The P-40 was not the fastest fighter and nobody ever claimed it was the best. But it had one priceless advantage over all the others -- it was available when needed most. On December 7, 1941, P-40s were the most effective US aircraft to get airborne at Pearl Harbor. Just two pilots -- Lts. George Welch and Ken Taylor -- shot down seven attackers between them. Shortly thereafter, the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers," made history and headlines flying P-40s in China. Throughout the war, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Russia also flew the Curtiss fighter.
First flown in 1939, the P-40 was kept in production until 1944 with nearly 15,000 of all models delivered. The British called it the Tomahawk (B and C models) and Kittyhawk (D and E models) while the F through R versions were known as Warhawks in U.S. service.
The Museum's Warhawk may have the lowest flight time of any surviving warbird. It was flown directly from the Curtiss factory in Buffalo, NY, to storage near Tucson, Arizona in 1945, with only 60 hours of total flight time. It was later put on display in Griffith Park in Los Angeles for a number of years, until noted movie pilot Frank Tallman acquired it and loaned the fighter to the San Diego Aerospace Museum. Doug Champlin purchased the P-40 from the museum in 1972 and had it fully restored by Dick Martin at Carlsbad, California in 1979.
The markings are typical of the Chinese-American Composite Wing circa 1944. The plane was named after O'Reilly's Daughter, a popular Army Air Forces drinking song.