoted seem to be inconsistent with other major sources of information.

Regards

Buz

#12 buz

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 05:22 PM

The next production block starts with 41-13600, the first P-40F. I haven't seen any evidence of any Merlin-engined P-40s serving in the Pacific. Plus, those airframes contracted for in 1941 more than likely would not have been built until 1942 and more than likely would not have served with the "meatball" national insignia on the airframe.

Jon


Hi Jon

The P-40F did indeed serve in the Pacific both on Hawaii and in Action with the 68FS and 44FS.

The Early Curtiss P-40 did have the Meatballs, as did the D and E models. There were also some F and Early E-1 Models finished with Meatballs, and there is pictorial confirmation for these.

With the White having been painted over the Meatball I believe you are looking for a P-40 B/C/D/E/early E-1 or early F model accident at Hawaii sometime after April 1942. I wish you good luck with than endeavor because that will be a major bit of work. I say this because I have a great many accidents on my records for Hawaiian based P-40's, and also I know that a large number of small accidents were never reported. Just for the 12 P-40C models there is 7 reported accidents, and so far up to 6 unconfirmed accidents (dragged wingtips etc).

Buz

Edited by buz, 16 July 2011 - 05:34 PM.


#13 Cobrahistorian

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 05:27 AM

Hi Jon

The P-40F did indeed serve in the Pacific both on Hawaii and in Action with the 68FS and 44FS.

The Early Curtiss P-40 did have the Meatballs, as did the D and E models. There were also some F and Early E-1 Models finished with Meatballs, and there is pictorial confirmation for these.

With the White having been painted over the Meatball I believe you are looking for a P-40 B/C/D/E/early E-1 or early F model accident at Hawaii sometime after April 1942. I wish you good luck with than endeavor because that will be a major bit of work. I say this because I have a great many accidents on my records for Hawaiian based P-40's, and also I know that a large number of small accidents were never reported. Just for the 12 P-40C models there is 7 reported accidents, and so far up to 6 unconfirmed accidents (dragged wingtips etc).

Buz


Buz,

Welcome aboard and thanks very much for helping out! I was totally unaware of F models serving in the Pacific, so thank you for that information. This one's been quite a puzzle and definitely looks like a dragged wingtip more than anything.

Jon

#14 GPyleUSMC

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 04:43 PM

That is one cool piece of aviation history you have there! I'd love to have something like that to hang on the wall.


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