The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an all metal, single-engine, single-seat fighter and ground-attack
aircraft that made its maiden flight in 1938. Since the P-40 was a modified P-36 Hawk it was
developed quickly and entered service in record time. The USAAF referred to the aircraft as the
Warhawk while the British Commonwealth and the Soviet Union called the B and C variants
Tomahawk while the D and later variants were called Kittyhawk. By the end of production in 1944
approximately 18,000 aircraft were manufactured.
In July 1941 Robert Tharp Smith (nickname Tadpole) resigned his USAAF commission to fly with
the AVG (American Volunteer Group) known as the Flying Tigers. The Flying Tigers were divided
into three squadrons with Smith’s 3rd Squadron named "Hell's Angels". R.T. Smith’s first victory
came on December 23, 1941 flying P-40B #77 (AVG referred to the aircraft as P-40B). In 1942
Smith received P-40B #47 from the 2nd Squadron and by June 1942 had scored 8.7 victories.
The AVG is credited with 299 air victories and 153 destroyed on the ground.