This Curtiss N-model P-40 began life in Buffalo, New York, during the summer of 1943. It was one of more that 12,000 P-40s built during World War II by the 40,000 employees at Curtiss. 105861 was shipped to the Army Air Force at San Diego in August, 1943. From California it went to the 5th Air Force in the Southwest Pacific, for further assignment to the 49th Fighter Group in New Guinea for combat duty. The aircraft was used by the 49th for the rest of ’43 and into ’44 to chase the Japanese out of New Guinea and the surrounding islands. As the Japanese retreated northward toward the Philippines, the P-40s were left behind on the jungle airstrips in favor of the longer-ranged P-38s.
|Registration Number||Date of Manufacture|
|Curtiss P-40 “Warhawk”||37 feet 4 inches|
|Overall length:||Empty weight:|
|33 feet 4 inches||6000 pounds|
|Gross weight:||Fuel capacity:|
|11,400 pounds||840 miles|
|Oil capacity||Engine type:|
|8.5 Gal||Single 1360 hp Allison V-1710-81 piston engine|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|Curtiss Electric||378 mph|
|Rate of Climb||Cruise Speed|
|Service Ceiling||Number of Crew|
|38,000 feet||Single pilot|
|Six 12.7 mm wing mounted machine guns||Max 1500 lbs bomb load|
|Number Built||Number Surviving|
After the war scrap dealers scoured the jungles for the valuable aluminum in the old planes. A few were missed and survived for posterity. In 1974, 105861 was discovered, where the Army had left it 30 years earlier, by New Zealander Charles Darby, an aircraft historian and collector who was searching for such wrecks. 105861 and a dozen other aircraft were gathered up and sent to warbird enthusiast David Tallichet in California, who had financed the expedition. Untouched for more than six years, 105861 was donated by Mr. Tallichet to Louisiana State University for use in a future museum, but no such museum ever came into existence. In 1986, the Louisiana Naval Museum opened at Baton Rouge, and LSU donated the aircraft to that new museum. It was on display there until 1998, when John Fallis acquired it in exchange for another P-40 static display and a donation. Finally, the restoration of this unique combat veteran P-40 was begun in earnest. A & P mechanics, John Fallis and Bill Goodwin and friends totally disassembled the airframe and built new parts where necessary. Original pieces were sourced all over the world, particularly in New Zealand and Australia. The engine was purchased from a gentleman in Australia, who had also acquired a surplus Sherman tank, which he still drives around his farm on Sundays! Many parts were obtained from the man who originally found 105861 in the jungle in 1974, Charles Darby. On March 1, 2008, 105861 flew for the first time in 64 years. It appears, now, in the colors and markings of the 49th Fighter Group in New Guinea, 1944.
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