The P-66 is a rank II Chinese fighter with a battle rating of 2.3 (AB/RB) and 2.0 (SB). It was introduced in Update 1.91 "Night Vision".
An American fighter designed in the 1930s, the "Vanguard" may bear a slight resemblance to the P-36 Hawk, another contemporary US design with a radial engine, razorback cockpit, and similar armament, but it has large differences in the details of its design. Compared to the Hawk, it has a longer and rounder fuselage with narrower wings. It also has an unusually spacious canopy, which is not surprising considering that it was designed to share parts with trainer aircraft. Performance wise, the P-66 is a balanced fighter with no particular strengths. This may be off-putting for pilots coming from the previous CW-21 and its amazing performance, but the P-66 is still a decent aircraft and is the first Chinese fighter that can actually take a hit or two. Tactics learned with this aircraft can be applied to the succeeding P-40E.
Most flight characteristics of the P-66 are average or perhaps slightly below average. The top speed is not terrible for its rank, but it will not be winning many races against contemporary German and Italian aircraft with sleek inline engines. It is slower than the Bf 109Es, and C.202s or He 100s will leave it in the dust. The Japanese Ki-43-II is faster as well. The climb rate and acceleration are nothing special. Turning is decent when combat flaps are used, but it is less maneuverable than many low-rank aircraft it faces. Horizontal energy retention is alright, but the vertical energy retention is below average. Dive characteristics are fairly good, as it picks up speed nicely and the controls do not stiffen that much.
Overall, the P-66 is in an uncomfortable situation where it does not have the speed or climb to consistently have an energy advantage over many of its opponents, but it also does not have outstanding maneuverability for easily dodging diving attacks or winning turnfights. Fly carefully!
|Characteristics|| Max Speed
(km/h at 4,573 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
|Wings (km/h)||Gear (km/h)||Flaps (km/h)||Max Static G|
|Optimal velocities (km/h)|
|< 350||< 280||< 580||> 250|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|1,890 m||1,100 hp||1,210 hp|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|3,810 m||1,000 hp||1,100 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 38 mm of bulletproof glass on the windshield
- 8 mm of steel behind upper portion of engine compartment
- 8 mm of steel in the pilot's seat
- Two small armored boxes with 3 mm of steel in the rear fuselage
One self sealing fuel tank is located in each wing root.
The P-66 has good armor for a plane of this size and era. The combination of the large radial engine, engine compartment armor, and bulletproof glass makes knocking out the pilot in head-on engagements less likely. The armored seat protects the aircraft from behind and the self-sealing fuel tanks are hard to hit except in deflection shots.
Modifications and economy
The P-66 is armed with:
- 2 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine guns, nose-mounted (225 rpg = 450 total)
- 4 x 7.62 mm Browning machine guns, wing-mounted (500 rpg = 2,000 total)
Compared to the CW-21, the P-66 has two more 7.62 mm machine guns and slightly more ammunition for the twin M2 Brownings. The former are located in the wings, and the latter are tightly clustered in the upper nose. The M2 Brownings are the star of the show as they are highly accurate and deal good damage. The P-66 initially had access to mid-war belts for the M2 Brownings, but they have since been removed. The early belts do not have access to AP-I rounds and do not start fires as effectively, but the kinetic effects are much the same. Try the Universal and Stealth belts since they have a decent mix of armor-piercing and incendiary rounds.
The low-caliber 7.62 machine guns are less useful since they experience issues with convergence and become ineffective past a few hundred meters. Still, they add extra burst mass and will do a number against unarmored aircraft. Much like the M2 Brownings, try the Universal or Stealth belts.
Usage in battles
At the start of a match, climb and gain some altitude, at least a few thousand meters. Sideclimbing is recommended to avoid getting jumped by high-flying opponents early on. Do not try to climb to great heights since this would take a while and the engine will not perform very well there. Keep an eye out on the battlefield and look for enemies. If things are quiet, the P-66 can serve admirably for attacking bombers and attackers due to its good protection and firepower. If enemy fighters are nearby, stick with teammates and look for an opening to engage. For newer pilots, it is easier to go after enemies that have a significant energy disadvantage or are distracted. Be careful when picking fights and avoid extended horizontal or vertical maneuvers. If the engagement becomes unfavorable, consider acting as bait and leading opponents towards teammates.
It is hard to specify any particular strategies for the P-66 due to its rounded performance. Maintain energy throughout dogfights and use the powerful armament as soon as a firing solution is available. A crippled opponent will have a hard time fighting a pristine P-66. And do not be afraid of taking some light fire if it means getting into a more advantageous position.
Do not let opponents with both superior speed and maneuverability like the Ki-43-II latch onto the P-66's tail. At that point, the only recourse is to dodge while running towards teammates because it is unlikely that the P-66 will be able to successfully disengage or pull a reversal against a decent pilot.
Baiting enemies into head-ons is a viable strategy since the P-66 is better protected than most other fighters and the nose-mounted M2 Brownings are very accurate with a high muzzle velocity. A few good hits can set the opponent afire or knock out their pilot. Try to dodge after firing a good burst; even if the enemy is damaged or destroyed first, their bullets or perhaps the burning wreck of their plane are still unpleasant to be hit by.
When attacking bombers or attackers with defensive gunners, note that while low caliber defensive weapons are unlikely to knock out the P-66's pilot, the engine can still be damaged and destroyed if enough hits are taken. Do not sit on a bomber or attacker's tail for long unless its gunners have been knocked out. Try to aim for fuel tanks or engines, since those are easily set afire. Trying to dismantle large aircraft with sheer burst mass will take a while and use up lots of ammunition.
- In simulator, the P-66 is overall a decent aircraft to fly, similar to the previous CW-21 in many aspects. The tactics are also similar to RB: it can perform BnZ fighting as well as some turn fighting and intercepting.
- The P-66's pros in sim include pretty nice handling at most speeds (300-450 kph), extremely well over-the-nose visibility thanks to its high-mounted gunsight, allowing the player to easily see what is below the nose. Sideways & upward visibility is great too, with very few canopy frames obstructing your view. It is also forgiving for beginners, since it will not easily enter flat spins even if you pull the stick a lot (almost to the edge), allowing for more agile maneuvers.
- Its biggest con is the terrible rear visibility. With a huge non-transparent structure behind your seat, you cannot see anything behind you, sometimes not even your own stabilisers! As a result you will always get caught off guard from behind, not knowing what and where the enemy is. There are also quite some thick frames at the front. Also, the P-66's elevators struggles to pitch the aircraft at both low and high speeds (<250 kph, >480 kph). When performing BnZ attacks, this flaw can cause the player to ram into the target plane as a result of not being able to pitch up in time. Therefore you need to pull the stick more to turn tighter. At last, the roll rate is not satisfactory below 200 kph.
- Note that when taking off the P-66 will drift to the left and right due to the propeller torque, so it is recommended to set keybinds for left and right brakes to effectively control your direction when on the runway. Using rudder alone will not work at low speed and you will either circle around or lose control and crash into nearby structures like tents/hangars.
- Landing is fairly beginner-friendly. It is able to decelerate quickly while also having low enough stall speed, allowing you to quickly slow down and descend onto the runway. Note: landing flaps generate lots of lift that will raise your plane back up, so use combat / takeoff flaps first and only deploy landing flaps when you are almost touching down. Remember to remain overall parallel to the ground. It also performs great when braking as its nose will not usually dip into the ground (same as the later P-43), so you can keep braking until it fully stops (given that you deflect elevators fully upwards) which is vital for preparing the next fight quickly.
- Under 2500m, you can use WEP for around 3 minutes, then the oil will start heating up. But above 2500m, the WEP can be almost infinite depending on the map season. For trimming, it is recommended to trim for around -10, -8, -8 for ailerons, elevators and rudder respectively.
- Your firepower is quite weak against bombers and attackers, and the recommended deflection shooting will take you some time to down an aircraft as you only have 2 M2 MG that do the work. The 4x 7.62 mm generally do little damage against tough planes. Still, do not sit behind any plane with a rear facing gunner as you big radial engine will always get damaged. Some examples are the IL-2 which is commonly seen in Sim. It can get mistakenly seen as other aircraft from a distance due to its common appearance. But up close you will see two bomb-like structures underneath its wings and triangular stabilisers with rounded tips. The early IL-2s have no defensive guns so it is safe to sit behind and carefully aim. They are heavily armoured in the cockpit and engine so avoid aiming at these areas. Instead target the tail to hope for disabling their tail control. The late IL-2s, however, have a rear-facing Berezin UB which is something you definitely want to avoid. Perform deflection shots or just disengage.
- Other examples include the AI bombers which are usually Ju-87s. Do not engage them if you have no altitude advantage. Having higher speed but at the same altitude will not work either as the P-66 loses speed quickly in a level flight. Try to get at least 600m above them. To maximise the damage aim for their nose and engines, as the wings and fuselage usually soak up lots of bullets. Only fire when they pass in front of your guns. During these steps do not forget to randomly pitch and yaw to avoid their guns, because even those single MG 15s can easily damage your fragile engine. Luckily, with a damaged engine you might still be able to glide back to a nearby airfield as interceptions with AI bombers usually happen at around 2000m which is enough to glide away.
Manual Engine Control
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Pros and cons
- Good firepower
- Respectable turn time
- Quite rugged
- Decent dive characteristics
- Combat flaps are useful and do not rip very easily
- Bad climb rate
- Not very fast
- Poor performance at high altitudes
- Engine tends to overheat
- No suspended ordnance for ground attack
In the late 1930s, the Vultee Aircraft Corporation, previously known for the V-1 airliner and the derivative V-11/V-12 attackers, began work on a Model 48 fighter aircraft intended for export. The Model 48 was based on the Hughes H-1B race aircraft designed earlier by Vultee's chief designer. Not long after work began, the US Army began looking for advanced trainer aircraft, and Vultee planned on making a family of aircraft based on the Model 48, sharing components of the wings, tail, and rear fuselage. Three trainers were ultimately produced this way, including the well known BT-13 Valiant.
The Model 48, given the nickname of "Vanguard", was continuously refined. The first prototype was modified to have a long cowling and pointed nose, the engine being buried deeper in the fuselage. This approach, reminiscent of what would be used on the Japanese J2M Raiden, was intended to reduce drag, but ultimately caused issues with weight and cooling. As a result the engine installation was reverted to a more traditional setup. The Model 48C was the final revision intended for production and first flew in 1940. A large order of 144 aircraft was placed by Sweden. However, before the planes could be deliered, the US government blocked the export of aircraft to Sweden. At the time, Germany had already invaded Norway and Denmark, and the US feared that equipment exported to Sweden could end up in Axis service. This export ban prompted Sweden to focus on domestic aircraft development, eventually leading to aircraft like the J22.
100 fighters were instead to be given (though not yet produced or delivered) to Britain as the "Vanguard I", despite the fact that Britain had previously rejected it. The Vanguard was deemed unfit for combat and instead planned for use as advanced trainers in Canada. Meanwhile, the Republic of China was hard-pressed with fighting the Japanese invasion and went to the US looking to purchase suitable fighter aircraft. The Vanguard was considered a viable option, and after Britain relinquished the 100 aircraft that officially belonged to them, all 144 Vanguards were designated "P-66" and granted to China. Production fell behind schedule and no P-66s were delivered to China in fall 1941 as planned. In late 1941, the events of Pearl Harbor rocked the US, and a number of completed P-66s were used for training and testing by the USAAF. Though apparently well liked by pilots, the P-66 was rather accident prone and the final evaluation criticized its maneuverability and wing loading. Thus, the P-66 was dropped by the US military and the examples were shipped to China in crates beginning in the spring of 1942.
102 Vanguards survived the trip to Asia, and after their arrival in Karachi, a slow process of assembly and testing began. Ferrying the completed P-66s to China did not go smoothly, as the Republic of Chinese Air Force sent very few pilots to pick up the aircraft (frustrating the US government), and when they did, the pilots were inexperienced and many aircraft were lost in crashes. The P-66s were not used for much after being delivered either, often sitting in their hangars with few flying hours. After the US declined to export additional P-40s, citing that none of the Chinese lend-lease aircraft had actually been used in combat, the ROCAF suddenly started using their aircraft aggressively, the P-66 included.
In Chinese service, the P-66 was an unremarkable fighter. At one point it was the most numerous fighter in the ROCAF inventory, though the P-40 and P-43 saw much more action. When it did fight, it fared poorly against Japanese fighters, having more success against bombers. This may not have entirely been the fault of the design as the ROCAF had major issues with poor pilot training and logistics, but the P-43, another design held in low regard, proved to be more successful. The P-66 also suffered from friendly fire due to its passing resemblance to the Ki-43 and Ki-44. Regardless, in late 1943, the P-66 was retired from combat duties and instead used as a trainer aircraft for the rest of its service in the Chinese Air Force - the same fate Britain had intended for it, and a fitting role considering its development history.
The P-66 was officially retired by the ROCAF in 1945, but a number of examples were put back into crates and stashed into caves near the city of Chongqing in preparation for the Kuomingtang's conflict with the Communists. They do not appear to have been used and their fate remains unknown. No examples are known to survive today.
Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the aircraft;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
- Dunn, Richard L. . The Warbird's Forum, Online June 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- Baugher, Joe. . Joebauer.com website, Online 18 September 1999. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
|Vultee Aircraft Corporation|
|Export||P-66 · ▄A-35B|
|British||␗Gladiator Mk I|
|Japanese||␗A6M2 · ␗Ki-27 otsu · ␗Ki-43-III ko · ␗Ki-44-II hei · ␗Ki-61-I otsu · Ki-84 ko|
|American||CW-21 · Hawk III · P-66 · ␗P-40E-1 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-43A-1 · ␗P-47D-23 RE · ␗P-47D-28 · ␗P-51D-20 · ␗P-51K|
|Soviet||␗I-15bis · ␗I-153 M-62 · I-16 Chung 28 · ␗I-16 type 5 · I-16 type 10 · ␗I-16 type 17 · ␗La-9|