|This page is about the French fighter H-75A-4. For other versions, see P-36 (Family).|
The H-75A-4 is a rank I French fighter with a battle rating of 1.7 (AB) and 2.0 (RB/SB). It was introduced in Update 1.75 "La Résistance".
In the early 1930s, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation began a private venture to build a fighter aircraft which was a revolutionary departure from earlier cloth-covered biplanes of World War I. This project aircraft under development was named the Curtiss Hawk Model 75 (later it would be known by P-36 Hawk, Hawk-75 – or just H-75 and Mohawk.) The P-36 was an all-metal monoplane (although the control surfaces were fabric-covered) with a 900 hp radial engine, enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear. Early fighter trials paired this fighter against the Seversky P-35A where it ultimately lost out.
Around this time during the late 1930s, the French Air Force was lacking in modern fighter aircraft and realized that the domestic production could not meet the needs of the country. In light of this, France looked to foreign producers and approached Curtiss to produce an export version of the P-36 (which they were excited about) which would be known as the H-75. The first contract purchase was dubbed H-75A-1 of which 100 were contracted for. In December 1938, the H-75A-1 fighters were routed to France where they were assembled and where minor changes were made especially in regards to the armament, cockpit controls and cockpit instruments.
As the geopolitical situation rapidly disintegrated in Europe, France pushed for a rush order for 100 Curtiss H-75A-2 versions which were an improvement over the A-1, specifically with additional weapons and an improved motor. After the declaration of war with the Germans, the French placed another order for H-75A-3 versions of the aircraft which saw the first of them arriving in March 1940, however, due to the invasion of the Germans, some of the shipment was sunk at sea while the others were diverted to areas around North Africa for safekeeping. Similar to the A-3, the H-75A-4 only had a relative few arrive in France which then caused the bulk to be diverted to Great Britain as Mohawks.
The French H-75 aircraft continued to see combat throughout the war, both under the control of the Allied Free French Forces and the British and under the axis Finnish who received captured French aircraft from the Germans to be used against the Soviets.
The H-75A-4 is a relatively easy fighter aircraft to fly and requires only a relatively short space to both take-off and land. Due to the fantastically low wing loading rate of 23.9 lb/ft2, this fighter is an excellent turning aircraft and accompanied by a strong rudder can spiral climb easily, especially during WEP cycles. This aircraft has the advantage of being both a turn fighter and a Boom & Zoom fighter, depending on the situation, type of aircraft which are flying against and mission type. The H-75A-4 will out-turn many fighters of its rank and can prove difficult to follow if attempting to shoot it down. The P-36G and the H-75A-4 utilise the same engine, however with the extra two machine guns and associated ammunition, the H-75A-4 model lags slightly behind the A with flight characteristics, but not noticeable enough for the upgrading pilot to realize while manoeuvring the aircraft. The trade-off for more guns vs. slightly hampered flight model is well worth it.
| Max Speed
(km/h at ?,000 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Max Speed
(km/h at ?,000 m)
|Max altitude (meters)||Turn time (seconds)|| Rate of climb
|Take-off run (meters)|
|Combat flap||Take-off flap||Landing flap||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
| Wing-break speed
| Gear limit
| Combat flap
|Max Static G|
|< ???||< ???||< ???||> ???|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|?,??? m||??? hp||?,??? hp|
Survivability and armour
- 9.5 mm Steel plate behind the pilot.
- No armour glazing
As with many early pre-war fighters, not much emphasis was put on the survivability of the aircraft. The best course of action was for the pilot to not let anyone get behind them. The H-75A-4’s only sources of protection for the pilot is the engine block and the 9.5 mm (angled at 24° for effective thickness of 13 mm), that being said, depending on the engine block to save the pilot may do so at the expense of the engine, thus requiring the pilot to glide back to base if possible or bailout. There are also two unprotected oil coolers if which are punctured, the aircraft will leak oil until depleted eventually causing the engine to seize up.
The H-75A-4 is armed with:
- 2 x 7.5 mm Mle 38 machine guns nose mounted (600 rpg = 1,200 total)
- 4 x 7.5 mm Mle 38 machine guns wing mounted (500 rpg = 2,000 total)
Armament weaknesses found in the early P-36A and H-75A-1 fighters were addressed when outfitting the H-75A-4 fighter as instead of installing four 7.5 mm Mle 38s, there were two more added to the wings for six total. Lacking the punch of the 12.7 mm, this fighter has to make due without the more powerful machine gun. While the engine cowling was already crowded and no more machine guns could be centrally mounted which required wing modifications to install two more 7.5 machine guns, for a total of two in each wing. For this aircraft, two machine guns are mounted in the engine cowl and fire through the propeller arc while the other four are mounted one in each wing. Due to the wing-mounted machine guns, convergence is a factor to deal with with the optimal range being 100 - 200 m, anything beyond this will still work, however, the bullets significantly start losing their punch. The increase in armament increased the damage output ability of the fighter Options in ammunition will allow the pilot to select the type best suited for their mission whether it be as an interceptor, ground target hunter or a stealthy pouncer.
- Option 1 Configuration (optimal 200 - 400 m convergence)
- 7.5 mm x 6 = Universal rounds
- Universal rounds for the French aircraft have the most armour-piercing rounds coupled with tracer bullets than any other belt. The tracer rounds are important because of the ability to walk in the shots with the tracers (especially helpful in realistic and simulator battles where the aiming helper is not available for use) to the enemy aircraft.
7.5 mm ammunition
|Belt Type||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||5th Round||6th Round|
|T = Tracer bullet; Ball = Omni purpose bullet; I = Incendary bullet; AP = Armor piercing bullet; IT = Incendary-Tracer|
This aircraft does not have the option to select any additional suspended armaments nor does it have any defensive weapons to counter any attackers.
Usage in the battles
Energy retention lends this fighter to be a great zoomer, dropping in for a shot and then speeding back up to regain the energy advantage. With this aircraft having such a low stall speed; it makes a great fighter to practice Rope-a-dope energy depletion manoeuvres. This requires the H-75 pilot to bait another fighter into following them in a climb, as the attacker attempts to get guns on, the H-75 pilot can start to spiral climb which will cause the attacking aircraft to pull a tighter circle haemorrhaging their energy. If done correctly, the attacking fighter will stall out and be completely helpless as they begin to fall back to the ground allowing the P-36 to roll over or Split-S and take out the stalled fighter below.
Most fighters are typically only good at one thing whether it's turning, speed or weapon systems, however, the H-75A-4 is good at two, speeding and turning. This fighter has the ability to not only zoom attack but can also turn fight competitively with most other aircraft. There are few aircraft (notably the A6M Zero fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy or the Bf 109 of the German Luftwaffe) which may outshine while turning or climbing, however, when utilizing flaps and rudder while turning, the H-75A-4 can manoeuvre into some tight turns and allow guns to get on target.
Even with all of its power and mobility, the H-75A-4 is a relatively fragile aircraft. Without much armour on the aircraft, many of its critical systems are exposed and it will not take much even from lower calibre machine guns to cause fuel fires, oil leaks and the engine shutdowns, not to mention a knocked out pilot. Situational awareness is critical to potentially know not only where the targets are, but also the enemy aircraft which are manoeuvring into position and ready to pounce. The weakness of only having six machine guns will require the pilot to get in close (50 – 200 m) to make the most of their shots as anywhere past 150 m, bullet penetration drops off considerably.
Manual Engine Control
|Not controllable|| Controllable
|Controllable||Not controllable||Combined||Controllable||Not controllable|
|I||Fuselage||Radiator||Offensive 7 mm MGs|
|III||Wings repair||Engine||New 7 mm MGs|
Pros and cons
- High climb rate, especially with war emergency power applied
- Impressive roll and turn rate, highly efficient Immelman and split-S manoeuvres
- Strong rudder, excels in wing-over and hammerhead stall manoeuvres
- Slow stall speed (about 55 mph or 88.5 kph)
- Four machine guns (comparable to P-36G)
- Large ammo reserve of 3,200 rounds
- Hard to control at high speeds (control surface stiffening)
- Armament is adequate against bombers and other aircraft with rear-facing gunners
- Lack of adequate armour renders engine, fuel tanks, oil coolers and virtually defenceless
- Engine will overheat easily after using WEP for a considerable amount of time
The P-36 Hawk began its life at Curtiss Aeroplane Company as a design in the early 1930s. A private venture by Curtiss, the project was headed up by Donovan A. Berlin, a former Northrop aircraft company engineer who was the principal designer and incorporated design portions of early Northrop designs. The P-36, at this time known as the X-17Y, was a stretch from the biplane years by utilizing an all-metal low-wing monoplane with fabric-covered control surfaces. This aircraft also featured retractable landing gear, which utilized a design put forward by Boeing Aircraft Company and required royalties to be paid to Boeing for every aircraft in which this landing gear was installed. Initial weapon load-outs included the standard 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine guns, both of which were mounted in the forward fuselage deck and fired through openings in the cowling, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc.
The initial flight took place in 1935 and when it was presented at a competition the next year, the competitor aircraft (Seversky SEV-2XP/P-35) was heavily damaged in transit. While Seversky took their aircraft back to perform repairs and modifications, Curtiss took the opportunity during this time to make some modifications of their own, and namely replacing the Wright XR-1670-5 twin-row air-cooled radial engine with the upgraded Write XR-1820-39 Cyclone radial. With the Seversky aircraft repaired, the competition was back on. Even though the Seversky aircraft underperformed and was more expensive than Curtis X-17Y, it was selected and an order of 77 aircraft were put in for, however later the Material Division of the USAAC contacted Curtis and put in an order for three examples as they were becoming nervous about Seversky's ability to deliver their aircraft on time. Curtiss worked on modifying the P-36 by again upgrading the motor and working on the cockpit, especially increasing the amount of area behind the cockpit where the pilot could see. During the 1937 competition, test pilots who piloted the P-36 all commented that the aircraft responded to pilot input favourable and at all speeds and even noted that it handled well on the ground while taxiing. With such a reaction from the test pilots, the USAAC put in an order for 210 P-36A fighters, which at that time was the largest single US military aircraft order since World War I.
As the P-36 fighters began to roll off the assembly line, they were shipped to US squadrons, however, problems developed with the aircraft which left them grounded while waiting repairs. The P-36 continued to have problems, however, four P-36A fighters stationed at Wheeler Air Field in Hawaii were able to get airborne and attach a flight of Nakajima B5N1 torpedo bombers, claiming two shot down and gaining the first US fighter aircraft "kills" of the Pacific War. Despite this action, the P-36 fighters were withdrawn from combat outfits and sent to training units for new pilots to train on. While the P-36 did not see much action with the U.S., it did see combat action while flown by other nations such as France and Finland where they put the little fighter to the test and were highly successful with it. 10 P-36A training fighters were transferred in 1942 to Brazil where they remained in service until 1954.
The H-75A-4 was the last production batch of Hawk 75 aircraft built for France with around 285 built, but only 81 delivered before the fall of France. Undelivered aircraft were diverted to Britain as Mohawk IV fighters. Many of the French aircraft were captured during the fall of France and were shipped to other countries friendly with Germany and were considered challenging aircraft for the allies to fly against.
- Analogues of other nations
- Militaryfactory.com website [Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)]
- Aviationhistory.com website [The Curtiss P-36 Hawk]
- Joebaugher.com website [Curtiss P-36A]
|Fighters||P-36A · Rasmussen's P-36A · P-36C · P-36G · P-40C · P-40E-1 · P-40F-10 · XP-55|
|Bombers||SB2C-1c · SB2C-4|
|Export||Hawk III · H-75A-1 · H-75A-4 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-40E-1 · ▂P-40E-1 · ▄SB2C-5 · CW-21|
|Dewoitine||D.371 · D.371 H.S.9 · D.373 · D.500 · D.501 · Pallier's D.510 · D.520|
|Morane-Saulnier||M.S.405C1 · M.S.406C1 · M.S.410|
|Twin-engine||Potez 630 · Potez 631 · S.O.8000 Narval|
|American||H-75A-1 · H-75A-4 · ▄F6F-5 · ▄F6F-5N · ▄P-63C-5 · F4U-7 · ▄F8F-1B · ▄F-86K|
|Other countries||▄Yak-3 · Challe's ▄Yak-9T · NC.900|